Saturday, June 25, 2005

Disco's bad rap

I don't know why disco has such a terrible reputation. Sure, a lot of it is pretty superficial and has associations with the excesses of late 70's American culture; but disco music was never supposed to be deep and introspective. It's about forgetting about your problems for a little while and having fun. That may come off as an attempt to drug the public into accepting the status quo, but no one can be angry and revolutionary all the time. Sometimes you have to play video games while nodding your head to the infectious "bass kick - high hat - clap - high hat" pea soup pulse of the digital cable disco station to clear out your head.

Yeah, it's stupid, but it's supposed to be. It's a nice check on the uber-pretentious and depressing seriousness of what we have to deal with on a daily basis. You may need to turn in an assignment or do some important work tomorrow, but tonight you can jam out to Junior's 1982 classic, "Mama Used to Say."

I'm not saying that music can be separated from its political context, but rather, that an appropriation needs to be judged based on its specific merits. Dismissing all dance music as being in the service of the cult of consumerism, absent how its applied in a particular context, rubs me the wrong way when that energy can be used for productive ends. It's like when Zizek warns about the knee jerk tendency to label a given activity as being perverse, absent how it's actually inscribed into the subject's symbolic universe. The same activity can be perverse or neurotic depending on how enjoyment actually occurs. Similarly, enjoying something as apparently stupid as house or disco music can occur in a number of different ways and dismissing it on face as being reactionary strikes me as useless. Our politics needs to be one of joy, not despair, if we are to do anything that's really meaningful to humn relationships and social organization.

I'll spare you the Emma Goldman quote.

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