by Michael Quinn, Linguistic Catastrophe Correspondent
This very publication has printed an article against which I must protest. As Dumbledore said, “It takes bravery to stand up to our enemies, but it takes courage to stand up to our journalistic affiliates.” And certain such affiliates at readme have been contributing to a systemic problem our society has faced for decades now, which only recently has reached a critical mass of preventing all sentient and rational minded people from caring one goddamn bit about the joke anymore.
I am talking about the “band name.” Now the development of this kind of humor is obvious, and should have been foreseen from the beginning. It is inevitable to the intersection of the entire phenomenon of popular art and the ever demanding, merciless pursuit of humor: our only mechanism for distracting ourselves from oblivion.
Now music, like all artistic media, has always been about convincing hordes of chumps to drown you in sweet sweet rockstar cash, first and foremost. However, as an additional perk (aside from the now-obligatory cocaine piles) musicians have traditionally liked to flatter their own egos by assuming the pompous pretense that their work has things like “deeper meaning” and “conceptual integrity” and other completely nonsense ideations of the same linguistically paradoxical inexpressibility as “free will” and “basic human morality.” All artists want to feel like special snowflakes who make pwecious wittle contwibutions to the cultural landscape. Consequentially, they try to have names that sound clever.
And cleverness means non-sequiturs and re-appropriation of existing phrases. Take the classic example: “Radiohead.” Oooooh that sounds cerebral and culturally significant! But what is the actual substance there? Nothing! The name is meaningless, just like the vapid hipster fuck-jams they crank out. It’s just some bullshit that sounds surreal like “Neutral Milk Hotel” and other trite garbage. But the concept catches on. You get it.
So now we make the suggestion regularly, whenever we hear a phrase which, out of context, sounds like it is just a meaningless juxtaposition made by a talentless hack trying to pretend that unedited free-association of thought is equivalent to insight, that “holy shit, that would be an AMAZING name for an indie band!” But look, we need to stop and consider what we really mean by that.
What we mean is that the phrase has committed an assassination against language. That the words of the phrase, while all individually possessing the potential for valid usage, have been orchestrated against each other with the intent of perfectly neutralizing themselves from vocabulary potency. What we are doing is murdering speech, eviscerating the logic of verbal context, and playing in its entrails.
To be sure, one or two goodnatured attempts at non-sequitur are acceptable in a stable society. Language cannot exist without us toying at its frayed edges every now and again. An everyday pun is just healthy adolescent textual experimentation; and helps to clarify language by showing us its weaknesses. But there exists a crisis level of “things that sound like sincere attempts at linguistic playfulness but are actually just deconstructive imitations of it,” and a whiteboard covered FLOOR TO FUCKING CEILING in hundreds of attempts at the blessedly brief listicle of band names you were given a few weeks ago is WELL OVER THE GODDAMN LINE.
If we continue down this road, language will cease to be. I’m calling an end to it before we realize the terrible truth: that our words are already dead. For the awful secret behind the joke of pretentious band names is that, at some given level of irony, EVERY WORD AND PHRASE IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IS A GOOD INDIE BAND NAME. And if we do not stop now, that is what it will all become.