There’s no alternative

20 November 2009 2

Dominic Lawson has some interesting points to make about offensive comedy, which I was writing about a couple of weeks back, in this Independent article.

But my favourite bit is his aside about alternative medicine: “Either medicine works, having passed the usual tests, or it doesn’t. If ‘alternative medicine’ works then it isn’t alternative; and if it doesn’t work then it isn’t medicine.

Too true. Definitions like ‘alternative medicine’ crop up when people either aren’t sure what they mean or can’t bring themselves to say it. Music is fertile ground for this – from a distance it always appears to be organised in obvious genres, but when you actually try to categorise it everything gets a bit jumbled, and we end up with terms like ‘world music’ (as opposed to music that’s not from the world?) and ‘urban music’, which implies that anything made by skinny white boys with guitars must be ‘rural’. Here and there we get coy attempts to be a bit more precise like the ‘Music of Black Origin’ (MOBO) Awards, which means that Justin Timberlake is allowed in. Come to think of it, Michael Jackson was of black origin, but after about 1990, not really black anymore. Perhaps they were thinking of him.


2 thoughts on “There’s no alternative”

  • 1
    Richard on 23 November 2009

    That quote about alternative medicine I think is cribbed from Dara O'Briain. CONTROVERSY!

  • 2
    Robert B on 27 November 2009

    He's definitely not the first – Francis Wheen said a similar thing in his book on mumbo jumbo.

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