Mav (chrismaverick) wrote,

In defense of bubblegum pop music...

So I was watching Conan tonight with beststephi and  Janeane Garofalo was a guest. She spent her entire segment complaining about the MTV VMAs from the other day. Now a lot of what she said I agreed with, but there was one thing that she said that bothered me a lot. She complained about MTV breeding mediocrity by featuring singers as opposed to singer/songwriters. For her personal whipping boy, she picked Justin Timberlake. Now I'm not exactly a Justin or NSYNC fan, but I happen to know that he actually does have writing credits on a lot of NSYNCs stuff. Now if you want to hate him because he sucks, that's another matter altogether... but hating him because he doesn't write is wrong. So she was incorrect to state that in the first place, but that doesn't even matter. What bothered me was the complaint in the first place.

Now, beststephi and I have actually had this argument about a zillion times, but it bothers me even more when Garofalo says it. Why? Because I think it's absolutely and incredibly pretentious for an actor to make that statement. Now I always thought she was an OK comic, and I actually think she's a much better actress, but she doesn't write her own stuff when she acts. She's basically famous for saying stuff that Ben Stiller wrote. That's what she does for a living. She stands around and reads Ben Stiller material. Ok, that's not all she does. She's also been pretty successful at reading Gary Shandling material, and on occasion, reading Jerry Seinfeld material. But she doesn't write any of it. Is acting without being a screenwriter somehow more valid an artform than singing without being a songwriter? I don't think so.

Let's think about this. If singing without songwriting is mediocre (her words, not mine) then, logically acting without screenwriting is mediocre too. Ben Stiller, Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, Damon and Affleck. Now those guys are artist. They wrote movies and starred in them. On the other hand, Sir Lawrence Olivier is listed in the IMDB as having 106 acting credits (actually, 10 of them are archive footage... so lets call it 96). And he's listed as having 3 writing credits. You know what they are? Henry V, Hamlet and Richard III. Now, I didn't go so far as to do any real research here, but I'm pretty sure that all three of those scripts were actually written by Francis Bacon or something (if you don't get this joke, never mind). Best case scenario, Olivier tweaked what was already there. Singers tweak what their writers write all the time. This means he had 96 roles and didn't write a single one. What a fucking hack!

You know who else sucks? The New York Philharmonic. The whole damn band never does anything new. They never break any new ground. All they do are covers. And they don't even do anything current. They're doing covers of hits from 200 years ago. How lame.

My point is: Singing is a cool talent. Acting is a cool talent. Writing is a cool talent. Every once in a while you come across a J-Lo, or a Ben Stiller, or a Tori Amos who has two of the talents. Every once in a great while, you run into a Janet Jackson who can do all three. But that doesn't mean that Britney Spears, Eric Roberts or David DeCoteau are lesser artists because they only work in one of those medias. Now you might say that all of those people suck. actually, you'd mostly only say that Spears and Roberts suck, because most of you reading this probably have no idea who DeCoteau is, but you get the point. You'd think those people suck, because they are bad. Not because they have an invalid talent, but because they lack talent at all. But that's up to the audience. Its subjective. To claim someone objectively sucks because they can't do two completely unrealted things is ludicrous.

All football players who aren't Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson suck too... Oh wait... R.J. Bowers is ok as well...

I finally figured out, while talking to brotherless_one tonight, why that argument has always been such a big pet peeve of mine. Because its the inker/tracer argument. Sure the details are changed but at its core its the same. Singing must be like tracing, exactly duplicating what someone else wrote. Except, its not... its like inking. the inker adds tone and depth and only then does the drawing actually take place (thankyou, Banky). If the singer didn't matter then musical purists would have no argument when they claim that Britney butchered the Stones' Satisfaction. If the singer didn't matter then there'd be no reason to prefer one over the other. But it does matter. That's why the two versions are so different. Just like the differences between Gloria Gaynor and Cake or between Prince and Tom Jones. Inking is an art, that's why you have people in this world like Terry Austin and Brian Bolland. Otherwise every comic in the world would be sketched out in pencil by some maniac who would later just darken it up with a Sharpie. Singing is the same way. Or is Charlotte Church untalented because all she does is rip off Mozart?

So like I said.... its not fair to hate the bubblegum pop generation for not writing their own music. I mean Elvis didn't even write his own stuff (at least not the hits). If you're gonna hate them, hate them because you think they suck. And then maybe I will write a long essay about how they don't suck... but that's subjective, and probably a little harder,

OK... I think I'm done now. Join me next time when I explain why Playboy is helpful to women's self esteem by making an analogy to pro-wrestling... Or maybe I will talk about how Free Agency ruined the goddamned game (all of them) by talking about pinball.

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