Don’t know if it’s the time of year, or it’s something in the water, but a number of small prog bands’ web forums have turned rather toxic lately, and worse still, the discord has spilled from one forum to another.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve read some quite spiteful and mean-spirited attacks against one or two bands, followed up by complaints that the band’s fans are unable to handle criticism. And of course you find some of the very same people will be up in arms if anyone says a word against their band. Too much of it has got very unpleasantly personal.
I am really sick of these “My band is better than your band” pissing contests. Why is it that some people seem incapable of praising one band without simultaneously bad-mouthing another band who are perceived to be competitors? I’m thinking here particularly of a scene of interrelated bands where many of the regular forum posters know band members personally, and have a natural instinct to be defensive when they’re subject to what can easily be seen as unfair criticism.
I recognise that it should it’s perfectly OK to say you didn’t enjoy a particular album or gig, and to explain why. But I really wish people would at least try to be a little bit more gracious about it. I don’t think it’s on to imply that if someone else did enjoy a gig that their judgement must have been impaired. All these bands put their heart and soul their music. If you don’t care for a particular band, just leave them to people who do like them, and don’t keep carping on about how much you think they suck.
And I don’t think it’s OK to post jibes at other forum members who saw things differently, then claim it was only “witty banter between friends” when you find that they take offence. If you don’t know someone well enough to know what you can get away with saying, then don’t say it! And if they do take offence, then it can’t have been just ‘witty banter’. Is that really that difficult to understand?
And before people accuse me of hypocrisy because of some of the things I say about overrated indie bands on places like The Guardian Music Blog, I think completely different rules apply when it comes to big corporate rock acts or currently fashionable bands who have been ridiculously hyped by certain sections of the media – think of it as putting the boot into the hype as much as the act themselves.
Is a little bit more civility and mutual respect too much to ask for?