Yesterday I posted a fairly peeved note concerning Jessica Hopper’s Chicago Reader article about Vampire Weekend. (She’s responded to that note, very graciously, on her blog, but that seems to have vanished.) My note led to a spike in traffic, which was unexpected: if I’d realized it’d catch much attention, I might have explained myself more carefully. The essay below is an attempt to outline my thoughts beyond the mere pique of the thing. Some of you may have heard me talk about this stuff before, but it seemed worth setting down a full, coherent version of it; read at your leisure.
Let me note first, though, that the point here is not to snipe at Hopper, whose work I enjoy. More importantly, the issue I’m about to outline is not really about the music of Vampire Weekend. I do not need you to like their music. But I do want you to think about the culture of our criticism, because I feel like it’s ever more beholden to a kind of blind posturing that wants to stop it from saying anything useful or true. Let’s go ahead and call this posturing The Game.