“Rock ‘n’ roll: The most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear.”—attributed to Frank Sinatra (via INS news service).
Dear Ol’ Blue Eyes may have had the advantage of good looks and a mellow voice, but his statement was both truth and a misunderstanding of the form. Rock was a break from the previous fanciful forms, speaking to gritty realities and desires.
The origins of rock ‘n’ roll are deeply rooted in the various forms of the blues and in particular the Mississippi Delta variant. A musical expression born of the poor with simple instrumentation and lyrics that spoke to the hardships and struggles of the working class.
The blues is an artful wail at the state of things that does not hide from the realities its authors lived. The music can be picked up relatively quickly by beginners yet to play it with purity takes a devotion to the perfection of a skill. It is a model the upstart youths who created the “British Invasion” of the 1960s idolized, imitating the records and performers in their English working-class cities.
There was a time when anyone could be a rock star, looks could help but physical perfection was not expected or desired. To be too pretty was a mark of inauthenticity. Discord was a welcome element that left lipstick traces, further enflaming the genre and its listeners.
Today, it is nigh-on-impossible to make any pop success without conforming to an ideal visage. Even the modern arbiters of punk are pretty (and not vacant) while the music is even “uglier and brutal” than the chairman of the Rat Pack could have envisioned.
AV was once “ugly and brutal” business and sometimes it is still necessary to be so. Beauty can be a detriment.
Wires are a constant bane—they require extensive space, require toilsome effort and are, to many, unsightly. Unattractive as these conduits of electrons are, the medium is the most reliable way to deliver high quality signals. Wireless may have the advantage of being sleek and sexy—not to mention out of the way and innocuous—but comparatively is less reliable.