Seconds after the Canadian critical darlings scored their Album of the Year Award for The Suburbs, the indignant masses took to Twitter, revealing the fact that a large percentage of viewers had never heard of them. Take that, Egypt! America demands Grammy satisfaction!
Forget for the moment that Arcade Fire was lauded in TIME four years ago; never mind the planetary fawning over their 2004 debut (I was the lone professional dissenter) — this win was clearly suspicious.
Check out Who Is Arcade Fire, which aggregates the outrage. Here’s a lovely example from Tawny Kitaen, the 1980s vixen best known for writhing on sportscars in that Whitesnake video:
OK, I’m not THAT old but whos Arcade Fire? & worse who the hell thinks their good? Did I just lose all my followers? Cuz they sucked, sorry.
What are these people gonna do when the Decemberists win next year?
Although it is amusing that anyone sees the Grammys as a bellwether of musical culture (or even record sales), the controversy underscores a broader trend in American life — namely, the emotionally unsettling effects of cultural fragmentation. And this phenomenon cannot be separated from contemporary politics.
The reason for this fragmentation is due to the saturation of information channels. No longer does commercial radio — or the Grammys, for that matter — shape the tastes of the masses. We’ve got a million outlets, and there’s an ass for every seat. This can be very discomfiting to the herd mentality.
Many Americans, still sucking on the Big Media teet, view this fracturing as suspicious, if not dangerous. It’s as if NPR and the Kenyan in the White House are conspiring to make culture something they just can’t comprehend. In actuality, Obama is more conservative than Nixon, and Arcade Fire closer to Bruce Springsteen than G.G. Allin (Google him.)
But that doesn’t matter. America’s heebie-jeebies are being played out on both the political and pop culture stages.
It ain’t about age. It ain’t about who’s “hip.” It’s about whether the tenuous fabric that connects us as a culture can be maintained in an environment where people ONLY get their news from FOX or MSNBC; where either you listen to Black Eyed Peas or Drake; whether you’re a birther or a rational human being.
Maybe it’s because Arcade Fire are Canadian. They do have single-payer healthcare and all. Not going broke due to medical expenses is socialist! Interestingly, Justin Bieber — who many people think was robbed of his rightful award — recently called America “evil” for our lack of a full-coverage medical system.
I wonder if we can make the Culture Wars part of our defense spending? Maybe build a virtual border wall between us and our neighbors to the north? That’ll create some jobs, right?