Monday, January 8, 2018

Separating the Art from the Artist

The #MeToo movement kicked off as sort of a second wave of the Women's March from early 2017. It's has brought down many powerful men from Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K.,  Max Landis, and Kevin Spacey.

It's an important movement. When so much of America's social progression is being rolled back to some semblance of the "good ole' days" (for white middle class men), the #MeToo movement is making sure that the abuse of power that has been going on since the beginning of time is at least thought twice about by the abusers.

None of the people being brought down really affected me. 

Al Franken was a tough one for me to swallow, but not impossible. He's a man that seemed to have a more than ton of integrity, supported many progressive ideals that I do, and was a possible Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2020. Having his voice removed from Senate, I believe is more harmful than not. But you have to take your medicine when you screw up.

But a few weeks ago, there was one I didn't expect and I'm having a hard time with it.

When we moved from North County to St. Charles, I went into a deep depression. There were several factors into this depression: deaths, loneliness, medication, body issues, and general boredom in the suburbs. It was more than a normal moody teenager depression, but not quite a suicidal (at least I don't think it ever got to that point) depression. It bounced somewhere between the two where there wasn't enough to be taken seriously, but enough to where all I did was sit in my room alone listening to music.

Your Favorite Weapon by Brand New came out in 2001 and I finally felt like I found friends. These were guys around my age and felt betrayed by society and women. Bolstered by the single "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad," I've keep the radio on 93x, waiting to hear the song again until I finally found a copy on CD at Slackers.

My friendship grew with them through their next album Deja Entendu, often seen as their breakthrough into critical acclaim. Like me, the album showed the band growing. Still an awkward teen, but under the stubble and clever hooks, you could see the adult product.

And I continued with each album growing a little. The lyrics kept speaking to me.

The last show I saw at Mississippi Nights was Brand New. The first time I hung out with my sister-in-law Beth alone was at a Brand New concert. I followed every rumor and overly complex info drop on the band.

Hell, last year when I was in St. Charles, Cory fell asleep at 8 pm and I wandered my old high-school football field and ex-girlfriend's neighborhoods, listening to every Brand New song from start to finish to just completely soak in the weird nostalgia I was feeling.

I bring this up because the lead singer of Brand New, Jesse Lacey was accused of hounding underage women for nude pictures in his mid-20s. And his recent Facebook apology seems to confirm a lot of what he's accused of.

I'm having a hard time separating the art from the artist. I mean, can you even do that cleanly? Or am I doomed to secretly listen to Brand New albums in my basement wearing headphones for the rest of my life? Can I even listen to them anymore without getting flashes of teenage girls, shaking uncontrollably because their favorite band's singer is giving them attention, but in return for the attention he wants to see them with their shirt off?

I think, like with any breakup, the best way to get clarity is to remove yourself from the situation. Maybe I move all of that vinyl to a box in the basement for a few years, let time hopefully heal the wounds of the victims, give Jesse time to try to properly atone for these grievances, until when moving out of our starter house I find a bunch of old dusty Brand New albums and listen to the art and some old friends of mine, but not the artist.