Tradition, inertia, and the status quo

Last night, I was having pre-debate dinner with family, and we were talking about how incredible (in the truest sense of the word) it is that sg has not (yet) adopted the trappings of celebrity obsession that have come to almost every other form of music and/or entertainment I can think of (country music being the most recent musical genre to treat its performers like the lords of life and elevate them to the untouchable status of Superstars, which wasn’t the case not so long ago). As I commented a few posts ago, this lack of pretension and affectedness in sg is often really refreshing. And it’s what makes me think that internet forums, websites, and blogs about sg may have some effect on the way things are done, since the connection between fan and performer is so relatively tight and close. I mean, in what other music industry could you email many of your favorite performers and often get a response? I can’t think of any. All that said, sg as a business and an art form is still thoroughly under the sway of traditionalists whose biggest ally is the sheer inertia of the status quo, which rewards centralized authority and administrative opacity (no one would have been shocked by Claude Hopper’s political speech if sg was accustomed to the kind of bluntness, more or less, that Hopper displayed at NQC). There are many reasons why traditionalism is still the order of the day in sg (one of which, many folks will tell you, is the Biblical prohibition of being not of this world but being separate, but like so much else in the Bible, you can pretty much trot this bit out to mean anything you want and/or to stop a conversation dead in its tracks, so I’m going to move on for now). But the most obvious answer seems to be the conservative tendencies (not only politically, but temperamentally, professionally) of sg fans and powerbrokers. The persistent popularity of cassette tapes, for instance, is not just a quaint indication of the average age of sg fans; it’s evidence, among many other things, of an antipathy toward change, evolution, and innovation. Need more evidence? Look no further than the list of contact information for NQC board members that made the rounds recently. Not one of them included an email address or website where people could submit their comments. If you’re trying to cultivate interest and engagement from younger listeners and fans (and surely the NQC board must at least think about the importance of this proposition, if it expects the NQC to survive past the current generation of retirees), why wouldn’t you go out of your way to take advantage of new media and forms of communication that young people (and more than a few older people) use on a daily basis?

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