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Old May 19 2013, 06:23 AM   #1
DecktheThralls
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Have cultural standards gotten lower?

Ok I sat through 2 songs of Kanye West and - what is his talent? I heard someone with rudimentary rhythm shouting into a mic. Hardly a feat.

Later watched a young comedian, and typical of so many twenty-something comics these days - where is the joke? Humor is more than just being "cute," or "extremely offensive." The soporific deliveries leave me feeling sad. How is it any different from listening to a friend who thinks he's clever talking across a table at a cafe? There used to be a word for such banality on stage: hack.


So my question is, now that the Web has shattered the walls of Big Media, and celebrities have become more "one of us" - while we have become "big deals" on the Web - are we becoming more satisfied with less talent?

Like Seven playing to the metronome. No depth, no strength, no character. Just kid brothers and sisters being trotted out. Where's the craft? The heritage? The knowledge of what came before? Where's the dues? The education? I've never enjoyed any famous musician who exhibited less skill than the lowest member of a high school band or chorus. Oh - do they still have those?

WTF!

You used to need an audio engineering degree to appreciate bands like Pink Floyd.

Comedians used to break a sweat.

Yes, I see the irony of citing pop music and comedy as examples of culture. I do want my point to be understood....

Is it just me or does everything look like it's being shot through a webcam now.

Oh, one more thing: something wrong with saying "Thank You" instead of "Your Welcome" for customer service? I suppose you should be satisfied with any acknowledgment of your existence at all.
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Old May 19 2013, 06:28 AM   #2
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Re: Have cultural standards gotten lower?

I doubt cultural standards have really changed, because the term is a nebulous one. It's more likely that glasses have become more rosier for some as they look backward. These same questions were asked 20 years ago. They were asked 30 years ago. They were asked 100 years ago. Hell, Plato was asking these questions.

Culture changes. Measuring standards change depending upon who is doing the measuring.
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Old May 19 2013, 06:42 AM   #3
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Re: Have cultural standards gotten lower?

Yeah, what J. Allen said. Although my post would have been nastier and included that "Old Man Yells At Cloud" picture.
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Old May 19 2013, 06:42 AM   #4
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Re: Have cultural standards gotten lower?

I can see your point, of course, J. Generation gaps and all that. Thanks for your input, J.! And your right, describing culture is like Seven Blind Men and the Elephant.

But I'm also raising a question of ease of entry via new media which has not always been a part of humanity, but has, in fact, transformed culture in ways that are not clear yet. There is something significant to the democratization of communications in a way never seen before in human history.

I'm not young, and I'm not old. And what I see is that it is far easier to "achieve" something using digital crutches, sorry, enhancements - and the ubiquity of available communications channels - which before took blood, sweat and tears. You know, character and strength. Not just opinion.
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Old May 19 2013, 06:43 AM   #5
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Re: Have cultural standards gotten lower?

Kelthaz wrote: View Post
Yeah, what J. Allen said. Although my post would have been nastier and included that "Old Man Yells At Cloud" picture.
It may have been nasty but I would have backed you up 100% Kelthaz!
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Old May 19 2013, 06:55 AM   #6
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Re: Have cultural standards gotten lower?

Triskelion wrote: View Post
I can see your point, of course, J. Generation gaps and all that. Thanks for your input, J.!
You're welcome, and glad I could contribute!

And your right, describing culture is like Seven Blind Men and the Elephant.
Hey, hey. We don't need to get into your favorite "ska" bands here, buddy.

But I'm also raising a question of ease of entry via new media which has not always been a part of humanity, but has, in fact, transformed culture in ways that are not clear yet. There is something significant to the democratization of communications in a way never seen before in human history.

I'm not young, and I'm not old. And what I see is that it is far easier to "achieve" something using digital crutches, sorry, enhancements - and the ubiquity of available communications channels.
Okay, I see what you mean. I was taking "cultural standards" to mean all culture. Of course, ease of access can spread across multiple mediums, which can be an attractive (I swear I'm not trying to be dirty as I type this) prospect for most new artists.

I mean, just imagine: You're an 18 year old nobody, who has a webcam and a guitar. You can play, so you start playing covers of other songs. You develop a following on Youtube, and next thing you know, you're getting a 1,000,000 hits every time you post a new video.

Back in the latter half of the 20th century, getting a million eyes on you was difficult as hell if you weren't already in the right place and had already paid your dues. So is it easier to get noticed? Yes.

The downside to this is that you've done all of this work completely uncompensated. Yes, you're noticed, but what are you going to do with that newfound notoriety? If you're talented, you can fashion it into a lucrative career. If not, you'll just be yet another oddity, falling back into obscurity.

Sometimes, people are picked up who have no discernible talent, but they have looks. This has been a staple of modern music for decades. Big time sex appeal has been the focus of rock and roll since Elvis danced about in his blue suede shoes. The thing is, this kind of thinking goes way back, back beyond the music industry, or even the industrial age. Human beings want to see sexy young things, and they want to throw money at them to continue being sexy and young. When that starlet is no longer sexy and/or young, they move on to someone else.

So there is a price to pay in the way we use our technology to produce music and other media, and part of it is that while people can become known much more easily, they can also lose it all just as quickly. Flash in the pan, I believe, will become more common as our technology and time move forward. Now, whether that contributes to our cultural standard, I don't think so, because our cultural standards aren't really much of a standard. We like what we like, and we don't like what we don't like. That's about as uniform as it gets.
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Old May 19 2013, 07:02 AM   #7
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Re: Have cultural standards gotten lower?

Communications tech has definitely changed a lot. But I'd suggest you take a brief step back to really ask yourself if it's changed for the worse. Something being easier to achieve doesn't mean it's a bad thing. "In my day ..." we had to trudge to the library, look things up in the card catalog, and make copies of pages for ten cents each. Now there is so much information available online. Is that an inherently bad thing? Of course not.

Maybe there are artists and performers that have a better shot of reaching an audience now and it's not all about connections, or something.

Although I do admit liking some Kanye songs. They're great to dance to.
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Old May 19 2013, 07:20 AM   #8
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Re: Have cultural standards gotten lower?

^ Awesome replies, guys. Your post Kestra makes me think about movies shot on digital cameras with less resolutions than analog film (unless you're Lucas).

The resulting shots look like home movies shot on camcorder or filtered through a plastic gel. However you can't deny the sheer power of the digital format for creating stunning effects and backdrops. It's a very understandable economic value. Just as MP3's provide an undeniable economic value despite their lossy qualities. I mean, it's not for me to judge these technologies, history is obviously embracing them.

At some point, even cheap digital cameras will provide the resolution of the human eye, and cheap music formats will rival the clarity of the finest analog recordings.

Wars will be fought laying on the sofa watching TV with your laptop.

And getting up to go to the fridge to feed yourself will be an "achievement" worthy of a trophy.
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Old May 19 2013, 11:01 AM   #9
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Re: Have cultural standards gotten lower?

"In my day ..." we had to trudge to the library, look things up in the card catalog, and make copies of pages for ten cents each.
When I was a kid we actually had to copy stuff by hand, because there weren't any "XEROX" machines. None. Zero, zip, nada. Schoolteachers used mimeograph machines to make test papers. Aw, yeah ... mimeo fluid ...

These days it seems that everyone wants to be famous. Things that were unspeakable 20-30 years ago are commonplace today (use your imagination).

As far as music, every generation has its "crazy kids with their [insert genre here]! The world's going straight to hell, I'm telling ya!"

Who am I to argue?
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Old May 19 2013, 01:01 PM   #10
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Re: Have cultural standards gotten lower?

In olden days a glimpse of stocking...
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Old May 19 2013, 02:24 PM   #11
RJDonner&Blitzen
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Re: Have cultural standards gotten lower?

There's no doubt that we're going through a dark age-- not just politically, but culturally and artistically. The general population-- the bulk of the audience-- seems not only to be satisfied with mediocrity but to defend it as if they have a stake in it. This sort of thing is cyclical-- innovation followed by stagnation. However, I think that the opportunities afforded by the Internet and other modern technologies are ultimately the antidote to this. I know a bunch of independent creators and their works satisfy me and entertain me far more than most corporate product. After all, why is most modern entertainment so bad? Because it was chosen for you by some guy in a suit based on how many billions of dollars it will make for his company-- it was chosen to appeal to the lowest denominator. Now that truly sincere artists, writers, poets, musicians, moviemakers et cetera have the opportunity to share their work, the culture will slowly evolve away from the corporate model. Or so one hopes.

Support independent creators!

Triskelion wrote: View Post
I can see your point, of course, J. Generation gaps and all that. Thanks for your input, J.! And your right, describing culture is like Seven Blind Men and the Elephant.
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Old May 19 2013, 08:28 PM   #12
Owain Taggart
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Re: Have cultural standards gotten lower?

It's an interesting question that I've pondered as well. I think that in general it's due to the proliferation of media. It's opened the doors on everything. We have so much more access to everything than we used to, so I think it's natural that there would be more of the louder voices, so to speak. The louder ones tend to get recognized in a sea of voices, not to mention get money thrown at them.

Indie artists have always been here, but I think the internet's given them a new avenue that made it easier for them to get exposure, but the downside being that they now have to compete against the louder voices to get noticed. I've discovered many great musicians over the years that have struggled to not get drowned out. Of course that's been true in the past too, but I think even moreso now. The expansion of media has become a double edged sword.

On the other end of the spectrum, there's a band I really liked that I've wanted to see for quite some time. They became extremely successful and popular touring the festival circuits, to the point that they became too expensive to book in their home country. That touring took its toll and they broke up, and the last I've heard is that they're reuniting with the original lineup and also recording a new album.

If you think about it, it's not only true for Music, but other forms of media as well. It's become so much easier for people to show off their works. For example, digital cameras have exploded in popularity and there are some that have become really good at composing shots, and not having to worry about wasting film. There's more experimentation going on than ever before.
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Old May 19 2013, 08:37 PM   #13
MacLeod
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Re: Have cultural standards gotten lower?

You know I suspect, that this question will be asked again in 10 years, in 20 years etc..

In some respects our tastes are formed in our formative years. So for example someone growing up in the 1980's might prefer music from that decade and think some of today's music is manufactued rubbish with the winner of this years X Factor. That isn't to say they will dislike all music from the current era.

It's the same with movies, someone growing up today might find some 80's films cheesy (and some where) but to someone who grew up watching them it can bring back good memories.

So perhaps nostalgia plays a part in it.
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Old May 19 2013, 09:22 PM   #14
teya
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Re: Have cultural standards gotten lower?

J. Allen wrote: View Post
Sometimes, people are picked up who have no discernible talent, but they have looks. This has been a staple of modern music for decades. Big time sex appeal has been the focus of rock and roll since Elvis danced about in his blue suede shoes.
I sincerely hope you are not including Elvis among the "no discernible talent" cohort...
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Old May 19 2013, 10:01 PM   #15
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Re: Have cultural standards gotten lower?

I bet we could take a sample from every generation of someone bitching about how culture is degrading, starting with Plato (which is the is the earliest example of which I know), through to today, and prove something -- though I doubt it would be the perpetual down-spiral into buffoonish mediocrity the authors attempt to project.

This is going to sound harsh, so I want to preface it by saying that I mean no disrespect, because many people whom I admire greatly throughout history have expressed the same viewpoint as the OP and some other people in this thread, however, it is indeed the very prolific nature of this observation that demonstrates how ridiculous it is. Honestly, I find the question funny -- the notion that simply because pop culture doesn't suit one's tastes means we are living in some kind of cultural and artistic dark age is so blatantly egotistic and so void of perspective as to be laughable. Pop culture always regresses to the mean. That's why it's popular! If you're too out of touch to find the awesome, innovative, and intelligent art, music, and drama that's being made these days then, like these seemingly endless rants about the seemingly endless devolution of humanity, it says more about you than it does about anything else.
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