Thursday, February 5, 2015

Jack White's "Bananagate" is Food For Thought About Larger Societal Problem

Jack White Ruthlessly Discriminates Against Bananas! See what I did there? That was a joke, because it's okay to make jokes about famous people, even guitar heroes, and even if you're a fan. It should be okay to question the behavior or alleged crimes of a celebrity, no matter how famous. Ah the ridiculousness of the media and pop culture. Apparently Jack White was pissed off because his "no bananas" and "chunky guacamole recipe" rider was published. Maybe someone is allergic to bananas? Maybe someone on the tour is a severe bananaphobe and has night terrors about giant bananas creeping onto their tour bus and peeling them into oblivion. Or maybe, and more probably, it's just in the rider to assure that the rider is followed. Who cares? Big deal. Anyway, White's rider seems tame compared to many I've read, but why did he make an issue of the publication of said rider during a performance? Why sully the experience for which fans paid hard earned money? And now it gives more people ammo to call him "thin skinned" and an a-hole. No one is perfect, not even Jack White. Does his music make my life better? Unequivocally. Have I been a fan for longer than the majority of his fans? Yes. Does it make someone a bad fan to question the behavior of someone famous? No. Should we as fans, and society as a whole not question reports of serious bad behavior, abuse, violence? Hell no. I give you Bill Cosby as just one example off the top of my head. Is a rider asking for chunky guacamole and no bananas on par with rape? Of course not, but it's ok to call someone out - no matter if they are your best friend or favorite "rock star" if they behave ridiculously, rudely, or wrongly. I wasn't at the show (unfortunately) and so I can't comment on my opinion of his behavior, but as a human I can only assume Jack White has bad days and is entitled to be an occasional jerk - as should we all as humans. I hate to continue with White as an example, but I have a personal anecdote. I posted a video on my music and film blog some time ago that was clearly made by an enemy of White, and I took an educated guess as to who created said video. I also stated that I thought the video wasn’t funny. But here's where it gets weird. I posted links to the piece, as I always do, and was attacked by a "Seven Nation Army" of White fans insulting me in varying degrees which is pathetic but unfortunately expected. Then someone employed to handle the twitter account for White's publicity company got in on the act as well. I found it extremely surreal. When I mentioned it to fellow White fans I was insulted and attacked even more harshly. I was told I was “lucky someone who works for White in any capacity payed attention to me.” I was really disheartened when my flogging took place, but more for the people doing the flogging than myself. A fellow fan posted some Jack and banana memes today and said they were basically deluged with negativity. Yes you read correctly, they are being attacked over banana jokes. No, seriously. This points to the ridiculous lengths some people go to allegedly defend the honor of someone they must worship as indisputable. No one is perfect or beyond reproach, not even Jack White. (#bananashaming) Celebrities are people, not deities. They should be appreciated, but not idolised. Our celebrity obsessed culture puts them on a higher level than anyone who performs any other job, which is wrong in the first place and their privileged entitlement is accepted and encouraged with perks and exclusive rights to which mere mortals are not privy. This double edged sword makes them potential victims to a life surrounded by “yes men” which at best leads to nothing positive, questions of motives, and in my personal opinion interferes seriously with the completion of excellent art. Let me share another anecdote. I was not allowed access backstage once, even though I had proper credentials, because a famous D.J. was with the performer and didn't want to be bothered by fans. So I stood with someone in a cast on crutches in the hallway with the other mere mortal peons until said D.J. was finished with his uninterrupted time from those in the hallway who didn't care he was there anyway. This behavior was enforced by the venue staff who stated it was common practice. Even the label representative stood and waited to be allowed into the hallowed ground complete with crappy deli tray and off brand sandwich cookies. I share all of this information to put forth a reality. Celebrity has become a cult whose members seem to have achieved the status of being beyond reproach by many, particularly their legion of fans. And fans, originally from the word fanatic, seem to have become more and more fanatical on the whole, which if you're not prepubescent should not be encouraged. People on social media are regularly insulted, even threatened for the mere act of questioning the behavior of a celebrity, much less condemning the behavior. This points to a severe problem with societal values on the whole. When the obsessive fanatic outnumbers the appreciative admirer, and ones life may be threatened due to an opinion questioning of a celebrity, there's a problem with the system. When people are afraid to speak publicly about something as serious as rape, or any kind of mental or physical abuse allegedly inflicted by a celebrity or public figure, all of us take the blame for the alleged survivors suffering. Every single fan who blindly defends their favorite celebrity or politician is a canary in a coalmine showing the way toward a future I hope does not continue to become a reality. That my friends would be bananas.

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