As someone who benefits daily from what the internet has to offer, I’m not anxious to criticize this splendiferous medium. Not only does it open us up to a wealth of information, it certainly answers the yearning for superficial interaction that seems to be printed on each of our itchy fingertips.
New ways of interacting produce new ways of thinking, which is both exciting and worrisome. On the one hand, it’s great to know that our minds are capable of travelling in directions we couldn’t have imagined 20 years ago. At the same time, there are many new lazy habits of thought and behavior to guard against.
These days, my biggest peeve is our cultural obsession with rating and ranking. I’m not talking about serious, productive criticism. I’m talking about the casual dismissal — and just as casual worship — of art, entertainment, personalities, fashions, etc., that becomes far too facile in our touch-and-go discourse.
This kind of thinking upsets me most when I hear people describe individual composers as overrated. In a culture where the professional, not to mention the artistic, role of composers is grossly undervalued, it’s hard for me to accept the assertion that any composer is getting more accolades than s/he deserves. The truth is, all composers are underrated — some of them are just more underrated than others. If and when composers ever rise to the level of, say, sports figures in the estimation of the general population, then I may begin believing that some composers are overrated. Until then, we are all getting far less appreciation than our efforts warrant.
So you’ll never hear me describe any composer as overrated, though I may criticize his or her approach or results. In my world, that kind of facile assessment is seriously flawed.
In fact, I think it’s fair to call it grossly overrated.