Saturday, May 27, 2006

You're All Sellouts!!!

The term "sellout" is a very stupid one. The people who use it as a common practice tend to be teenagers who like punk bands and probably aren't even sure what the hell they're implying exactly when they say it.

Here's the definition from good old dictionary.com:

1. The act of selling out.
2. An event for which all the tickets are sold.
3. Slang One who has betrayed one's principles or an espoused cause.

The easiest times in which to cry "sellout" are probably when you like an underground band, and then said band suddenly rockets to stardom and signs with a major label. Oh, no! Those bastards!! How DARE they make money!

Just because more people are now familiar with your favorite band doesn't mean you should get defensive. If anything you should feel proud of yourself for picking a band that clearly had talent long before the general public took notice (or they're just bucking the correct trend of the period, in which case your taste probably sucks anyway, so whatever).

If you're getting upset that your band had the gall to make some cash, well, that's ridiculous. Yes, punk rock is great, blah blah blah, we don't care about money, we care about the message, whatever, spikey. Sorry to break this junk to you, but your beloved band started their music career with the idea of making MONEY off of it. When the option presents itself for this band to either make more money doing what they love or to continue wallowing in obscurity doing what they love while balancing it with a job waiting tables, well, what the hell do you think they're gonna choose?

Not only that, they deserve it for being damn proficient at what they do (unless they're just bucking the current trend, in which case, fuck them). Sure, some artists got recognized for their talents after their deaths but, really now, how appreciative do you think they are of this? Not very! Considering they were poor and underappreciated while they lived as well as the fact that there's no afterlife! Yes! Dig at the pious!!! You weren't expecting that! CONTROVERSE SNEAKERS!!!!

The important thing is that, even while they're raking in the green, your band must keep focused on that which got them there in the first place: the music. The only time this band of yours (and, by the way, just because you like them doesn't mean they're yours) deserves any real criticism is when, for example, they play tons of small shows as a grindcore (yes, this genre exists for those of you unaware) band and then, suddenly, they're on MTV with a new single called "Love in a Candy Basket." In such a situation, it's hard to imagine that your band's thinking was something other than, "Well, making this music we like isn't working so let's churn out some crap for the money." But, EVEN THEN, you can't really say for sure this is selling out! WHY?!!? WHY, MOTHERFUCKER?!?!?!!?!?

Simply put, you don't KNOW what the members of your band are thinking. Maybe they had some kind of amazing realization and decided that grindcore blows (I know I'm not a fan) and gushy stink-pop is far more fulfilling. Unlikely? Certainly, but still, possible.

Hey! Maybe your band just wanted some quick cash and, now that people have noticed them, they'll steer the music back towards their original vision. A brief denial of principles, cry you?! So what?! Who do you know who's stayed true to themselves throughout the entirety of their lives?! Shit, kid! You're in school, ain'tcha?! Does school JIVE PERFECTLY with what you currently believe should be your main concern in life?! No! I bet tossing your hair flippantly and signing petitions to ban animal testing is of paramount importance to you right now! Damn, brotha, you a sellout!!

Just because someone or something doesn't behave in the manner you expect them to doesn't mean they're denying their principles, it means they're denying YOU of what YOU want THEM to do and, hey, you ever looked at it this way? Bending to the will of one's fans is a surefire way to sellout! Look what happened to Weezer! LOOK WHAT HAPPENED!!! The point of art is to grow, change, and experiment, stupid! If your band changes their dynamic and you can't roll with it, fine! Move on to something else. Nobody's asking you to stick around.

"But, Bobby," you say, because you haven't even had the courtesy to properly learn my name, "they aren't growing! They aren't changing! They just suck now! They changed from good to suck!!"

Well, that's your opinion, but, listen, if you're pretty sure your band truly did sellout and is now the total antithesis of that which they used to stand for and is just in it for the money or fame or whatever it is now, guess what? If they have any true, genuine bone in their body, it'll catch up with them! Soon they'll hate themselves pretty good! The fame and money will mock them and they'll go all crazy and pick up an (even worse) drug habit!! And if they don't, well, fuck 'em! They're soulless bastard what ain't really worth your time!!

I had a good friend and roommate who used to be way into the punk scene but then got out of it because it was too damn stupid. I thought it was really cool of him when he once told me that punk rock, contrary to some beliefs, is not a way of life, it's a genre of music, and nothing more. It's a messy, loud, sometimes violent genre of music, but it's just music. Yes, even back with the Sex Pistols. Do you think they ALWAYS did what they wanted and damned the consequences? Certainly not! I mean, they did sign with some record labels, for a brief period, after all.

People want recognition and money for what they do. I don't look forward to all the bureaucracy that comes along with entering into the film, television, or literary business, but I know I have to deal with it. Lame as this sounds, you have to play the game, but not let the game play you. (Wow, just awful.)

You have to enter into the den of crap and suck and stick to what YOU want in the middle of all that, screw what the businessmen think and screw your admirers. Be a beacon of awesomeness in a dark sea of shit by doing what feels right to you! You can't live outside the system (well maybe Ted Kaczynski did, I dunno), but you can rattle things up a bit by being yourself within it. We're all sellouts at some level. I mean, you're already a member of the most heinous organziation on the planet...DUN DUN DUNNNNN, the human race. Just try to be a better member than everybody else.

Hey. You're a good kid. You'll turn out okay.

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