The Politics of Rock

Here’s the abridged version. A certain rock critic dogged a certain platinum-selling rock band (one who’s been around for a looong time), calling them ‘sell-outs’. The bass player of this band emailed this rock critic and called him (I can’t make this up) “a silly, silly man”. This critic responded, “I’d rather be a silly, silly man than in a silly, silly band”. Predictably this started an email quarrel of sorts, and the bass player posted it all on his blog, which effectively sicced his more rabid fans on this guy. Worse, this writer actually penned ANOTHER column blasting the band again.

A rock journalist’s job, like that of any writer, is to be honest. If he/she wants to criticize, that’s their perrogative. However, one must also be prepared to deal with the reprecussions of their opinion. (We’ve been there, believe me). Calling a band “sell-outs” though is just asking for trouble. Is there a more hot button term??

On the other hand, if you’re in a band, any band, you should be accostomed to people slagging on you. To reply with “You’re a silly, silly man” is, at once, amusing and somewhat juvenile.

But seriously, for the critic to take such offense at that retort is equally as childish. Sheesh, we’ve been threatened with lawsuits, called drunks and sluts, and generally been verbally eviserated. I would welcome someone telling me I’m silly! (In fact, my psuedo-neice Abbey did so recently and I took it as a great compliment!)

So let’s escalate the matter and unleash the fans. I just don’t think that’s cool, not for something as petty as this. And the fans themselves? I won’t even get started on that. Some of the statements these people made to this writer were just uncalled for, period.

To magnify this absurdity of this whole situation is that the writer admitted to one of the fans who wrote him that the first article was written ‘off the top of my head’. He put no thought into it at all. I can’t tell you how great I’ll sleep knowing this guy is getting PAID to do what I do for free and he’s not even putting any effort into it! I’m sure he hasn’t spent months chasing down a publicist via email and phone only to be ignored. Yet he brings home a life-sustaining paycheck every week. Yeah I’m feeling great about that.

In the follow-up article, the guy jumps all over this band’s ass for their fan club membership dues. I was totally confused by this rant because every well-established band I know charges for access to the really good stuff. It’s called “capitalism” last time I checked. His disdain for this practice made me think of Robby Takac’s outburst to me regarding file-sharing. If everything was free, then all of these artists would have to find J-O-BS and wouldn’t be able to produce the music you’re bitching about. Oh yeah, then you wouldnt have a job bitching about it in the first place!

Here are the lessons I gleened from this whole ridiculous affair:
1. Don’t call someone a “sell out” just cuz you don’t like the songs that made them famous.
2. Don’t fall for the bait of some rock writer.
3. Be gracious when you receive criticism. Pick your frickin battles!
4. Don’t release the locust of devoted fans; that’s just unfair as hell.
5. Accept that in the modern music business, commerce comes before art. Way before.
6. Bear in mind that everyone is human. Take the higher road, would ya?

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