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How Billy Corgan Won at Life and Won My Heart

Get 'em, Billy!
Get 'em, Billy!

I've previously been critical of Billy Corgan for a lot of the ridiculousness he has engaged in. But folks, I'm here to tell you, all of that changed for me last week when I saw this video of good old Billy and his wrassling federation shilling furniture. Now I get it.

Billy Corgan is not Generation X's greatest embarrassment or their greatest fallen idol, as I've described him before. No, Billy has made it abundantly clear that he's the opposite. He's maybe Gen X's one, greatest success story.

Confused? I was too when I saw all those awful, embarrassing things he was doing. Like that video he did for TNA wrestling, taking one of his most beloved hits and a song that inspired so many young people in the mid-'90s and transforming it into some kind of bizarre slam poetry to advertise a steel cage match.

I mean, look at it. Listen to him. Look at what he's doing. It's almost incomprehensible when you think about the fact that this song once stood for something. It once described what an entire generation was feeling in the wake of Kurt Cobain's death. Maybe it wasn't written for that purpose, but that's what it came to embody.

And then Billy took it and made it a cheap promo for a second-tier professional wrestling federation. Let's not even forget his sham of a Smashing Pumpkins reunion, lacking all the classic members except Jimmy Chamberlain, who finally bailed on Billy a couple of years ago.

With all that in mind, you might wonder what exactly has earned my respect about Billy Corgan, and I tell you again, it's that commercial selling chairs for the Walter E. Smithe furniture store!

 

An album made by a Corgan that is no more.
An album made by a Corgan that is no more.

While many fans are losing whatever respect they misguidedly still had for Billy after seeing it, I have seen right through to the heart of this man. I have seen the truth, finally. You see, Billy Corgan is not interested in what you, I or anyone else thinks of him. He's no longer that bleak sad sack we all came to love for writing Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. He's certainly not the shoegazing loner who came up with Siamese Dream.

Billy Corgan is, gasp, a silly, happy, grown-ass man who no longer embodies what we either loved or hated about Gen X and all its associated emotions. Billy is a man who has reached the top of his game, the peak of his profession, and no longer has to play a role for us. He's not our puppet; he's not going to dance around and pretend to be what he was when he was 20 for us, no matter how much we want it.

Billy is living his life to the fullest, having achieved every musician's wildest dreams and all the freedom to completely fuck off that entails. Sure, it may be disheartening for those still clinging to ideas of Billy's mid-'90s apathetic sainthood, but Billy's over it. He just wants to have some fun now, and for that I must commend him.

This is what happens when guys like Billy continue to take themselves seriously into middle age, and nobody wants that.
This is what happens when guys like Billy continue to take themselves seriously into middle age, and nobody wants that.
Photo by Marc Brubaker

We still have guys like Billy used to be in the '90s. There's tons of them out there. Too many, in fact, many of them well past the age that they should even be playing that role for us. After all, how sad is it on the other hand to watch a guy in his 40s or 50s act like he's still just as depressed and cynical as he was when he was in his 20s? How sad is it to watch punk guys pretend like they're still pissed off when they're about to reach retirement age?

Let's let Billy be happy and silly in peace. Let's laugh with him, rather than criticizing him. Let's give up the dream that we'll see him being that guy who wrote Mellon Collie ever again. I mean, we forgave John Lydon for that butter commercial, and now we just laugh right along with him as a hilariously out-of-touch punk grandpa who takes our money while we smile for each and every Sex Pistols and PiL reunion. Why can't we just offer the same courtesy to Billy Corgan?

So here's to one Mr. Billy Corgan, former patron saint of infinite sadness, now Generation X's patron saint of goofiness. Get out there and entertain us with more silly commercials, Billy!

And while I've got your attention, I've got a great idea for a commercial involving pro wrestling and discount electronics...



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