NPR wants to know how we got ‘stuck with the idea that four white guys make a band’

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A new National Public Radio article provided a jarring reminder of the journalistic vortex at the taxpayer-funded media organization.

In a piece published earlier this week entitled, “The Fellowship of the Rockers,” Ann Powers delivered a lengthy opus apparently inspired by the new documentary series on the Beatles directed and produced by Peter Jackson.

But the article only seemed to cause a symphony of eyerolls on social media amid renewed calls to defund NPR. The subheading of the piece, which NPR chose to highlight in promoting the article on Twitter, left many shaking their heads.

“How did we get stuck with the idea that four white guys make a rock band?” the line reads.

Powers focused on the “band guys” and the “story of men growing up together through music, turning into a family and finding glory on the battlefields of rhythm and noise.”

Asking “What does it mean to be a band guy,” the author went on  – and on – to address the burning question.

“The term ‘band guy’ is problematic, though, isn’t it? In 2021 it’s as common for women, trans and nonbinary people to jump into rock’s timestream as it is for men. Yet something continues to infuse the rock mythos with the sweaty-socks scent of conventional, if boyish, masculinity,” she wrote. “Whiteness, too.”

She added:

Though plenty of historic examples exist of collaborations among Black performers as intense as The Beatles or as long-standing as Foo Fighters — The Isley Brothers fulfill both goals, for example — rock’s defining narrative still stands alongside others that reflect the historic segregation of Anglo-American social spheres. Band guys stand alongside other heroes of homosocial, mostly segregated histories: astronauts, high school state champions, foxhole dwellers, a rugby scrum.

 

Reactions to the NPR article and the idea of what makes a rock band drew jeers on Twitter where many called out the false race narrative.

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