GodDAMN, this sort of thing bugs me.

Why can’t students be bothered to go to concerts?

Ask this question about students, and the answer is because they are stupid, worthless, have no attention span, and are basically uncivilized monsters. (Ask this question about ethnic minorities, and the white collar folks who congregate would sooner be boiled in oil than reply like that — well, not where anyone can hear them.)

Why can’t people seriously consider answering this question instead of trotting out “because they’re all a bunch of cave-dwelling morons” as the canned answer?

It seems that the white-collar snobs who flock around these questions will only answer them seriously when they will get political props for doing so. I have always had a strong hunch that most of the fawning attempts to draw ethnic minority crowds to Western classical music is just done out of a desire to make the white-collar types who consider it their music look more politically aware, as if dark-skinned listeners are simply accessories to demonstrate their progressive cred — the deservedly maligned “some of my best friends are black” phenomenon. (Presumably) white college students don’t function nearly as well to demonstrate progressive cred, so they get the bile and condescension that I suspect the snobs also feel toward ethnic minorities, only they know damn well they don’t dare say it out loud about them.

This whole concept is appalling. The kids probably have other things to do. They might resent being told that they have to sit there and listen to someone because some authority figure is going to turn their lip at them if they don’t. They may suspect that music that is treated like the equivalent of eating their cultural vegetables probably sucks. They may feel that, if the teacher quite likely thinks the kids’ generation’s music sucks, why should they go listen to the teacher’s preferred music? More likely, they simply don’t yet know who Renee Fleming is. Fessing up to not knowing who she is is likely to get the college kid looked at like a total asshole anyway — which sure isn’t going to make them want to go sit in a crowd full of people who will think they are total assholes.

The incredible amount of bile and hostility poured out toward college kids at the mere airing of this question amazes me. Do these people not realize that those college kids will sense that bile and hostility, and not want to go anywhere near it?

Let’s face it: out-crowd folks don’t go to classical music concerts because the freaking snobs who own that territory don’t want them there (unless they’ll function nicely as political arm candy). The concert hall is the territory of people who hate interlopers.

I’ve compared them before to resentful, bitter men in bars trying to meet women, who don’t realize that their inherent hatred for women can’t be hidden by any amount of cologne. So women avoid the hell out of them. Their response? To hate those bitches who won’t give them the time of day even more. That’ll help!

Students don’t come to these concerts because you don’t want them to, folks. And no matter how hard you work to hide this attitude, you can’t. You aren’t as subtle as you think. Your detestation of outsiders comes across clear as day. Your cologne can’t hide it.

To end this on a personal note, I can count on less than one hand the number of non-snobby creeps I’ve sat next to in all of the classical concerts I’ve gone to. Possibly less than one finger. I’m content to keep going because I’m ornery, know my stuff, and am not looking for social connection. If I’d been nervous, uncertain, or looking for some social interaction though, nearly every single interaction I’ve had with every other audience member I’ve sat next to would have been a serious turn-off, or at the very least, a strong signal that I Was Not Among My Kind. Blatherings about summer homes and sabbaticals. Overheard conversations about who just bought a boat. Commentary about how disgusting and horrible Kids Today are or why there are always so many Asians in the audience. (It’s southern California, people. There are “so many Asians” in the concert hall because there are so many Asians all over the place, okay?) Inevitable cozy, chummy comments about how icky popular music is, said in a tone of voice that assumed my agreement, of course.

The really sad part is that the actual performing musicians I’ve talked to have been uniformly nice and generally great people.

Instead of asking, “Why don’t outsiders come to classical music concerts?” maybe instead yizawl should be asking yourselves, “Do we really want them there — and if not, why not?” (And who is this we, anyway?)

Anyhow. A little rant for you …


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