Ringing in Rhetoric

Writes Tom Maurstad of The Dallas Morning News,

It’s the nature of both pop culture and people that we reveal ourselves and offer insights into our ever-changing media environment in the small, incidental choices we make as consumers and users of technology.

That’s a great first line and a pretty insightful article on “futurism and nostalgia.” Read on to see what he has to say about the rhetoric of cell ringtones.

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2 thoughts on “Ringing in Rhetoric

  1. Ah, the “old phone” ring tone. It is the one I have enabled on my post-modern wireless (a)symbiotic tether. (AKA, my Blackberry.) To explain the popularity of such “old” things, we would probably have to account for nostalgia, memory, suspicion and the excluded middle.

    No doubt, “the new has come” – we can select Jayzee, or the theme from House, or trance/dance music, or even No Doubt as our ring tone in this new technicultural communications milieu – but there is much doubt in my mind that “the old is gone.” That old familiar “ringing” might be representative of more than memory or nostalgia or novelty. It might be a call from the excluded past leaving us a message that raises suspicions about its exclusion. (And the “ringing” may be persistent and annoying in its eternal recalling.) Our aroused suspicions about its exclusion rush to pick up the phone.

    When we dismiss the old for the “new and improved,” we are enforcing an artificial binary – an either/or, good/bad, yes/no – construct that sees a winner-take-all domination of the new and a banishment of the old to the attic of the obsolete. The thing that goes “bump in the night,” or in this case, “r-r-ring” at the Central Market, is a reminder from the excluded that we are not finished with the past. Maybe the same force is at work making populuxe/googie return again and again to fashion and design. Maybe the same force is at work that makes every retro-trend seem, in some measure, new. Dismissing anything from the past too quickly or cavalierly ensures a(n eternal) return of the excluded to clamor for another hearing.

  2. Not that this has anything to do with anything, but I feel the need to point out that “the theme from House” is a Massive Attack song. “Teardrop” to be precise and was long popular in the trip-hop world before ever being used by some producer at Fox.

    Which, I suppose brings up the whole issue of authenticity. I wonder if artists really get the credit that they deserve when their work is constantly referred to as that theme from that show or that song on that macbook air commercial (which is Yael Naim’s “New Soul” by the way) or if the distribution of their work on such a mass scale actually helps them.

    Well, this was completely off topic, but still worth mentioning I suppose.

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