PBS Video: Is Dubstep Avant Garde Musical Genius?


Teenagers, brace yourselves: PBS has made a video about dubstep, which means it’s only a matter of time before your parents start asking questions about those electric can opener noises invading the house via your bedroom. In a new Idea Channel clip, host Mike Rugnetta asks whether the genre — which, despite breaking through to the American mainstream, isn’t exactly a critical favorite — can actually be defended as avant-garde musical genius, comparing it to such 20th-century forerunners to electronic music as musique concrète and George Antheil’s Ballet Mécanique. Rugnetta also mentions that pre-World War I Italian Futurist artists would have loved dubstep, as they shared its central aesthetic values: “technology, violence, and speed.” (He reminds us that they were also anti-feminist fascists, so do with that information what you will.) Watch the video below and tell us whether PBS has convinced you to see the genre in a new light, or if you’ll still be tuning out Skrillex for the foreseeable future.