There's a blogger I follow, whom I think I would follow a lot more if it weren't for one thing:
He/she (I know the gender, I'm just being purposely vague) blogs about music in addition to movies.
This is a perfectly valid creative choice for a blog, and I support it in the abstract. But when it gets down to the particular, I don't read his/her blog as much simply because I'm not that interested in sifting through the music posts.
I've been thinking about why this is. It's not because I don't like music. On the contrary -- music always has been and always will be an essential part of my life, even if I listen to more public radio and less music as I grow older. And what would films be without music? Music and movies inform each other intimately. We say that a particular song seems very "cinematic," either because it's grandiose or seems to tell some kind of story; likewise, we refer to films as "lyrical."
It stands to reason that a blog that combines both could be quite a brilliant read. And I'm not saying this blog is not. However, I wouldn't really know, because I don't give the music articles a chance -- I don't even read them in the first place.
Again, I've been thinking about why this is.
And it basically comes down to this: Movies are universal, while music can be very, very subjective.
Let's put it another way. I feel like I could recommend a great movie to anyone who likes movies. Great music? No way. Because my great music could be their crap. Where I hear brilliance, they may just hear noise. And we're listening to the same piece, it's just we're not fans of the same kind of music.
To be sure, movies can have the same kind of subjectivity. One person's brilliance can be another person's crap. I could show you the best western in the world (Unforgiven, for the record), and you might not like it because you don't like westerns. Actually, that's a bad example, because I love Unforgiven even though I don't particularly like the western genre.
But that's kind of my point exactly. Unforgiven speaks to me because I love film, not because I love westerns, and I think it would do the same for most people. I don't have to like that particular genre to like the film.
You can't say the same thing with music -- maybe even with books, or TV, or any other kind of creative endeavor, though I'd have to think about each of those individually before I could say for sure. The best hip hop song that has ever been recorded might sound like insolent fluff to a fan of classical music. Similarly, a hip hop fan may listen to a symphony and be utterly unable to distinguish it as something worthy of his/her time.
And what this leads me to decide is that films have an absolute value that music does not. Very few people will look at the world's greatest films and decide that they aren't at least somewhat good. Whereas, if you don't like U2, you don't like U2, and that's that.
It's for this reason that I have never been interested in the Grammys, the way I'm interested in the Oscars. Sure, some of that has to do with the fact that I'm educated about film and can both write and speak about it intelligently, whereas I'd be speaking in generalities if I tried to write about music on a regular basis. Simply put, I'm more passionate, per se, about movies than I am about music.
But I also have trouble with the Grammys because I feel like they're always comparing apples to oranges, and rarely do the winners have a true hold on the musical zeitgeist, because different people have such different tastes in music. (So, by extension, there may be no true musical zeitgeist.)
I think of the year that Steely Dan won Album of the Year for a record called Two Against Nature. It was 2001, and I didn't know a single person who had heard a single note off that album. But the rest of the nominees were pretty much a grab bag from across the musical spectrum as well: Midnite Vultures by Beck, Kid A by Radiohead, The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem and You're the One by Paul Simon. You might argue that Steely Dan should be the least likely to walk away with that award, given the musical temperature of the country at that time (though I don't know a word from the Paul Simon album either). If any album "should" have won in terms of its influence on culture, it would be Eminem's album. But there you have an example of an album that would polarize as many people as it would convert.
Not so, really, with the movies. When Slumdog Millionaire wins best picture, it's because that's the movie everyone's talking about. When The Hurt Locker wins best picture, it's because that's the movie everyone's talking about. Those two movies are very different from each other, but the same people can love them equally.
That could just be because movie buzz gets very loud, very quickly. And since that buzz is controlled by a relatively small number of entertainment outlets, it tends to coronate frontrunners pretty quickly, and get us all thinking on the same page. Or it could just be because movies are a smaller universe than music, where it's not apples vs. oranges, but Granny Smith apples vs. Golden Delicious. And where opinions of greatness -- or lack of greatness -- translate better from person to person.
And so to this blogger, who may have determined his or her identity in the course of this piece, but who is really only being used as an example who inspired me to a certain line of thinking: Your decision to combine music and movies on your blog does not work for me as well as it should, for the above reasons. It's hard to read a music recommendation the same way I read a movie recommendation. With music, I need to know where you're coming from; with movies, I don't.
But more power to you for trying. Music and movies do inform each other in more ways than we can even touch on here, and as I said, it's a good idea for a blog if you can pull it off. And I think you can.
I'm just not always going to be your most regular reader, because I like to keep my apples and my oranges separate.