The Grammys are touted as “Music’s Biggest Night.” And rightfully so. The awards beautifully showcase music from all genres, celebrating a variety of talent from across the globe. Humans have been making music since the beginning of time, and for nearly as long, have been establishing ideas about what type of music is “good” and what is “bad.” For many years, the right to pass judgment on a piece of music was largely reserved for professionals and experts on the genre. Today, however, nearly anyone with a social media account feels entitled to pass judgment on nearly everything—the nature of the music world and the Grammys included. Last night was no exception.
Overall, televised awards shows beg for criticism. Stars dress to impress—or shock—and expect a social stir from the self-proclaimed fashion police. Build-up to the event pits nominees against each other as fans debate the reasons why his/her favorite star should win. And during the show fans utilize social media to celebrate wins and mourn losses; no one is safe from a fan scorned by defeat (“Ima let you finish…but Beyonce had one of the best albums of all time!”).
For the most part celebrities have gone years without taking part in this social banter—not being able to receive feedback from fans on their wardrobes or victories until they picked up the freshly printed tabloids the next day. However, times are changing. Celebrities not only receive immediate gratification (and verbal lashings) from fans and non-fans alike, this is even encouraged.
Shortly after the beginning of last night’s telecast, Grammy host LL Cool J held up his cell phone and reminded the audiences in the theatre and at home to use #grammys when tweeting about the event, and the proceeded to read tweets live on the air throughout the night. This form of social integration is a fantastic move on the part of CBS: the fans at home become more invested in the telecast, therefore making them less likely to turn the channel. CBS’s ratings go up and that enables the network to make more money on ad sales.** For those of you who think using the #grammys hashtag was simply a way to incorporate those at home, I’m sorry, but it’s about the money. It’s always about the money.
Regardless of the money factor, social integration into such a public event can be both positive and negative: Positive in the sense that the overwhelming sentiment on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is in celebration of the honorees and their achievements, negative in the sense that self-proclaimed “experts” in the field always seem to pick fights with other social users whose ideas of what constitutes “good” and “bad” differ from theirs.
A common sight on #grammy night was the message reading something along the lines of: “(insert genre here) is the most real kind of music out there! Those of you who complain about it are just stupid!” Or, “(insert name of artist) writes the best songs! (insert name of other artist in same category) is a total sell out!” Many of you may laugh at the particular lack of substance in these messages, but unfortunately that’s how most of them tend to look. The ironic thing is that these users are doing the very thing for which they are condemning others: putting down someone’s preferred genre of music.
Again, it amazes me how everyone with a social account thinks that the world is entitled to hear his/her opinion. #grammy night, however, was particularly frustrating for me. I will make an effort in this blog to keep my often strong opinions to myself and just present the facts, but today I’m going to make an exception. Music is a universal language, that’s what is so special about it. Music can cross boundaries that typical words cannot. Music can make the listener feel something, believe something, express him/herself. Music in all forms is beautiful. Of course I don’t enjoy listening to every genre of music, very few people do. But I can appreciate what all genres of music provide for the individuals who listen to them. Diversity should be celebrated, although, unfortunately, it is not in many areas of the world. In my particular corner, I choose to celebrate difference. Those that put down others simply via social media due to their choice of music are perpetuating the very problem that they are pointing out. It’s intolerance. Musical intolerance. And while many of you may laugh and say, “It’s just music, what’s the big deal?” To many, music is an expression of self, whether that person is creating the music or simply listening to it. Musical experience is very personal.
I choose to use my position in the social sphere to celebrate talent and commend when commendation is due. The social sphere isn’t about me–it’s about everyone out there who is taking the time to read what I have to say. I have a duty to them to respect their opinions and expectations. I’m not going to use my social platforms to insult, but to empower. I hope that you will too.
**Noted: the 2013 Grammys were the second highest rated Grammys in 20 years, failing to compare only to last year’s tribute to the late Whitney Houston. Statistics for the night can be found here.**