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Friday, August 13, 2010

Billie Joe Armstrong Embraces His Inner (Very American) Idiot

Britain’s Q magazine--one of a handful of music magazines that I still read regularly--published a sort of musical overview of the last decade that, of course, incorporates a look at the political events that shaped these years. Predictably, my opinions weren’t well-represented. In fact, reading music journalists writing about the musings of rock stars on some of the weightiest issues of our times isn’t likely to wake any slumbering brain cells. It is rarely interesting, it is even more rarely insightful, and it is close to never useful to any larger debate.

Witness, for instance, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong’s take on Obamacare:

Obama’s healthcare plan was too confusing. It should have been: if you want healthcare and you can’t afford it, the government can help you out.

There’s a nuanced view of health care that neither seems to have any understanding of what assistance was in place for the poor before Obamacare nor of any of the practical issues of how to properly administer any healthcare plan. Deep thought is not this man’s strongest suit.

Of course, if he had simply said that I wouldn’t be writing this post. That’s a very tame grade of dumb. What is more impressive is the full-on weapons grade dumb that he exhibits when asked this by Q’s interviewer, “If you went for a beer with Bush, do you think he’d turn out to be quite a nice guy?”

Billie Joe’s answer is, well, inflammatory.

If I was going for a beer with him, hopefully I’d have a gun on me also.

What a ridiculous, silly little man.

If you’re inclined to read the interview, you can find it on page 61 of the January, 2010 issue. Why, yes, I am a little behind on some of my reading. Why do you ask?

Update: Having read the magazine, I find a very specific trend to be intriguing. Of all of the interviews in the issue, when the musicians were asked about the best and worst of the decade, those who went political answered almost unanimously.

Worst of the decade was President Bush. Which seems a tremendous hyperbole when you consider the global economic meltdown, the terrifying natural disasters, and the rise of Real Housewives of Wherever.

Best of the decade was President Obama. Which seems just as tremendously premature. I imagine, though, that his actual job performance won’t be changing their minds.

And precisely none of them mentioned Osama bin Laden, terrorists, or the 9/11 attack. Defining the “worst” thing of a decade is always difficult, but here’s the thing: no matter what you think of former President Bush, he did not go into office intending to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. If anything, he had sounded during his first campaign, like a mild isolationist. The worst thing of this past decade could very easily be that thing that precipitated the wars that no one really wanted: the terrorist attacks that murdered thousands of innocents. Not just terrorist attacks in the US, but around the world.

I find it mind-boggling that not one of the people interviewed noticed that the worst “thing” of the decade was the surge in deadly, radical Muslim terrorists working hard to destabilize governments around the world.

I truly love music, but these are not serious people.

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