Monday, November 07, 2005

The last refuge of white pop culture

In the spirit of the frank discussion of race recently held at the circle jerk board you can find from the link on the right, I would like to call your attention to a peculiar fact.

You hardly ever see a caucasian face on MTV any more.

Now, there are some eminently respectable black musicians - from the grand masters of jazz and soul, to modern acts of considerable substance. I have more than a few tracks by these folks on my Archos, and this is down to a simple fact: good music will always be good music.

Unfortunately what you see on MTV is not, for the most part, good music. It's not even good pop music. With the exception of a few gems, the world's premier music channel is full of crap. Now, white crap I can tolerate, but black crap I cannot, because it is alien to me and thus very grating; I realize quite well that an enormous part of MTV's audience is still white, but I'm sorry, I haven't quite been bombarded with glorification of the pimp&gangsta culture to put on a sweatsuit and two pounds of gilded jewellery.

Rock music has been a refuge of whiteness for a long time, although I am aware of its roots in the original R&B scene. Unfortunately there just isn't any good rock music coming out these days. I've done my best to listen to Coldplay, I honestly have, and I'm sorry - it sounds like a cat being pulled by the tail. Franz Ferdinand is good, but by now, spent; they are an interesting contrast to The Darkness, which also recycled British rock of yore, but had the benefit of proper musical genius as opposed to doing one thing with impeccable skill. Metal? Nu-metal is insipid. The golden boys right now are Green Day, and they are good, but desperately outgunned by the last Judas Priest album - it's excellent that the old guard is still there to provide a fix, but it's not moving the game on any, is it? Even my dear Scandinavians have been dropping the ball; The Rasmus, which made excellent music until they became huge, have now relegated themselves to formulaic goth rock for thirteen-year-old girls with LiveJournals. The Hives and their followers really do sound, in the words of Jeremy Clarkson, like they're banging bits of garden furniture together.

But there is a major segment of pop culture utterly dominated by white people, and it shows no sign of giving in. This is extreme sports - skating, inline, BMX, FMX... Turn on EX, or whatever they have in the States (ESPN?), and name me one black person regularly shown there. There are a few Asians, most notably the Yasutoko brothers who dominate inline vert, and the scene is very much international, but you really won't see a black face anywhere.

And hey - it's a lot more entertaining than MTV.

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