I have sat back for the past week or so and simply watched as the a cappella “community” has not so quietly entered into a debate about the ICCA finals. I know that my articles are supposed to comment on recording aspects, but for the sake of a topic that NEEDS to be discussed, let us call this post “Can’t We All Just Get Along?”
I think we can all agree whole-heartedly that there were good and bad things about MTV taking part in the finals. That much has been made clear by anybody and everybody associated with the competition or the genre in general. Publicity is good, and twisting words and actions to please an audience is bad. Make the sacrifices or don’t. That is left up to Varsity Vocals, who haven’t steered us wrong yet, so can we have a little faith?
My concern here is what was once a healthy debate has turned into something of a civil war on the RARB forums. I must say that a select few have done their best to keep things a little less serious, and remind everybody that we may do this for a living sometimes, but didn’t we make that choice because it was fun in the first place? I think that many of you would agree that while a more profitable career would have been waiting, continuing with a cappella was something that you could wake up to every morning excited, and still believe in what you are doing. That is the allure.
Like any good industry, this inevitably creates sides. I want to preface this by saying that by no means am I asking you all to hold hands and sing campfire songs. I know as well as anybody that this is a business to most of us and that messing with the current formula would disrupt the financial flow of things. Competition is healthy in any economy, and a cappella isn’t excluded from that conversation. What I will promote though, is a healthy competition. Let us leave the backstabbing and undercutting to the high school cheerleading squad. (Apologies to anybody who is offended by that, but you get my drift…hopefully.) We are, like it or not, being brought into the public eye by networks that will twist and turn our actions as they see fit. Are we really finding it necessary to stoke the fires even more by posting on public forums, arguing about who is to blame for what, and who is better than everybody else? We are giving them what they want! We might have complained about MTV making this competition a different kind of animal, but is that not what all of our arguing and bitching to each other is really saying?
I used quotations around the word “community” earlier for a reason. A community is a safe place where people can share ideas and concerns and not be persecuted for them. There was a comment made earlier that RARB used to be a safe place where people could say what they were thinking without being persecuted for it. Such is no longer the case. Now you have to figure legal representation into a budget before letting people know what you think. My proposition is this: fight off any negative advances from the media or pop culture as a group. If we are divided on this many issues, how can they not take advantage of that and exploit it to their viewers? I know we aren’t giving MTV much credit as a news organization, but do you think that among the thousands of people that they have working for them, that one of them doing a little research might stumble across a wildly popular thread where we are currently discussing MTV and openly slinging harsh words around? I, for one, wouldn’t be surprised to see some of that pop up in their debut of the show. I was proud to hear that many of the groups refused to play into the producers’ hands and say what they were looking for, and I applaud those who stood strong for not bending at the will of a television executive.
Let us, in a sense, be bigger people here and let MTV do as they will, and continue our music and organizations in the way that has always worked. We will prevail in the end, and anybody who develops enough interest in the genre from seeing it broadcast on TV will join and see that, in fact, it is nothing like it is being portrayed. On the other hand, it hasn’t aired yet…so we will see. On the brighter side, and I promise you more and more of that side, congratulations to all of the groups that competed and those that came out on top. I know that simply being there is quite an honor. You represented our community well(no quotes that time) and I hope to see more and more groups competing in the future.