"Because the gifs and images displayed on a Tumblr page are meant to reflect the sensibilities of the individual posting them, it’s important above seemingly all else that that content reflects not only authenticity, but all the intangible qualities the end user values. It’s a weird, unwinnable shell game—guessing people’s intentions, locating cool rather than quality, racing to embrace and drop memes at precisely the right time. Proving you’re keeping up with whatever is minute-old can feel more important than identifying things that remain notable and worthwhile outside of a 24-hour Internet news cycle. Expressions and ideas that aren’t surface-deep don’t stand a chance in this environment. As a result, indie music threatens to fall into a place where listeners prize the associative power of a content provider rather than the expression or truth within an artist’s work."
Ohhhhhhhkay. (via liquidchroma)
First off, I should say I haven’t touched Ben’s tags, because he chooses Tumblr content that reflects the intangible qualities I value.
Sure, I bitch about people reblogging songs and quotes I’ve put on Tumblr without context, and there’s admittedly quick turnaround on artists and microgenres (I totally missed this “seapunk” thing entirely, and I follow a fair share of music Tumblrs). But the idea that Tumblr encourages content creation and reposting as both authenticity grab (already a fairly dubious notion) and a means of affirming one’s value system in its entirety is foreign to me. As far as I’m concerned (and what seems to ring true among most of the sites I follow), this is content-sharing, not persona building.
As for users exchanging “the associative power of a content provider” for “the expression or truth within an artist’s work,” there’s an awful lot to unpack, but let’s start with:
1. The truth within an artist’s work? Seriously? We’re to question the idea of users establishing authenticity through Tumblr content, but we should just assume that authenticity is a stable, observable phenomenon in art (popular or otherwise)? I ask this as someone who was in a relatively odd, original-sounding band in college that was once drunkenly heckled during a soundcheck with “YOU HAVE NO TRUTH! PLAY SOMETHING REAL!” When pressed, the heckler asked for some Steely Dan, which our bassist ably provided (in brief). Our ornery audience member’s ‘something real’ wasn’t ours. Oh, well.
2. Even if there were some rubric by which we could gauge that, yes, The Men* are more “authentic” than Lana Del Rey, Odd Future, Kreayshawn, etc., how does the platform of Tumblr make establishing this authenticity substantially different than it used to be? I suppose there’s additional room for discussion, but authenticity hunts are always “weird, unwinnable shell game”s, regardless of whether the mode of discovery is Tumblr, MTV, radio, or a local club.
* And, Christ, if Open Your Heart is authentic (an A on the AV Club, and an 8.5/BNM on Pitchfork suggest that it’s at least considered good, if not necessarily authentic, by some people), give me all the fake you’ve got**, because that shit’s boooorrrrrring. To use Plagenhoef’s words from elsewhere in the article, I have serious doubts about the band’s “competence, fidelity, and, perhaps most importantly, shelf life,” considering how anemic and amateurish they sound next to contemporary points of comparison like Fucked Up or the new Cloud Nothings and how transparent and lazy their Stones and ‘Mats lifts are.
** Unless that “fake” includes LDR, Odd Future, and Kreayshawn, all of whom are adequately unlikeable without authenticity entering into the conversation.