• DOWNLOAD | NEW ORDER “Regret” (The Fire Island Remix) Regret 12”, 1993
It was 7:25 on Sunday night when I got a text message from one of my snarkiest friends: “Someone from GLAAD needs to organize a Black Lips boycott.” I could deduce from this information that someone in Black Lips did something potentially anti-gay, but seeing how very little I care about the band, I didn’t bother to follow up until yesterday.
The story in a nutshell for those of you who missed it: Two skinny young white men — one with handlebar mustache, the other without — had begun feuding on the Internet, perhaps over whose throwback garage band is more dated and pedantic. The pair found themselves at the Brooklyn bar Daddy’s on Friday night where the clean-shaven boy claims that the mustachioed boy began “talking shit” while his girlfriend “spit in the face of all [my] friends.” Buoyed, perhaps, by alcohol, pride, and gender role conformity, the two boys began beating each other until “blood started pouring out,” and — according to the mustachioed one — “six dudes fucking started kicking me until I blacked out.”
In and of itself, this story is uninteresting to me. I grew up in New York City’s hardcore punk scene, where I couldn’t go a Sunday afternoon without watching six dudes kicking someone until he blacked out. (Violence is, like, so 1987.) What did catch my attention were the “official statements” from both parties — the Black Lips’ Jared Swilley and Wavves’ Nathan Williams. Williams, for his part, tried to downplay the situation, but held on to his — is there a better way to say this? — dick-swinging braggadocio: “It was unfortunate that it escalated to that point but [Swilley] got what was coming to him.”
Swilley, on the other hand, denied Williams’ version of events, claiming it was Wavves’ tour manager that attacked him. He expanded the point for Buddyhead:
First of all, I just wanna say that Wavves was NOT involved in that fight. That faggot didn’t even touch me.
What happened was, after we finished our set I went to Daddy’s with some friends and saw that faggot from Wavves talking to a photographer friend of mine. The only thing I did was walk up to him and say, “You’re that faggot from Wavves and I don’t like you.” He smiled a bit but didn’t say anything.
Bottom line is that faggot from Wavves didn’t even hit me.
I wanted to pause on this for a moment — not so much because Swilley has the playground mindset and vocabulary of a 13-year-old boy in 1984, but because as far as I can Google, there are still people in the indie rock scene who don’t seem to think using the word “faggot” is such a terrible thing. It is understandable, even.
A few choice contributions to the discussion from the Brooklyn Vegan thread:
• I went to college and am tolerant [of gays], but this is still bad-ass. Way to go J!
• stop getting offended you crybabies. this is rocknroll. treat it like a spectator sport. homeboy doing anything to you?
• fuck all of you. Jared and Black Lips are great, Wavves is retarded. I don’t even care that he kept repeating “faggot”, he has a right to be pissed.
• i think that its “okay” that he used the word faggot because his band members kiss on stage
It has been duly noted that the overwhelming majority of commenters found Swilley’s use of the epithet to be, well, stupid. But having grown up gay in an atmosphere rife with anti-gay hostility — also, like, so 1987 — I can tell you that young gay people are not so much concerned with the numbers when we’re internalizing the dominant ideologies of the outside world. Therefore, using these comments as a logic-source, I’ve composed a list to distill some of the lessons young gay indie rockers will take away from the debacle. This is what I’ve learned about homophobia from Black Lips:
I. BEING “TOLERANT” OF GAYS IS ONLY EXPECTED FROM NORMAL PEOPLE
A college education only goes so far in terms of exposing young people to the diversity of our planet. We learn how to be respectful of gay people — “tolerant” even, much in the same way we are tolerant of mosquitoes — only so far as we need to interact with them in our jobs or in our families or hanging out at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. But on the Internet, we can anonymously envy the freewheeling “bad-assness” of a privileged heterosexual who is given the license to freely call people “faggot” as a commentary on the bad-ass dichotomy of heterosexism: “You are a weak, effeminate, and worthless human being,” it says. Way to go!
II. IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, YOU ARE A “CRYBABY”
Similarly, if you object to Jared Swilley calling your sister a “stupid whore,” you are no longer rock ‘n’ roll. Because rock ‘n’ roll — and particularly indie rock — is about degradation, not self-empowerment. It is about exclusion, not inclusion. It is about being lucky enough to have been born on the “right” side of a power structure that gives you nothing to cry about.
III. BEING “PISSED” GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO DO ANYTHING YOU WANT
On November 4 of last year, a group of young men from Staten Island watched the election returns in dismay: America was about to elect our first black president, and these boys were pissed. Armed with a pipe, they attacked two black men, harassed a Hispanic man, and then ran over a white man who they thought was black, placing him in a coma — all the while screaming racial epithets.
“I was angry. I was drunk,” Ralph Nicoletti told the judge. “After Obama was elected, we decided to go after black people.” The judge did not feel he had “a right to be pissed,” but whatever, “Fuck all of you.” Wait, right?
IV. KISSING BOYS AS A FORM OF SHOCK ENTERTAINMENT GIVES YOU A GAY PASS
When members of Black Lips kiss on stage, it is designed to be somehow shocking or — in some places — obscene. It is not designed to express romantic love or sexual orientation, but to elicit laughter or revulsion. This is because, in our society, the idea of two men kissing in public still invokes disgust, at best, and violent attacks at its worst. I do not kiss my boyfriend for art or controversy, but the lesson here is that our genuine affection for each other will only be culturally recognized if it is funny or upsetting.
Also, the guy from Calexico is now allowed to use the word “spic” because he owns some timbales and Asher Roth is, using this logic, allowed to use the word “nigger” because he played with the Roots on Jimmy Fallon.
Of course, I know there are bad-ass rock ‘n’ rollers with anger management problems who are nodding their heads in disagreement, saying, “It’s not the same thing!” But it is. In my life, I have been called a faggot, a spic, a nigger, a wetback — and I promise you: I’ve never once felt that one word hurt less than the other.
I cannot find any compelling reason, not to go downstairs, buy a bottle of wine and finish off the cake in the freezer. WORK: Only 9 hours away. SHOULDA PUT A BURGER RING ONNIT.
THIS IS MY FAVORITE POST EVER
omg, boyssss. *_*