Just to give Corgan the benefit of the doubt, I'll recount my personal experiences seeing the Pumpkins on an arena tour during the MCIS era compared with an Arcade Fire show from their last tour to try and make a point..
At the Pumpkins show in 95 you saw all of the Breakfast Club archetypes represented (The jock, stoner, prom queen, neurotic, intellectual etc). The next day at school they were all wearing the T-shirt. Maybe the Pumpkins were never as big as the Beatles, but for people of my (our?) generation it was a bit of a communal moment. a diverse group of people can share in a sense of nostaligia whenever "1979" gets played on the radio (I'm sure BC hates that too though)
At the Arcade Fire arena show I looked around and saw that 90 percent of the crowd appeared to be educated, middle class hipster types.
Sure, but how many of those people walked away as fans? How many were there simply because it was "cool"? The band notoriously would play silverfuck to drive those people away. It was mtv and top 40 radio that brought all of those people together. That was the outlet that told people what to listen to. It was a very different culture (and subculture) in the early-mid 90s. These days people have way more options in what they want to hear and how they can access it, hence the crowds are going to be very different. I would even argue that the Pitchfork crowd, like mtv's function, has had some influence on the type of crowds they get. I think this change mainly has to do with the collapse of the previous system and a cultural and technological shift.
I know you touched on the idea of great music and art being too sophisticated or ahead of its time for mainstream consumption. But I don't think that's the case with Arcade Fire. Their music might be artistic, ambitious, pretentious, etc (like classic Pumpkins), but its' essentialy anthemic pop music. I think there's some validity to Corgan's point that their music shouldn't be appealing to a selective audience. it's better than that..
peronsally I've just accepted the change. Corgan refuses to for whatever reason
I never would have classified them as anthemic pop music, maybe some of their songs are but not as a whole. I would not classify them as an easily accessible band either. They may not reach the same influential impact as Joy Division but neither will SP. I think very few bands fall into that category. Furthermore, I think the Arcade Fire still has a lot left in them and I am hesitant to think that they will not push the envelope as they develop as musicians and artists.
Anyway, I agree with you for the most part, I am just not sure what Billy is really trying to get at. There are a lot of contradictions amongst his better points (which leads to the obscuration of his better points).