Friday, June 6, 2008

The music "industry": race to the bottom

A musician friend recently passed on a pitch he’d received from an industry contact. It went like this:

BANDS AND ARTISTS FROM ALL GENRES (but primarily Alt Rock bands or Hip Hop groups) are sought after by a Film/TV Production company currently casting for a new Reality TV show airing on a popular cable network… They're looking for a band/group that has talent and potential, but is struggling with one or more members in terms of moving forward with their career. It could be that a member has an addiction problem, or a less serious (but annoying) responsibility problem, a gambling issue, or an inability to cooperate with the rest of the band in one way or another. The scenarios could be vast, but they really want a band with personality who's not afraid to "show their dirt" to the TV audience. They will be open to using the band's songs on the show, granted that the quality is there. There will be on camera/live performance opportunities, in addition to full promotion of the band and their music.

My friend and I commiserated briefly about what it meant about the state of both our culture and the music industry that artists were being bribed with free promotion to turn their most painful and/or embarrassing moments of personal failure into entertainment for the masses. The word “disturbing” came up frequently in our conversation.

Then I received a pitch from someone obviously affiliated with the same show:

I am a producer for a new reality show featuring promising bands on the **** Network.

This show is a great opportunity for some up and coming bands to get some excellent exposure! Most bands have internal conflicts of some sort that they would like to rectify. This show will help the band work on a problem it has been facing once and for all.

We are currently trying to spread the word about this opportunity and are accepting applicants from all music genres. It would be great if we could post a banner that mentions our casting call your subscribers… I’d love to be able to reach all the artists on your site as this is a great opportunity for them to showcase their music and get attention, on television.

My response:

Sorry ***** – nothing personal – but the premise of your show is offensive to me both as a music lover and as a human being. I don’t care how much “exposure” a band gets out of it, exploiting people’s pain for ratings is just plain wrong.



Michael Ehret said...

Well, I certainly appreciate your response.

With things like this, I am reminded of Rome, coliseums, and the end of civilization as we know it.

What's the Monty Pyton sketch with a man walking through the medieval village calling "Bring out your dead!"

And one of the villagers brings out an old man, dumps him on the cart, and turns his back. Whereupon the old man calls out, "I"m not dead yet!"

The villager-Python says, "you're almost dead, you'll be dead by supper."

And the old man replies, "no, really, I'm feeling much better."

Then they argue back and forth a bit and finally the village prevails upon the cart driver to bludgeon the man to death, and off he goes continue his "Bring out your dead" call.

Bruce Rusk said...

Is anyone surprised by this?

The culture of "reality TV' is dedicated to the understanding that in our culture, out greatest pleasures often lies in the misfortune of others. We have sunk to a level where we elevate ourselves by lowering others.

The most puerile, worthless deviant can affirm his own worth by finding someone who is slightly more effed up than they are. And we revel in, wallow in, and celebrate the failings of anyone who falls into the public bullseye of the camera. The heights of glee and satisfaction come with a surging endorphine rush as we applaud and jeer at the latest survivor to be cast off, the next house mate to be shown the door.

One only needs to watch the kingpin of this nightly wasteland of shallowness, and the most successful of these emotional and psychological public flayings, American Idol, to see the proof in this pudding.

As each pathetic, weeping loser is eliminated, as they stand dejected receiving hugs from the ones left standing (who are all thinking "better you then me"), do we leave the poor slob to their quiet grief, do we give them a respectful farewell. HELL NO! We drag them out and make them sing!

Hey loser! You Suck! You are unworthy! You are judged and found lacking!

So how about one more song for old times?! You see, we want to feed on your grief just a little bit more, so we can pity you, elevate ourselves, and sell a few cokes.

Jason Warburg said...

Bring it, Brother Rusk. Amen.