Music News

Marketing Misery

A 4-foot-by-6-foot Jolly Roger flaps from a post in my front yard. Gives the dirt plot a bit of shade while providing respite from so much Red, White and Blue. Yet, predictably, not everyone appreciates my goofy little symbol of free speech. The hostility in the air is thick and the neighbors most likely would rather see me dead. They call me names, too. Things like commie faggot, Afghan refugee, white nigger. . . . Just the most abominable and ignorant stuff you could ever imagine.

Land of the free, indeed.

What's obvious and without argument is that all political crimes are justified in the eyes of the perpetrators, who will always regard them as some sort of payback. After years of nuclear haughtiness, fervent fueling of the Cold War and calm bombing of innocent civilians, we Americans are still shocked that people in other countries view conflicts through the dim-eyed looking glass of victimhood and revenge just like we do.

I don't hate America. Not even close. I love her dearly, in fact. I have loads of empathy for the families of those slaughtered by terrorists, just as I have loads of empathy for the innocent Afghans murdered as we speak. I'm just not down with so much Red, White and Blue. This mad flag-waving strikes me as a media-generated frenzy of ignorant self-righteousness born of fear and anger.

Having said that, and in light of the World Trade Center attacks, we now find the slime of sentiment drooling upon us from all over. Particularly by narcissistic pop stars revolving in an arena where nothing is ever above marketing strategizing, even misery and death.

Never trust a pop star who suddenly develops a social conscience. In times of strife, and without missing the proverbial beat, some soon-to-be film/music-biz has-been will inevitably beam himself down through the media and appear before us, ready for sainthood.

And the suck-up contingents that've jumped the strife train over the years are as wide as they are varied. Who could forget Lionel Richie leading the "We Are the World" charge? Diana Ross pawning herself off as Ma Teresa in same? The cockeyed, one-two punch of The Hooters (with a debut album to promote) sharing the bill with the spiraling REO Speedwagon at Live Aid? The Grateful Dead pimping out their chickenshit Altamont experience in the song "New Speedway Boogie." Even more bewildering was seeing Dustin Hoffman's lipless prune-face mouthing lyrics on a recent televised tribute to John Lennon.

Enter Limp Bizkit's greed-driven megalomaniac front man Fred Durst, or, as I now refer to him, Saint Durst. After the WTC horror show, Saint Durst has proven that he's the world's most gifted self-promoter. With ubiquitous long face and puppy-dog eyes, and in a tone of maudlin devastation, he's been, since September 11, attempting to impress upon us just how messed up he is over everything that's happened. He's been reaching out to dry our tears. He's a changed man.

Gee, he's not sensing that the statute of limitations for chubby white guys using rap and angst as shtick to sell records is nearly up, is he?

Saint Durst is a dude who has been reminding us with regularity that in the service industry known as the music biz, lack of talent doesn't disqualify you from becoming a rock 'n' roll star. He's a PR flack with a microphone. A guy with no sense of boundary or common decency. He'll stop at nothing for the chance to flap his cholesterol jowls on national TV. One recent interview saw him begging us Americans to Give Peace a Chance, to join together, to live in harmony. That we all must come together because life is "so precious."

We can all put our hands over our hearts as Saint Durst cloaks himself in Old Glory and mimes television reporter jingoism. From a guy who made a career of encouraging kids to fight and bust stuff -- a guy who incited the riot at Woodstock that saw numerous women raped -- this stuff just whiffs of fish.

"If everyone doesn't come to their senses and realize we've got to let all that go, then they're blind," Saint Durst told MTV a few weeks back. What's funny is this is the only time I've heard Saint Durst string words together that weren't something like fuck, bitch and dick. "They're as blind as the people who are killing us. I've had my problems with whoever I've had them with, and whoever had their problem with me or Limp Bizkit. [But] I'm a human being, and I'm prepared to step up to that. All of my differences are gone now. I care about you being alive, and I want you to care about me being alive . . . Right now, it's f---ing unbelievable. It makes me want to cry. . . .

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Bill Blake