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How Newsnight opened up the generation gap for Odd Future | Music

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Category: Music
Published on Wednesday, 11 April 2012 Written by Super User
How Newsnight opened up the generation gap for Odd Future | Music

Is the BBC working for Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All? So cringe-inducing was their coverage of the LA hip-hop collective on Tuesday's Newsnight that you're tempted to imagine the Beeb was in on the act: "How can we make Odd Future look as edgy as possible, if losing all sense of self-respect isn't an issue?"

Of course Jeremy Paxman's tired insistence that pop music has no relevance to the world whatsoever – "Odd Future, or as their aunties know them, the Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All expletive expletive" (what are the expletives their aunties use?) – is as old as the hills, but what about Stephen Smith's report on the band's recent UK visit?

In an age when all generations are supposedly cool enough for rock'n'roll and every media outlet has young reporters, there's something wonderfully anachronistic about the whole affair – it reminds me of the archive British Pathé footage Jon Savage has been covering for the Guardian.

Smith starts off relentlessly negative – "Is this the future of rock'n'roll? Teenagers queueing politely for a shop?" – and keeps up the digs throughout with references to the band's "puerile" lyrics and an implication they're ripping off fans with overpriced "merch". But in the great tradition of Bill Grundy, Smith's mocking tone suggests he's genuinely terrified by the band and out of his depth.

When he asks what the band are trying to say, Tyler, the Creator just sneers: "Nothing. Shit to piss old white people off like you."

"Is that right?" comes the response, before Tyler cracks up laughing. It's undoubtedly an awkward and intimidating situation for Smith, but by heading out to belittle the band, he ensures your sympathies are never going to be with him.

In fact, the experience seems to have blown a fuse in Smith's thinking and his approach is as contradictory as Odd Future can be themselves. At one point he tries to take the band to task for their lyrics, but then criticises them for performing a clean version of Sandwitches. He seems let down that fans are queueing politely, but you know he'd criticise them if they were smashing bottles and yelling abuse at passing pensioners.

Finally, Smith spots his mission and goes on the warpath because Left Brain says they don't pay their taxes. Hilariously, Smith confronts the manager and asks if we'll be able to see a breakdown of their finances. Maybe the way out of the recession is to make sure customised Odd Future hoodies keep the NHS afloat but, really, shouldn't we be saving the attack-dog routine for the likes of Amazon (which paid no corporation tax on a whopping £7bn of what Smith would no doubt refer to as "huckstered product"), not to mention the hordes of wealthy UK citizens who even the chancellor admits pay "virtually no income tax".

Should the BBC be embarrassed by the Newsnight report? No, it should be applauded for performing a vital public service. After all, it has made one of the most exciting groups in the world look even more unruly, dangerous and unfathomable to the older generation.

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