Monday, December 21, 2009

I Heard the Balls on Christmas Day

Last year, I pleaded with parents and fans of decent music everywhere to take away the cellphones and computers of 'tweens in an effort to ensure that David Cook took the American Idol crown from willowy little frump David Archuleta.

The idea was twofold: to take a stand for decent music and at least relatively honest talent, and to put a steel-toed boot down on the neck of the 'tween hive-mind juggernaut that had basically taken the breadth of the pop culture landscape hostage.

I thought it was a pretty entertaining way to pass the time: casually crushing the dreams of a bunch of kids who were gonna eventually have to learn that life sucks anyway.

But my idea was amateur hour compared to the stroke of subversive genius a bunch of music fans just pulled in Britain.

The Huffington Post: Rage Against the Machine's Killing in the Name Takes Christmas #1 Spot in UK, Beating Reality TV Star's Cover of Miley Cyrus Song/12.21.09

If you've seen the movie Love, Actually, you get an idea how this works: Each year there's a battle for the top of the singles chart in Britain -- which is determined exclusively by the buying public -- to coincide with Christmas week. Almost every time, the winner is some manner of syrupy, inoffensive pop schlock like the Spice Girls or one of Simon Cowell's little creations that he spawned in a vat in the basement of his mansion. Well, this time around a couple of very clever Rage fans got on Facebook and started an organized campaign to use one of the most incendiary singles in modern rock history (come on, "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!" shouted over and over again?) to play a Project Mayhem-style prank on Christmas, Disney-approved pre-packaged pop and the eardrums of polite British society.

And it fucking worked.

Bravo, guys. I bow to you.

Now if you can just get Rage to play the song live from a boat on the Thames as it floats by during the Queen's Jubilee celebration, you'll be set.

Speaking of which, while I love every second of this, it doesn't change the fact that Rage Against the Machine -- a band that can admittedly be credited with recording some great stuff -- are basically still a bunch of pompous jackasses. Just read this hilariously over-the-top quote thanking their fans for making their big win on the British charts possible:

"This is a huge victory by and for fans of real music and we extend our heartfelt thanks to every fan and freedom fighter who helped make our anthem of defiance and rebellion the Anarchy Christmas Miracle of 2009."

Yup, that sounds like Rage. The people who got involved probably think of themselves as average folks who just got sick of hearing treacly crap at Christmas and spent a dollar or two to stick it to the Simon Cowell reality TV hit machine; to Zach and Company, they're Sandinistas coming out of the hills armed with AKs and wearing red armbands.

Sure, they could be kidding -- but when was the last time you heard Rage Against the Machine joke about anything?


Michael J. West said...

So Squeaky Clean was replaced by Poseur Demagogues.

...Yay (I guess)...

Chez said...

Exactly. But it's still humorous because of who it will manage to piss off.

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me," on Christmas. That's just priceless.

Izar Talon said...

Rage Against The Machine is a band that I really like some (emphasis on SOME) of their songs, but I can't stand THEM.

I mean, c'mon; they wrote a song protesting AIDS and how the government hasn't cured it yet!

Protesting AIDS!

I'm sure the HIV virus stood up and took notice of RATM's bold statement against it, and had second thoughts about rewriting the DNA of any more human's immune system cells after it heard that song!

Because, y'know, viruses respond well to protest songs.

Then there was the songs protesting... conquistadors. That's right, protesting Spanish explorers and conquerors of 4 centuries ago.

Boy, they sure told those conquistadors a thing or two! And it worked, too! There hasn't been a single conquistador planting any flags for Spain since that song was released!

Now I'm a real Liberal guy, but Rage endorses literal anarchy. And real anarchy is, to paraphrase a great webcomic, high school gym class for the rest of your life; the big strong jocks giving wedgies and doing whatever else they want to to the smaller guys because there's nothing to stop them like, say, some kind of authority (like a government, for example.)

Anarchy means the strong rule the weak. Because government is there (theoretically) to act as an equalizing factor, to level the playing field, precisely so the strong can't just walk all over the weak whenever they want to (which is always.) Anarchy means the rich and powerful control everything, because there is no government to limit what they can get away with. I have NEVER understood how any intelligent person could endorse such a hing. Anarchy is cool for high school outcastes to talk about, but if those same high school outcastes gave it any thought at all they'd realize that in a true anarchy, they'd be a the bottom of the food chain and it wouldn't be a very fun existence for them.

Those big strong jocks, though, they'd be in heaven, because they could get away with anything they wanted because, hey, you know, anarchy no one's in charge to tell them not to hurt the weak kids.

That reminds me of an in-joke we had in gifted class back in high school. We always said that those kids who were all into anarchy and stuff were the president of their local anarchy club.

And none of them ever got the joke. Some of them even said yes, they were!

I guess it's kind of a cerebral joke, but hey, we were geeks in Gifted class. We needed a break from all the logic puzzles. It's just like another joke we had: "A masochist went to a sadist and said 'hurt me.' And the sadist said 'No.'"

Hell, I think it's funny.

Thomas said...

Interestingly enough, though - Simon Cowell still get something out of it. For RATM are signed to Sony BMG Records, and yes Simon has a percentage of the profits. What made this so special was that it was a triumph of substance over Joe McElderry's crap cover of a crap Myley Cyrus (Billy Ray's daughter! Ew.) song. I quite like your idea of the boat during the Queen's Jubilee. That would be something, wouldn't it?

Chez said...

The boat crack was a reference to what the Sex Pistols pulled at the Queen's Silver Jubilee back in the 70s. They floated down the Thames blasting God Save the Queen.

And Izar, you're pretty much dead-on about Rage. They're such dumb-ass leftist caricatures (not left, leftist). Even in their heyday I used to wonder what the hell crawled up their asses at a young age to give them a permanently stunted persecution complex. They just humorlessly took the injustices of the world on their shoulders at some point and never let up -- which I guess is alright. I mean, somebody has to do it because I damn well won't. I'd like to have a life at some point.

Besides, if I were Zach de la Rocha the only thing I'd be angry at is God for making me look like a sick donkey.

Michael J. West said...

Well, Izar, I'd say you're mostly dead-on about Rage (though completely dead-on about anarchy). But their "endorsement" of anarchy is pretty half-assed.

I mean, considering they fancy themselves to be anti-capitalist dissidents, they sure are happy to be a cog in one of the world's wealthiest corporate media machines. Seen Tom Morello's house? Yeah, there's a guy who has a problem with the way wealth is distributed in this country. Christ, even Chumbawamba publicly advised fans to steal their albums.

That's right. In a comparison of "revolutionary" credentials with Chumba-fucking-wamba, Rage comes up short.

kanye said...

For all of their faults, it's generally the anarchists who first recognize the slow creep of fascism and, they are always amongst the first to take up arms against the oppressor.

It's only the times in between that they seem silly and extreme.

em said...

It's funny--I work for a UK-based company, and on our company's "community" page (kind of like a message board which can been seen by our side as well as theirs) there were TONS of posts about this. Glad to see it actually worked.

Anonymous said...

Sorry RATM is a great band. I could care less about their political views. The comments in this section are every bit the mindless drivel you are pimping them for. "Oh I hate Rage too, they're a bunch of posers (or poseurs if you wanna be fancy)."

For a blog that prides itself on being original and controversial you tend to trip all over yourself at times.

Chez said...

Another pearl of wisdom from "anonymous."

Look, chief, I just don't think Rage is worthy of the idolatry often bestowed upon them. Sure, a few decent songs here and there, but their overall "We're Pissed About Every Injustice in the World and If You're Not There's Something Wrong With You" aesthetic -- you know, the one that gets a crowd full of idiotic and sycophantic kids riled up when they have NO fucking clue what the issues are that Rage are actually telling them they need to get angry about -- that's just a lot of cartoonish sideshow nonsense.

I don't think they're posers. On the contrary, I think they believe every ridiculous word they say -- and that's the problem. Oh, and with a band like Rage it's almost impossible to separate their politics from their music. The two elements are linked at the DNA level. Protest is their sole raison d'etre.

Michael J. West said...

Well, I think they're poseurs.Or "posers," Anonymous, if you want to be simple.

They're posing as anarchists, as revolutionaries. As people who have any serious commitment to political issues beyond the money and exposure they can get for themselves. Sure, they're pissed off about every injustice in the world - as long as you don't expect them to actually DO ANYTHING about them.

I have no doubt that as far as THEY'RE concerned, they believe every word they say. It's rather a state of "meta-full of shit."

Christ on a hot plate - they're labeling people as "freedom fighters" for having bought a fucking single...and you can't imagine I would call them poseurs unless Chez "pimped" it out of me?

Geezburger said...

I used to be pissed off, probably b/c Rage told me to be pissed off. Or because I was 13. I still like some of their music although it hasn't gotten much rotation on the ol ipod in a couple of years. I will give them this though, their live shows are fun (if you can tune out the dribble [Yes I called it dribble]) b/c you have a bunch of crazy kids who don't mind when you hit them. Now this whole Rage vs Miley thing? HILARIOUS and I must thank my best friend for sharing. Just listen to that... Rage Against the Machine VS Miley Cyrus. It sounds ridiculous. I think this sounds better: Rage Against The Machine vs Miley Fucking Cyrus. That's bad ass. Anyway, I went off topic again. RATM pose(u)rs? Perhaps... Their music doesn't move my soul enough to want to get out there and chain myself to a tree or save a whale or two. Their music does however, serve as a wonderful soundtrack when involved in a police chase. TRUST me. (I wasn't the one driving by the way). I would never consider myself a freedom fighter for purchasing a single in an effort to fuck the billboard over. On the contrary, I would be just another goofy twenty something who needed a good laugh during a depressing ass holiday. When I'm ready to take on authority looking like Rambo with explosives strapped to my vag THEN I might call myself a freedom fighter. Which will never happen b/c that just sounds messy.