That Tweet started it all.
Before I knew it, a bevy of 12-year-old girls were shouting at me via Twitter; a unique society of musically impaired Mean Girls who lash out when they feel threatened.
Which is fine, I was laughing the whole time they were calling me “asshole” and telling me to “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” But I was also a little sad. By that, I mean I was young once, but I wasn’t stupid.
Well, I was stupid, but not unaware.
I liked bands like Slayer, and early Metallica. Groundbreakers. Those who lashed out against the system, not those who jumped on the bandwagon.
I also liked Mötley Crüe, and if you really study 1980s metal, you have to admit that when it came to popularity everyone copied them. Everyone. When they went glam for their second album, Theater of Pain, every mainstream band in existence went glam. Ozzy Osbourne wore glitter. KISS wore glitter. Bands like Cinderella and Britney Fox formed simply because of glitter.
When Mötley Crüe went to jeans and leather for their next album, Girls, Girls, Girls, suddenly even Bon Jovi stopped wearing sequins.
(And if any band deserves to wear sequins, it’s Bon Jovi.)
My point to all this isn’t to praise Mötley Crüe, it’s to point out that there are two ways of being an artist: leader, or follower. You can be popular no matter which path you take, but the former garners more respect than the latter.
So when it came to tween girls angry with me for taking a very small poop on their current band du jour—because let’s be honest, my slam was neither all that great nor all that vicious—I both laughed and sighed. They don’t understand that the reason they’re marketed to is because they’re so gullible. They don’t realize that “bands”—and I put that in quotes, as these “bands” are constructs put together by record companies or producers simply as a way of printing money—like One Direction already existed in the form of Backstreet Boys, and before them New Kids on the Block, and before them New Edition…
In terms of female “bands,” the same man behind Fifth Harmony, one Simon “I can wipe my ass with $100 bills I’m so rich” Cowell, already unleashed “Girl Power” on the world in the form of the Spice Girls. So to the teen who Tweeted me, “IT’S ABOUT FEMALE EMPOWERMENT, ASSHOLE!” no, no it’s not. It’s about marketing, and the powers above know you’ll buy into that nonsense. Thanks for proving them right.
What’s sad is it always works, because each generation “discovering” the band created just for them thinks what they’re seeing is special. They have no idea that their “band” was assembled, not created. These “bands” aren’t a group of people with similar musical tastes finding one another and unleashing their creativity upon the world. These bands are cookie-cutter, assembly line nonsense, with thousands of applicants trying out and having songs written for them, all in order to make money.
While there might be a certain singing “talent,” there’s no soul. They may have perfect pitch, but they won’t have a longing in them to tell a story the way Tom Waits—“ugliest voice, ‘EVAR!’”—does. Boy/girl “bands” are seeking fame; they aren’t burning to have something inside them heard. Record executives know there is a certain, very, very large segment of the population that doesn’t care about soul, talent, or storytelling, which is why these “bands” will never go away. What’s new is the fact the bands are now loved via online societies, and if you tread upon them even lightly the reaction is swift. They don’t understand the difference between a guilty pleasure (the Spice Girls, or even Fifth Harmony) and something worth getting worked up over.
Admittedly, if Twitter had been around when I was a teenager, I absolutely would have gotten into a flame-war with someone insulting Slayer. Sure, it’s what you do when you’re young and have no impulse control.
But I wouldn’t have ever defended Cinderella, or Britney Fox.
And I think that’s what makes me disappointed in the kids all fired up over my “attack” on their idols.
They should know better, but they don’t.
And that’s why we can’t have nice things.
Oh, look… I have a book!