Fast and Loose

There is, it has long seemed to me, a taboo of politesse.  We curse various cultural phenomena, such as corporatism (in its pop-culture incarnations, such as will shortly become evident), cultural know-nothingism, misplaced no-taxes-no-“frills” educational policy.  We deplore all of this dumbing-down, but we actually won’t call out those responsible.  Sure, we’ll do some name-calling at, say, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan—brave us! obviously, we are no concern of his—but the people who actually grind out the appallingly damaging “educational” columns in various venues get a pass.

I’m done with that—done with people writing hateful comments anonymously, fed up with the shoulder-shrugging that is our only reaction when misleading crap is poured into the culture blender, disgusted by a general unwillingness to call people out.

So I’d like to devote this blogpost to the writing of Mr. Terence Loose, who—genius that he clearly is—attaches a byline (pseudonymous or not) to writing of such transparent amorality that he deserves to be well known and recognized for being a hack scribbler who, whether he actually cares about anything or not, is happy to serve as bland propagandist.

The redoubtable Mr. Loose contributes career and education advice on yahoo.com, But there is more such to be found on other ubiquitous, bland, doesn’t-have-a-clue-but-everyone-reads-it websites.  I know his name, though.  This is a story of his that appeared on “Yahoo! Education,” 08 July 2013, “Majors that are Good Bets for Finding a Job.”

Wow—Mr. Loose must know a lot about education.  Isn’t he writing for Yahoo?  I wonder about the rest of his œuvre.  Here’s another, from some time before—“College Majors That Are Useless.”

Well, this isn’t a very happy topic, is it?  The Scroll-of-Shame bottom-five majors include Horticulture, Agriculture, Animal Science, Fashion Design, and … Theater.  “Useless,” though?  As my School of Music shares a building with an award-winning Theater Arts program, I can’t help but take this one a little personally.  But surely I should take the high road?

To demonstrate that there are no hard feelings, I’ll provide Mr. Loose some free publicity.

Here’s the beginning of his, y’know, blandly approving, moronically feel-good opera piece, “Opera is Cool”:

And who wouldn’t want to read his screenplays?  Surely, “Pint-Sized Pirates” and “Loco for Soccer” have Red Carpet written all over them.

Except they don’t.  To read about these things is to writhe in discomfort.  I suppose, with this kind of stellar gift for writing, Mr. Loose was glad to get a hired-gun gig shilling for whichever advertiser tells “Yahoo! Education” what opinion should be purveyed.  The problem is that—believe it or not—people do read this glop.  I’ve met the families: miserable looking young person, a worried, protective mother, and a lunkhead dick of a father who, y’know, thinks the kid should major in something “practical” like, ah, “Communications” or “Medical Administration,” because he believes deeply in an economy that hasn’t held water since the 1950s but has read the “advice” from the likes of Mr. Loose.  Who is living the Life of Riley in Hawaii, probably as a result of grinding out this offal for Yahoo! Education.  I would surmise that Mr. Loose is probably more laid back than Fox News’s kennel of snarling, spitting, fangs-baring pit-blondes pouring their cultural toxic waste day after day into the airwaves, popular culture, and American psyche—particularly given the number of probable nervous breakdowns outlined in his autobiography, linked above—but I don’t think his function is appreciably different from theirs.  This is Snorkel Bob with neither the business acumen nor the integrity.  He clearly doesn’t care what he writes, or who it affects; he’s got a screenwriting degree from UCLA yet gets paid to tell people to major in Communications and Medical Administration and Elementary Education (is everyone a good teacher?  Why didn’t he address the salary, burnout rate, and turnover rate?).

This kind of faux-authoritative crap does tremendous damage in the low-information sectors.  But with an expert like Mr. Loose, perhaps I dassn’t criticize…

OK, one more.  Here’s Mr. Loose, again on Yahoo!, with his no doubt soon-to-be-anthologized masterwork, “How to Qualify for the Best Mortgage Rate.”

Wow!  He sure knows a lot about a variety of subjects!  Let’s have him counsel us about majors!

This person should never again appear in print, and yet Yahoo! Corporate is happy to pay him whatever they pay him to mouth whatever facile crap they tell him to, and he’s happy to write it.  About “education.”  And plenty of geniuses among our populace read it and find it authoritative because of the pretty graphics and stock photos and whatever.

I can only quote Ian Shoales from the old Duck’s Breath Mystery Theater:

I gotta go.

About jonathanbellman

Professor of Music History and Literature and Head of Academic Studies in Music at the University of Northern Colorado. Author, *The _Style Hongrois_ in the Music of Western Europe* (Northeastern University Press, 1993), *A Short Guide to Writing About Music* (2e, Longman, 2008), *Chopin's Polish Ballade: Op. 38 as Narrative of National Martyrdom* (Oxford University Press, 2010), Editor, *The Exotic in Western Music* (Northeastern University Press, 1998), author of bunches of articles and reviews and so on. Likes to play the piano, the mandolin, and even guitar sometimes. A. M. and Jo Winchester Distinguished Scholar at UNC, 2011.
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4 Responses to Fast and Loose

  1. Chris Smith says:

    Well-smacked-down!

  2. Jonathan Bellman says:

    The “free publicity” link has now been fixed.

  3. Jason says:

    Here’s another brilliant essay:
    http://education.yahoo.net/articles/most_time-consuming_majors.htm?kid=1O169
    Here, I’ll sum it up for those who do not wish to read — “College takes effort.”

  4. “Brilliant” indeed. If yahoo! education is accorded any authority at all, then we are a disgraced, fabulist culture.

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