Saturday, January 16, 2010

A bit disillusioned, but that's a good thing in this case.

So I found myself getting all bent out of shape earlier this week because this blogger whose blog I used to read posted the Paste Magazine Top 50 Albums of the Decade, highlighted the ones she and her husband own, and proceeded to mock the snobbiness of the list because of how many they don't own (I think all told they owned or were familiar with only about 7 or 8 on the list). A number of her readers jumped right in, agreeing with her about how snobby the list is and how stupid it is because they didn't see people like Prince or Green Day or insert name of popular band here on the list. A number of these people accused the magazine of racism because they only saw 3 black acts on the list (apparently you are only a "person of color" if you're black, and if these people know you're black). None of these people actually read Paste Magazine or were actually familiar with Paste Magazine prior to this blogger posting the list, and admittedly, most of them knew or were familiar with fewer than 5 of the acts on the list. The blogger herself is also not a reader of Paste; it's questionable as to whether or not she was familiar with Paste before posting the list, since she grabbed the list off another friend's blog in the first place.

So naturally I got annoyed. Because first of all, I think you should only be bitching about such a list if you were in fact the target audience of said list... in this case, a reader of Paste or a follower of Paste online. Someone familiar with Paste and what their overall editorial mission is -- which is to introduce people to musical acts they might love, but might not have heard about any other way but by reading the magazine or visiting their website. Paste doesn't feel the need to devote a cover story to Green Day or U2, because Green Day and U2 have the might of their artist deals behind them, and armies of millions of fans. You're not going to see a ton about Beyonce or Madonna in Paste, aside from actual record reviews -- and a cool thing about Paste is that at least one half of every single issue is devoted to reviews of actual albums, and also films, books, and other media which might be of interest to their readers. The music reviews are comprehensive though -- they cover most areas or subgenres of rock and roll, including the all-encompassing "world music." With every issue, you get a sampler cd of about 20 or so good songs featuring a number of artists the editorial staff wants to shout about that month. When I say "good songs," I mean good songs -- it's not like the shitty sampler cds you get with a lot of magazines.

I can't even tell you how much awesome music Rob and I have been introduced to through Paste over the last few years -- I've been a devoted reader since 2004, and I can name at least 10 favorite bands that I would never have heard about were it not for Paste. Maybe -- maybe -- I would have discovered them some other way, but I don't see how.

So I was annoyed at this blogger. And it wouldn't have been so incredibly annoying if it hadn't kept up for an entire week, with her commenting back to almost each and every one of her commenters, and iterating over and over how snobby the list is and how it "really misses the mark" and how it didn't speak for her at all. And how I made one comment saying I thought she and her husband would probably really like Paste and really like a lot of the music on the list if she gave it a shot, given what I know about her musical taste based on postings she's made on her blog in the past... and how my one comment was the ONLY comment out of about 100 that she didn't personally reply to.

Which is all fine and well -- of course it didn't speak to her. She isn't a reader of Paste. She has no interest in the music they're helping to sell, and has no clue what it is they do or why.

What I took issue with is the "snobby" comment. This is an issue I've always struggled with: If someone says something you like is stupid, they are essentially calling you stupid. Are they not? If someone labels a group of people "morons" and you are part of that group, you have just been called a moron. And if someone says something you're into is snobby, that makes you a snob.

I know there are people out there who don't think about what they say and would deny they ever meant to call someone they actually knew "stupid" by saying "Liberals are so fucking stupid," or meant to call anyone they knew a "snob" by saying that the Paste Magazine Top 50 Albums of the Decade list is "the snobbiest list ever" (a direct quote from the blogger in question). I disagree and I believe it is not my problem that you failed to think through what it is you were really saying. And it is my right to be offended by it.

But what really chapped me about this whole thing -- which I totally get is not a big deal, and I can just stop reading her blog and all that, which I have of course, duhhh -- is that this blog I'm talking about is a commercial blog. It exists so this woman who writes it can sell stuff -- she is a scrapbooker who used to work for Simple Scrapbooks magazine (which, incidentally, you'd think would make her a bit more understanding of the concept that magazines have actual editorial missions), and now she teaches online scrapbooking classes and creates digital scrapbooking content for a digital scrapbooking store, and participates in a number of other online scrapbooking resources, all designed, in the end, to sell a product.

And so I guess I'm just confused, because I sell insurance for a living, and I'm trying to decide what would happen if I called a current or potential customer a snob. For sure, I would lose the customer. Almost for sure, I'd lose my job. So I just think it's really bizarre that this blogger would think it's okay to call one of her customers a snob (and I am a customer, and used to be a fan -- I purchased the books she's written about scrapbooking, and read Simple Scrapbooks mainly for her column, because I had loved her books so much). It makes me see what a pissy person she actually is, and makes me no longer such a fan, and made me cancel my registration for an online class of hers I was going to be participating in soon. It made me delete her blog link from my blog roll; I know no one that would be into her blog really reads this anyway, but I don't want it there, distracting me.

I guess I've just gotten so used to the notion, based on my personal experience, that scrapbookers are generally some of the nicest, most fun, welcoming women on the entire planet. That there's something about scrapbooking that attracts a certain type of person into its most hardcore circles.

Clearly I was wrong. So noted.

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