A week ago The New York Times ran an op-ed piece by Bill Maher titled “Please Stop Apologizing.” In it, Maher goes off about how Americans need to be less apologetic and explains how in the last decade we’ve become more prudish than ever before, and need to lightly dance around the very first amendment. Rather than standing behind our words, we belittle the freedom we have with them in our attempt to be PC, he says. Maher suggests, “The answer to whenever another human being annoys you is not ‘make them go away forever.’ We need to learn to coexist, and it’s actually pretty easy to do.” And I’ll exercise my freedom of speech here, I think Maher is an annoying pretentious gnome-like creature… but he’s on to something.
Four days after the op-ed article was published, indie rock outfit The Morning Benders posted a letter on their website letting their fans know that they would heretofore be known as “POP ETC.” (which, by the way is a terrible name) because they had learned in the UK “bender” was sometimes used as a slanderous term for a gay person. Not “Morning Benders,” “bender.” I am in no way a supporter of name calling, bigotry or hurting people (unless it’s Bill Maher), but a rock band has changed the name they’ve had since 2005, because some people got confused about it. “We had spent those years touring night and day, championing our name everywhere we could, only to find out that the name had an alternate meaning- one that made us look hateful, or at best, ignorant.” If that’s the case, wouldn’t a simple notice of said ignorance suffice? A simple apology, rather than a total and complete reformation of a band you’ve worked for almost a decade to inch closer to the forefront of your genre?! It’s not like The Morning Benders is a grunge group full of punkers and skinheads. Their music is dreamy and lackadaisical. It has that beachy vibes all the young kids are listening to today sonny. I’d be hard pressed to find a person who, after having listened to their music thought they had intentionally taken this name to shame a community of people.
I’m with Maher, especially in the rebellious world of rock ‘n roll, where Paul Simon smashed a guitar on stage. Guitar enthusiasts today would be up in arms about it, I don’t even want to think how Green Peace would react. “Do you know how many trees died to make that beautiful instrument?” The Sex Pistols performed “God Save the Queen,” and while it caused controversy, did they apologize for sticking piercings all over her majesty’s face? Hell no! Iggy Pop cut, slashed and sneered. Where are these ruthless gods of irreverence today? Why are all the present day rock ‘n roll wannabes such luke warm sissies? Our access to social media, our ability to constantly voice our opinions is creating a dichotomy between freedom and frustration. More than ever it’s important to think about what you say, and if you go with it, you need to mean it. If you piss people off, congrats, welcome to the real world. Welcome to life. Take a seat to your left, put some headphones on and listen to some heavy metal.
If you don’t like it, don’t listen to it.
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