Ignorance meets egoism meets bad taste

I probably won’t get around to reading Silicon Valley entrepreneur Andrew Keen‘s new book, The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture. I did read Michiko Kakutani‘s review in the New York Times, along with “Media Savvy” columnist Sam McManis‘ piece in the Sacramento Bee last week, and I have to admit that one look at the publicity photo of Keen, whose arrogance appears to seep out of his pores like bad cologne, and one gander at some of Keen’s quotes, and I’d rather go reread Newt Gingrich‘s To Renew America instead to sate any sudden appetite for barnyard excrement I might be experiencing.

As Kakutani, an established media maven whose fiefdom seems threatened by armies of renegade bloggers, put it: “By undermining mainstream media and intellectual property rights, [Keen] says, it is creating a world in which we will ‘live to see the bulk of our music coming from amateur garage bands, our movies and television from glorified YouTubes, and our news made up of hyperactive celebrity gossip, served up as mere dressing for advertising.’ This is what happens, he suggests, ‘when ignorance meets egoism meets bad taste meets mob rule.'”

And what’s wrong with that?

What would you rather have: A world where the established arbiters of taste are your only media source for information on what’s new and/or wonderful, or a decentralized system that empowers everyone to go find out about new music for themselves? To me, that’s a no-brainer. Not to mention, the former scenario presumes that the average person is too stupid or unadventurous to find out about anything without having their hand held by a so-called expert.

One of the reasons that the music business has collapsed in recent years is that record companies pretty much lost the ability to sign and develop new acts with long-term potential, and instead they listened to radio programmers’ demands for the latest iteration, thrice removed, of Nirvana or some other band that made an impact long ago. And, aside from a few renegade voices, a cursory scan of reviews in any newspaper or mainstream magazine around the country will demonstrate that there are plenty of jackasses willing to keep the flow of promo copies coming by pointing out that the emperor is indeed sporting the most groovy collection of new threads this year.

With the Internet, we don’t have to listen to them. You don’t have to listen to me, either, but if you choose to, I’ll at least try to keep you entertained.

We get mail: An Izaak of the one-man band Killerpatio writes in a letter: “As I wash my hair, have passed 30, and don’t own a Marshall amp, I have to try a little harder, be a little more devious. … I have two forms: Earnest singer songwriter with an acoustic guitar or madman singing to Garage Band loops and playing distorted bass solos while desperately trying to get that Levi Stubbs thing going on. Uh, well, I have a way to go before I get to Levi Stubbs, maybe I’m Roebuck Stubbs now or more of a goy, younger, and broke Neil Diamond. Who knows?”

Mr. Keen, you can hear him at www.myspace.com/killerpatio. Dare you listen?