Monday, November 11, 2013

Boomer-Bashing Article Hits a Sour Note

There’s a new cartoon blog post floating around the ether about how the musical icons of the boomer generation were horrible, horrible people. It’s clear by the tone of the piece that the author takes sadistic glee in pointing out the deep personal flaws of these famous individuals. The stories about Jimmy Page, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Jerry Garcia and others are certainly not new revelations, and yes, some of their actions were deplorable, but there are a couple of serious problems with this kind of article that I feel compelled to point out.

This is a classic example of the straw man fallacy. The author accuses those who admire classic rock icons of being hypocrites for deifying people who did some rotten things in their personal lives. The reality is that Page, Lennon, Clapton et al are deified for their talents and contributions as musician/songwriters, not because we pretend they led exemplary lives. The basic assumption of the author, that we should vilify any artist’s work because they did bad things, is, as Spock would say, illogical. Using his reasoning, we should ignore the work of Mozart because he was a womanizer and heavy drinker or Van Gough because he was insane and mutilated himself. It’s about the art, stupid.

The second major objection I have with this kind of hit piece is that it arbitrarily picks a time out of music history to imply that these musicians were somehow worse human beings than musicians before or after them. If you don’t think there was racism, pedophilia, domestic violence, addiction, and other unsavory behavior among musicians prior to 1965 (Jerry Lee Lewis married his thirteen-year old cousin), you need to reenter earth’s atmosphere. And what about post-boomer musicians? Well, we have candidates for sainthood Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, Ice T, Snoop Lion, Miley Cyrus, Chris Brown, Lil’ Wayne, oh, the list could go on and on.

I am not condoning or making light of the actions of so many musical artists, my point is simply that if we don’t make a distinction between the art and the artist, we would have to empty out the museums and destroy all the CDs in the bonfire of our demagoguery.

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