Wednesday, May 10, 2006

You might be a racist if ...

I don't know much about Stephen Merritt, or his band, Magnetic Fields. Slate describes Merritt as "dimunitive, gay and painfully intellectual," kinda like the Malcontent though I like to think of myself as painlessly intellecutal.

And he's also a racist, at least according to a New Yorker music critic. Why? Because he doesn't like prepackaged pop sung by people of color. Heaven forfend!

(I)n a New York magazine interview, Merritt again dared to publicly express his boredom with OutKast and furthermore said of Justin Timberlake: "I'm not really exposed to him except as a photographic image. He gives good photo shoot." Of Beyoncé and Britney Spears: "[Spears] would be absolutely meaningless if we didn't see pictures of her. Beyoncé is not famous for her songs, she's famous for that outfit. Which is not necessarily a bad thing."

A reasonable person would understand two things from these comments: 1) that Merritt believes contemporary popular music, whether it's produced by white people (Timberlake and Spears), or black people (Beyoncé), to be more concerned with selling an image than recording and performing songs; and 2) that, like much of America, he had heard as much OutKast as he cared to. (Sasha) Frere-Jones, who writes cogently and seriously about hip-hop and plays guitar and sings in his own carefully disorganized (and quite good) rock band, surveyed the above and reacted as though Merritt had stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama's Foster Auditorium and declared that OutKast shall not pass. "[N]ote how eager Merritt is to dismiss Beyoncé, OutKast, Britney, and Justin, not just as singers and songwriters but as bearers of meaning. That's a bias. Two women, three people of color and one white artist openly in love with black American music. That's who he's biased against. You could say there's no pattern here. … You would then, hopefully, let me get a taste of whatever has made you so HIGH."

Justin and Britney as "bearers of meaning?" Britney and Justin as songwriters?? I doubt they can even write a complete sentence. Merritt has also been blasted for dissing rap. I used to enjoy hip hop, but after the 5,000th song about bling and bitches, I grew weary.

And I suppose my distate for Puff Daddy places me to the right of George Wallace. Of course race has nothing to do with; I just hate ego in my music. Quaint, I know, but I prefer original lyrics, and real talent, not mindless dance songs about how much money someone has. If that makes me a bigot ... then I guess I have to accept my new designation.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go listen to my Curtis Mayfield CD: "Don't worry, if there's a Hell below, we're all gonna go!"


  1. Excuse me, but why do you hate black people?

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