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The psychology of arguing about the Beatles
25 March 2014
2.06pm
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Four Thousand Holes
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So it’s perfectly natural to have favorite musical artists.   How can one be discerning—or even have musical a taste—if all music and artists appeal equally?   So really there’s absolutely nothing unusual about having a favorite Beatle.  (My own favorite Beatle shifts over time, but Paul and John are usually the two at the top, and probably Paul has edged out John a bit more over my history.)   But the more I’ve delved into All-Things-Beatles  the more often I’ve found myself almost defensive about justifying why this particular Beatle is better/more talented/more musically gifted than that Beatle.  I honestly don’t fully know why I do this.  Nor do I completely understand why it feels personal.  (Neither Paul nor John need me to defend them.)  And I know I’m not alone.  I’m struck by how many posts in these forum pages turn into (devolve into?) John vs. Paul vs. George vs. Ringo arguments.   Curiously, many of these arguments begin with this kind of sentiment:  “I love ALL the Beatles, but…”

Part of it is surely just the fun of ranking things.  People rank everything—restaurants; vacation spots; basketball players; physicists; and so on.    This may be a juvenile activity, but I’m as guilty as the next person.  (Probably guiltier.) Showing off what one knows is also great fun, if vain.  But I don’t think that explains it all.

I don’t visit other music forums to know whether this kind of intra-band competition is common.  Do Rolling Stone fanatics fight with each other about Mick and Keith? 

So here are my questions, one information-seeking, the other more psychological. 

  • Do Beatles fans pick a band member favorite and argue it out more than fans of other groups? If so, why?

 

  • What is at stake for people in advocating on behalf of a particular Beatle?  Is it simply a pursuit of truth?  Or is personal identity wrapped up in the argument?  Is it because the Beatles themselves argued with themselves a bit about their respective contributions? 

 

I’m not judging anyone else.  I’m just struck by how common this kind of discussion is, especially since most people acknowledge the great degree to which musical taste/judgment is personal and subjective. 

25 March 2014
4.03pm
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Von Bontee
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I don't think the Beatles are particularly unique in this at all - I've seen long drawn-out arguments on other forums by people who are supposedly on the same side of an issue, and a pretty trivial issue at that. there's just something about internet web forums that brings out the argumentative nature in some people (including myself, sometimes.) Something about knowing that once you've posted something, it's out there for all the world to see...and you expect me to sit still and watch as somebody directly contradicts me - invalidates me! - with an opinion of their own?! The HELL with that, I'm getting the last word! (The definitive word.)

Fortunately, at the Beatlesbible we've got Joe and the moderators to keep us in line, plus we're all a generally well-behaved bunch here anyways ("All You Need Is Love " etc.)

(EDIT: Didn't mean to provide that link in the last sentence, it came up automatically - I didn't even use capital letters! Isn't that cool?!)

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Four Thousand Holes

One day, a tape-op got a tape on backwards, he went to play it, and it was all "Neeeradno-undowarrroom" and it was "Wow! Sounds Indian!"
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25 March 2014
4.32pm
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Billy Rhythm
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Michael B said
the more I’ve delved into All-Things-Beatles  the more often I’ve found myself almost defensive about justifying why this particular Beatle is better/more talented/more musically gifted than that Beatle.  I honestly don’t fully know why I do this.  Nor do I completely understand why it feels personal. 

 

You touched on this a bit in the 'Ranking Paul's Solo Albums' thread and used the word "competition".  It's important to take into account that this is a very real dynamic to what made Lennon & McCartney click, George Martin called it "a healthy competition" and it didn't end with The Beatles' break-up, they used each other's triumphs as inspiration to reach new creative heights.

 

As to why us Fans make a "competition" out of Beatle discussions?  Well, Beatlemania is also "a very real dynamic", one of extremes and it shouldn't be much of a surprise that us fans adopt some of their traits as well.  There's potential to use this as a springboard to some great discussions about the group, as long as we don't take it too personally...:-)

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Four Thousand Holes
25 March 2014
4.48pm
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meanmistermustard
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I can't be bothered arguing about the Beatles, fail to see the point. 

John v Paul, Paperback Writer v Long Tall Sally , EMI v Trident, first harmony line in From Me To You v the six harmony line in There's A Place . Debate and discuss yes, but argue - no thanks.

 

I suppose not being able to tell the tone intended in someone's words doesn't help; what might be meant as a passive or tongue in cheek remark to lighten the air can instead by taken as some smart alec riposte that stokes up the fire and spills into posts and pages of ire that only die down when mods step in and lock the threads.

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Zig

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25 March 2014
8.23pm
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Mr. Kite
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I realize that many have a favorite Beatle and do express it, but haven't seen much argument about it on the forum. I personally do love all the Beatles and don't use that as justification to begin arguing for my opinion, but as the point it stops for me. I couldn't pick a favorite if I tried, but that's just how I feel.

I believe it is some psychological thing, if most of us were to begin a discussion with a Justin Beiber fan, for example, about music, we would probably try to convince them the Beatles were better, even while respecting their opinion. That's probably how most of these issues start. A hardcore Lennonista, while respecting the opinion of a Ringite (just made that up), might try and convince them John is better because they feel that strongly.

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25 March 2014
8.39pm
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Starr Shine?
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I think the psychology of arguing about the Beatles is the same as arguing about anything. It is something that lingers from humans evolution like with reacting to a threat and getting emotional about a situation. That was good when it was do or die but now a days we don't need to be like that.

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25 March 2014
9.29pm
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Mr. Kite said

I believe it is some psychological thing, if most of us were to begin a discussion with a Justin Beiber fan, for example, about music, we would probably try to convince them the Beatles were better, even while respecting their opinion.

LOL, I think not.

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25 March 2014
9.44pm
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Mr. Kite
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@Expert Textpert I was going to say while (trying to) respect their opinion but I thought that would kind of make my point moot. 

If I spoke prose you'd all find out, I don't know what I talk about.

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25 March 2014
9.46pm
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Ahhh Girl
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Von Bontee said
[snip]

Fortunately, at the Beatlesbible we've got Joe and the moderators to keep us in line, plus we're all a generally well-behaved bunch here anyways ("All You Need Is Love " etc.)

(EDIT: Didn't mean to provide that link in the last sentence, it came up automatically - I didn't even use capital letters! Isn't that cool?!)

@Von Bontee 

The reason that link happened in your sentence is due to a change Joe made with the forum.

 

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Von Bontee
25 March 2014
9.51pm
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Von Bontee
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LOL, it just happened again on another thread 2 minutes ago, and again I wasn't intending to quote the song titles!

One day, a tape-op got a tape on backwards, he went to play it, and it was all "Neeeradno-undowarrroom" and it was "Wow! Sounds Indian!"
-- Paul McCartney

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25 March 2014
9.55pm
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Ahhh Girl
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If it gets to be a problem (annoying), Joe may take the feature away. Guess well see *as time goes by*. Ha! Not a Beatles song so no link.

25 March 2014
10.05pm
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Musketeer Gripweed
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I think its funny I said in the words of Paul Let it Be on the thread ranking his studio albums. Checked and saw the link and thought it was kinda cool/funny that it literally linked my statement or point to the song supporting it. But I can see how it can get annoying just don't click it I guess? Or does bolding/italics make a difference? imagine I'm a fool on the hill  

25 March 2014
10.09pm
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Billy Rhythm
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Michael B said 

  • Do Beatles fans pick a band member favorite and argue it out more than fans of other groups? If so, why?

 

  • What is at stake for people in advocating on behalf of a particular Beatle?  Is it simply a pursuit of truth?  Or is personal identity wrapped up in the argument?  Is it because the Beatles themselves argued with themselves a bit about their respective contributions? 

  

 

I think much of it is not unlike the whole 'The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones' "competition" which, although had some "authenticity" to it in the sense that they pushed each other creatively like Lennon & McCartney did for each other, was largely blown way out of proportion by the press.  Certain highly publicized notions, such as "John was The Beatles" or "Paul did Everything" that, although have somewhat fizzled in more recent years, don't sit very well with "John People" or "Paul Folks" who may be a little quick to come to their "defense" when they feel that their favourite Beatle is subjected to this "gospel" which still and likely will linger on for some time yet.  I try very hard to resist picking favourites because I see them as four equal parts of the same whole, I'll admit that I'm probably a little more inclined to "defend" John & George on some things because they're not around anymore to "defend" themselves, not that they don't have plenty of "advocates" more capable than I...:-) 

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Four Thousand Holes
25 March 2014
10.17pm
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Musketeer Gripweed
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People just get naturally defensive when someone comments negatively about there post or opinion. I think the main thing though is the phrasing or wording the person disagreeing with you is using. If they say well oh I disagree and think this, is way different then saying I think your wrong/ snide remarks. There seems to be alot of trying to one up the other going on which is leading to thread derailment. 

25 March 2014
11.08pm
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Joe
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Musketeer Gripweed (kezron9) said
I think its funny I said in the words of Paul Let it Be on the thread ranking his studio albums. Checked and saw the link and thought it was kinda cool/funny that it literally linked my statement or point to the song supporting it. But I can see how it can get annoying just don't click it I guess? Or does bolding/italics make a difference? imagine I'm a fool on the hill  

I haven't linked solo titles yet, so Imagine wouldn't work. Also titles have to be precisely correct to be converted, so The Fool On The Hill should work but Fool On The Hill (without the definite article) won't.

I don't think bold/italics makes a difference. It does, however, cap up titles automatically, so mentioning a title in passing might look a bit odd if you're not aware of what goes on.

Anyway, I should stay-on-topic

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25 March 2014
11.13pm
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Joe said

Musketeer Gripweed (kezron9) said
I think its funny I said in the words of Paul Let it Be on the thread ranking his studio albums. Checked and saw the link and thought it was kinda cool/funny that it literally linked my statement or point to the song supporting it. But I can see how it can get annoying just don't click it I guess? Or does bolding/italics make a difference? imagine I'm a fool on the hill  

I haven't linked solo titles yet, so Imagine wouldn't work. Also titles have to be precisely correct to be converted, so The Fool On The Hill should work but Fool On The Hill (without the definite article) won't.

I don't think bold/italics makes a difference. It does, however, cap up titles automatically, so mentioning a title in passing might look a bit odd if you're not aware of what goes on.

Useful info Joe thanks. A true failure on my part...Oh Jah....

27 March 2014
1.28pm
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Four Thousand Holes
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Mr. Kite said I realize that many have a favorite Beatle and do express it, but haven't seen much argument about it on the forum. 

That's probably fair.  I'm not a skilled musician myself (I play piano, badly), so I stray from discussions about technique.  I gravitate more toward discussions about which Beatle contributed what elements to various songs, especially songwriting contributions.  And so I think I tend to gravitate toward the discussions where (a) there is a measure of uncertainty, and (b) where people have hope to think their favorite Beatle played a crucial role in a favorite song.  I do think that Joe's judgment in giving us a wide berth of latitude for real discussion but intervening when things get out of hand is about perfect.   This is the only forum to which I belong, and I had never before realized that being a moderator requires a particular skill.  

 

27 March 2014
1.32pm
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Four Thousand Holes
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Billy Rhythm said ...I'll admit that I'm probably a little more inclined to "defend" John & George on some things because they're not around anymore to "defend" themselves, not that they don't have plenty of "advocates" more capable than I...:-) 

 

I had not really considered this angle before.  And good point also in an earlier comment about intra-band competition being a very real, very healthy part of their success. 

 

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