Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Don't Believe The Hype

All the critics -- you can hang'em,
I'll hold the rope
-- Public Enemy

In his Slate story about bizarre accusations against the Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt, Chicago writer and blogger John Cook takes a radical stand: Your opinion of rap does not determine whether you're a racist.
The bizarre case against Merritt came to a head last month at the Experience Music Project's annual Pop Conference. Merritt was the keynote speaker, and in a panel conversation he described "Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah," from Disney's legendarily racist 1946 musical Song of the South, as a "great song." He made clear, according to a partial transcript of the panel provided by his band mate Claudia Gonson, that he did not actually like Song of the South, calling it unwatchable and saying that it has just "one great song. The rest of it is terrible, actually."

This was too much for [Chicago Reader music contributor Jessica Hopper], who was in the audience and had already written on her blog that she intended to confront Merritt. She walked out in anger and wrote, falsely, that, "I did not have to ask Stephin Merrit [sic] of Magnetic Flds whether he was racist, because his nice, long elucidating comment about his love, NAY, obsession with racist cartoon, Song of the South, served as a pre-emptive answer. It's one thing to have 'Zippitty Doo Da' be your favorite song. It is another to lay in for Uncle Remus appreciation hour amidst a panel—('I love all of it,' he says)."

Of course Merritt had said no such thing. Later, when confronted with a transcript of the panel, Hopper retracted her comments. But not before other bloggers picked up the meme.

Naturally, this story -- combining the traditionally volatile elements of alleged racism and musical taste -- has started a Blogfight!

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