Monday, September 24, 2007

AMERICA'S BIG BLUR AND THE INCREDIBLE POWER OF RESPECT

AMERICA'S BIG BLUR AND THE INCREDIBLE POWER OF RESPECT



First off--Tom Petty is back on board for a new season of shows. Like with Bob Dylan, Tom is totally engaged in his show. He scours his personal library for some real gems that touch everything from the Ventures to Van Halen. His style is very…Tom Petty. I love guys like this on the air because they have NO radio baggage. They just talk. Not trying to impress anyone with their tightness or big voice. It's so damn refreshing to hear pure talk and killer songs. No jive.

So… All American should convert to Islam? No taxes. No roads either. While terrorism is a threat, a bigger one is stupidity.

It just seems to be getting worse. Being a news addict, the percentage of inane stories to more critical ones is appalling. Now, I DO think the junky stories are interesting, as long as you are in on the joke and don't take them seriously. That’s the blur as they are often treated as real news; the line between important and junk is more blurred than ever. Some will say that that's just the way it is and to live with it---but it's scary in that it's an incredibly effective dumb down device. It's almost like the media is being controlled by a foreign force to "beat" America, not by bombs, but by dumbing down the culture to the point of irrelevancy and/or illiteracy. Media is the great teacher--the average Joe actually thinks the latest Britney caper is enlightened information. It's funny sad...it's candy...but the sheep conditioned to sugary media doesn't know the difference. Blindly accepting junk. Being dis-respected...and not knowing any better. "Hey these dummies like this stuff, lets keep feedin it" might be the thinking.

People aren't born dumb-we're just doing our damndest to make them dumb...at a time when that’s not really a good idea.

Even in music: It seems that that stupid "red carpet" is more important than the notes themselves. I say BURN the damn Red Carpet. And politically, the big news here in DC was a Cindy Sheehan "die in" where the attendees interviewed had the savvy of Miss Teen South Carolina. "Like, war is bad…I mean, people like, get hurt and stuff." was the norm. Clueless. News has become a big game show. Music is no longer America's great export…it is treated with the integrity of a Mars bar. And Hollywood is doing more to undermine the potential of any liberal thinking than just about anything. It's ironic that liberal biased media plays up to the Hollywood factor when in reality it’s making a sham out of liberal thought. It's hard to respect fashion driven celebrity. While they might be "caring"--The Sean Penn's have little to offer beyond the average citizen, but of course he MUST be smart--He was in a movie! It's transparent and fleeting.

It's all dangerous. To those who believe media fed stupidity is not a factor. I strongly believe you are wrong. Media has never been more omnipresent and powerful and you can under estimate the immense impact is has on…everything. I'm not suggesting that Britney's issues don't have a place. It’s candy. Won't kill you. And going elitist ultra hard news probably won't cut through. But there's a place-a middle ground that has SOME degree of intellect and enlightenment…a Point of View and is CLEAR in its mission instead of the great blur. There's money and numbers in that too. Big time. Look at the successful smart products: Sopranos, Pink Floyd, Simpsons, the Beatles, Whole Foods, Wall Street Journal, GPS, R&B, Macs, Bob Dylan, 60 Minutes,BB King, NPR (I was in NPR denial when I was in FM Radio-in fact, many NPR stations have enormous listener ship). The great thing about smart products is THEY LAST vs. the quick hit 1-5 year hit of junk culture. Smart products RESPECT themselves, their integrity and their audience.

We need to export smart stuff. Starts with creating more of it. The dumb stuff fades…North Americans have way too much going on to junk down our potential.

If a foreign power wants to destroy America---they should just sit back and let junk culture do the job. But imagine with the talent and infrastructure of entertainment, media and music in North America, what would happen if suddenly there were throngs of people focused on inspiration, intellect and quality-WOW. Not the elite kind—but the mass appeal kind that really hits Main Street. It would be a National renaissance that could literally save the planet. I think the people that take charge and deliver smart products, and market them with unbridled originality, RESPECT and HONESTY are the next generation of culture leaders.

Here's a comment from Rupert Murdock on his new Financial Channel vs. the competition:

"They dwell too much on failures and scandals and politics," he said. "We want to spend a lot of time on innovation, successes and people who are making money."

I'm a big Murdoch fan. There's never any "blur" with his stuff. You know exactly what you're getting. Blur-free is good. I love TMZ--pure trash, but they do it well and you KNOW what you're getting. Or Opie and Anthony—you KNOW that their show is satirical…No blur there.

It’s the blurred stuff that's the problem...when people hear and see the junk, but it’s presented as serious business without a "wink". WE FORGOT HOW TO RESPECT OURSELVES! WE FORGOT HOW TO GIVE AND GET RESPECT! The root of junk culture...the root of social ills is NO RESPECT. Show respect one-on-one AND in mass media, and things will change.

Yeah--that's the key: RESPECTING THE INTEGRITY OF YOUR PRODUCT WHO YOU ARE PRESENTING TO. Instead of feeding people crap...

Examples of No respect include a radio station delivering a cheesy promo that is "good radio" (circa 1965) but in reality is some fake voiced bozo hyping something silly. A product that is all about sell...sell...buy...deal....offer....buy me!...or
A talented artist who puts passion aside and goes for a 'radio record'. TV news that is a parody of itself... ALL of these and countless more are about disrespecting themselves and their market. A great film maker RESPECTS himself enough to create something that is so well done that he or she can walk away from it feeling good--and knowing he or she didn't dis-respect the art form, himself or the people who are going to view it.

I guess if everyone respected everyone--the world would be in pretty good shape. Tall order.

One of my favorite people, Marty Stuart was here in DC for an Artist Confidential. He's quite an amazing person. An American treasure filled with stories of music, life and Americana. In a prior blog I wrote about his amazing collection of memorabilia. A priceless archive that makes The Hard Rock look like Disneyland. He's incredibly diverse as his repertoire ranges from bluegrass to the blues. A very spiritual guy and a joy. During the last song, his beautiful wife Connie Smith joined in to sing a song. Spontaneous! Me and Eric Logan are soon flying down to Tunica Mississippi to join Marty and check out a discovery of his at a small Church. The next Aretha Franklin he says. Looking forward to that!

Then---Early the next morning, I flew up to NYC with Jayme Karp and Aaron Lee for the Gloria Estefan Artist Confidential. I Love the Latin Confidential thing...it was crazy...in a good way. Intense Cubano American pride with a blazing set of music that had the crowd frothing with delight. Percussion sections...horns...the works. Jesus Salas hosted, though Gloria was 150% personality once on the stage whose presence eclipsed everything within a mile. It was a festival of sound and spirit that made it much more soulful than simply an interactive interview and performance. Gloria was inspirational and touching and sheer energy.

Big star turnout from Bernadette Peters to half of Sony...and ex-Sony head Tommy Mottola in attendance with his bodyguards. A wild and incredible night.

Before we departed Teterboro Airport, ran into Ludacris who of course does a show with us. Had a VERY large jet. Airplane envy. Eric Logan suggested that my plane could fit into his luggage compartment. Not as big as my friend Frank Wood's (former owner of WEBN, head of Jacor and an overall great and smart guy) Citation X, buy big nonetheless. Meridian, the terminal I use at Teterboro is pretty star studded.

Between Marty and Gloria over two days, you really appreciate the artistry of these shows. THEY RESPECT WHO THEY ARE AND WHO THEY SERVE.

10 Comments:

At 6:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's such a short attention span for americans anymore.. case in point is the new television programs that will have exactly one or even two shows to prove their worth.. not to mention the music scene where if you don't sound like one of three groups or "artists" you are screwed as far as originality is concerned..

 
At 10:57 PM, Anonymous Bob said...

Geez, Lee, I just read your latest column, and my head hurts. You object to junk news and culture, but then turn around and say you're a Murdoch fan? How does that work?

When all is said and done, who does more damage to the republic: Sean Penn in a rowboat in New Orleans, or Rupert Murdoch running a news network that has repeatedly sent the message that Iraq was behind 9/11? Hint: only one of these helped sell the American people on a disastrous war.

 
At 11:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad someone is brave enough to speak the truth about the drek out there!

 
At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say "Examples of No respect include a radio station delivering a cheesy promo that is "good radio" (circa 1965) but in reality is some fake voiced bozo hyping something silly." How is that statement any different than 20 on 20's modus operandi- which shams the gullible listener into thinking that votes are being tabulated, and the rotation is actually driven by them? THAT'S INSULTING, no respect radio. And in a time where an increasing number of XM stations are becoming more dumbed down by way of increasingly smaller rotations, such as The City, The Heat (which is FM, packaged as XM), Ethel and The Boneyard, just to name a few. The City played the same song twice in 35 minutes last week during normal non-show programming. How is that not dumbing down?

I respect and love what you preach, Lee, but XM programming isn't largely following suit. There are exceptions that you point out, but the TREND in the last couple years is toward LESS innovative and more "mainstream" aka. dumbed down radio.

 
At 7:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the merger happens, the jet-setting will end. Enjoy it while you can

 
At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am still waiting for the Jon Zellner Era to be over...

Lee your column is now bitter sweet--I love your passion, but it seems to be missing on many of XM's channels--Have you honestly listened to Ethel over the course of a week? It is now an FM clone--same exact reps as FM (and in many cases...MORE), same dumb fart infused channel id's?

A lot of the content on XM is still amazing, but anything even remotely considered a mainstream format has been FM-ized. I do not understand this stategy. I'd really like to know who is leaving FM for...FM.

 
At 12:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo. The news should tell us what is going on in the world. I could care less about celebrities, Britney, her kids or K-Fed. I hope the B*** chokes to death on Magic Johnson's load.

It's the blur that drives me nuts. TMZ is one thing, but watching CNN's "Showbiz Tonight" makes me want to lick an open soar in Jimmy's arm pit.

And in case you're listening, XM units show the song, channel and artist playing. Do stations like Squizz really need 15 second hacky bits to tell us what station we tuned into to?

Love the Lee.

 
At 3:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there have been some interesting comments on the FM imaging on many channels. I do not see the purpse of this. We PAY for radio--why do we have to endure the same crap we are trying to escape from on FM. I see a ton of reverting back to OLD ideas.

On Ethel, there is a break in the music after almost every song--Either a stupid channel ID appealing to 12 year old boys (is this demo really buying satrad?), or a DJ coming on to basically read the song title that is already being displayed for us--No connection to the music whatsoever.

I understand Kingston is probably taken with Hutton's genius production on Lucy--mimicing Hutton's genius is not something Kingston does very well.

Steve Kingston is good at one thing: FM REPETITION.

 
At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'm a big Murdoch fan. There's never any "blur" with his stuff. You know exactly what you're getting. Blur-free is good. I love TMZ--pure trash, but they do it well and you KNOW what you're getting. Or Opie and Anthony—you KNOW that their show is satirical…No blur there."

So you praise the likes of Rupert Murdoch in a post criticizing the current state of news media?

Fox News (and the NY Post) is good because it's "blur-free?" "Fair and Balanced" isn't an attempt at blurring Fox News's agenda? "We report, you decide" doesn't intend to obscure a reporting bias that's obvious to "news junkies" such as yourself? No blur there?

You offered an assumedly paraphrased quote stating an anonymous protester's personal opinion to support your general point about news media, though I'm not sure how it relates to anything else written in your post. It seems to serve no other purpose than to illustrate your own opinion regarding what you perceive to be a liberal viewpoint. Here's a more relevant, better sourced example to illustrate your ostensible point: a study conducted by the University of Maryland comparing Fox News viewers' understanding of current events to viewers of other news networks. While only 16% of NPR and PBS listeners/viewers believed there was a working relationship between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, 67% of Fox News viewers came to that conclusion. You claim there's no blur, but this certainly suggests otherwise. Is this not the news media's most serious failing? Since you're a news junkie, I assume that you've seen this survey before. If that is the case, your praise of Murdoch is truly puzzling.

You're right about one thing - the frivolity of current news media is a problem and is reflective of a society with severely misplaced priorities. But your praise for Rupert Murdoch and his contribution to the medium completely undermines your point; moreover, it suggests that you're fan of his product not because his it is "blur-free," but because you're sympathetic to the ideological bias it offers. Its bias and misinformation earns your praise while an unspecific "liberal media" receives criticism for offering a similar product (unless you care to argue that Fox News doesn't wallow in the sensationalism with which you supposedly take issue); it's not the product you ultimately have a problem with, it's your own perception of the intentions behind the product. That's pretty ironic for a post that so strongly condemns "the blur," not so much for one that extols Rupert Murdoch.

 
At 9:07 PM, Blogger Reginold said...

Finding old emails are like little time capsule moments ... don't you just love those little tidbits. Brings you right back like it was yesterday.

Yes, some things have changed, some for the better - some for the worse, but that's all apart of growth and maturity. Unfortunately with a large behemoth of a self-produced content machine XM is, you're not going to be able to make everything just right for everyone, but you still do as best you can with the direction, vision, manpower, and resources you have.

 

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