For a while I've been turned off by music. I used to think it has something to do with my general estrangement to society (and that's true), but it's also because when I read the lyrics, most of the time it made no sense. It's a hodge-podge of loosely connected ideas seemingly glued together by a general theme- the hook- and/or the listeners interpretation of the song.
But I also hated how vapid most of the music was. It wasn't really talking about anything. Of course... I did like some music. I liked "Rage Against the Machine" and "Linkin Park". I thought it was speaking the "truth". Unfortunately...even that was wrong.
The more I thought about it the more I looked at what the lyrics of songs- and various types of the most popular media- were actually saying. And, ironically, I found it to be a lot like politics.
Seeing it from my view, music, media, and politics are all very populist things. They thrive by appealing to the most people possible. There's a thing going around today called "socially conscious" or "socially aware" music. Wouldn't you know it, that same thing has slipped into media. And today it's most recently defined as being "woke". But like those songs I felt were "so true" it's really just half-truths. Just like politics. The hook is to appeal to you detriments, your losses, your lacks...or your desires, your dreams, and your ambitions. All these things center on you, for the most part. Even when they are trying to convince you to think in another way or do something you don't want to do, they do this by offering or embellishing something you want, lack, or believe in.
In my words, media and politics "sells people their ideal selves" or "a fantasy". They get up on stage and everything is about YOU. You are the greatest citizens in the greatest state in the greatest country in the greatest world in the greatest galaxy of the universe. Your standing on the greatest ground ever. "Great" is YOU and everything connected to you. What has to change? Everything you don't agree with. Everything that grinds your gears. The idea is that through YOU, profit can be made on their end. Birds of a feather stick together because they are more like YOU. The greatest lubricant to any idea or situation is YOU. You've often heard the term "appeal to self-interest". There's a reason for that. It's true. Things sell or have a greater chance of being accepted the more personalized to you they become- whether it is a real aspect of yourself, a desired aspect of yourself, or whether it attempts to fix something broken, pained, imperiled, or lacking in yourself- real or imagined.
The most popular forms of music sell you on your natural instincts. They sell you on your juvenile aspirations and world-view. It does not reflect the world or offer a true glimpse into the depth of the world. Not truly. It offers a half-truth in order to sell you the bull. It aggrandizes your sense of individuality. It commodifies your rage against oppression and your instinct to reject and rebel. It harnesses your self-pity, self-doubt, or your desires and your fantasies. And when it's not doing this it's focusing on those of the artist. Of their self-centered world-view and philosophy.
It's poetry, in a way. Sometimes rich, containing great and moving bits of personal or empathic vision or meaning, but not really the truth of the world so much as a transient conceit. It is, at best, loosely based on reality, but ultimately an elaboration or distortion of it. It a framing of reality into a narrative more palatable to the person. Why are stories so powerful? They simply the world into a coherent message- emphasizing certain things while minimizing others. A story is generally a definite thing that removes a lot of the uncertainties in life. You generally know the meaning behind most actions, or can count on an explanation at some point in the story. Things will usually have a purpose- though it may be bread-crumbed throughout it's length.
You might find yourself having asked the question, "Why is politics so full of zits? Why is music so zit these days?"
Answer? It'a always been that way...you're just paying attention to it more than you used to. Kids will pitch the world into the fire for a laugh and a great and exciting moment. They do not care about anything more than enjoying themselves. I think adults are in a way more susceptible. They've worked for things in the world and so they are more invested in it- for better or worse. They are more cautious about losing those things, so it gives them a bit more of a sober mind and wariness to deception...but it also makes the pliable. Once you get a home for yourself, you're not going to look very kindly on losing it- even if it was gotten by bad deeds. You'll do another bad deed to keep it because you have too much riding on it. A perfect example is back in the days of Rome when Caesar headed north he ran into Germanic tribes. These were people ousted from their own homes by violence. They know the injustice first hand. But what do they do. They attempt to oust others out of their homes further west to get new homes. You can imagine these same peoples, hundreds of years later, drawing up ballads and anthems about how moral and virtuous the beginning of their nation was when really it started from a bunch of armed scavengers. You can imagine the dreams sold to them to get them to do this to other people- to get them to risk their lives doing this to other people. To do this at the orders of a man who claims the right to order them to do this at so high a cost. Adults are more knowledgeable, more refined, but that just makes the dream offered to them- the excitement and the fantasy- that much more refined.
One of my most powerful convictions is that we have already been living in a sort of virtual world. It's not one we jack into by putting on physical goggles, but mental ones. Things akin to rose-colored glasses. We don't see the world as it is. Whether it is our desires or our detriments. Our wants or our fears. The world is seen through the lens of the person- through their sense of right and wrong. They are led along by it in life in all things. Even in relationships, the truth will destroy it. Romance...the poetic elaboration of reality or the ability to entertain someone by sensationalizing the boring and trivial (ie, being with people that can make an elevator ride enjoyable and a topic of conversation) is what we gravitate to. These things have a curious magnetism which is what attributes to mass popularity and mass-movements despite the inherent flaws in the thing being idolized.
We are also shown the flaws in these things consistently, but at some point we are so connected to a thing that it becomes hard to accept the reality. Patriots can never see their country in a bad light. I have heard and read of cases where people will go out of their way to make sure the history or things their child is taught in schools does not reflect objective reality, but their world-view- whether it be political, religious, or whatever. This is not about politics, but this is why media is often predominantly liberal. It panders to the person- hooking them by their inner workings. Bill Cosby and Donald Trump. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. I've heard so many people say that at least Obama was a good president because he sounded better. He made people feel like he was professional. He seems to be in command. It doesn't matter that we don't know what the hell the President is doing when he's not on camera...or when he's on camera. He could be drawing d-picks instead of signing important legislation he barely had a hand in crafting or legalizing. The same thing with our great authors. Our great musicians. They engage us in a particular way, and through that, we color the rest of reality through it. While I don't necessarily know what the nature of Heath Ledger is, it occurs to me that he is considered not simply a great actor, but almost canonized as a saint. This has less to do with who he was as a person rather than what he did. How well he played a fictional character. I'm not saying that we hate people first but, yeah, after hearing things about all these artists and such that come out and we find these dark and twisted back stories you've got to wonder that before this expose you thought the world of these people. They were the epitome of how people should be. They were lionized for the things they did. Your view of them was hardly ever really informed. You filled in the blanks based on how they made you feel. You see the world in poetry...not reality. At all times, to some degree, we live in a virtual world. And I think advertisers understand this. Media understands this. Politicians understand this. Why are all of these things essentially lying to us? Because that is what we desire. The same way it is hard to tell your wife she is not beautiful, even though you may walk over beautiful women for her and in a way, she might not fully accept the idea that even without physical beauty the love you have for her gives her a physical beauty that's hard to remove. You will be attracted to the things you are genuinely attracted to. The poetic vision we see the world through will bend reality to suit it. This is why super intelligent people can be conned so deftly. It's not about knowing fact from fiction. It's that our base human desires are drawn to fiction much more than fact. We want certain things to be real and are willing to follow a hint of it actually being possible.
Even the meaning of life is a pleasant fiction, but a seemingly vital one because it's that same poetry that makes us the ridiculous human beings animated by the insane that we are rather than the pure, logic-driven robots we could never...ever...accept as a way of living. To me, this solved the reason why bad movies are accepted as good. Stupid songs with ridiculous lyrics can top the charts. And why politicians lie and are so trusted...despite constant contradiction. It's not about truth or reality. It's not as much about them as it is about us. Or desires...our wants...or our losses...and our lacks-physically...mentally...emotionally...ideologically...socially...etc.