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Prof. Hilburn And Bruce's Yelps

September 20, 1987

It was entertaining to hear Robert Hilburn rebut Allan Bloom's critique of rock 'n' roll ("Rock Under Fire," Sept. 6). I must risk being perceived as unhip and agree with Bloom that rock music is a philosophical wasteland.

Is Prof. Hilburn really telling us that Bruce Springsteen's yelps about the true meaning of street racing and manual labor compare to Tocqueville on American culture? Rock philosophy may have seemed profound to me in high school, but so did the latest line on who was taking whom to the prom.

Rock is fun. Entertaining. Danceable. And, as Bloom has recognized in his book "The Closing of the American Mind," juvenile. Rock's infantility explains much of its appeal. Convincing people that it's an artistic outlet as serious as literature or art or cinema cuts them off from the realization that there is higher quality of thought to be found elsewhere. And it spoils the fun for those of us who just want to enjoy rock's own special silliness.

All who doubt Bloom's thesis should hear Frank Zappa testify in court that "Valley Girl" is an artistic statement, or catch a glimpse of the pornographic poster in the Dead Kennedys' latest record, or watch "Under the Cherry Moon," fathered by Prince, one of rock's most celebrated visionaries.

It is truly sad to see young people duped into thinking that what they see on MTV is the cutting edge of human thought. It is even worse to hear grown-up pop music critics say the same thing.

TELFORD WORK

Pasadena

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