2016-03-08T17:23:57+00:00 2016-03-09T10:13:12+00:00

Artist exaltation in the Twitter Age: Is the fourth wall nonexistent?


If you’ve been anywhere within 1,000 miles of a router in the last month, you’ve probably heard at least one of Kanye West’s many recent Twitter fiascos. The social media rampages have ranged on topics from almost newsworthy updates on his latest studio release, The Life of Pablo, to tabloid-suitable insinuations of the rapper’s affinity for backdoor fondling. This recent onslaught of social media-powered pseudo-news is quickly gaining on the life-invasiveness levels of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” in 2013. Don’t worry. This isn’t another dissertation on the virtue of Yeezy’s public persona, but rather a discussion on the stream through which we receive this information and is it almost too much?

Twitter is an interesting tool. It’s especially interesting in the way that it has affected artist-fan relations. It feels good when ILOVEMAKONNEN wishes you a happy birthday. It feels less desirable to discover that Mat Zo retweeted Star Wars spoilers and that he's petty enough to retort a threat from a fan agitated by the spoiling. It’s easy to toss the social media platform a couple gold stars for its ability to offer real time updates on positive political issues with artists involvement such as Killer Mike’s highly vocal endorsements of Bernie Sanders.

Twitter offers fans a high degree of accessibility to their favorite artists and vice versa. It allows for quick dissemination of music news of all sorts from the mundane to the profound. Depending on whether the account is managed by a PR team or the artist personally, it can provide anything from an uncensored stream of conscious-style insight into the brain of the musician.

So, is there a downside? Well, I don’t really have the answer to that question. I do know that I have a tendency to romanticize music and place the musicians that on some imaginary pedestal. Musicians have a way of being a vox populi and incite some silly sense of humanity by stringing together a couple words and a few guitar strums. When an artist makes brilliant music, it makes me want to believe that the artist is an almost elevated being (or at least above the pettiness of everyday squabbles.)

However, I also possess an Andy Warhol complex for musicians, that is to say it’s difficult for me to separate the artist persona from the art itself. It goes without saying that there has always been media relations between artists and their fans in the form of newspapers, magazines, video interviews and the like. Twitter is no different in this regard, but I have to wonder if this specific medium signals the final bit of decay of the artist’s almost holy status of exaltation.

Would I have liked to think West Coast hip-hop legend Ice-T wasn’t petty enough to tell Aimee Mann to “Eat a Hot Bowl of Dicks” in response for her mocking of T’s acting ability on Law & Order: SVU? Most certainly. Would Ozzy Osbourne relinquish some credibility as Prince of Darkness and King of the Occult, if he needed his PR team to promote his infamous bat eating on Twitter? Probably. 

Maybe Father John Misty’s nihilistic cynicisms are kind of awesome. Maybe I’d like to know that a rock'n roll'r like the  Black KeysPatrick Carney could’ve settled his little altercation with Jack White in some New York City bar without finding the need to tweet about it. Maybe I’d like to be blissfully ignorant of the flaws of these artists who make music that’s so indubitably flawless. Maybe that’s a flaw of my own. I’m not here to say Twitter is good or bad, but maybe sometimes there are certain things that are best left out of the conversation.

Main Stage · Opinion · Opinion Piece


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