17 July 2020

Bloody Link Sausage Platter

Not to be confused with blood sausages; black pudding doesn't matter (Black lives do). No, this platter is a bit bloody-minded. In a good way.

  • I'm bloody-minded about the "music industry," particularly its Nashville-based components. We'll leave aside the antiintellectualism inherent in that town, and in music emanating from that town, for the nonce. That's a problem all too often masked under "but what we're really objecting to is lazy citydwellers who don't value hard work" — a problem also common in other forms and loci of popular music (e.g., punk and waaaay too much rock) — but it's not my primary objection.

    No, my objection is to the bloody tunnel vision. The sense of entitlement built into both country and "western" that the performers, the industry, and the audience are all much smarter than anyone else, and deserve much more of the good stuff. That attitude is far from unique to country, of course; classical music in general and specific composers (and even performers) are not exempt from an overweening sense of entitlement, all too often weaponized — both for and against them.

    Then, too, there's the economic sense of entitlement on the "industrial" side; again, Nashville is not unique, but it is also the worst about it. The only segment of the arts in which a higher proportion of the "rewards" are reserved to those other than the creatives is possibly big-production Hollywood. Possibly. Compare that to the 15% accorded writers of book-length works… and, conversely, to the "labor cost" in coal, pickup trucks, moonshine, and agricultural commodities. Now throw in Nashville's despair at the Copyright Act of 1976's evisceration of some of its favorite abusive contract terms imposed on performers and songwriters… and the fact that Nashville hasn't changed its contracting practices one little bit in a half a century; the same abuses are just buried elsewhere. And so are the same abuses in payment systems. Conversely, there's also the same sense of entitlement and ignorance of artistic endeavor in there (ponder, for a moment, exactly who the copyright holder was and how it became the copyright holder).

  • It's business as usual in Chicago politics, too. The more the calendar changes, the less the substance changes. Y'all may recall I've expressed my disdain for family-based power structures just a few times, explicitly naming this jerk… and his daughter (who, so far as I can tell, is not implicated in this particular scheme, but became Attorney General of Illinois on the basis of good Family connections).
  • General business hardly gets a free pass here (registrationwall), which — given that two of the modern basic microeconomics texts no longer even mention that the profit motive is about enlightened self-interest – should surprise exactly no one. (One of the authors of those texts was a major economic adviser to the second Bush administration — and in twenty years' time when all of the memoirs from mid-level operatives come out, it's going to look a lot worse than it does now. If that's possible.)
  • Returning to the entertainment world for a moment, ponder the problem of H'wood performers demanding more behind-the-camera diversity. On one hand, it's a worthy goal; the systemic racism and other bigotry is a serious impediment. Can I just point out that Harvey Weinstein is one of them and leave it there? But this particular protest entirely misses the point: The show is about the publishing industry, where racism, bigotry, entitlement, and worker abuse are even more rampant than in H'wood (if only because an even higher proportion of those with power in publishing Come From Money). If Ms Dee wants to effect change, she should also consider just how unusual her own in-front-of-the-camera role is in the "real" publishing industry — let alone in the profitable parts of publishing, like nontrade nonfiction, instructional/academic, and professional/technical. My suspicion is that she hasn't been exposed to that… if only because the most obvious affiliated publisher is among the least diverse publishers in its segment, which is not any of those.