Mostly for Ben, Tony and Others

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/20/opinion/20brooks.html?em&ex=1195794000&en=52e62e25f7dcf407&ei=5087

Ben, Skip and Tony are probably the most interested in this. It’s an essay by David Brooks in today’s New York Times.

OP-ED COLUMNIST
The Segmented Society
Published: November 20, 2007
On Feb. 9, 1964, the Beatles played on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Or as Steven Van Zandt remembers the moment: “It was the beginning of my life.”
Van Zandt fell for the Beatles and discovered the blues and early rock music that inspired them. He played in a series of bands on the Jersey shore, and when a friend wanted to draw on his encyclopedic blues knowledge for a song called “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” Van Zandt wound up as a guitarist for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Enjoy…

4 comments

  1. who will be then free to ignore, denigrate, and insulate themselves from any information that doesn’t fit with their own world views.

    Exactly like white, suburban, middle-class normative culture did in the 1950s & 1960s, and in fact, exactly like every culture and subculture that is not significantly oppressed (and thus cannot avoid unwanted information) has always done.

    The idea of “Mainstream” culture being a monolith is and has always been pretty much useless.

    Especially during the pre-cable TV era (especially the 1950s & 60s), this was not true. Everyone had 3 big networks to watch, a handful of local radio stations and movie theaters showing recent releases. In terms of mass media, that’s an exceptionally limited range, and much of it was heavily focused on conformity. Things opened up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and since that time, cable TV and then the internet has (thankfully) been preventing the return of the sort of limits on images of diversity that was present in the 1950s and 60s.

  2. “it is my sincere hope that in a few decades any definition of mainstream culture will be meaningless, and will have been fully replaced by dozens or hundreds of ever-evolving subcultures…”

    who will be then free to ignore, denigrate, and insulate themselves from any information that doesn’t fit with their own world views.

    The idea of “Mainstream” culture being a monolith is and has always been pretty much useless. What was different back then was that the various subcultures communicated more with each other, and that barely happens anymore.

  3. I read that, and as is typically the case with neocons like David Brooks, we have radically different responses to the same data. I see this same segmentation and actively celebrate it, just as many ideas he likes horrify me. The enforced and ubiquitous conformity of the 1930s-mid 1960s was both oppressive and also nothing more or less than a reflection of the primitive state of mass media back then. There were only a few sources of mass media (a limited number of radio stations, and a bit later a tiny number of TV stations, movie theaters largely showing only the limited number of first-run movies. So, what those media channels preached was conformity and uniformity, both by their very existence and as a means to increase the number of listeners. The result was a monolithic mainstream culture that was straight, white, male-dominated, and deeply limited.

    Today, we have a multitude of media options with cable TV, internet radio, music & video downloads, netflix, as well as more limited access to the mass media of the rest of the planet. So, now we have a multitude of subcultures each free to pursue their own interests and dreams, and it is my sincere hope that in a few decades any definition of mainstream culture will be meaningless, and will have been fully replaced by dozens or hundreds of ever-evolving subcultures.

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