Historicizing Mainstream Mythology: The Industrial Organization of The Archies
Redefining Mainstream Popular Music, 1st ed.
The entertainment industry institutions conjured up in invocations of ‘mainstream’ often seem monolithic, endowed with the power to rationalize production, create markets and bend audiences to their will. Particularly when they come up in the context of discussions of ‘whatever your favourite music is not’ (Huber 2001: 1), the canny producers, impresarios and executives who organize production on behalf of these institutions appear almost diabolical, projecting teen idols, boy bands, girl bands and other seemingly prefabricated pop phenomena into mass media and consciousness. These producers appear cynically to appeal to and manipulate the least sophisticated tastes – especially those of young female fans, who for decades have been dismissed by critics and connoisseurs as ‘neither spontaneous nor creative’: the ultimate adherents to mainstream music (Goldman 1970: 13). Exploiting pre-adolescents’ ‘aspirational’ media consumption (Mitroff et al. 2004: 10), as well as their anxieties about gender norms and expectations, and about fi tting in at school (Wald 2002; Lipsitz 2007: 4-7; Monnot 2010), the mainstream music institutions’ ‘shrewd commercial operators’ (Goldman 1970: 13) seem to hit their young targets with almost uncanny accuracy and frequency. Their products often appear in popular critiques as hordes of glossy, standardized performers, hatched out of the Orlando-Hollywood entertainment-industrial complex, laying waste to revered and fragile ‘authentic’ music traditions.