I have recently been frequenting music message boards all over the web, and in particular posts about X Factor. For some reason I am still unable to tear my eyes away from the programme, and I am now oblivious to my own words of disgust for it.
It seems I was not as outspoken as I thought in regard to several things. For starters Rhydian wasn't as popular as I thought (while also probably a victim of the "Everyone likes him so I don't" trap) and people were well aware of the fact that he is not that great an opera singer, nor that great a pop singer. Which is a bit of a pickle for a bit of a prick.
But the biggest revelation of my message board surfing is my realisation of the power such sites wield. While my modest site is yet to change the atmosphere of my room, let alone the music scene, many posts on these boards can reach thousands. If the general discourse of a topic goes one way, the thousands of readers that see it will be affected. Whilst reading someone's self important post about how Simon Cowell is deluded to think anyone would buy a "Hope" record, I actually found myself thinking "Fuck you, I'll buy one" before realising I hate everything to do with the band, who are after all 90% make up.
I couldn't say for sure that my words have this kind of effect, I may after all be weak minded, but I do believe that once something is written, whether it is on the web, a book or on your drunks friends face it is there for the duration. Your point of view that Simon Cowell is gorgeous is stuck on the web the duration, as is the memory of your marker pen assertion that your drunken friend is a "Dick."
I think that, while on message boards this is relatively harmless, reviewers and feature writers can lose sight of the power they wield. A case in point is Carrie Bradshaw Layfield's review of the Foo Fighter's new album. Layfield uses the review space not to talk about the album, but to slander the Foo Fighters previous connection to Alive And Well, an organisation that denies a link between HIV and AIDS and claims the African Epidemic is exaggerated.
Whether this exaggeration is true is irrelevant to the album. As is whether the Foo's involvement is questionable or not. As is the fact that they were involved. As is the fact that they no longer are. In fact, barely one sentence of the whole review is relevant to music, except where he compares the "energy" of the Foo's to a dead child.
People reviewing music with an agenda should not be allowed. It's bad enough that politics get in the way of music creation (not always true I accept), let alone its critics. As reviewers, people have a responsibility to deliver an insightful, illuminating and entertaining read, something Mr Layfield fails to do on all levels. In fact, he just embarrasses himself. The words we write mean something. We can't claim we wrote them in the heat of the moment like a harsh word in an argument, because we think the words, spell them, then check them. We think about what we write, so we should think about who reads it.