Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Who’s talking about pop culture on the internet?

Young men, that’s who. Okay, this is a ludicrous statement derived from inadequate statistics. But it is worth taking five minutes to have a gander at the results of a recent poll carried out by the once (I’m sure folk …

Wed, Aug 22, 2012, 20:08


Young men, that’s who. Okay, this is a ludicrous statement derived from inadequate statistics. But it is worth taking five minutes to have a gander at the results of a recent poll carried out by the once (I’m sure folk have moved on) achingly trendy website Pitchfork. If you’ve never come across this beast, it’s an online music magazine run by and for the sort of people who think that there are only two inhabited spaces in the entire United States: Portland and Brooklyn (this, despite the site originating in somewhere called Chicago).

I mean really. These people!

They recommend records by the sort of bearded losers we thought we’d annihilated before¬†Magazine had released their second album. They also recommend records by people in ill-fitting tortoise-shell spectacles, people with asymmetric haircuts and people wearing jeans tight enough to turn their ankles blue.

Actually, I rather like Pitchfork. The reviews do make too much use of the vertical pronoun — “I first heard Horse in a Tree when I was at school and I was wondering whether I should apply to Columbia or Brown. I… I… I…” — but the site does help sort the mildly annoying hipster bleeps from genuinely infuriating hipster bleeps. It will do well enough.

Anyway, to celebrate some anniversary or other, the site decided to carry out an extensive poll of its readers. You can look at the rather pompously titled People’s List here. Readers were asked to select their favourite albums released since Pitchfork formed itself in 1995.

As far as the records go, the main body of the survey only served to confirm how depressingly predictable consumers of supposedly alternative music really are. Radiohead were at number one (OK Computer) and number two (Kid A). Also in the top 10 we find similarly white, student friendly bands such as Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Strokes and, well, Radiohead again. The only black artist who figures in any way significantly is well known “gay fish” Kanye West.

It was ever thus. In the late 19th century, the likes of Paul Morley and Ian Penman used to try and woo NME readers away from their tunnel-visioned devotion to The Jam and The Stranglers. It didn’t really happen.

What really interests me here, however, are the demographics of the electorate. Beneath a little graph, the compliers have informed us that: “Data represents only contributors to the People’s List and is not indicative of Pitchfork’s overall demographics”. They’d better hope that’s right. A quite stunning 88 percent of those who submitted ballots were male. Virtually none of them were over 40.

Now, it must be admitted that such lists are now and always have been more of a “boy thing”. Nick Hornby got a whole novel out of that particular manly obsession in High Fidelity. Nonetheless, Pitchfork can’t be enormously happy about the news that their readership must still be wildly skewed towards the male. They can live with the fact that the Pitchfork community is mostly fairly young. Indeed, they would be justified in having a little fume if it were otherwise. What writer on new music wants to discover he’s talking to the Clarkson contingent? But all those boys. It’s like going among the audience of a Genesis concert in the old days.

Elsewhere in the poll, we find Pitchfork confirming many of the cheap prejudices I have exercised above. Get this. The chart listing regional affiliations of top-200 artists within the United States was headed by a borough rather than a city. When in the name of buggery did everyone who matters move to bloody Brooklyn? That locale scored three-times the number of LPs knocked up by the number two “city” (neighbouring Manhattan, of course). Given the size of Brooklyn and the vast areas still resisting gentrification from jerks like, well, me, the annoying fashionability of the place ¬†could go on for decades. Stupid Portland only managed seventh place. Ha ha! Take that supposedly hip Pacific North East with your hemp hats, stupid facial hair and solar-powered doughnuts. Jerks!

Hang on. What am I getting so upset about? I need a holiday.

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