Perhaps you remember in 1996 when Burger King ran that TV ad that showed some poor kid sawing away unhappily on the cello, only to be zapped in extremis by a cartoon character transforming him into an ecstatic electric guitar virtuoso. The American String Teachers’ Association called for a boycott of Burger King after the latter refused to pull the ad while admitting it was “not appealing to certain groups or individuals”.
Last year even Mercedes-Benz ran a prime-time television ad in Europe where an unfortunate spectator to a “boring” piano recital daydreamed of driving his new Mercedes in freedom and bliss.
These are only two examples of a well-ingrained habit in which classical music is repeatedly and offensively used as a quintessential example of tedious, lack-luster, out-of-touch or out-of-fashion – you name it. And it doesn’t seem to happen to fine art or literature, just music.
Is it because so many people are simply against a perceived elitism of classical music fans? Or maybe because powers that be believe kids shouldn’t waste hours practicing when they could be downloading video games for a price, or mowing lawns so they can save up for their next smartphone?
Or is it just a natural, dumbing down of our culture, as we become more obsessed with materialism and instant gratification (or, in many cases, just making a living)?
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