New York magazine picked up a YouTube clip of Andy Rooney discussing newfangled artists atop the Billboard charts on a recent “60 Minutes” episode:
Well, Rooney got something right about why he doesn’t recognize any musicians in the Billboard 200: Age. His sincere grasp on reality is refreshing: His understanding that he’s no longer with it and his comfort with that fact is ultimately endearing. There isn’t a whiff of Rooney trying to force his own music down the throats of others, even though he brings up Ella Fitzgerald as a “free pass” for not caring about today’s artists. One has to wonder: Does re-enforced ignorance of the culture of today or yesterday really make a situation ok? If Rooney is looking to music as a form of connecting Americans across generations, how can this kind of response seem reasonable?
New York magazine had an interesting take on the issue. Rather than, say, making fun of Rooney for not knowing who Usher is, writer Willa Paskin looked past Rooney’s stodgy caricature and noticed the real message:
Rooney’s larger point should not be lost in all his adorable old man–ness. That point is, go to the Billboard 200 and take a look around. There will be some names you do not know there! Sure, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and Usher are not the names you do not know, but there will be others! In short, Andy Rooney was talking about the fragmentation of the music business…
Sure, this is something that’s been discussed. But, Rooney’s suggestion of other things all Americans can agree on is something of a fallacy.
Does everyone really like ice cream? How about those who are lactose intolerant?
And there must be someone out there who prefers a snowflake to a little sunshine.
And, when it comes to “a win for our favorite team,” well it’s not much of a revelation to discover that not everyone likes sports, or even cares for it.
While Rooney’s suggestion that music once provided a common thread for all Americans, it’s not like it’s the only piece of the quilt that’s coming undone. There’s a reason why kids today are being taught about multiculturalism instead of the melting pot theory: We’re not some conglomerate mass, and our differences make us just as Americans as our similarities. It just turns out we have a lot more differences than Rooney, or probably most folks, originally thought.