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The New Rules of Music Snobbery

A less perceptive reboot would simply have made Ed Sheeran the new sentimental, tacky crap, but Hulu has gone beyond grafting contemporary references onto Hornby’s tale of 30-somethings who are more adept at sequencing mixtapes than at maintaining healthy relationships. The series captures a fundamental reorientation in listening these days: Elitist condescension about musical preferences isn’t cool anymore, but maybe—die-hard fans fear—obsessing and connecting over music are no longer cool either. Barry-types once used their taste to prop themselves above the less erudite, mainstream-minded listeners they mocked. Cherise, by contrast, just wants to chat about a song—and the consumer, cozy in a private digital bubble, decidedly does not.

The much-discussed “death of the snob” in the internet era explains part of the shift on display. Even though some High Fidelity–style shops catering to vinyl collectors have survived the extinction of big-box retailers, streaming and downloads have chipped away at the super-listener’s pretexts for arrogance: special knowledge (entire discographies are now explorable with a click), special access (few B sides can hide from Google), and curatorial chops (algorithms can DJ your life). Cloistered listening has become more common, as Spotify and the omnipresent earbud turn an entire art form into an on-demand, all-you-can-stream personal utility. Meanwhile, many of the remaining gatekeepers have mellowed into “poptimists” who say Taylor Swift and Radiohead can be equally worthy of praise and exegesis. Ideals of inclusivity—not exactly a trademark of the straight-white-male audiophiles of the original High Fidelity—have driven that change.

The 2020 record store’s denizens—two women of color and a gay white man—seem to realize that hierarchical edicts are out. Certainly the staff is nicer than the old

Article source: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/03/high-fidelity-hulu/605539/

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