Wednesday, March 3, 2010

JOHN MAYER IS A FUCKIN' ASSHOLE, PURE AND SIMPLE

OESTERHOUDT STRIKES - FOR THE THROAT

I've never liked John Mayer. I always branded his music vacuous, unimpressive, pretentious, lightweight, bourgeois-pleasing, chart-serving rubbish. And I knew from day one that he was no reclusive "shy boy" type. I knew that was all just a lady-luring façade. As the tabloids now routinely report, Mayer is no "in-bed-by-10" sort of dude. He's more an "in-bed-with-10-chicks-by-10-the-next-morning" sort of dude. So all that whispery, faux romantic, breathy, oh-I'm-so-sweet, honey-dipped, bedhead lyricizing all amounts to a big stinking heap of hypocritical bullshit.

Having written my opening paragraph, you can see I have a bias against him. I won't conceal that.

But I'm not writing today to player-hate John Mayer. After all, there are plenty of men out there who would want to be in John Mayer's lady-killing shoes right this minute. They sling dirt at him just because they are envious. To be clear, I'm not envious. There are other things about John Mayer beyond romantic prowess that really repel me. The kiss-and-tell womanizing and the ignorant suburban pretentiousness pale in comparison to his much more substantial misconceptions about social realities in the United States.

Many others have already written about Mayer's recent interview in Playboy magazine. I will recount it in order to show that John Mayer is just an opaque asshole, pure and simple.

During the interview, Mayer fielded this question: "If you didn't know you, would you think you're a douche bag?" In response, Mayer said: "It's like I come on very strong. I am a very…I'm just very. V-E-R-Y. And if you can't handle very, then I'm a douche bag. But I think the world needs a little very. That's why black people love me."

Wait a minute. Just wait a goddamn minute. Black people love you? What the hell is going on here? What is this white man from Fairfield County, Connecticut talking about? Does he really think that African-Americans in any way identify with him? Isn't it enough that he copied their musical forms and passed them off as his own? I suppose John Mayer thinks--as many breathtakingly naïve white hipsters do--that it is "cool to be black." And somehow his imitation of black musical forms entitles him to adoration from those "cool black people." In other words, Mayer thinks that being "loved by black people" means you're "cool."

This is beyond embarrassing. It is insulting.

John Mayer's cultural experience could not be more different from the average black American's cultural experience. John Mayer grew up in Connecticut's wealthiest county. I know what it's like there: I grew up three counties over: Most people's biggest worry is whether to buy a new Range Rover or a Volvo. And there aren't many black people around, I can tell you that.

Mayer's parents were comfortable bourgeois. He went to college. He didn't even go into debt for it. He never wanted for anything. He did not suffer discrimination or abuse. His biggest challenge was dealing with suburban angst, for which he took Xanax pills. He achieved remarkable commercial success by copying blues musicians, even though nothing in his background even remotely compares to what original bluesmen endured in the segregated South a hundred years ago. Sure, maybe John Mayer's "baby left him (ie, Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Simpson, etc.)." But that transitory woe hardly compares him to 1920s black musicians, who not only lamented losing their girlfriends, but also struggled to escape lynch mobs and scrape a living working on a railroad in Arkansas or something. Put simply, John Mayer doesn't know shit about the blues with his well-situated Connecticut ass.

Yet it doesn't end here--not even close. Mayer went on to say that black people love him so much that they gave him a "hood pass." In the Playboy interview, he clarified what he meant: "And by the way, it's sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a hood pass, you could call it a nigger pass…[] I said, 'I can't really have a hood pass. I've never walked into a restaurant, asked for a table and been told, 'We're full.'"

Oh no he didn't. Oh yes he did. He said it. He not only said it. He said it publicly. This is the same guy who claims that "black people love him." Well, from John Mayer's perspective, I suppose it really doesn't matter. He gets to be cool like a black guy without the attendant complications, like being turned away from restaurants because you're black. Nope, he doesn't need to worry about that. On stage, he can be a brother. But off stage, he can just be another rich white cocksucker from Fairfield. Oh, double standards… how very convenient they can be when they work for you.

Inconsistencies bother me in any intellectual endeavor. True, it is hard to escape inconsistencies in life. We are all wracked with contradiction and conflict. I have my own contradictions. But the smugness in John Mayer's strikingly inconsistent positions about race really makes my blood boil. After all, Mayer has made his career imitating black musical forms. He owes African-American culture everything for his success. If it weren't for soul, R&B and the blues, he wouldn't have anything to play. He styles himself "just another black guy." He relishes adoration from black audiences. He touts his "hood pass." But then he turns around and remarks that he never has to suffer the same social handicaps as his black "heroes." And he likes it that way.

Worse, in the Playboy interview, he even said: "My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I've got a Benetton heart and a fuckin' David Duke cock."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think many black people would "love" any white man who favorably mentions David Duke in any context. And this is the maddening thing about John Mayer's racial inconsistencies. On the one hand, he owes black Americans everything and "loves" them. On the other hand, he uses the term "white supremacist" to describe his sexual life. Now, everyone is entitled to their sexual tastes. But favorably invoking white supremacy in any context is a bit problematic for a man who claims that black people love him. And it is even more troubling for a man who has made a fantastic career commandeering black musical forms. My conclusion: Once again, John Mayer is just an asshole, plain and simple.

John Mayer swiftly apologized for his statements--in a bite-sized Twitter sentence, no less. He explained that "he should not have used the word" during the interview, remarking that it is impossible to "intellectualize it." Yet Mayer missed the point. The fact that he used the word "nigger" in the Playboy interview is only symptomatic of a much larger issue, namely, his simplistic and self-contradicting positions about race in the United States. John Mayer needs to understand this more than most white Americans, because John Mayer makes his money imitating black music. While many white Americans routinely get away with casual racism, Mayer cannot. He cannot have it both ways. He cannot both be a hood hero and a white supremacist. Despite his contention that "black people love him," he coarsely generalizes about black Americans just as much as the most ignorant white teenage rap wannabe: They're "cool." They're "hip." It's "cool to have a hood pass."

And once again, he does not end there with the generalizations. First, he said that "black people love him" because he is "very." That puzzled the interviewer. But a little interpretation makes clear that Mayer was just stereotyping. "Very" is an adverb that means "more than usual." There is "black," and there is "very black." It intensifies the adjective. John Mayer said that "black people love him" because he is "very." Very what? Simply "very," meaning "living intensely, excessively, recklessly, thoughtlessly, frolickingly." In other words, living "more than usual." Mayer's statement, then, implies that all black Americans live this way; and that's why they love him. He lives "very." He lives "black." This is gross stereotyping.

I am not going out on a limb here. John Mayer truly feels this way. Consider what he said later in the interview: "What is being black? It's making the most of your life, not taking a single moment for granted. Taking something that's seen as a struggle and making it work for you, or you'll die inside. Not to say that my struggle is like the collective struggle of black America. But maybe my struggle is similar to one black dude's."

So now John Mayer--a wealthy white Connecticut suburbanite--is an authority on the meaning of black identity in America? This is so stunningly condescending it's funny. But then you realize it's not funny at all, because this guy actually believes he understands black Americans because he can imitate their guitar-playing. It is simply ludicrous for John Mayer to even suggest he knows a thing about the "collective struggle of black America," let alone to compare his "struggle" (whatever that is… maybe bagging some dancer chick on tour) to "one black dude's."

No matter what he says, John Mayer has not faced struggle in his life. Worrying whether a song about pillows makes the Pop Top 10 does not qualify as a "struggle." By contrast, battling to overcome the pernicious historical legacy of slavery--all the while contending with rampant poverty, educational inequality, discriminatory treatment, unequal housing, violence, broken homes and crime --is a "struggle."

John Mayer is no hero. He's an arrogant, self-righteous, fake, low-frequency imitator who knows nothing about racial realities in the United States. That really bothers me. Every American must come to terms with racism. Our Nation's racial conflict will never end; it stains the land. But there is a way to address it respectfully and a way to address it irresponsibly. John Mayer not only addresses it irresponsibly; he also profits from it. Then he gloats about how wonderful it is to be white and rich in America. So he gets the best of both worlds: Cool like a black guy; privileged like a white guy. Plus he gets all the white chicks and never has to wait for a table in a trendy restaurant.

All this makes him a straight-up asshole in my book.

And this is not slander. This is just an opinion about a nauseating public figure. But it really doesn't matter, because you can't slander anyone with truth.

3 comments:

Sarah said...

i don't know him or his music, and after reading this i probably don't want to know, but that's positively the ugliest bathing suit on a guy ever!

SteveW said...

That picture is just criminal.

He's not the first guy to come down the pike with that exact set of issues. But that pictures is still just criminal.

Please crank out about 8 rapid posts to archive that thing. Damn

Balthazar Oesterhoudt said...

LOL Steve! I picked that picture for a reason. It really reinforces my verbal attack on him, doesn't it? I mean, it's SUPPOSED to get under your skin.