Along with the prestigious Cow Medals I hand out very sparingly here on The Cow, I think I’m going to have to invent some kind of trophy for the opposite end of the spectrum; an award for those who say the stupidest things on teh webs.

I’d kick off the ceremony with the CEO of Sony, Michael Lynton, who last week opined “I haven’t seen any good come out of the internet”. Translating that into something that makes sense to people who aren’t the buck-stops-here-guy for multinational companies: “I don’t get why this thing is bigger than television and getting bigger by the attosecond and we can’t figure out a way to make as much money out of it as we used to make out of all that old technology we have”.[tippy title=”*”]Or: “God in Heaven – just look at all that MONEY that we’re NOT making!”[/tippy]

Mr Lynton got a good old walloping immediately on the nets of course, and tried to backpedal in an article on the Huffington Post, managing only to dig himself an even deeper hole by revealing the real extent of his failure to grok the magnitude of the thing he’s trying to get his brain around.

I cannot subscribe to the views of those online critics who insist that I “just don’t get it,”

…he protests, and then goes on to comprehensively demonstrate his inability to get it.

His Huffington Post whinge is so clubfooted, and so embarrassingly naive, that it is staggering to believe that this guy has managed to get to be the guy in charge of one of the largest corporations in the world.

He laughingly attempts to equate the ‘Information Superhighway'[tippy title=”†”]Surely one of the daftest most empty-headed and inappropriate expressions ever uttered…[/tippy] with an actual ‘highway’…

In the 1950’s, the Eisenhower Administration undertook one of the most massive infrastructure projects in our nation’s history — the creation of the Interstate Highway System… Guard rails went along dangerous sections of the road. Speed and weight limits saved lives and maintenance costs. And officers of the law made sure that these rules were obeyed.

…and then suggests that unless we do something, our kids are going to grow up inside some kind of artistic vacuum, without anything at all decent to ‘enliven their culture’.

As I go into my sixth decade, I listen to people like Mr Lynton and realise that… I actually feel young again. While he stamps his foot and pouts and sulkingly packs up his marbles into his little string bag, folks all around the planet who do understand what’s going on in the 21st Century are just getting on with their business and doing very well thanks all the same.

Mr Lynton wants the world to be the way it was when his company was making packets of money and everything was nicely settled into a paradigm he could understand. By drawing stupid analogies and playing the Fear card he wants people to think the world will be a whole lot worse off without companies like Sony providing the entertainment they think we should see. The implication being, of course, that without them the alternatives couldn’t possibly be anything but inferior, and we would all be engulfed by some kind of cultural Dark Ages.

I’m getting to be an old guy now (relatively speaking, you understand), but never have I been as optimistic as I am now about the future of art. Would I be disappointed if mega budget movies like The Da Vinci Code and Spiderman disappeared off the face of the earth? Not one whit. Would I care if Mariah Carey or Avril Lavigne or Kings of Leon were taken up in the Rapture tomorrow? Not even remotely.

My Lynton – for all your wailings about the End Times, let me put this to you: an artist doesn’t need much these days to make something worth watching or listening to. And an audience doesn’t need much to experience that effort. To translate: We. Don’t. Need.You.

If you didn’t exist, music and painting and poetry and literature and film wouldn’t cease to exist. As much as you desperately might like to think you have some important part to play in the great cultural sweep of the human species, you are just an accessory. You are unimportant.

Do you get it?

No, I didn’t think so.


*Or: “God in Heaven – just look at all that MONEY that we’re NOT making!”

†Surely one of the daftest most empty-headed and inappropriate expressions ever uttered…