Science: Delinquents Have the Best Taste in Music
Yep, we are all going to Hell.
Oh, come on, you guys. How many times are we going to chase this dumb rabbit around the track? In Medieval Europe they literally banned certain intervals because only the devil could have birthed such suggestive dissonance. Depression-era jazz clubs were incessantly raided by police, because only dope fiends and scarlet women would taint their ears with such indecent caterwauling. Yesterday’s devil’s music is today’s hold music.
Are we also worried that beatniks are hiding jazz cigarettes in fun-size candy bar wrappers? When your son leaves the condo, does he re-buckle his knickerbockers below the knee? Have you checked your dumbwaiter for libertines!?!? I thought we’d outgrown this kind of reactionary silliness by now. But ‘kay. Better keep your kids away from those dastardly hippy-hoppers with their snoopy-poop sag-pants.
Here’s a quote the study itself:
The results showed that early fans of different types of rock (eg, rock, heavy metal, gothic, punk), African American music (rhythm and blues, hip-hop), and electronic dance music (trance, techno/hardhouse) showed elevated minor delinquency concurrently and longitudinally. Preferring conventional pop (chart pop) or highbrow music (classic music, jazz), in contrast, was not related to or was negatively related to minor delinquency.
Look. I understand that this study doesn’t have a conscious agenda, per se; it’s simply pointing out that musical preferences might be a correlative indicator of delinquent behavior, not a cause. The “non-mainstream” behavior influences the “non-mainstream” musical choices, not the other way around. But the methodology betrays a pretty clear bias against almost every genre of non-mainstream music (it may as well have been authored by my great-grandpa’s ear horn), as well as a myopic disregard for factors like socioeconomic status or education or instability at home, which could provide much more cogent insight into teenage delinquency. Clearly I can’t fault them for not doing a study they didn’t set out to do—I get it—but I can discuss the way we discuss studies like this, and the cultural ethos behind that discussion. We cool? Okay.
Pop music is made by people with no problems for people with no problems. Teenagers who listen ONLY to pop music are invested in conformity (also, are there really teens who like pop but don’t listen to ANY “African American music”? What strange Dutchman drew these lines?). Teenagers who listen only to jazz and classical are band nerds. Everyone else is just everyone else. Rates of delinquency are higher among people who aren’t either camped outside the Tacoma Dome to see Justin Bieber or praying their clarinet choir makes it to regionals? You don’t say. Maybe that’s because that group encompasses pretty much all people. And guess what—I just did a study in my head and found that 100% of juvenile delinquents are, in fact, people.
Do you know what other group of people strayed from the mainstream? Anyone who did anything worthwhile ever.
No, the study doesn’t say that hip-hop causes violence, but it enables stupid people who want to say that hip-hop causes violence. It feeds into insulting, rickety misconceptions like the idea that there’s no artistry in electronic music or that rappers rap because they lack actual talent (it’s just talking, isn’t it?). Misconceptions like those dismiss the artistic efforts of all musicians everywhere who are trying to enrich the world by creating something new. Something meaningful.