Go emote somewhere else
Life’s not fair—get over it and rock
“Not to put too fine a point on it, but if it chug-a-chugs with the big hairy guitars, makes a stop-starty sound over and over, yarls or does the ninth-grade Satan death scream (alternating with busting a Caucasoid rhyme from time to time) and has some wack DJ scratching and interjecting his best Chuck D “Yyyeah!” every so often, it’s probably nü metal. … With song after song about uncertainty and confusion, after a while it becomes pretty clear that this isn’t rock music, this is pantywaist bullshit about some dude’s feelings.”
—Joey Sweeney, “Days of the Nü,” Salon.com
A definition of irony: Legions of privileged white males posturing as hardcore badasses while simultaneously whining about how their mommies didn’t love them enough.
Lord Al-freaking-mighty am I sick of nü metal.
I wasn’t much of a fan of old metal, either—which can be loosely delineated into “sacrifice the babies for Satan” metal and “let’s get drunk and screw” metal—but at least the testosterone-driven rock of the old days actually had some testosterone in it. Ozzy was no role model, but at least you knew he was the real deal: a drinking, drugging nutjob who didn’t give a shit about anyone or anything. Next to Ozzy, Fred Durst and his ilk are angsty 14-year-olds who could really use a warm glass of milk and a blankie. In short, today’s “cock rock” superstars have no balls.
Consider these lyrics by Staind: “I just needed someone to talk to/You were just too busy with yourself/You were never there for me/To express how I felt.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but that sounds like a plot summary of Beaches to me. Recently, I turned on the radio just to hear some sensitive dumbass scream “Life’s not fair! Life’s not fair!” at the top of his lungs, and I just about wet my pants laughing. What startling originality! What incisive criticism of our modern world!
It’s not that guys shouldn’t have feelings or that they shouldn’t express them. But if you’re going to prance around on stage dressed like a street thug or a minion of the Dark Lord, I don’t want to hear about your feelings, unless you’re expressing your sincere desire to drink the blood of the nonbelievers. To paraphrase Beavis and Butthead, “monster face and wuss music do not go well together.”
And perhaps the most ironic thing of all is that while these big, tough, strong men are bitching and moaning, women are still being continuously ridiculed for expressing the same types of feelings. Comedians Andrew Dice Clay and Sam Kinison made a fortune depicting women as stupid, whiny and weepy, while late-night talk show hosts are still getting plenty of mileage out of Barbara Walters’ daytime estrogen fest, The View. (And to add a further level of irony, truly badass, intelligent women like Ani DiFranco and P.J. Harvey dance around the edges of the mainstream, while America convinces itself that mediocre Jewel clones are edgy, alternative female rockers.)
If you ask me, Oprah needs to have a week-long special so that every nü metal band—from Linkin Roach to System of a Bizkit—can get it all off their chests and start making “cock rock” with some balls.
Adrienne Rice is the RN&R’s associate editor.