Friday, April 22, 2011

But nobody can win internet wars

Following in a sort of spin-off series from the vlogbrothers' (and most of the internet population's) hobby of typing something into Google and analyzing the 'suggested searches,' I've just spent a bit of time typing in letters in Youtube's search bar and clicking on the first suggestion. If you're curious, "A" suggests Someone Like You by Adele. I've never listened much to Adele -- for no particular reason; I know she's incredibly talented --but I scrolled through the comments on that video and came across a common phenomenon on the internet: the second most highly rated comment reads, "I love when people say gaga writes her own music. gaga writes SHIT music. Adele can write music! And she can write BEAUTIFUL songs!"

The first video under "B" is Lady Gaga's "Born this Way," funnily but not surprisingly enough, and one of the comments under it reads, "Am i the only one who realizes people judging other people on a songs about NOT judging people?! STOP HATING!" An encouraging statement, if a bit grammatically incorrect.

I don't intend to turn this into some sort of polarized "OMG Gaga's fans are so much nicer that obviously means Gaga is like so much better than Adele" blog. Firstly, every popular person has sane fans and rabid fans. Secondly, I don't think Adele is better than Gaga or vice versa because, thirdly and most importantly, I don't think there should even be a comparison between the two singers because their intentions and end results are so different. Gaga is as much a performer as she is a musician. I'm not saying she doesn't take pride in her music, but her everything from the Autotune on her songs to the outfits she wears are meant to stir interest and an intense sort of energy from her audience. Adele, I think, is almost completely focused on her actual music. She's not a performer, at least not in the way that Gaga is. So already there's no need to compare the two -- there isn't any competition between them. All the competition between them, and between pretty much every musician ever, is fabricated in the wild imaginations and furious fingers of their fans.

The real purpose of the above example is to raise the question of why we tend to feel so competitive about and so protective of our favorite musicians or writers or actors. Why do people deliberately go out of their internet-way to post a nasty comment on a video of an artist they hate? Sure, you can chalk it up to internet trolling to a certain extent, but this behavior transcends the internet and happens in real life as well. Mention Justin Beiber or Miley Cyrus in any decently crowded space and you're sure to get a solid round of borderline hateful jokes about them. Why? Seriously, why do people get so angry about mediocrity?

At least part of the reason seems to relate back to people's tendency to claim an artist as their own. Many people feel a little bit miffed when 'their' relatively unknown artist suddenly gets catapulted to stardom. "I'm a real fan!" they crow. "I knew them first! You're just hopping on the bandwagon! Dummy!" It's as though we all somehow seek recognition of our excellent eye for talent -- "We knew them before you did; we know real music." I think that in some ways the intense competition between the fans of artists follows the same vein of invented ownership. "I love this musician, so obviously this musician is the best." When somebody challenges that, it's like they're challenging us.

Or maybe we're all just jerks at heart. What do you think? I'd love to hear any alternative opinions.

1 comment:

Alex said...

It seems I read these two blogs in the wrong order. So my comment on Rena's applies here, too.

As I said in my other comment, music is somehow deeply person while also being wildly diverse and universal. And when you love something so much, it becomes a part of you. Then people add their negative opinions and it *is* personal because it's not just your music they're hating on, it's you.

As for mediocrity hate, I cannot understand it. Do people dislike Justin Bieber and the like for the sake of it? I mean, I'm not Bieber fan--I find his songs poorly done and he seems more like a product or advertisement than an actual human at times--but I don't know why anyone would groan upon hearing his name.

But then again, I once reacted that why to Twilight so who am I to talk?