Wednesday night, I was minding my own business (having margaritas and Mexican food, watching Miami take down Chicago in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semi’s) when a SPIN magazine article was written about me. However, to say that this SPIN article was written about me is a bit like equating the Holy Bible to being a book about how great Judas is. SPIN more or less gave the Fall Out Boy lead singer Patrick Stump a verbal blowjob, while minimizing the platform I was actually trying to build. SPIN only perpetuated the myth that Fall Out Boy is a defensible band–when they’re not.
One month or so ago, Patrick Stump went on a tirade about some undercurrent of “hate” within the music business. He then went on to defend Nickelback and Dane Cook. I seriously can’t make this stuff up. This is where everything strikes a raw nerve with me. The reason we don’t like bad performers is self-evident. Their most recent video is an abomination–and I’m not saying that to be a critical blogger, because that’s not the point. He empathized with Nickelback and Cook, and that says something.
I’m from Atlanta, so when I heard 2Chainz was in a Fall Out Boy video, I was in shock. This is 2Chainz of Playaz Circle. “The dope man my mothafuckin’ role model…“, and some other mess about having too much money or something. In my head I was thinking, “How in the hell is he going to sell this to Hot Topic?” Once the video started, I realized 2Chainz would not be rapping. Instead of hiring a rapper to be a rapper, Fall Out Boy hired a rapper to play an arsonist. This is where the metaphor begins. After two days of being harassed on Twitter by the girls hanging out near the edge of the mall food court, I realized the video is symbolic of Fall Out Boy’s place in music.
After 2Chainz shows up dressed like an extra from a Korn video, he lights a fire leading to a big pile of sticks. Two young women streak by 2Chainz and start throwing musical instruments into a fire. Tauheed “2 Chainz” Epps was born in 1977, making him 35 years old. The women to his right and left appear to be perhaps 15 years his junior. Thus, Fall Out Boy and their self-fulfilling metaphor come full circle. Our protagonist is using women 15 years younger than him to destroy music. I see what you guys did there.
Toward the end, 2Chainz gets a flamethrower and starts torching the already burning fire, filled with Fall Out Boy albums–right where they belong. Late night infomercial style, right at the end, they throw in a plot twist. It appears real musicians have been held hostage by the people without talent. They’re right there in the back of the van! The women exposed them! This analogy is so direct my head might do that thing from “Scanners.”
To say that these guys don’t put time and effort into their music would be a mistake. I work with musicians professionally, and I know how much effort goes into creating the end result. Their music is mixed and mastered perfectly. Stump, Pete Wentz, and whoever else is in the band spend a bunch of time in the studio to make this music happen. They go out on long, thankless tours. That has nothing to do with the fact that these guys lack versatility, and can only make music for teenagers.
Sonically, this isn’t much different than “Sugar, We’re Going Down”, or “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s An Arms Race”(especially this song. Yikes.) These are just driving, safe, pop-rock ballads. If you heard it in 2005, you’re not missing anything today. Fall Out Boy doesn’t evolve musically, and thus they are compared to Nickelback and Cook. We all realized every Nickelback song was the same song, and Cook was a loud, abhorrent actor.
Fall Out Boy makes this song.
When one band just stays and occupies the same place in music, it says something about the music they make. Small sample size aside, I don’t have many peers regularly listening to Fall Out Boy. When their most recent video came out, Fall Out Boy was trending on Twitter, so I hopped in and added to their hashtag with my own snark. Within minutes, word had spread amongst the horde that a dissenter was amongst the Fall Out Boy army.
To be clear, if Nickelback was trending, I would have done the same thing. The differentiating factor is fan base; guys in 2002 V6 Mustangs with backwards baseball hats don’t care too much about Twitter. It’s all about the Natty Ice and potato guns. I would never get harassed by Nickelback fans–even though I know Nickelback has fans, because their concerts have attendees.
The fact that Stump has made a cerebral connection to the deluge of negative feedback, and still maintains his stance is stupefying. This isn’t a “whatever can positively be gained by ignorantly dismissing things as loudly as we can” as Stump stated in the Huffington Post article. I’m not saying it because it’s a dissenting opinion. What I’m stating is the prevailing opinion. The only people who still like Fall Out Boy are children.
To be clear, children are dumb and have terrible taste in everything. Just watch them eat gooey cheese product covered starch items, extra twisted, double cheese, with extra salt, from Kraft. There is no difference in their musical tastes. Children don’t like complex, thought-provoking music for big people. That’s why the Spice Girls were so damn popular–they knew that their market was infantile. Try feeding a child mixed greens with seared Ahi tuna, and then get back to me.
In Stump’s post on his blog, he goes on to deride bloggers, which is absolutely banal. A couple years ago, I was music blogging at Earmilk.com. I think music blogs added a great deal to music. The internet gave birth to a music blog explosion right around the time Fall Out Boy was starting their circa-2008 hiatus. During the time Stump was standing on the sidelines, we didn’t just become more critical–we got more connected. Music bloggers aren’t out there to deride horrible music because it doesn’t help their business model. I tried to promote new music, and generally avoided writing overwhelmingly negative reviews. People go to blogs for new music, because it’s an efficient way for bands to reach their fans directly.
Music blogging has allowed for great music to rise to the top, and that means music that isn’t so great (*cough*FallOutBoy*cough*) floats to the bottom. This organic explosion flies in the face of what was happening when Fall Out Boy got their start–making an aesthetic fit a sound. Culturally, we associate Fall Out Boy with a great deal of laughable other stuff, like really tight jeans, awkward late teen boys wearing eyeliner, questionable hair decisions, and other awkward moments from 2005.
Beyond Fall Out Boy sucking musically, Stump also makes some regressive, inane statements. I mean, as long as his fans are taking me out of context, let’s just be clear on something–Stump’s blog post makes some huge reaches. These reaches are not meant ironically, because it’s all 100 percent sincere.
“Somewhere in the world at this moment, some snooty contrarian is probably defending the paintings of Adolph Hitler. Yet for some reason, here I am crippled by a vague and probably unwarranted desire not to appear to be a fan of Nickelback and Dane Cook.” — Patrick Stump
For the past several months, I have been heckling Fall Out Boy’s Wentz and Stump on Twitter, because they are public figures who I believe make bad music. Speaking of ill-timed and strangely placed references to Hilter, I said Wentz’s child would grow up to be the next Hitler. I also mentioned all of their fans should be killed in a FOBocaust. Every once in a while I would instruct persistent Fall Out Boy fan/hecklers to toss themselves from a bridge, in front of a train, into a vat of battery acid, or something along those lines–because evocative language is paramount when you’re saying something clearly dripping with sarcasm.
At some point before all this happened, I realized Twitter had a strange power over the fans, and indirectly–the band members. Before SPIN wrote the article about me, before Wentz challenged me to a fist fight via Twitter, I knew I could pull this off. There would come a time when I riled up enough people that Wentz would respond, because it was all a numbers game. I discussed this at length with my drinking buddies at the Mexican bar down the street from my apartment. When we were watching the Heat game last night, I saw SPIN published an article about me. At that moment, we all exchanged high fives, because this was an accomplishment for me. This was something we knew would happen.
Think about it from a realistic perspective. Suppose you were walking through a shitty mall in Canada, and you ran into Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger. What would you do? Would you walk up to him and say, “Gee Mr. Kroeger, I love all those songs you did with Nickelback. They really changed me.” Or would you do what I would do? I think I’d walk right up to Kroeger and say, “Chad Kroeger, you suck!” I’d give that “suck” part some heavy emphasis too, just so he understood the gravity of the situation. The funniest part about “suck”, is just how pervasive it is. Kroeger is engaged to the Queen Merchant of Suck herself, Avril Lavigne. I bet their love life is like Human Centipede.
Calling me a troll is beneath the dialogue I created. Stump thinks my insults are lazy, because I identified the “emo” and “eyeliner” parts of what he does–but I also managed to use my given platform to accurately describe why Fall Out Boy has become a punchline, rather than just using the dialogue itself as a punching bag. This isn’t a critique of Fall Out Boy, but rather a recursion. This is the infinite mirror of endless sadness, with Stump and Wentz looking right into it. To them, I’m just the guy holding the mirror and saying, “Take a look at yourselves. Pretty bleak isn’t it?” The moment of recursion is what caused them to get sensitive and touchy. Looking in the mirror isn’t pleasant if the image looking back at you repeats itself forever.
Fall Out Boy is doomed to an infinite career of making disposable, teen pop, until they’re too old–and then they’ll have nothing left. Fall Out Boy isn’t a band that grows with its audience. There is no such thing as an old teen pop star, and these guys must be uncomfortable riding such a one trick pony into the sunset, forever being remembered as those guys who made teen pop and nothing else.
The common denominator behind all the negative replies I have received on Twitter is damning: No one above the age of 17 is deriding me for my commentary. The vast majority of my peers think this is one of the more hilarious takedowns they have seen online. I forced Wentz and Stump to address me, and because of this, I know they had to look at the same landscape I was looking at: A sea of annoying teens with understandably juvenile taste. Fans of Fall Out Boy tend to only like other really simple, repeatable, bad pop music. (Ref: My Chemical Romance, Hawthorne Heights, Cartel, etc.)
After Wentz and Stump addressed me via Twitter, entertainment media outlets had to report on a story that basically comes down to, “Guy Tells Fall Out Boy They Suck. Story at 8!”
The real question is, why did Wentz and Stump both focus in on me and take it so personally? Admittedly, they are infinitely more successful than I am at music–just from a monetary standpoint. Why hasn’t anyone asked the obvious question: “What is it about Shane Morris that provoked both of these young men to speak in defense of their multi-platinum careers?”
Perhaps it is because they understand the concept of what a recursive picture really is. Sometimes, you’ll see them in doctor’s offices–a picture, within the same picture, within the same picture, a sort of infinite reality that actually gets smaller each time it is repeated. Fall Out Boy is following that path, because each time they come around, they get older, but their fans stay the same age. This is a band repeating the patterns until they become meaningless. This is Andy Warhol‘s repetition rule in real life.
Patrick, you were totally right about using rote dialogue as the fulcrum of an argument. I don’t need to use “emo” and “eyeliner” as punchline crutches. It’s much easier to actually explain why you suck, in full detail, after you have underestimated my intellectual ability to do so, and then handed me the media attention to project my opinion with.