ONE THING I'M NOTICING IS THAT EVERYONE WE'RE SPEAKING OF ARE JUST SORT INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS, WHEREAS WHEN PEOPLE SPEAK GLOWINGLY OF THE PAST IN TERMS OF MUSIC CULTURE IT'S ALWAYS IN TERMS OF MASS MOVEMENTS. DO YOU THINK PEOPLE NOWADAYS ARE HESITANT TO BE PART OF MASS CULTURAL MOVEMENTS? BECAUSE IT SEEMS LIKE IN THE PAST, PEOPLE WOULD GET SWEPT UP IN SOMETHING CURRENT AND IT WOULD INSPIRE THEM TO CUT TIES TO THE PAST, AS OPPOSED TO INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS BEING INSPIRED BY THINGS THAT ARE NEW AND OLD TO CREATE AN INCREMENTAL HYBRID.
Yeah, there used to be more of a "kill the father" or "reject the previous generation's thing, make your own thing" spirit, a real either/or mentality, a logic of supersession, where things were superseded and abandoned. Now people like a little bit of this, a little bit of that — and everyone has their own personal portfolio of what they like. There used to be more of a logic; that if you were into one thing, you were rejecting something else. Now everyone likes a bit of everything, and that's affected music-makers. A lot of bands come along and their music is an assemblage, a few old things, a few contemporary things. Vampire Weekend are like that; they have things that refer back to elements of previous music history, but then they'll have a very recent-sounding Caribbean rhythm on one track. Everyone's really eclectic, there's a real resistance to everyone moving in lockstep.
TOTALLY — AND PEOPLE ARE WAY MORE INTO THINGS REFERENCING OTHER THINGS NOW. I THINK I BLAME THE SIMPSONS: YOU HAD COMEDY BEFORE THE SIMPSONS, WHERE JOKES AND GAGS HAD TO BE WRITTEN, BUT THE SIMPSONS SHOWED THAT IF YOU REFERRED TO SOMETHING AND THE AUDIENCE WAS POP CULTURE-LITERATE ENOUGH TO GET THE REFERENCE, THAT COULD BE THE GAG OR JOKE.
Unfortunately, when records are reviewed, whether it's on a blog or in a magazine, there seems to be an irresistible impulse to break things down to their influences and sources. It makes it harder to see things as a whole, or to see what might be new about it. It obscures anything that might actually be interesting about it. But it's an irresistible mental habit everyone has — I have it! — everyone who thinks about music has this hang-up.
I think it relates to that thing we were talking about before, this concept of enjoyable disenchantment. Like I was reading Slate's exhaustive breakdown of Mad Men, and it's this almost forensic breakdown study: little references, and people spotting anachronisms and "failures." Like the show's creator possesses this obsessive knowledge of the time that the show takes place, but every so often he'll get something wrong, and when he does people pounce on it! And that's how we enjoy things now.
A lot of kid's films nowadays have this second layer built in to amuse the parents so that they don't die of boredom while they're sitting there with their kids. All these Disney and Pixar movies have this postmodern stuff that's way over the heads of kids to keep parents amused as well!
RIGHT — AND THE REVIEWS NEVER FAIL TO POINT THESE ELEMENTS OUT, SINCE KIDS DON'T READ REVIEWS, PARENTS DO. SO A REVIEW OFFINDING NEMO WILL BE ALL "THERE'S SOME ADULT STUFF IN THERE TOO, DON'T TELL THE KIDS!"