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amanda 09-01-2005 02:35 AM

Cultural Phenomenon
 
Pakistani band plays "I Want To Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles in front of the Indian PM to highlight good relations between the two countries.

While listening to the news report, I start humming the 30+ year old song. However, it struck me that I probably couldn't hum one song that is playing on any radio station right now. Yes, I'm in my twenties-thankyouverymuch.

Many people I know are turning away from their televisions, shunning popular movies, keeping away from commercial radio and turning more to the Internet for information, itunes for music and first-person computer games for entertainment and social interaction- each one a source that is highly fragmented, channeled through the choices of the individual.

Will common cultural phenomenons, such as the Beatles, become a thing of the past? In a few years, will we have nothing in common with those folks physically around us, but instead, cultivating ties to tribes that are only accessible through our choices? Is this a good or bad thing?

madasacutsnake 09-01-2005 03:19 AM

Never been one for mass excitement which usually equals banal and mediocre anyway. Give me fragmented and select any day.

craig johnston 09-01-2005 06:58 AM

well said snake. the beatles had their moments but were extremely over rated, same goes for elvis (even more so).
there's just as much pleasure to be gained from listening to a band from two blocks away as some global superstars in my opinion. i like the way things are going and hope it continues. however the mass market dross is not completely dead yet, look at britney etc or live aid.

btw i heard 'come together' on the radio the other day and was blown away. what a great tune!
:)

sparticle 09-02-2005 11:54 AM

Show me any group of thousands screaming anything in unison and I will show you a potential for one very smart person to get them to do virtually anything, things they might never have considered doing as individuals.

Is this necessarily good or bad? The potential seems to go both directions on the spectrum, but I can't say as mob psychology even at its most positive has ever held any particular appeal for me. I think society is better benefited by people who do things, enjoy things and participate in things because they think for themselves, not because everyone else is doing it and they might be left out if they don't go along. The mediocre so often seems to be the mean; I'd prefer to see individuals reaching a level of excellence (or not) to "everybody get[ting]in line".

Good debate question.

sparticle 09-02-2005 11:56 AM

I still love going to baseball games, btw, but actually prefer watching them at home for the most part. I'd rather concentrate on the game than sit with a bunch of annoying people doing the "wave" or whatever. Just don't play well with others, I guess.

Brynn 09-02-2005 11:37 PM

On the other hand, just to be devil's advocate -
what about those wonderful, unforgettable experiences that can only be had as a group of people in community?

What comes to mind immediately is a play I saw once in Ashland. It was a performance of A Winter's Tale that was absolutely exquisite. It was outside, and it started to rain. An audience member selfishly put up an umbrella at the first sprinkles and was gently shamed by audience members around him to put it away so everyone could see. As sprinkles became a downpour, the actors donned rain ponchos to protect their beautiful costumes. The sound of the driving rain made it difficult to hear - and yet, the play continued.
With the extras stripped away, the actors put forth an extra effort to be heard and understood. There was a kind of "leaning forward" so to speak towards the audience, an extension of heart and will. The audience reciprocated as a whole by "leaning forward" with all their energies to hear, to see through the rain, and to willfully ignore the fact that they were becoming soaked by the warm summer rain.
Somewhere in the middle the two forces collided in what I will always remember as a completely electric, dynamic experience of theatre, and in a larger sense, we all experienced art as bringing unity.
Solitude is a wonderful and necessary thing, but just as important, I feel, is community. It keeps us honest, accountable, generous. Shared experience tears down personal and cultural barriers, and makes us a little more forgiving and patient with each other.

In an increasingly isolated world, where everyone gets into their own little cars, goes to their own little cubicles, fills their own little niches with their work, eats their lunches by themselves with a book, goes home in their cars, gets angry at the other me-firsts on the road, pulls into forbidding garages that are bigger and more prominent than the front porch, and hole up in their houses for the rest of the evening behind a privacy screen, I can't help but feel that this translates into an increasingly narcissistic world view when it comes to the body politic.

Music has always been a kind of societal glue - it's become less so since Clear Channel co-opted it. I don't blame people for seeking better music on the internet - it's definitely a better place to find it. But I feel that music is and always will be something best shared. :)

craig johnston 09-03-2005 10:42 AM

nice story brynn, but the two aren't exclusive. your's is just the kind of spontaneous, for want of a better word, 'happening', that wouldn't be allowed to occur at some slick stadium rock show. grass roots local events will always have an edge over mass market product for just that reason.
:)

Aphrodite 09-03-2005 12:38 PM

It is best when unique individuals act as individuals in seeking what they are naturally drawn to, that communities are formed.
Links and communities evolve when like minded individuals find each other. Surfers find surfers, car lovers find car lovers, religious find religious, new mom's find new mom's.

I prefer small groups over large ones. The people tend to be more involved. The individuals share their unique touch, skills, viewpoints and history. Each person has responsibility. Each voice can be heard.

In a larger group the seperate differences become washed out, and less important. Greater strides must be taken to be heard or noticed. Less responsibility is needed by the individual. Followers follow, and leaders must be bolder somehow to stand apart. As a result little groups tend to form within. The small community will always exist, the individuals will continue to find like-minded groups.

Brynn 09-03-2005 02:26 PM

^I completely agree. I think someone did a study once about group dynamics - they found out that a group of 6-8 was ideal for interaction and intimacy, but once a group went past 10, the exchange of ideas diminished and leaders began to dominate as more quiet members of the group became too shy to contribute.

Quote:

Originally Posted by craig johnston
nice story brynn, but the two aren't exclusive. your's is just the kind of spontaneous, for want of a better word, 'happening', that wouldn't be allowed to occur at some slick stadium rock show. grass roots local events will always have an edge over mass market product for just that reason.
:)

Yeah - unless you count Bruce Springsteen (the only stadium show I've been to in a long time). There's a case for a leader setting the tone - and he does it with his own honesty and vulnerability. I could name a few other artists that can pull a huge audience together, but it would really date me! :D

sparticle 09-03-2005 08:27 PM

^^^David Bowie.

We saw him perform in 2002 and early 2004. Different cities, different playlists, different venues (an outdoor entertainment complex and a college concert "large hall"/sports arena type place).

Both places, he somehow managed to find time to talk to the audience as if they were in his living room, and received wildly enthusiastic responses. Interestingly, although there were people from all age groups, social groups, etc., at both concerts, people were almost without exception friendly and civilized, and enthusiastically participated. It was not like being the audience to some preconceived "concept" show; it was like being a part of the event. I don't know how he did it, but one of the world's greatest and most acclaimed superstars created "small hall" ambience in huge commercial settings, and the audience really got into the spirit of it and behaved very harmoniously.

craig johnston 09-03-2005 09:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brynn
unless you count Bruce Springsteen (the only stadium show I've been to in a long time). There's a case for a leader setting the tone - and he does it with his own honesty and vulnerability. I could name a few other artists that can pull a huge audience together, but it would really date me! :D

don't worry about that!
i saw bruce in 1981 at a huge venue in london and despite his fantastic efforts the gig was spoiled for me by the crowd who clapped along to every beat of every song. it was so annoying that i remember it to this day! i also remember the next evening i saw an obscure band called josef k at a tiny pub and it was just as good. i would love to see springsteen in a small venue, that would be ideal.
there are always exceptions, it's just generally close up intimate saw the sweat on his brow type gigs have an edge (for me anyway).
:)

amanda 09-04-2005 06:27 AM

sparti- here's an excerpt on a book called "the wisdom of crowds" that counters some of what you mentioned... (which I tend to agree with, btw)

While our culture generally trusts experts and distrusts the wisdom of the masses, New Yorker business columnist James Surowiecki argues that "under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent, and are often smarter than the smartest people in them." To support this almost counterintuitive proposition, Surowiecki explores problems involving cognition (we're all trying to identify a correct answer), coordination (we need to synchronize our individual activities with others) and cooperation (we have to act together despite our self-interest). His rubric, then, covers a range of problems, including driving in traffic, competing on TV game shows, maximizing stock market performance, voting for political candidates, navigating busy sidewalks, tracking SARS and designing Internet search engines like Google. If four basic conditions are met, a crowd's "collective intelligence" will produce better outcomes than a small group of experts, Surowiecki says, even if members of the crowd don't know all the facts or choose, individually, to act irrationally. "Wise crowds" need (1) diversity of opinion; (2) independence of members from one another; (3) decentralization; and (4) a good method for aggregating opinions. The diversity brings in different information; independence keeps people from being swayed by a single opinion leader; people's errors balance each other out; and including all opinions guarantees that the results are "smarter" than if a single expert had been in charge.

I plan on reading the book soon to get a better idea of how he outlines his arguments.

on a side note...
what is the role of the cultural symbol? Pele, Statue of Liberty, Mao, Palestinan flag..... are there places for these sorts of cultural symbols in the future? if so, how will they come about? all the ones I mentioned are (mostly) geographically-based. what will base the symbols of the future?

craig johnston 09-04-2005 09:18 AM

^^^^
great amanda. i do like this thread.
you mean symbols other than microsoft, nike, mcdonalds logos?
:)

sparticle 09-04-2005 06:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by amanda
sparti- here's an excerpt on a book called "the wisdom of crowds" that counters some of what you mentioned... (which I tend to agree with, btw)....
I plan on reading the book soon to get a better idea of how he outlines his arguments.

Well, and admittedly, in some instances many heads probably ARE better than one. I'm not sure I'm sold on the idea of a collective inelligence, but it's entirely possible that many are better than one in some situations.

Another example, too, of how it's almost always better to consider a question from many sides and consult others. The ideas introduced here are almost certainly things I would never have come up with on my own, and yet each side has its own validity....

Of course, as a Libra, I simultaneously agree and disagree with everyone -- it's kind of what I do. *grin*

xfox 09-05-2005 01:47 PM

Nice thread! Perhaps different generations and diversity make the best mix. Do quality and quantity affect vibes?

I generally agree with Ms Mad ever since Woodstock. Yeah, more about my personal experience, sorry for the one dimensionality.

I am against monoliths.


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