Carriers of the Torch

When pondering the question of rock and roll and its influence as an instrument of moral decay, cold-hearted commerce, and positive insurrection, a question worth taking up is: "Why bother analyzing it?"

To some, the music is rude, low-class, and blatantly sexual and so could not possibly play any part in improving anyone’s life. This is the old elitist or puritanical school of thought. It is, at this point, held only by an irrelevant minority, and it is mostly kept alive to give corporate rock something to rebel against, and thus maintain an aura of authenticity. The threat to the music today comes not from those who would condemn it, but from those who have trivialized it.

The other way of objecting to serious moral and intellectual scrutiny of rock culture is to say: "Why bother thinking about it?" This camp gathers under Sir Mick Jagger’s old slogan: "It’s only rock and roll but I like it...." This is the MTV, VH1, E! channel orthodoxy of the day: "It’s all entertainment. It’s just a giggle. Lighten up, man," all intoned with the old Beavis and Butthead snigger. You could make a good case that this light-hearted avoidance of thought and substance is one of the core evils in American culture today.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2004
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