SocraticGadfly: Ken Burns + country music = man and Peter Principle meeting

September 15, 2019

Ken Burns + country music = man and Peter Principle meeting

The Texas Observer joins many other media, including NPR (of course) and somewhat Rolling Stone, in fellating the troubadour of American exceptionalism, Ken Burns, for his new series on country music.

All these folks note, but generally uncritically, that Burns includes blues under "country music" and I call bullshit. (At least the Observer agrees with me on the American exceptionalism angle, which I first noted a full dozen years ago.) It is "nice" that Burns notes the blues background of white country music. But, while "cultural appropriation" is sometimes overblown in the SJW world it sometimes is a real deal. Blacks continued to get screwed on records and more as whites recorded white-bread versions of blues music.

And it WAS white bread.

Given that I've elsewhere said that watching Ken Burns is like eating Chinese food, probably the second best food-related observation about his is that his American exceptionalism is a white-bread version of American reality, which is why he is able to palm it off so well.

Back to this particular series.

Just as Burns didn't include Reconstruction in his original Civil War series, and then did a half-assed mainstream history job on it when he got around to Reconstruction, so, per reviews otherwise, it seems that he doesn't tackle how black blues/roots music people got screwed, screwed, screwed by whites.

And, so, while I like blues music, and some blues-rock where white folks might at least give a hat tip to blacks, 16 hours of paeans and encomia to country music without covering this? Pass.

In addition to all of the above, from the Vietnam War to Roosevelt presidential history, Burns also has a history of making or repeating historical errors. Some are in the service of American exceptionalism; others are just passing along stereotypical high-school history textbook scrivenings.

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