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Thursday, August 11, 2005

In The Absence Of Television I Find Myself Staring Out The Window Waiting For Something To Happen
(We were going to bring this up before we left, but never got around to it. There are several iPod-assisted revelations from the road to pass along, but would be remiss if we didn't get this out of the way first. This probably isn't a fully formed thought. And has been performed without the use of spellcheck.)

This is not a spirited defence of Celine Dion. We don't particularly enjoy Celine Dion. We are not trying to be contrarian. We will not suggest here that her work be reconsidered. She is not under-appreciated. Or misunderstood. She's just not evil.

It is probably an indisputable fact that many, many people hate Celine Dion. By "people," we mean "those who consider themselves to have so-called 'taste' in music." And by "hate," we mean "the emotion normally reserved for profoundly awful things that do offend us or hurt us in some great way. (like, say, for instance, the continued success of the guy from American Pie who's now in the Dukes of Hazzard movie)."

An informal survey of pop music shows it to be a world full of former drug dealers, alleged murderers, misogynists, racists, sexists, accused child molesters and several people who have probably used various methods to escape federal tax laws. Some probably don't tip very well in restaurants. A couple have probably been mean to a small dog or two. But none of these people inspire the univeral disdain which generally greets the mention of Celine Dion.

As best we can figure, this is because it is a lot easier to hate Celine Dion. Hating Celine Dion can be done without having to think about drug dealers or misogyny or the complicated theories behind the taxation of society's wealthiest five per cent. It can be done, really, without actually thinking about anything. Hating Celine Dion is the equivalent of not wanting anchovies on your pizza. When was the last time you were in the presence of anyone who ordered anchovies on a pizza? Seemingly everyone is in agreement that anchovies are no good on pizza. There need not be any discussion of this fact. Indeed, most pizza places probably don't even offer it as an option anymore. It is the default position. Anchovies are to unliked pizza toppings as Celine Dion is to crap music.

The hole in this theory is System of a Down. We would wager that System of a Down is immeasurably worse to listen to than Celine Dion. And yet, not nearly so despised.

Ask yourself this: If you had to listen to either Celine Dion or System of a Down, constantly, at a high volume, for a full 24 hours, which would you choose? No one would pick System of a Down. If they say they would, they're lying. Because they think it impresses their friends. Or because they think System of a Down have something to say. And are therefore "important."

If that doesn't convince you, adjust the question slightly: which would most likely be used by your government to torture its enemies? On the hundredth listen My Heart Will Go On might be rather annoying, but it ain't going to break the insurgency in Iraq, kids.

The difference, of course, is that people actually listen to Celine Dion. Not anyone here of course. But other people. People who lack taste. People who don't know any better.

Essentially, no one could ever hate System of a Down the way they hate Celine Dion because not enough people love System of a Down the way so many people love Celine Dion. That popularity requires an equally fervent hate (like, perhaps, Wal-Mart). Something that's all the easier when hating Celine Dion requires very little consideration of genuine awfulness.

All of which possibly begs the question: Are the people who hate Celine Dion actually putting less thought into the matter than those who love Celine Dion (the lovers generally assumed, by the haters, to be of lesser taste, if not intellect)?

(The only other complaint that can be made, especially in Canada, is that Celine Dion is, well, Canadian. This is also basically the root cause of any anger directed at the Tragically Hip. Which is probably ironic. At least when one considers all the people at Live 8, many of whom were probably there to see said Hip, who booed Celine Dion's pseudo-appearance.)

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