Is Indie Rock Too White?

Hey there, put down that Guided by Voices album and let’s talk about race. Indie rock is too white and that’s a big problem. Bet you didn’t know that, huh? By the way, EDM is also misogynistic. Have fun trying to enjoy anything ever again.

A few weeks ago I wrote about how the independent music website wants you to know that the Affordable Care Act is really, really cool. Just in case you still had doubts about Pitchfork’s indie cred, they published a few more articles that really cement their totally hip views on race and gender and whatever else is fashionable to pontificate about. recently published an article titled “The Unbearable Whiteness of Indie,” in which author Sarah Sahim complains about the capital-W Whiteness of independent music, which is apparently a sign that indie listeners are big fat racists in need of reeducation.

Sahim whines that she can only count five high-profile independent musicians who “look like me.” How, after all, can someone appreciate artists who don’t look like her? She complains that Vampire Weekend’s gay Iranian keyboardist isn’t overtly gay and Iranian enough. Anyone else would call this shallow tokenism. The progressive calls it “fighting oppression.”

Remember when you could just enjoy music? Well, get with the times. If you haven’t thoroughly evaluated the socioeconomic baggage of your favorite genres, you’re part of the problem. The brightest and shrillest undergraduates have applied the vast wisdom of Intro to Africana Studies and Sociology 101 to nearly every field of human existence (see “Queering Agriculture”). If you thought music was safe, then boy, do they have news for you.

The way to prove your worth in the college activist crowd is by shoehorning politics into the most apolitical places. The more obscure, the better. It’s the same attitude that led to the ridiculous Starbucks campaign where baristas were supposed to write #RaceTogether on customers’ drinks in order to start a conversation about race. Of course, “Let’s have a conversation about race” really means “Let me lecture you while you keep your racist mouth shut.” It’s unclear how activists want to solve the pressing issue of white people playing indie rock, but it’ll probably start with you “acknowledging” something or another.

They tried to do it to metal, but metal fans told them to screw off. Luckily indie rock offers a greater supply of hypersensitive beta males who will do just about anything to seem cool. If you tell them to screw off, some longhaired guy in a Godspeed You! Black Emperor t-shirt will throw out his hand and say, “Whoa, dude, chill,” while another nerd in a beanie stares uncomfortably at his Vans.

When the Tipper Gores of our generation really want to elevate the moral panic about this most inoffensive of genres, they’ll start pushing for trigger warnings on albums. They can go right next to the Parental Advisory labels that hysterical mothers campaigned for in the 80s. “Trigger Warning: King Krule appropriates elements of jazz and hip hop from black Americans.” “Trigger Warning: Conor Oberst was accused of rape one time and even though the accuser admitted to lying we think you really should know about it.”

I’m glad none of this nonsense was around when I was in high school and going to see bands play in basements. There were only two rules for house shows: “No parking on the grass,” and “Don’t be a dick.” The latter involved leaving your politics at the door and just enjoying the music like a normal human being.

So calm down, listen to whatever music you want, and save the moral outrage for problems of actual substance. The only thing that’s problematic about the Antlers is that they suck.