We hate to be those people, but it's true: stereotypes exist for a reason. Our theory is that stereotypes propagate themselves from the insecurities of people who believe they're "supposed" to be some kind of archetype, whether it's the toughest gangsta, the punkest punk rocker or the hick with the reddest neck. You've met them, they're the kind of people who won't allow themselves to like anything outside their narrow purview of however they see themselves. Pretty soon, instead of a personality, they've got a tiny list of things they love, a huge list of things they hate and boom - they've become a stereotype.
He was arrogant, preening, mincing, dancing and, yes, overtly sexual in a way that sets the skin of Larry the Cable Guy's chief demographic a-crawlin'. Lambert pretty much got up on stage and did a four-minute interpretive dance called "The Right is Right to Fear Us." Now, of course, Lambert is free to do what he wants, and personally, Rocks Off finds ultra-conservative consternation at what they perceive to be scary homosexuals hilarious. But the chatter among those ultra-conservatives was largely of the "See? We told you so" variety, and it seems to us like it was Lambert's intention to cause such a reaction. And please don't argue with us that he was "just being himself." Adam Lambert was an American Idol finalist. He does not have a "self." He and/or his handlers consciously chose to have him go out there and embody a certain stereotype, and now there's a whole legion of scared hillbillies nodding smugly while posting twitter updates along the lines of "We told you they was recruitin'." We couldn't help but think to ourselves that other pop and rock artists have embodied a ton of hackneyed stereotypes which, if they were characters in a novel or movie, people would blast for being unrealistic clichés. Here are just a few of the most egregious offenders.
The erstwhile Brian Warner was a skinny, awkward-looking youth of such magnitude that rumors still persist that he's the guy who used to play Paul the geek onThe Wonder Years
(he isn't). Embracing this, he took a cue from other artists such as Alice Cooper and KISS and transformed himself into a twisted, cackling demon sure to cause much disgusted head-shaking among the churchgoing set. In case you don't remember the '90s, it worked like a charm. From cribbing the feces-hurling antics of G.G. Allin at his live shows to appearing in videos as monsters, demons and ambisexual mutants, everything Manson does has been to position himself as some kind of industrial-rock Aantichrist, and the controversy he once generated only served to make him more popular with those crazy kids. This isn't something that happened because Manson chose to "be himself"; if you've ever seen an interview with him, he's a smart, savvy dude. Although not necessarily false (he really does seem to genuinely despise authority), most of Manson's persona is a calculated formula, one with which few artists have had comparable success. We have to say: well played, sir. Well played.
In the field of rock stardom, there is an absolute surplus of childlike egomaniacs who, sometimes literally, stomp their feet and cry when things go wrong. Imagine, then, the caliber and frequency of tantrums and lunacy it would take to represent the epitome of the rock-star brat. Yes, William Bruce "Axl" Rose, lead singer of Guns 'N' Roses, has had his reputation for cantankerous unreliability as long as he's been famous, showing up hours late for gigs, brawling with audience members, and storming offstage to end many a show early. Not only that, he's the only rock star we can find who has had so many feuds they require their own Wikipedia page to list. From Kurt Cobain to Bon Jovi, Rose has pissed off, or been pissed off by, nearly everyone he's ever had contact with, even penning a song ("Get in the Ring") challenging many critics to fisticuffs. Of course, when Bob Guccione Jr. accepted the challenge, Axl chose to pretend it hadn't happened. Rose tends to disappear for years at a time (earning the nickname "The Howard Hughes of Rock") which, you'll remember, only complicated the clusterfuck that was Chinese Democracy. By 1997 all original G' N' R band members were gone, and Axl continued working on thate promised album essentially alone for years and years. After over a decade's delay and heavy promotion for the album, it was finally released to mixed reviews and lackluster sales. Rose promptly canceled all his supporting tour dates and ceased production on the album's only music video, once again fleeing into reclusion. The new iteration of G 'N' R has yet to play a single live show since the album's release, but don't worry - Axl has promised via the band's Web site that the year-old album's very first music video will premiere "soon". Should be any minute now, can't wait!
It was hard not to know what Britney Spears was about as soon as we saw the video for"...Baby One More Time,"
which features the former Mouseketeer in a skimpy little schoolgirl outfit and pigtails, writhing around the halls and bleachers of what is obviously supposed to be a high school. Although difficult to remember now, Spears used the image of herself as a barely-virginal yet still sweetly un-deflowered cock-tease with great success for a few years, tantalizing those of us with dirty minds while still appealing to the fundamentalist red-staters with her G-rated lyrics and folksy charm. Although straddling America's uniquely deranged virgin/whore borderline brought her success, eventually she got tired of being quite so Disney and finally started openly singing about what most of us knew she was here to represent all along: sex. We still can't believe that people were upset when Spears' song "If You Seek Amy" was released earlier this year. Most of her songs have been about fucking for the last eight years, yet people are getting their panties in a twist because she spells out the F word? Whatever, rural America.
Ted Nugent's anti-drug stance, while commendable, is not really all that surprising; if you were as batshit crazy as The Nuge, you probably wouldn't need drugs, either. Famous for his outspoken ultra-conservatism (and his tendency to hunt down and kill most things, although probably no humans... yet), Nugent has never let having been born in Detroit prevent him from coming off as a quasi-homicidal redneck out of the deepest, darkest backwaters of the Deep South. Banned from Houston for a time after blurting out "If you're not gonna speak English, get the fuck out of America!" onstage at the Cynthia Mitchell Woods Pavilion, Nugent has never been one to shy away from controversy. Indeed, he seems to thrive on it, appearing on television and radio frequently to espouse his views on gun ownership (deeply in favor), homosexuality (against), hunting(not only fun, but easy!)
, immigration (hahahaha) and Democrats (frankly, could do without). Lately he's been telling key Democrats, including President Obama and Hilary Clinton, to "suck on his machine gun". Keep in mind, he is a licensed law enforcement officer (Deputy Sheriff), and can actually legally carry a gun in every state in the nation. But not to worry; as we've already stated, the Motor City Madman is clean and sober, so you don't have to worry about him, say, scaling the White House fence naked save for war paint and an Apache headdress, armed with a compound bow and a Bowie knife in an amphetamine-fueled frenzy. Nope, when it inevitably happens - seriously, any day now, keep an eye on the news - Ted will be riding no more than the "natural high" of the outdoor life which he so fervently advocates. So, what, like... shrooms? Is it shrooms, Ted?
Scott Weiland, the frontman for Stone Temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver, and a slew of other side projects ("Camp Freddy"?) just happens to embody two of rock's biggest clichés: the tortured junkie and the overrated hack. Plagued by addictions to heroin, alcohol, crack, and cocaine for most of his career (reportedly due to a bipolar disorder he refuses to properly treat), Weiland has never sounded original in any of his many, many vocal permutations. Starting out with aheavily Vedder-esque Seattle croon
, Weiland soon switched to a
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impression, after which he would jump around between whatever vocal style suited him at the moment, never once coming close to sounding genuine. In addition, his many drug dependencies (and subsequent stints in rehab) have caused him to cancel tour after tour in nearly every band he's been in, as well as causing erratic, uneven performances onstage and tension between audiences and band members. Sound familiar? It's the exact same story you've heard a million times on every episode ofBehind the Music
, except usually the soundtrack is better. It's not bad enough he has to ape the voices of bigger/better rock stars; he has to copy their habits, too. Looking over his career, one has to ask: does Scott Weiland even exist, or has some trickster god of rock and roll simply given life to a walking pastiche?