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Author Topic: Musical / Cultural snobbery
Michelle
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Babbler # 560

posted 20 April 2004 08:13 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Just so the male homemaker thread doesn't get too far off-track...

I've been wanting to write about this for a while anyhow. Every other week, I travel out of town by bus, and so I take the subway to the Scarborough Town Centre. In order to do so, I have to switch trains at Kennedy Station. In Kennedy Station, there is classical music playing, and I remember when they first started doing that, it was announced in the media that it was in order to curb gang activity and to make it an uninviting place for teenagers.

Every time I go to the station, I'm somewhat offended. I love classical music. But I also love popular music, some hip-hop (I'd probably like more hip-hop if I were exposed to more of it), and other musical genres that aren't popular at the Country Club.

I look at the many people of colour in the subway station while this music is playing, and I think, this music is saying, "You don't belong here. We're playing long-haired, dead white guy music because we want to make sure you act civilized while you're here."

Do they play classical music from other cultures? Hell, do they play popular music that working-class middle-aged people, black and white, from my parents' generation might enjoy?

I don't want them to play gangster rap with misogynist lyrics in the subway station. But I think it's pretty obnoxious to so blatantly put across the message that we're going to target an age group and play music in a public place that they're not likely going to be able relate to in order to make them uncomfortable enough not to want to be there.

And before anyone asks, no, I'm not saying that people of colour can't appreciate classical music. I just think it's pretty racist to put dead white guy music across as the only kind of music that has a civilizing influence on the many non-white people walking through the station.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
windymustang
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posted 20 April 2004 09:07 PM      Profile for windymustang     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yeah, I agree with you Michelle. There are all kinds of music that could be played. Music from all cultures would be a good choice, say Latin, African, Regae, as well as Pop, Country, Classical...whatever. Why should only Classical music be considered "civilized"?

The more musical influences we are exposed to, the more educated and accepting we become towards them. When I started at the School of Music in Brandon I had never listened to opera much and hated it, but after listening to it for a few classes, came to love it. Same goes for a lot of other countries folk music. After going to folk music festivals I've come to appreciate music from all over the world.


From: from the locker of Mad Mary Flint | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
BLAKE 3:16
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posted 20 April 2004 09:12 PM      Profile for BLAKE 3:16     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thanks, Michelle, for raising this. I keep meaning to get more involved in transit issues, and I find it repugnant that some very good or great music is used to discourage people from hanging around.

It's totally a racist anti-youth thing. Bathurst Station blares it because they don't want any young people hanging out. It's one of the most insidious forms of social control. Not to belabour a point, but I think this abuse of music is one of the reasons young people find a lot of "bad" music appealing -- it includes them.


From: Babylon, Ontario | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
charlessumner
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posted 20 April 2004 10:25 PM      Profile for charlessumner     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Directly between the local bus station and what look to be the rowdiest nightclubs of downtown Timmins, Ontario lies a convenience store. A couple years back, they installed loudspeakers outside the store to discourage people from loitering on the sidewalk.

What did it put out there that management considered so inherently noxious to undesirables as to drive them away?

CBC Radio One.

A few Ontario towns which have or have had public music systems in the downtown, ahem, business districts: Trenton, Midland, and one of the three big towns in Muskoka district (which one escapes me! But I was right there and heard it the other week).

A municipal councillor in Duncan, B.C. is currently pushing for one.

Owen Sound, ON, though, recently turned down an expansion of a system there. From "Downtown music plan dies: Councillors vote against extending public address system," Doug Edgar, Sun Times Dec 6 2003:

quote:
The Carney's lane speakers, in the 900 block of main street, have been well received by business people in the area, but a proposal to extend such a system from the 700 block to the 1100 block met stiff resistance -- including one councillor humming The Girl From Ipanema during part of the debate -- despite strong support from councillors Peter Lemon and Gary Levine.

While the speakers now in place for a test run in Carney's Lane have curbed loitering and vandalism, such a system throughout the downtown "is offensive to a public space," said Coun. Deb Haswell.



From: closer everyday | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged
Hinterland
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posted 20 April 2004 10:41 PM      Profile for Hinterland        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hey, Charles..that convenience store..was it on Spruce or Third?
From: Québec/Ontario | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
charlessumner
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posted 20 April 2004 10:57 PM      Profile for charlessumner     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Cedar, by the old cinema.
From: closer everyday | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged
Gir Draxon
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posted 20 April 2004 11:02 PM      Profile for Gir Draxon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yeah I would much prefer listening to a wider variety of music that European classical music.

I remember a few years ago in the groecery store I was working at they often had Lebanese music playing during the day. That stuff was pretty alien to me at first, but after a while I took a liking to it. I'm not sure how old the music was, but it was certainly not what you would expect teens and young adults to be cranking on their stereos. The kind of music I am talking about should definately be played along with the old European stuff. Too bad I don't know any artists, titles, and such


From: Arkham Asylum | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Hinterland
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posted 20 April 2004 11:10 PM      Profile for Hinterland        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Cedar, by the old cinema.

Ah, yes. Cedar. The Via Rapida from which we were dispersed to the far corners of the (once) largest city on Earth. My trip (to Schumacher) took five minutes. Still, it was thrilling...

[ 20 April 2004: Message edited by: Hinterland ]


From: Québec/Ontario | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
al-Qa'bong
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posted 21 April 2004 12:17 AM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't think that playing classical music is racist. Isn't the idea to create an atmosphere that delinquents will find off-putting? They could have security guards and cameras, but they play music instead, which seems to me like a civilized tactic.

I've noticed that they play classical music at our downtown bus terminal and in front of the main downtown shopping mall. The mall always has Beethoven's Fifth playing, which is deeply weird. Can't they change tapes or something? Chopin or Satie would be create a calming effect on the young hooligans, I'd expect.

Someone was knifed to death in the middle of the afternoon there last summer, so perhaps the music didn't quite have the desired effect.

If old dead longhair music is offensive, they could play something like Ornette Coleman to drive away the punks, but then regular folks might go with them.


From: Saskatchistan | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
JeremyShantz
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posted 21 April 2004 03:33 AM      Profile for JeremyShantz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Kudos to Owen Sound for stopping the spread of music in public spaces. It's impossible to visit a few stops and eat in a restaurant without listening to a constant stream of music. Let's have some peace!
From: Toronto (Eglinton-Lawrence) | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
beluga2
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posted 21 April 2004 03:35 AM      Profile for beluga2     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
The mall always has Beethoven's Fifth playing, ... Someone was knifed to death in the middle of the afternoon there last summer, so perhaps the music didn't quite have the desired effect.

Hmm... a bit of the old ultraviolence, AND a bit of the lovely, lovely Ludwig Van?

What could be better, me little droogies?


From: vancouvergrad, BCSSR | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
aRoused
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posted 21 April 2004 10:49 AM      Profile for aRoused     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
To back up al-Qa'bong (arg, did I spell that right?), classical music is played here in the UK for exactly the same reasons, and I can guarantee you it's not to keep the coloured folk oppressed. The kids (irrespective of colour) don't like it, or at least associate it with things they don't like, so they don't congregate, so they don't get into trouble. I think it's an elegant solution, much better than hiring an army of rent-a-cops.
From: The King's Royal Burgh of Eoforwich | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 21 April 2004 11:06 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It's not the classical music that I think is racist...it's the attitude behind playing it. The idea that we're going to try to make people who normally identify with hip-hop or rap music uncomfortable so they don't want to be in this public place...well, who normally identifies with hip-hop or rap music?

The idea behind it is, we don't want YOU or your cultural baggage in our public space. People who are civilized listen to classical music. People who don't like classical music aren't civilized and don't belong here. People who like classical music are the kind of people we want here. We want them to feel welcome here. They can hang out here all they like. We don't want YOU to feel welcome here. YOU can't loiter.

Every other weekend, when I arrive at the Scarborough Town Centre station, when I leave the subway station, I walk over a sidewalk where there's an entrance to the mall, and then enter an indoor stairwell that takes me to the bus bay for the Coach Canada bus. Invariably, when I reach that indoor stairwell, there are a few "hip hop kids" standing near the top, joking with each other, sometimes smoking, always taking up lots of space.

I walk past them, smile briefly the way I would smile at anyone I am passing, and imagine! Just like any other regular person, they step aside and I pass them, and my whole world doesn't end! Even though they're wearing baggy pants with the crotch at their knees! Even though they're talking in hip-hop slang! Even though they've got baggy shirts! Even though they probably listen to Eminem! Even though I probably look like the uncoolest white chick they've ever seen, and if anyone looks "vulnerable" to an attack or mugging, it's me, overloaded with baggage and therefore likely unable to run far or fast, and not very tough-looking.

Imagine that. I can actually share public space with "hip-hop kids" and see them as human beings. And I don't have to blare music they hate at them in order to do so. If I can do it, so can other people.

[ 21 April 2004: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged

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