Monday, September 14, 2009

Have you heard of the "Beatles"? They're pretty sweet

So the Beatles' White Album was rereleased on September 9th, and Pitchfork actually wrote a detailed review of it... a move that's hard to fully comprehend. Where, exactly, do you get off reviewing one of the most influential albums in history? They gave it a 10/10, at least... they can be pretentious, but they're not dumb enough to alienate a whole generation by giving this a lukewarm review.

Reviews are normally written to help people decide whether or not to buy something. I don't think it's gonna work that way with the White Album... everyone already has an opinion on it, and even if they haven't heard it (it's a fairly common phenomenon these days), they've spent their lives immersed in opinions on it. The whole world of public perception is oriented around esteem for this recording. It's basically assumed that your opinion of it (or of the songs on it) is somewhere between approving and religiously devoted, and if you have a lukewarm or negative opinion on it, you're considered a true outlier. For informational purposes, I doubt anybody really needed Pitchfork's little weigh-in.

Then again, there's a generation coming that will have had no exposure to The Beatles whatsoever. Even my generation... the ones who are now at fully employed age... had most of our experience through our parents' love for the band. Quotes, tributes, radio airplay, parents, and older siblings were really my primary connection to this culture-defining phenomenon, and my younger contemporaries... neices and nephews... will be even further removed from the legend. To us, the Beatles are nostalgia; to them, Michael Jackson and DVDs will be nostalgia. The Beatles will truly be history.

For that reason, I guess it's good that reviews are being written for albums like the White Album, and for games like Super Mario Bros. These reviews read like tributes, rather than actual critiques (although it's annoying that GameSpot only gave Super Mario Bros. an 8.1). Thus, they function less like actual reviews than they do like essays of appreciation... like the "Great Movies" series on Roger Ebert's website, which are there to remind the Christopher-Nolan-Seth-Rogan generation that there's something just as powerful in a more primitive era of film.

So perhaps these post-reviews will remind hipsters and minigamers that for some of us, these old media represent some of the greatest experiences in history. Perhaps it will remind them of their roots; perhaps it will make scholars out of them. Or maybe, at the very least, it'll give us something to relate to them about.


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