Retro Schlock

Excerpts from “You Are Not A Gadget,” by Jaron Lanier:

 “Here is a claim I wish I weren’t making, and that I would prefer to be wrong about: popular music created in the industrialized world in the decade from the late 1990s to the late 2000s doesn’t have a distinct style—that is, one that would provide an identity for the young people who grew up with it. The process of the reinvention of life through music appears to have stopped… Where is the new music? Everything is retro, retro, retro.

 “We’re not just talking about surface features of the music, but the very idea of what music was all about, how it fit into life. Does it convey classiness and confidence, like Frank Sinatra, or help you drop out, like stoner rock? Is it for a dance floor or a dorm room?

(not the Beatles)

(not Abba)

“There are creative, original musicians at work today, of course. (I hope that on my best days I am one of them.) There are undoubtedly musical marvels hidden around the world. But this is the first time since electrification that mainstream youth culture in the industrialized world has cloaked itself primarily in nostalgic styles.

“Some of my colleagues in the digital revolution argue that we should be more patient; certainly with enough time, culture will reinvent itself. But how patient should we be? I find that I am not willing to ignore a dark age.”

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