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  1. #1
    very clever with maracas Davey's Avatar
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    The Incredibles vs the Music Snob

    Something I was thinking about recently after seeing the Incredibles, which I imagine will be one of the top grossing movies of the year. Seems to get near unanimous acclaim from mainstream music listeners who proudly display Usher's latest CD as the newest addition to their collection, as well as indie snobs like me who call a band sellout if they move more than 20,000 copies of their latest. Well, I'm not really that bad...but you get the point. Troy loved it too and he, like me, probably doesn't even know half the people in the Billboard top 10 albums of the year. So is mainstream music really that different from mainstream film? I'm not really a good barometer because I don't see many movies, so for all I know, if fed a steady diet of low budget indie films maybe the Incredibles would come off like the latest Avril Lavigne or Jessica Simpson or Norah Jones album? Whaddaya think? Is mainstream taste better for film than music? Or am I just a jaded listener who can no longer appreciate some of the same joys that the average listener can? Or maybe the Incredibles is just a fluke - like that occasional piece of music that captures both the average listener and the jaded indie snob as well?

  2. #2
    Dubgazer -Jar-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davey
    So is mainstream music really that different from mainstream film? I'm not really a good barometer because I don't see many movies, so for all I know, if fed a steady diet of low budget indie films maybe the Incredibles would come off like the latest Avril Lavigne or Jessica Simpson or Norah Jones album? Whaddaya think? Is mainstream taste better for film than music? Or am I just a jaded listener who can no longer appreciate some of the same joys that the average listener can? Or maybe the Incredibles is just a fluke - like that occasional piece of music that captures both the average listener and the jaded indie snob as well?
    I think about this issue all the time.. I think in general the top-grossing films are generally held in higher esteem by critics than top-sellings albums. You do have examples though, that invalidate both statments.. TITANIC and ALICIA KEYS would be examples of the opposite. But, I do find it weird that, in general, Top 40 films are for the most part, decent and watchable. When a film tanks, everyone seems to agree (pick a recent Ben Affleck movie).. however, on music, a million seller like, yea Usher, and the music critics run screaming (or laughing).. so, why izzit? Are film and music that different? Those who like independent movies and music will always be there, but what makes a person like me and millions of other average people pay money to see THE INCREDIBLES more than once?

    I don't know. Maybe it's the effort behind it. I think there's more of a temptation and need for the record companies to crank out product that sells with less emphasis on musical quality.. Or maybe it's that with film the really talented people do rise to the top of the heap, as with music, the big talents don't rise up quite as fast, or just don't make music that the masses want to hear.

    I don't know. I could theorize all day, but it is something I've thought about.

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  3. #3
    Global Village Idiot mad rhetorik's Avatar
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Davey
    Or maybe the Incredibles is just a fluke - like that occasional piece of music that captures both the average listener and the jaded indie snob as well?
    I think that ^^^ pretty much hits it. I also think that it's a bit possible to overthink this, since good cinema, like good music, is simply good regardless of how popular it is. That's my opinion though. I love more arty stuff like Memento, FLCL (that's anime in case you didn't know), Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, and Lost In Translation... and yet I also like more mainstream stuff like The Lord Of The Rings, and I couldn't help but completely laugh my ass off at Jackass: The Movie, South Park: Bigger, Longer, And Uncut, and Team America. There is no "highbrow" or "lowbrow" to me--only "good," "bad," and "guilty pleasure" (stuff you oughta hate for being cheesy or crass, but love anyway).

    I went to see The Incredibles over this Thanksgiving break, and it succeeded on all counts (as expected). Excellent characterization, funny (that little Edna lady was a riot) and adult-humored without being dirty or unwatchable by kids (though I doubt they'll get some of this), lots of Bondian action, and AMAZING animation and set pieces. Pixar have done it again.

    Oh, and the soundtrack was also way cool. ; P Bond/spy thriller music to the hilt, but not wholesale derivative.
    "...and then at the end of the letter I like to write <i>'P.S. - this is what part of the alphabet would look like if Q and R were eliminated.'</i> "


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  4. #4
    Close 'n Play user Troy's Avatar
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    Excellent topic.

    Yeah, I tend towards art-house and indie movies, but I play both sides of the fence. I caught about 8 movies over the 4 day holiday. I saw the Che Guevara biopic "The Motorcycle Diaries" on Thanksgiving day (rather dull and touchy-feely smarmy propagandist claptrap) and I also saw an Astaire/Rogers musical (Swingtime) at a revival theater wednesday. Later that night I watched "Terminator 3" on HBO (Utter trash). "Alien 4" and "Love Actually", now THERE'S a double feature! I liked 'em both quite a bit more than I thought I would. I'm all over the map with movies. This just in, I'm more a movie fan than music fan.

    With music for me though, I don't have much tolerance. I'm very picky and selective about what I listen to. I wouldn't give Usher the time of day. Ditto Eminem- note that I didn't rush out to see "8 Mile" either- is there a trend . . . ?

    The Incredibles IS a fluke. It's one of those exceptional movies that seems to please every audience. It has universal appeal because it speaks to every American on American topics and attitudes that we all relate to daily. Superheroes and spys, they truly ARE the American mythology (finally replacing the cowboy). Combine that with the suburban family unit with 2.5 kids, throw in the exuberant and VERY American industrial design (in the sets and production design) and add some laughs and you have a movie with something for everyone in the USA. When I first saw it on opening weekend I KNEW it was gonna be a hit. How could you not?

    Movies are a medium that is much more affecting than music can ever be. It's just a much more engaging medium. Pretty much EVERY American sees movies, whether theatrically, rental or cable. Most Americans, especially over the age of 25 rarely buy music. And if they do, it is usually something from their youth or it's some cheesy pop compilation from a movie. Notice how well Ray Charles has sold over the last few months? There's usually a soundtrack or 3 in the top Billbored 10. Has been for about 10 years. Pretty telling just on it's own.

    The fact that nonsense like Usher is in the top 10 only shows who is buying all those CDs. It's kids. Period. No one over the age of 25 buys Usher CDs, do they? Unless it's for a gift.

    Movies have a much broader appeal. Yeah, lots of movies are geared towards kids under the age of 25, but there IS still a movie market for adults. The music industry focused on our age is completely dead and buried, or moribund at best. Sad fact. The CD equivalent to "North By Northwest"? "2001"?, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"? It just doesn't exist. Apples and oranges.

    Mainstream music compared to mainstream movies? Just look at movie grosses compared to CD sales! How many CDs make $100,000,000 in a weekend?

  5. #5
    Forum Regular audiobill's Avatar
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    Red face A fascinating topic....

    Quote Originally Posted by Troy
    Excellent topic.

    Yeah, I tend towards art-house and indie movies, but I play both sides of the fence. I caught about 8 movies over the 4 day holiday. I saw the Che Guevara biopic "The Motorcycle Diaries" on Thanksgiving day (rather dull and touchy-feely smarmy propagandist claptrap) and I also saw an Astaire/Rogers musical (Swingtime) at a revival theater wednesday. Later that night I watched "Terminator 3" on HBO (Utter trash). "Alien 4" and "Love Actually", now THERE'S a double feature! I liked 'em both quite a bit more than I thought I would. I'm all over the map with movies. This just in, I'm more a movie fan than music fan.?
    I, too, tend to the movies that are left of the popcorn machine. Recent films like Bubba Ho-Tep and Ginger Snaps are two that provided exceptional entertainment. Nevertheless, films are one area where my two daughters, my wife and I can all sit down and experience communally with, very often, the same or similar response. Try that with music!! And it's a whole other outcome. For instance, my wife loves Marilyn Manson and my daughters abhor his music. My daughters love Avril Lavigne; yet, I wholeheartedly abhor her music; and on it goes.

    With music for me though, I don't have much tolerance. I'm very picky and selective about what I listen to. I wouldn't give Usher the time of day. Ditto Eminem- note that I didn't rush out to see "8 Mile" either- is there a trend . . . ?

    The Incredibles IS a fluke.?[/QUOTE]

    Perhaps not a "fluke" Troy. Pixar has had far too many flukes now to simply not expect a sure-fire "hit" each time they put their talents behind a project.
    IQUOTE]t's one of those exceptional movies that seems to please every audience. It has universal appeal because it speaks to every American on American topics and attitudes that we all relate to daily. ?[/QUOTE]

    Let's not forget the "North" Americans, such as the Canadian audience that also found the Incredibles....well, incredible.

    ?[/QUOTE]Superheroes and spys, they truly ARE the American mythology (finally replacing the cowboy). Combine that with the suburban family unit with 2.5 kids, throw in the exuberant and VERY American industrial design (in the sets and production design) and add some laughs and you have a movie with something for everyone in the USA. When I first saw it on opening weekend I KNEW it was gonna be a hit. How could you not?

    Movies are a medium that is much more affecting than music can ever be. It's just a much more engaging medium. Pretty much EVERY American sees movies, whether theatrically, rental or cable. ?[/QUOTE]

    Quiete, true. Perhaps, this is one reason why we can sit down with our daughters and go see a movie like "Alexander" and afterwards say that it "sucks", over hot chocolate. By the time most children hit twelve they have seen a ton of movies. More than music listened to, attentively for 90 minutes or 120 minutes, or more........I'm not sure. Interestingly enought, at a movie theater the expectation pretty much is the same: watch the movie with your full attention. Outside of a live concert, I'd argue that many youngsters rarely, "just" listen to the music. As many adults, they often (hate this word, but I have to use it) multi-task while listening to music -- quite different than the cinematic experiece of a darkened room.

    ?[/QUOTE]Most Americans, especially over the age of 25 rarely buy music. And if they do, it is usually something from their youth or it's some cheesy pop compilation from a movie. Notice how well Ray Charles has sold over the last few months? There's usually a soundtrack or 3 in the top Billbored 10. Has been for about 10 years. Pretty telling just on it's own.

    The fact that nonsense like Usher is in the top 10 only shows who is buying all those CDs. It's kids. Period. No one over the age of 25 buys Usher CDs, do they? Unless it's for a gift.

    Movies have a much broader appeal. Yeah, lots of movies are geared towards kids under the age of 25, but there IS still a movie market for adults. The music industry focused on our age is completely dead and buried, or moribund at best. Sad fact. The CD equivalent to "North By Northwest"? "2001"?, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"? It just doesn't exist. Apples and oranges.

    Mainstream music compared to mainstream movies? Just look at movie grosses compared to CD sales! How many CDs make $100,000,000 in a weekend?[/QUOTE]

    By the way, I watched 8-mile, at the prompting of some of my students. So, I took my oldest daughter and we went to see it. My preconceptions were blown out of the water and, I must say, I rather enjoyed it. Did I buy the DVD?? No. Highly enjoyable, upon first viewing (and great post-movie discussin btw)?? Yes. Rewatchable?? No, again.

    Cheers,
    Bill

  6. #6
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    No, I think movies are just better. I'm not sure any of you will argue with me about this or not, but I think films are one place where higher budget == higher quality. I mean, compare El Mariachi w/Desperado -- I think Desperado just comes out as the better film.

    Music, OTOH, is budget-ignorant. People w/little or no budget (cf. Troy) can produce just as good music as those w/ the higher budgets, but higher budgets don't necessarily mean the work is going to be shoddy (Peter Gabriel comes to mind). The threshold budget is much lower with music. You need a lot more money to make a film, even an entry-level budget film.

    Also, movies are just harder to make than music. The same amount of thought has to be put into both, but since we are a visual people, the details of visuals can't be smoke-and-mirror-ed away. You really have to get it right to fool the audience.

    Plus, you need actors (yeah, I know, we're getting to the point where you don't, but even indie films for the most part still do), so more people are involved in movies, period.
    Eschew fascism.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty Chalk
    No, I think movies are just better. I'm not sure any of you will argue with me about this or not, but I think films are one place where higher budget == higher quality. I mean, compare El Mariachi w/Desperado -- I think Desperado just comes out as the better film.
    I’m not sure I agree with your big budget better movie theory. I can think of lots of turkeys where the budget was through the roof and produced terrible films Costner’ Postman springs to mind equally lots of relatively low budget films that impressed me with basically just a good storyline and good cast.

    But you are dead right movies are much harder to make, any old band/artist can churn out an album. That to me is part of the problem when I listen to something I want to be impressed with the songwriting or musicianship half the time I’m left thinking if I could play an instrument I could have done this. I also think we are more selective about films than music, I might watch one or two films a week or go to the cinema once a month but music is everywhere you go and after a while you get a little jaded.

    I saw the Incredibles last night and it was every bit as good as I hoped it would be, my 7 year old thought it was brilliant too but for totally different reasons to me I suspect. The quality of animation and characterisation was flawless you actually start to feel something for the characters and at points it transcends animation.

    Cheers
    Mike

  8. #8
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike
    I’m not sure I agree with your big budget better movie theory. I can think of lots of turkeys where the budget was through the roof and produced terrible films...
    As can I. I was just trying to identify a trend. In general...not always...
    Eschew fascism.
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  9. #9
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    Movies harder than music to create or to do i don't think so, in movies you have countless stories to pick from, novels, books, news, history, even goossip from or aorund the neighborhood can be taken into the screen.
    But music is a sole individual creation ( or a group) That top tewenty stuuf yeah probably is not as dificcult to come up with, but music regarded as "good music" sure is very hard to come with.
    Just MHO.

  10. #10
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    I didn't mean creatively -- I'm not taking a stance as to which is more difficult to dream up, for me it's movies, because I'm a musician -- I meant technically, just the work of putting a movie together is harder than it is to put a record together -- I mean, all you need is a computer these days, at the bare minimum, and you can put together a complete composition. But to put together a complete movie -- even CGI -- is just plain a lot more effort/time/work.
    Eschew fascism.
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  11. #11
    Forum Regular jack70's Avatar
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    Re

    Quote Originally Posted by Davey
    So is mainstream music really that different from mainstream film?
    Are we trying to spin-up Sir Terrible with movie talk again so soon? LOL.

    I think they're somewhat difficult to compare. Has more to do with economics than any "popularity" reasons. With music, you have a very segmented marketplace -- most teen-pop, rap, country, or metal audiences just don't ever buy into (cross-over) into those other genres, let alone into classical, jazz, world, or sub-genres of R&R (like prog, blues-rock, etc). It's possible, once in a while, for an album to cross over enough to a mix of audiences (provided it gets promoted too)... maybe a Sheryl Crow, Santana, or Norah Jones have done that (a bit) in the past, but all those narrow sub-genre audiences make it impossible to produce something EVERYONE will like, in today's world anyway.

    Movies can bridge different cultures better, although movies still have a similar audience stratification. Fans of, say, teen horror films, will just never interest most movie fans. Star Trek (or sci fi) movies, despite their fan's devotion, will just never interest certain segments of the population.

    Quote Originally Posted by Troy
    Mainstream music compared to mainstream movies? Just look at movie grosses compared to CD sales! How many CDs make $100,000,000 in a weekend?
    Yeah, but that's a little unfair to compare em in that way. How many movies are released every week (through the major distributors)? Compared to weekly CD/music releases, the ratio is probably 1000 to 1. The PROFIT required for a movie helps skew such a comparison also... many need huge box-office just to break even. Then there's the wide different dynamics of cable & DVD rights for movies vs radio for music. Yeah, it's unfair, like comparing sales of airplanes to cars.

    Maybe if you found out & compared the TOTAL percentage of time+money each individual paid for music, compared to movies, that might be fairer, but even that comparison would leave out free movies seen on TV, or music heard on radio or CDs already bought.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty Chalk
    Also, movies are just harder to make than music. The same amount of thought has to be put into both, but since we are a visual people, the details of visuals can't be smoke-and-mirror-ed away.
    Movies take a whole lot more in man-hours of labor to produce compared to a CD (that can be done solo in a living room today). But I agree with ya... I don't think the initial mental work or creativity (of the artist) is much different... for example, a Hitchcock or Kubrick must think out & pre-schedule all his strategy on paper, the same way a Zappa must plot out his pre-production. Then the post-production editing work is similar. Sure, there are artists that turn on the tape and cut an album in an afternoon, but that doesn't mean ALL music is created that simply. CS&N used 600+ hours in the studio alone for their first album, which doesn't take into account the lyrics & songwriting that needed to be done before that. The primary difference with movies is that it takes many crews, of many people working independently, to get a final product.

    Quote Originally Posted by Troy
    The fact that nonsense like Usher is in the top 10 only shows who is buying all those CDs. It's kids. Period.
    Yeah, but the Kid demographic also a major audience that Hollywood (over)caters to as well. Maybe cause it takes less effort (& ri$k) for a director to slop some half-baked, poorly written plot together with the hip pop-star of the day.... maybe older audiences are less likely to get tricked into seeing (paying for) crap they might be inclined to like, cause they've been fooled before.

    But I agree with ya that when Hollywood produces a superior adult or family film, there's a huge audience out there too. I've read reviews of The Incredibles from Brent Bozell (right wing) to left wing reviewers, and they all like it. Since the most successful films of all time are such films (family, positive/moral message, entertaining), you'd think Hollywood would do less of the freaky, trashy, mediocre films to impress their arty friends and more such substantial films. Maybe it just takes too much work & effort to make such films... maybe it's harder to get them pay-rolled, or maybe too many directors want to push the artistic envelope in order to satisfy their ego in their own search for immortality. Who knows. On the other hand, if EVERY other film released was a great classic... well, that just doesn't sound realistic either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Troy
    Movies are a medium that is much more affecting than music can ever be. It's just a much more engaging medium.
    I'll agree it's more engaging (well it CAN be). I think it's because it uses both senses (sight & sound). When smart use of music and visuals is combined with smart production, a good plot, and good writing, it's just far richer as an artistic whole creation.

    However, I'll disagree that it's ALWAYS more "affecting"... meaning emotional. Music can make me cry or laugh just like a movie can, although I'll admit it's far easier to do in film. Maybe I react to sound differently than most others because I've been a musician... or maybe I was a musician cause I (my brain) reacted to sound differently? Music is basically a medium that takes more effort (& sometimes background) "to get." The same way reading a book takes work, to move one's eyes and to think, in order to absorb it... listening to music takes more effort (can take more effort) than film, which, like TV is a rather passive medium. That may be one more reason film may appeal to such a wider audience. Candy can be more appealing (superficially anyway) than an apple too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Troy
    The CD equivalent to "North By Northwest"?
    I'll play... how about Rubber Soul? Both have an ethos, and both reflect an era, artistically and culturally. They also both appeal to a huge audience. I also like em both (huge Hitch fan... btw I prefer his earlier 39 Steps, which is the where that plot came (evolved) from). In fact, I'll bet a whole lot more people have heard that album than the movie.
    You don't know... jack

  12. #12
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    My 2 cents

    I will listen to the same CD a hundred, maybe even a thousand times over my lifetime. In fact, I'll listen to the same CD over and over again in one day. I've never watched the same movie more than once in a day. In fact, my most favourite movies have still only been seen, maybe, 6 - 10 times.

    When I was a kid, I remember that movies would play in the theatre for months...sometimes years. The movie ads in the newspaper would boast "now in it's 8th month". Now a movie is lucky to last more than a few weekends. People have to flock to movies in the opening weekend because there is no longer any guarantee that it'll still be playing next weekend. So, movies make multi-millions in the first couple of weekends. I don't think that there's much profit to be had after that. Sure, there's DVD sales, but you don't hear of a DVD making $100million in it's first weekend of release.

    Music on the other hand, is more readily available. If I don't get out to buy the newest Hillary Duff CD on the day it comes out, I'll still be able to buy it next week or next month or next year. But if I blink, I'll miss her movie in the theatre.

    I also think that we have to look at the profit margin for movies, not just the weekend ticket sales. When Julia Roberts can demand over $20million to make one movie, that movie is going to need a whole lot more profit just to pay her salary, than the new REM CD needs.

    Where was I going with this? Oh yeah. Because I'll listen to same CD over and over again and get the same enjoyment from it each time, I could (theoretically) live with very few CDs in my collection. So, I don't feel the need to run out and buy every new CD that comes out (again, theoretically )But I can't enjoy the same movie again and again without getting bored. So, if I want to be continuously entertained by movies, I have to keep spending more money. Thus, the movie profits would increase over the CD profits.

    As I write this, I think that from an economics standpoint, a more fair comparison would be to compare CD sales to DVD sales and concerts to movies. Rather than CD's to movies.

    But all of the above is really just rambling as none of it addresses Davey's original question.

    So is mainstream music really that different from mainstream film?
    I don't think that mainstream music is that different from mainstream film. First of all, I differentiate between "movies" and "films". To me, a "movie" is a big-budget hollywood blockbuster that rides on special effects and big stars alone. There is no need for a good story-line or clever dialogue. Plot is often secondary to body count; explosions; car chases; or pretty faces. The script could never stand on it's own merits. A "film" on the otherhand comes from a good script. A film is usually (but not always) lower budget and relys on fewer special effects. It may still have the same big stars, but a film requires good acting to pull it off. A movie does not.

    To me, a movie is akin to mainstream music. It's mass marketed for months in advance, to create hype. The movie itself doesn't need to be good at all. The actors don't need to be talented. It's all about creating hype and anticipation. How many movies have you gone to see because you've been enticed by the trailers. Only to finally get there and realize that you've been duped because the movie actually sucked and you had already seen all of the best parts in the trailers?

    Heck, Julia Roberts makes over $20million a film. Can she act? Not IMO. But she sells tickets. Just like so many of the mainstream music acts of today don't have a whole lot of talent, but they sell CDs. It's all about marketing. I can equate Julia Roberts with, say, Jessica Simpson or Brittany Spears. All have minimal talent, but great publicists and agents who have been able to turn them into commodities and, therefore, mainstream (and very profitable) stars.

    Then there is the other side of the coin. The great talents who just don't seem to ever make it mainstream. I'll name Phillip Seymour Hoffman and William H. Macy as two examples of that. Both are outstanding actors who are almost always delegated to supporting roles. Just watch the movie Magnolia to see them both in action. Hoffman, in particular, steals every scene that I've ever seen him in. But show a picture of either of them to most people and ask the person to name them, and they won't be able to do it. At best you might get..."oh, he's that guy. You know. What the heck is his name?". IMO these two are great actors. But neither one is very shiny or sexy. Like most of the music we listen to around here.

    Occasionally, you'll get a good crossover...like the Incredibles (from what I hear, haven't seen it yet). This movie/film crosses over the boundaries and appeals to all. Not unlike some mainstream music. Afterall, most of us have a Rolling Stones CD or a Beatles CD in our collection. Good music? Yeah, some of it. Mainsteam? Definately.

    In general, I don't think mainstream taste is better for movies at all. I think that the bulk of the population are mindless consumers who are happy to settle for mediocrity because it's in abundance and easy to find. This applies to all forms of entertainment, music; TV; movies; restaurants. Finding something of quality that hasn't hit the mainstream takes work. How much time do we all spend researching new music, looking for quality and the hidden gems, when it would be so much easier to give in to the mass media and lap up whatever dreck is being force fed to us on the radio?

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