Thursday, October 20, 2005

Moby, please shut up please

Truth is, I have never liked Moby. I found his music unimaginative, although his early work was novel in its use of electronics. But I lost any respect whatsoever when he released his record PLAY. Taking such heart-stoppingly beautiful, soulful spirituals and turning them into banal repetitive and uninspired dance music struck me as truly disrespectful of the musicians from whom he stole. Then I saw him "perform." He ran around a stage clapping his hands over his head while pre-recorded tracks played, and he occasionally strummed a guitar. His "performance" was a joke, when one considers all the musicians who truly do perform, who can sing and play instruments and compose and conduct.

Then some students showed me his website. His drawings were no more interesting than anything any average child could come up with. His journalis embarassing in its vapidity and the utter lack of originality in his thought. His photographs were just plain stupid. I remember one vividly: a bunch of bananas poised over the lip of a toilet, juvenile and poorly executed. My students laughed at the shallowness of it all. Then I learned that Moby frequently went on anti-corporate rants, like some counter-culture figure from the `60s. So how does he reconcile these sentiments with the fact that he sold his music to be used on commercials, one of which I saw (I think it was for a car company)? A hypocrite, a self-server, I decided. Like Ralph Nader, decrying the corporate ruling of America while collecting millions in stock dividends.

But I pay no attention to Moby usually. Today, though, I read an issue of TIME magazine in which he participates in a panel discussion with Malcolm Gladwell, Esther Dyson, the conservative columnist David Brooks, and a few other intellectual types. Moby's comments were sparse, as I suspect that he was in over his head. He did remark on how fascinating technology is, because twenty years ago it would cost a small fortune to produce his music, and now he can do it all on his laptop! (my middle-school students could have told us that). And when asked about how he felt about the future, all he could say was this:
I this the world is so complicated that I can't be so presumptuous as to justify pessimism or optimism, so I'll stay agnostic. But I like waking up every day, and I think breakfast is a fantastic thing.
Please. Since when is it presumptuous of anyone to profess optimism or pessimism? And last I checked, an agnostic is defined as "one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god." He uses words he doesn't understand, and he passes it off as original thought. And yes, the world is complicated, but intelligent people try to make sense of it, and try to educate themselves to do so.

I will resume ignoring Moby's existence, but I just had to make it clear that I think he is a tool.

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