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Vice VERSUS - The Destructive and BOGUS Origins of Music Rivalries
MUSIC is not a GENRE - Season 2 Episode #37



People are passionate about the music they love. (Most people anyway. We won’t mention the others :) ). When that passion runs so deep that it becomes part of their core identity, it can cause fires. They can get insulted by people who don’t like a favorite artist or style. They can get so obsessed with their music that all other music is ignored or deemed unworthy, and that stance spreads to the other music lovers. They can let that feeling run so rampant that it goes from apathy to disdain to outright hatred.


I’ve felt all of that. I’m a passionate music obsessive. I used to be so protective of my tastes that I’d be afraid to share them, so disdainful of others who disagreed that I could barely discuss music with anyone ever. I’d cling tightly to my opinions and keep them to myself, or share them only within a like-minded echo chamber.


It’s easy to explain and understand the internal reasons why we can get this way. It’s what we’re exposed to as kids and young adults. It makes us feel what we want to. It reflects ourselves back to ourselves in the light we want to see. It gives us a safe space to hide our vulnerabilities from the perceived dangers of the unknown. And it’s important to note that, somewhere in our being - consciously or not, we choose to embrace these exclusionary attitudes.


What often gets overlooked are the external reasons. Social pressure to belong to a certain group or demographic. Industry messages that favor one artist or type of music over another, and target those messages only to certain people. Media sensationalism that shirks factual reporting to focus solely on controversy, even when that controversy is completely made up. Critics and journalists whose bias shines through their words more strongly than any attempt at objective analysis. We’re not always aware of these pressures and influences, but they’re always there, imposing restrictions on the otherwise boundless world of music appreciation.


Think of all the music rivalries. Beatles v. Stones. MJ v. Prince. Nirvana v. Pearl Jam. Mariah v. Whitney. Tupac v. Biggie. Metal v. Punk. Rock v. Disco or Hip Hop. All of these were either completely untrue, or only true because either fans let their passions divide them, or one of those external influencers hyped up differences to stir up press and money. In some cases, like Rock v. Disco, it stemmed not just from the mercenary pursuit of dollars and power, but also from flat out racism. Which shows that even fake rivalries can get ugly, even dangerous.


We have a choice, one that allows us to hold onto what we believe, and still be open to others’ tastes and beliefs and opinions and experiences. Maybe even open to appreciating something they do, something we never thought we’d understand.


When I was a kid, I never understood why people couldn’t like both rock and disco. But I kept it to myself, and that started me down the road of developing that exclusive, divisive mindset. External pressures and internal fear caused me to separate myself from too many people. That adopted, learned-nourished mindset took hold, and prevented me from sharing the joy of the music I love. It compelled me to judge others so harshly that I dismissed both them AND their music, as a defense against the possibility that they might do the same to me.


THEN I made a conscious choice to grow out of all that, to open up and be vulnerable, so I could be more connected, more informed, and ultimately happier and stronger. It took time and overcoming fear and mistrust, but I kept at it, because I wanted people to know what I love, and to feel their love even if it didn’t match. Because it has to go both ways. For someone else to respect my musical tastes - or even more crucially my actual original music - I need to first extend that respect. I don’t have to like what they like and vice versa. I can seriously not get why they are into some band or style and vice versa. And I can be okay with all of that. And vice versa.


Apply any of this to the works at large, to political social sexual religious beliefs and opinions. See how we are deliberately being manipulated and divided so we can’t all work together to seize power from those doing the dividing. See how we can consciously choose to open ourselves to others’ experiences while still holding onto our own, and how that doesn’t threaten our well-being. It strengthens it. We can all be respected and heard, and develop true conversation, true connection, and true and lasting change.

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