Monday, November 19, 2012
Selling Out, or Cashing In?
I've been a Green Day fan since I was 11 years old, and I first heard "Basket Case" on 98 Rock.
I felt instantly connected to the band. They were a welcome distraction during my parents' divorce. They taught me it's okay to be different. To challenge authority. To be a rebel. To be misunderstood.
I bought every album, poster, button, sticker, and t shirt they made. I watched every interview, video, TV special...I wore safety pins all over and I became a devoted member of their fan club. (I still swear by the fact that they named the album, "Insomniac"because of a song I sent them. I have witnesses to prove it.)
They were in my Top Five Favorite Bands Of All Time. Without question. Undisputed.
Yesterday, I saw a commercial for the new Twilight movie, with a Green Day ballad on the sound track. I threw up in my mouth.
How could they stoop so low? How could they throw away a lifetime of street cred to become part of such pop culture bullshit? What's next? The cover of Teen Vogue?
I wanted to cry for them. For their image. For punkrock in general.
Through the years, I've witnessed Green Day's upward mobility and defended them to the bitter end. When critics would bash their blatant commercialism, I'd always say the same thing: "It's not selling out, it's cashing in." Green Day paid their dues a long time ago. They've panhandled and played for peanuts. They've been beaten up outside of punk bars and always had the same "never give a flying fuck" attitude. So if the corporate sponsorships finally start rolling in, let it happen. They deserve it. Their families need a little security, too.
But where do you draw the line? When is enough, enough?
I had to stop myself from lighting my autographed picture on fire. Where was the band I used to know?
I sat in my apartment and listened to the old albums. The lyrics brought back all my teen angst and apathy, and I found myself pretty pissed off.
But suddenly, I wasn't sure if I was mad at them for being associated with something so "lame", or mad at myself for turning my back on my childhood heroes.
Amidst all my self loathing and wonderment, I had what could only be described as a "Eureka" moment.
Green Day is successful because their target demographic will always be: 11 year olds.
It's those 11 year olds that keep the band alive. They're the ones buying CDs and band merchandise at the mall. (Not 30 somethings with rent and bills and problems). Those kids join the fan club and wear the t shirts and buttons. The 11 year olds memorize every word to every song. They connect with the band and the music at their core. Because at that age: music is your identity. Sometimes, music is your only friend.
If Green Day found a way to reach out to the 11 year old girls of today, the same way they did with the 11 year old girls of 1993, they should be applauded for their timeless efforts. Not accused of going soft.
That soundtrack song can't be described as punkrock, in any way, shape, or form. But it's catchy as fuck, and climbing the charts. (Well played, Billie Joe.)
They totally redeemed themselves and are back in my Top 5.
So what 3 important lessons did I learn from all of this?
1. 90's music is the best (If you agree, VITALOGY and NEARVANA are here SAT NIGHT!!! Use the promo code: FLANNEL to SAVE $$$)
2. Don't hate. Appreciate.
3. Never ever lose sight of your inner 11 year old. That kid is the coolest.