In 1991, popular music underwent a revolution. That revolution, of course, was something called “grunge”, with bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Soundgarden carrying the banner for what seemed to be the biggest trend of the early years of the decade. The trend, despite its eventual popularity, once had a very small cult following. Soon enough, when this following began to grow and evolve, the early adopters of this movement became a bit angry. Some protested that the new grunge fans didn’t really understand what it was all about. They felt as though something that belonged to them had been intruded upon by people who didn’t respect it as much as they did. As a result, some of the original grunge fans developed a hate for the new ones, and others abandoned it altogether. This isn’t the only example of this phenomenon, however. It’s actually very common nowadays, and it begs the question – do you have to “get it” to enjoy the music?
For example, while campaigning last year, former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan stated that Rage Against the Machine is his favorite band. Rage guitarist Tom Morello was not happy with the comments, calling Ryan “the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades.” It’s obvious that Ryan isn’t the kind of person one would assume to be a Rage fan. That same thing is true about a lot of people who like certain bands. My point is that, in this case, Paul Ryan should have probably paid more attention to the fact that the message of a band he liked completely contradicted the political message he stood for. Still, it’s more of an extreme situation. I’m not trying to tell you that you have to be a gun-toting gangster to listen to N.W.A., or a complete metalhead to enjoy Slayer. However, it is important to pay attention to what the music is saying and whether or not it fits your personal views.
In this day and age, image is everything. Music is a vital part of how one presents himself or herself, and people with a certain image tend to listen to music that fits that image. This isn’t anything new or bad, but when people are excluded from liking an artist or genre because they don’t “get what it’s about” is frustrating to me. Granted, you should be aware of what the music you listen to stands for, and whether or not you agree. Still, to me, automatically saying that someone doesn’t “get it” is like a form of musical bullying. Image may be a factor, but when it starts to overshadow the actual music in question, that’s when it becomes excessive. In short, even though it is important to understand the music you listen to, “getting it” isn’t as big of a deal as many make it out to be.