It has become clear that in an attempt to generate more web clicks, the LA Weekly has been selling its journalistic integrity down the river by posting flame-baiting articles designed to elicit an angry response. Its most recent self-embarrassment known as “LA WEEKLY’S 20 WORST HIPSTER BANDS” is a nail in the coffin to the reputation of a once-respected voice in our community.
At first, I thought that perhaps economic downsizing of staff has led to their content being left in the hands of interns and blog-flamers who do not know the basic rules of journalism, but upon investigation, I see that the LA Weekly Music Editor Ben Westhoff actually has previous writing credentials. He has actually gotten paid to write words. What gives Ben? Did the management issue a directive that music criticism should no longer be based in thought and merit and should instead be boiled down to insulting people for their outward appearances?
This kind of bias and prejudice is best left in the past millennium. Do you understand that people die because of similar narrow-mindedness? Your words are highly irresponsible and you owe Los Angeles an apology. As music editor, you should be setting an example and mentoring your staff instead of encouraging the lowest common denominator of writing.
Here is writer Ben Westhoff’s best effort at describing the modern/indie rock scene and its purveyors.
“It’s not the mere existence of hipster groups that distresses us — some of our best friends are hipsters, after all¸ — it’s their lemming-like tendency to, if you’ll pardon a mixed metaphor, ape each other.
On its surface, hipsterdom seems to be an individuality-grab, but most of today’s 20- and 30-something bands from Silver Lake and Williamsburg sound shockingly similar. They’re all playing variations of retro garage and soul music — or bringing glockenspiels and choirs on incestuous nationwide tours — all the while clad in vintage garb likely infested with lice.”
Is this what passes for journalism today? Are all people with Eastern garments on their heads terrorists too? If Westhoff thought he was being funny or ironic, he failed in his attempt and succeeded in offending anybody who has ever paid a price for their outward appearance.
One of the Westhoff underlings writes, “Further, whereas Jack White can actually play, Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach is more concerned with beard grooming and disheveling his hair.”
The underling must be excused for lack of training, ethics and experience but the Music Editor and LA Weekly management carry the blame for their choice in allowing, or even encouraging, this irresponsible lack of writing ability and music knowledge to address the specifics of the music they are objecting to.
Whatever the reason, the LA Weekly is surrendering its claim to being an advocate for, or curators of, culture in Los Angeles. They are abandoning the idea of being true journalists and music connoisseurs and have drifted into the mile-deep pile of Internet turd bombers to which the Weekly should be the alternative. You have, can and should do better for the city whose name you have the privilege of adopting.
Ben Westoff, one cannot be considered a journalist of integrity when the entire premise of your article is rooted in the prejudicial stereotyping of a person based upon the way they dress.
Do you realize how out of touch and behind the times it would have sounded if a writer for Rolling Stone magazine published an article in 1972 called “20 Worst Hippie Bands” and proceeded to base their judgments on the musicians’ clothes and facial hair?
The main flaw in your approach is in the very premise that the term “Hipster Band” is used in a derogatory fashion as a blanket judgement against a whole group of people based on their physical appearance and clothing preferences. By doing so, you are insulting all people who present themselves in a similar fashion, whom until today had been the bulk of your readers.
I feel the need to stand up and defend the beautiful creative artists and people of this city that I love, and our New York brethren. Show some respect for your own community, LA Weekly. These times call for higher standards, get them or get out of Los Angeles.