Lazy Luddite Log

22.12.09

Poster Post

I went shopping for some photo frames recently and while I was at it browsed the selection of pop-culture posters in the same shop. It got me thinking on something I have been noticing for a while. If I wanted merchandise related to (say) The Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin then chances are I will find them in any shopping centre. If however I want something relating to (say) Aretha Franklin or Stevie Wonder then I will have a hunt on my hands. I name all these musicians because they are all of long-standing popularity and I am a fan. But if supply-and-demand are anything to go by then I am unusual in liking all of them.

So I got to wondering why this disparity of product availability exists. And my ‘political correctness chip’ sparked into life and told me that I was seeing evidence of racism – we in Australia prefer white over black artists it told me. Disquieting. But then I started asking if there were other distinctions between the artists named. Was genre the key factor here? The artists with all the posters and patches perform rock (and rock-derived music) while those of scant paraphernalia perform soul (and soul-derived music).

One test of this explanation was to consider a larger number of artists (while still confining things to ‘classics’). Lo-and-behold one can find consumer items relating to Jimi Hendrix (a black rocker) much moreso than Joe Cocker (a white soulter). I relaxed then – there is nothing the matter with preferring some genres over others. But then I started asking another question – why do we as a society show such a preference for some genres over others (particularly since they share a common musical heritage)? Possibly my original suspicions would play a part in the answer. I wonder…

Addendum

I may be indulging in gross generalizations here. The extended family of popular music is much more complex than I suggest here. And humanity cannot be understood in terms of the dichotomy I use except in some specific contexts. Still...

Cross-posted here.

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1 Comments:

  • I'm copying and pasting comments to this same post from LiveJournal (complete with messy formatting text). See below...

    From: actrealdon
    Date: December 22nd, 2009 06:24 am (local)
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    I would also add that rock culture includes having posters of your favourite band on your walls, whereas soul culture doesn't seem to. This could be a circular thing.
    (Reply) (Thread)

    From: originaluddite
    Date: December 22nd, 2009 08:06 pm (local)
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    That is something I never considered. Now that I think about it rock fans definitely go for markers of their fandom, while soul fans are more content just to be. I think there is also more a sense of hero worship between rock fans and rock musicians. In contrast even the most popular of soul musicians seem in some ways to be regarded as merely "brothers and sisters" of the fans.

    By Blogger Daniel, At 09 May, 2017  

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