From Iceland — Sour Grapes

Sour Grapes

Published July 27, 2007

Sour Grapes

Re: On Advertisement When I was 18, I was a communist. I’m not really sure why, the whole thing just kind of resounded with my upbringing in Sweden, and I thought Che Guevara Tshirts were really cool.
After a long argument with my friend Sindri, who was very right wing at the time, we both took monumental political shifts; he swung to the left and I to the right. At the time I was editing an alternative school paper, and I was very fond of bringing together all kinds of mean and nasty things and contrasting and comparing them with people, institutions and ideas that I wasn’t very fond of.
This is the feeling I’m getting from your opinion piece “On Advertisement”. I can’t really say that the guy is lying, as he isn’t really saying much, he’s just talking about advertising, Nazis, climate change, brain washing, anti-Semitism and stuff.
The author of the piece, young Magnús Björn, asks, “what is to be done”, then states that capitalism is something or other, throws in a quote from Jack Kerouac, mentions an Apple ad, and then… nothing. Because the piece doesn’t really seem to be about anything. The only real opinion I can grasp from it is that advertising is bad, and the implication that all advertisements contain lies.
The thing is, I really like your magazine. I just don’t understand why you need to print opinion pieces from eighteen year olds. Most of the stuff In the Grapevine is wonderful, but then you regularly taint your reputation with juvenile political drivel. You really should get some more grownups to do your Opinion pieces, and maybe get them to write about grown up issues.
Regards, Sveinbjörn (Works in the advertising business)
Dear Sveinbjörn,
As a free magazine who’s sole source of income is selling ads, we might agree that likening the advertising industry to brain-enslaving, climate-changing Nazis is somewhat counterintuitive. Then again, insinuating that the act of questioning the ad-industry’s actions, methods and ethics is somehow juvenile is, at best, equally absurd. It may sound a bit boring when we say, “the opinions of the columnists don’t reflect the opinions of The Reykjavik Grapevine” (as if a magazine could hold an opinion), but nevertheless, it’s very true. We try and solicit a wide range of opinions in our Opinion pieces, and these voices all need to be heard. Besides, it’s always fun to nibble at the hand that feeds.
Hello The Reykjavík Grapevine
I am interested in visiting the Sigur Rós studio in Reykjavik. Where can I find it?
Dear Andi,
I am interested in visting your house and/or place of work. Would you at all mind if I showed up at a random time?

Leave aside the fact that acts like Sigur Ros weren’t so much bringing up an “original sound” as finely carrying on-slash-pushing forward a firm tradition of Western alternative music (Slowdive? Cocteau Twins? Anyone?). They’re certainly innovators in many respects, as is Bjork (of course), but let’s not lose perspective here. Music existed before them, and will continue to do so for as long as people have ears and brains.
What I WOULD like to know is exactly how your columnist, Helga Torey Jonsdottir, got the impression that the music industry of the nineties, eighties, seventies, sixties, etc., was some sort of benevolent, originality-celebrating, hippie-dippy lovefest. Oh, back in the eighties, when music executives and industry folk alike celebrated the original sounds of… Madonna? Roxette? U2? The fabulous nineties, when Creed and Stone Temple Pilots reigned supreme? Let’s not forget that from what I read in your paper, Bubbi Morthens has been the biggest selling artist in Iceland for three decades in a row.
The music industry is fucking evil, always was, always will be.
This of course has nothing to do with the shape of music, or its originality. Fortunately, music and the music industry are two wholly separate things that are for the most part irrelevant to one another.
That aside, the conditions for making truly original music – with a modicum of success, even – are better than ever. What with cheap home recording gear, MySpace, Youtube, the whole fucking internet for that matter, creating some tunes and getting them out is certainly easier than understanding the whole point of Jonsdottir’s article. If there even was any.
Sincerely Will Johnston
Dear Will,
It may sound a bit boring when we say, “the opinions of the columnists don’t reflect the opinions of The Reykjavík Grapevine” (as if a magazine could hold an opinion), but nevertheless, it’s very true (that was easy enough!).
Also, while the music industry may have been evil since the beginning, this very decade has seen a lot of established labels go bankrupt or merge with larger conglomerates to the extent that music publishing and distribution now rests in the hands of a couple of corporations. And that’s just plain unhealthy. But I digress. A healthy exchange of opinion is what these crazy “magazines” are all about, and it seems to me that we’ve just had one. Mission: Accomplished!

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