The problem with barriers

SHALLOW REWARDS // 19 THE HIDING from Shallow Rewards on Vimeo.

I’ve been meaning to comment on this Chris Ott/Shallow Rewards video The Hiding for a while, but since starting a full-time job I struggle to find the time for the stuff I really love. Initially I wanted to write a more thought-out response and have some research in hand, but I fear I will never get around to that… so here are some slightly unfiltered thoughts I am spewing out:

  1. I get where Ott is coming from about wanting to maintain a community without the media exploiting it, but creating exclusive communities full of barriers can be dangerous. He mentions how when he wanted to be part of a community he had to pass a test in a way, and what worries me is that these unspoken tests aren’t always fair. For instance, sometimes if you don’t have a Y chromosome you must work twice as hard to break through certain barriers. Yes it’s better than it used to be, but gender is still an issue in all realms of the music world. And that’s just one factor that can make barriers unfair.
  2. Maybe I’m being negative here, but every community or scene will have intruders… maybe they are being ironic or inauthentic, but it just happens. The real community is the small group you will form with people you really get to know and can appreciate and share the music in a similar way… it’s about sharing with people, not excluding people.
  3. Also, by creating these hidden communities, no matter how many symbols and barriers used, wouldn’t it just provide more fodder for the media to overestimate the value of emerging genres and try to prove they are edgy/ on the vanguard of music and culture by infiltrating them as Ott describes in this earlier video.


  1. Point 1 is glaring and significant. I don’t touch on sexism or racism very often because they’re such explosive, instantly-distorted subjects, but there is no doubt both are still rampant, controlling factors in the increasingly self-assured world of Totally White Male Media. And I can’t pretend I view or treat all women as they would prefer, though my transgressions max out at ogling/flirting without explicit invitation.

    The lack of female representation in “chillwave”/hypnagogic etc. is retrospectively shocking. This whole “ghost” thing, the “disembodied voice” that everyone was so excited about? Is a girl in a box. It’s misogynistic anime, and I haven’t seen any in-depth discussions of what a male-centric mode we’ve been in with respect to this genre and New Music. Putting Grimes’ picture up everywhere doesn’t course-correct for the reality, which is that we’re still squarely in a boys’ club. And a lot of Claire Boucher’s time is spent rebuffing their advances.

    You posit the most compelling warning signs my comments in that video raise, and that there is really no compact answer for.

  2. Thanks for the response… appreciate conversations over just posting my thoughts into the void. (also, loved your approach at the beginning of the Music and Drinks video, and agree with most of your points… always thought provoking content. thanks.)

  3. […] a realm void of music snobbery and gatekeepers. (For the record, I try to reject music snobbery and gatekeepers/barriers as much as […]

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