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The "M" word
Mr. [Robert] Wilonsky's editorial comments concerning Ramon Jacquez's crusade to eliminate Goth gangs ["The road to hell," November 19] go something like this: "Goth is cool. Goth is not dangerous. Kids aren't affected by what they listen to. It's only music." This is ironic considering that Mr. Wilonsky has chosen a career based entirely on music but is all too oblivious of the power of the medium to incite emotion, thought, and action. Would said editor even have a job were music as ineffectual as he claims?

This is by no means a black-and-white issue. I have no anti-music sentiments and certainly don't blame the world's ills on pop culture alone. Often it's a matter of the chicken and the egg. Which came first, the bad kids or the bad music? (And just for the record--I'm not an old curmudgeon, but a 19-year-old sometimes pop-culture consumer.)

Certainly, parents are to blame for the lax morality in youth culture. (Yes, I know "morality" is a dirty word amongst the liberal, but it's valid here.) Many parents are lazy and self-concerned. Kids feel alienated, unloved. Bad stuff happens. This does not invalidate the evidence that certain vulgar, violent lyrics influence kids (and adults), often for the worse. The statistics are in the fashion, my man. Music has the ability to make us think, speak, act, and dress in a certain way. Can you say Beatle boots? How about mop tops or greasers? See The Wedding Singer for a refresher in music as fashion. Same with mostly nonviolent pop like, say, The Smiths (well, sometimes there's some vehement, mildly masochistic stuff in there, but you know). Who can be happy listening to "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me?" That song has the undeniable power to depress.

Not to imply that being depressed and being moved to kill are equivalent, but why is advertising and music such big business? Because we listen and we act. We buy and we consume. We lap it up, whether it be Goth crap or Celine Dion (which in either case is tragic). We are affected.

Gap marketers are certainly aware of the power of trend, music, and image to influence us to consume the product. So stop denying Manson his shock power. His lewd shtick does work on the minds of impressionable (i.e., normal) kids. Unfortunately.

Jessica Parker
Via e-mail

Would it kill you--would it absolutely put you and this rag out--if you went one goddamned week without mentioning Marilyn Manson? Oh, I do agree with the gist of your article concerning how asinine it is when law figures, teachers, and parents blame Manson, when there is clearly something a hell of a lot worse at the root of their children's problems (in the instances of children who've actually been violent). Listening to Marilyn Manson makes no one a gang member, or Satanist, or any of that crap. It simply makes you a purveyor of bad taste.

The funny part is that your column and these pundits of the anti-Goth realm are just fueling Manson's record sales and further promoting the Goth fashion world (it is mostly fashion, y'know). Robert Wilonsky, you should know better. You have written some intriguing articles over the years. Have you lost a step? This is old. Real old.

Via e-mail

Not quite yet
It has finally happened. You have written a music-oriented column that I actually agree with, Robert. After all the years of agreeing with people who say that you suck, I agree with your summation of the Dixie Chicks ["Teaching a (history) lesson," December 10]. They are the ones producing 12-amp maximum power suckage. [Editor's note: Just one problem. Zac Crain wrote the article.]

I saw the Dixie Chicks in concert when there were four, and they were good. They were like four Bill Monroes in skirts, but they were very good. Very talented and very conscious of their country-music heritage. I was most impressed with their respect for country music's roots, which is the music I grew up on.

Now, they treat their past as if it never happened. Bands abound in today's market that have done the same and paid for it (see "Ron Wood Joins Rolling Stones"), and more than likely the Chicks will rue the day. They are a blip on the radar--a sexier, more marketable blip--but a blip just the same. Their time will come and go, and perhaps Macy and Lynch will be vindicated. If they even care. I know I wouldn't if I had founded a band and was referred to in the bio as a "lineup change."

Thanks for the good read.
Via e-mail

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