1. “Steven Spielberg”
The reason that Steven Spielberg fucking sucks at making movies is because he’s a fucking idiot. And the reason I can say this with authority is because he lets me.
What I mean is this. Steven has a secret life, which isn’t so different from yours and mine. He’s flesh and blood. He’ll belch or fart. He might have, on some sweltering summer night, taken a huge shit at a friend’s house, and plugged the toilet, and had to plunge it violently, sleeves rolled up, mopping the sweat from his brow, and the friend’s on the other side of the door saying, “Steve, you okay in there?” He’s faulty, dirty, flawed – and you never woulda thunk it cuz he looks so sweet and dignified.
That sweet dignity is old classic Spielberg – the public life. And the thing about “public” is that it’s mine and everyone else’s if we care to buy some stock (and fortunately for America: Talk Is Cheap!). We buy it all the time, seemingly for free, and with it we can make it whatever we want and be right. Because I’m not actually saying anything about Steve the Human Being, the Secret Man on Planet Earth. He’s Steven Spielberg – the public persona, the constructed identity, the product of a publicist and decades of money.
“Buying stock,” i.e. talking shit, feels good and it seems like nothing’s lost, is only seemingly free. The price is actually buying into an illusion. You think you’re saying something about Steven when you say Spielberg is a fucking idiot and his movies taste like shit. I’m sure Steven cares if he hears it, but – he is not his movies. It’s far beyond my knowledge if he knows this fact – I’ve only known him through public appearance. Maybe he really does tie himself up to them as tightly as he lets on. But he still does something when the cameras and lights go off and the curtain closes.
Buying into an illusion hurts you and everyone you love, hate, and don’t know – a lot. It hurts them because they do it too, and so does everyone else. And then you’re living with an illusion all around you, and keep the illusion going. And this just perpetuates everything the you claim to hate, that Spielberg claims to hate, that even… The Boss claims to hate.
2. “Woody Guthrie”
So Springsteen gets up on stage in front of 1800 screaming fans at South By Southwest and yells, “Happy birthday, Woody!” to long-dead Woody Guthrie’s ghost and proceeds to sing one of his songs. Because he likes solidarity, he also harkens to not-long-dead Clarence “Big Man” Clemens about 69 different times in the next three hours before going back to Woody one last time.
Did Bruce ever meet Woody? No. Do I know this for a fact? No. Does Bruce have a lot in common with Woody? No. My source? A story that I don’t remember the author of, which went like this:
” Woody Guthrie played some songs for a bunch of record executives one time in nineteen-whatever. It was at the top story of a skyscraper in Manhattan. Why he was there? Probably because he was summoned, he’s a free spirit, he had nothing to lose just for showing up. So they’re watching him, these execs, and they say, ‘He’s great!! Though he could use a little make-up…! And maybe some of this… and this… and we could sell him easy with this…’ et cetera. And while they’re going through this banter, Woody Guthrie wanders to the elevator, takes it to ground floor, and wanders out into the Manhattan streets, strumming his guitar, smiling, singing, ‘I ain-tuh! got no hommme in this-a-world anymore!’ “
Springsteen has nothing in common with Woody Guthrie except that he can sing, and the lyrics can be topical. Springsteen worked hard to get a major label deal with Columbia, and worked hard to make Born To Run a chart topper. That’s pretty anti-Guthrie. And Born To Run is quality music! But so is Dust Bowl Ballads. So there.*
3. Reminder: You Are Trapped
This is the 21st century. Just like few would ever choose stoicism over a facade of a personality – since Stoicism can give an air of nobodyhood (when in fact real nothingness is more likely to reside in the choice for facade), few would ever turn down a major record deal because it would render their convictions false and their ideals worthless. You’re fucked if you want to be serious in the 21st century. You’ll never bring about a change by yourself. You can be a cog in the wheel of change, but there’s no guarantee you’ll succeed, and the price is your time (you’ll definitely notice) and individuality (you might not notice). This is why and how the worstkind of irony is claiming the day.
4. “Bruce Springsteen”
Once I was sitting in Pizza Brava in Seattle in 2006 or maybe 2007, and this guy walks in ranting, “I’ll be a slice for anyone who can name for me one good thing that George W. Bush has done!!” Everyone sort of thinks, probably more amusedly than seriously. I thought I was thinking seriously, but possibly more because I’d dig a free slice of pizza. I couldn’t think of anything! He kept yelling and taunting and daring until the owner yelled, “Get out! I said get the hell out!”
So. Now. Has Springsteen ever done one good thing? For the world, I mean. Since that’s what he postures with his ideals from stage. Has he done more good things than George W. Bush? Let’s say Springsteen played on the campaign trail for John Kerry and Barack Obama. George Bush actually ran for president. Say what you want about how he did – that’s the course of action that’s bolder, more courageous, and puts your convictions where your world is way more than raising your guitar in the air and warbling, “I’m a souuuldjaaahhh!” But is there a real point to that? Maybe not, except that being President of the United States, even when you’re shitty at it, is a better avenue for “doing good things” than being a fucking rock star.
People think The Boss is “the genuine article” and they’re idiots. It’s not because the man Bruce Springsteen isn’t a genuine, kind, compassionate, caring, sweet, talented handy man. He is. Or he isn’t. I don’t actually know, and you don’t either, and it’s not because we’re not up on our Boss trivia. It’s because we only know the Symbol of Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen, and that Symbol is utterly worthless outside of music. So, yes to you haters – when his latter day albums suck, then Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen is totally worthless. (fortunately, everything up to and including Tunnel Of Love kicks fucking ass, right??)
And he’s not alone. Spielberg’s with him. And they’re not alone – most everyone’s in there with them both. I could argue that as rock stars of film and music, they helped mold this kind of Illusion-building bullshit system like few others. And I will.
But I won’t explain myself. I’ll just say that the relatively few rock stars of film and music are the precursors to nowadays where every person with their facebook account is a rock star, with their look, their shades, their attitude, their shitty grammar, and their bullshit record of life’s events since 2005. That’s what you see, that’s what you get, and when they log off, you’ll never guess that they’re not an asshole, that they wish they were understood, that they’re anxious and wish they could relate.
You see, when Jack Nicholson (note how I don’t remember the character’s name but I sure remember the mug that played him) says, “It’s hard to be free when you’re bought and sold on the market,” in Easy Rider, this is what he’s talking about. So Bruce Springsteen holds his guitar up and cries out, “It’s hard out there! We gotta be there for each other!” That’s bad because it’s just a shell-body saying shell-words. But the worst is when the 1800 facebook accounts watching (or shall we go with WordPress accounts??) raise up their hands to him and cheer up a deafening roar. That’s them thinking that the battle is won.
Me. I haven’t done goddamn thing thing to change the world for the better since March 15th, 2012 when I saw Bruce Springsteen at South By Southwest. And if I didn’t then I can assure that no one else did either. And I can say this with authority – I was the most benevolent person and the deepest thinker in the whole Moody Theatre that night. And — and this is sincere, really really — I liked the show and was glad I saw it.
*Yes, I’m aware of “Woody Guthrie” and perceptions of him. I don’t know how he got so famous. Probably because of Bob Dylan and the folk revival of the early 60s, and all the publicists behind that. …OR Woody has his own publicist. He is maybe or probably illusion. Wait a minute! — Dust Bowl Ballads was released by RCA Victor?? During his lifetime?!?! What the FUCK??