UNWARRANTED ROCK SNOBBERY ON THE METRO DESK

Huzzahs to the New York Times–an American institution I adore despite the widespread Murdochian bloodlust for its demise–for breaking, first, the news of Eliot Spitzer’s link to the Emperor’s Club, and, second, the identity of “Kristen.” BUT: Was it really necessary to denigrate young Ashley Youmans’s sample song on her MySpace page as “an amateurish, hip-hop-inflected rhythm-and-blues tune” that uses “dated slang, calling someone her ‘boo’”? Such unwarranted Rock Snobbery! This is a news story, not an arts-section critique! (Evidently, someone at the Times must feel similarly: the latest version of the Ashley story has had the word “amateurish” excised from it.)

First, a word in defense of “dated slang”: It can be an effective lyrical tool, both evocative and funny. Witness Bruce Johnston’s use of the phrase “She’s really swell” in the sublime 1971 Beach Boys song “Disney Girls (1957),” or Beck’s couplet “Word up to the man thing/ She’s always cold-lamping” in the song “Mixed Bizness,” which came out in 1999–a solid decade after the phrases “Word up” and “cold-lamping” were in vogue.

Second, given the Times’s rough treatment of young Ashley, I couldn’t help but think of the scene in the Farrelly Brothers’s Me, Myself & Irene in which Jim Carrey’s character, in full schizo mode, unleashes a cruel monologue of what he presumes to be the Renee Zellweger character’s life arc: “Let me guess: Everybody in town told you you were easy on the eyes, so you decided to become a supermodel. When you got to the Big Apple, they treated you like the worm. So you packed on a few pounds and started calling yourself an actress... Unfortunately, you can’t get far without talent, and after a while the only bright lights you saw were the ones that hit you in the face when you opened the fridge. That’s when you got a boob job, started hanging around on the Upper East Side, looking for a rich old man with a bum ticker... and waved a white flag in the face of your own self-loathing.”

Godspeed, young Ashley: You’re only 22, and dated slang is not such a bad thing.

March 13, 2008  Link  General Posts  Share/Bookmark

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