The Null Device
In today's Grauniad, Jude Rogers looks at the shoegazer revival:
Ulrich Schnauss, the 29-year-old DJ whose dreamy second album Goodbye came out in June, thinks this escapism is vital to shoegazing's appeal. He comes from the north German outpost of Kiel, a dull town that he saw as the equivalent of Reading, home to Halstead's Slowdive. "Too much music these days is about how bad these towns are, about everyday life, and all the dull details. Shoegazing is a way out of that - there's melancholy in it, but lots of heaven there too." He thinks people connect with dreamy music more in times of world crisis, and points out how psychedelic music has flourished during the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. "It's music that offers a much more profound way of trying to cope with a bad world, isn't it? Offering hope rather than breaking your guitar and shouting 'fuck you!'"
Still, images like these won't help change the minds of detractors. It doesn't help that Alan McGee, the man who signed Ride, My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive to Creation, is its most vehement critic. "Bloody nonsense. My Bloody Valentine were my comedy band. Ride were different - they were a rock band, really, a fantastic rock band - but My Bloody Valentine were a joke, my way of seeing how far I could push hype." Although he said Shields was a genius in the Guardian in 2004, he now says, unconvincingly, that the revival is just people still buying his lies.It's interesting that the two genres of independent music antithetical to the mainstream currently undergoing revivals—indiepop (as per an earlier article by Rogers) and shoegazer— are largely separate worlds. Having lived in London for most of the past 3 years and attended both shoegazer nights (Club AC30, Sonic Cathedral) and indiepop nights (How Does It Feel To Be Loved (which, incidentally, has a "no shoegazer" policy on its music) and Spiral Scratch) nights, I've noticed that very few of the people who go to one kind of night go to the other.
As Labour in Britain toys with the idea of giving 16-year-olds the vote, an advisor to the (recently resigned) premier of Victoria has come up with a uniquely Australian extension of this: giving votes to all children, to be exercised by their parents until they turn 18. Thus a two-parent family with three children would have five votes, which would break the crippling stranglehold of selfish childless people on the political process and introduce a new era of "family-friendly" policies.
Curiously enough, the proponent of this policy, Evan Thornley, is not a religious right-winger, but a member of the Fabian Society, that very Britishly pragmatic socialist organisation which once had George Bernard Shaw as one of its members (and, during the Cold War, was accused by Bircher types of using its shadowy influence over the Labor Party to implement "Sovietisation by stealth").
There are, of course, numerous problems with this proposal. Were it to be adopted, politicians would start bidding for the votes of large families by giving them more money, taken by punitively taxing the suddenly all-but-disenfranchised non-breeders. (What are they going to do, vote for someone else?) This would result in a system which effectively regards not having children as deviant behaviour to be penalised; once this is a matter of bureaucratic fact, the culture would soon follow. And then there is the likelihood of a bias towards large families bringing with it a bias towards religious conservatism; all of a sudden, Victoria would look like the repressively paternalistic 1950s white-picket-fence dystopia John Howard didn't quite succeed in building.
Of course, that's if such a policy were ever adopted. There are practical problems with implementing it, such as deciding which parent gets their childrens' votes. Granted, they could be split in half (with each parent in the 3-child family having 2.5 votes), though this proposal effectively changes the paradigm of democracy, from one comprised of voting individuals to one comprised of voting families. It has echoes of the top-down "strict-father" model of the family so favoured by conservatives, and at the heart of the culture war in America and Australia: it reinforces the idea of a family being defined by a chain of authority residing in the head of the household. Granted, it does not define a head of the household, though it is a short distance from accepting the paradigm that votes are allocated per household, and not per individual, to accepting that the votes for all members of the household are cast by the head of the household.
Mind you, given that Thornley's boss has suddenly resigned, this proposal is likely to be even more dead in the water than it was before. Unless the Howard government decide that it has battler-rallying potential and put it to a referendum, or else Rudd decides to use it to outflank the family-values warriors on the right.