As someone who is using the internet to say whatever it is I choose with this blog, I can, and pretty much have to, respect the concept of free speech -even on the more short tempered days when I might not want to have any of what someone else says. Agree to disagree usually ends up being the more civil and practical way to go when you genuinely don’t care for somebody else’s words.
While we’re in a cyber driven work world, the idea of doing anything more than that seems like shooting yourself in the professional foot. College students and aspiring professionals are cautioned more and more to ‘keep things clean, ‘ to not utter or type foul language, post inappropriate photos or at times, even talk about things cleanly that may reveal too much personal preference. (e.g. political or religious views) In other words: be as sanitized as possible, if for no other reason than to cover all your own bases.
As if us everyday folk don’t have it difficult enough trying to keep our reputations intact, what about those in not-so-regular situations? The discussion of celebrities as role models for kids is an old topic but somehow the points of view on the issue seem to shift and change every time a new “slip up” comes out of the wood works.
Church, who has been his most (noticeably) active in the industry since 2006, with the release of his first studio album, “Sinners Like Me,” did an interview with Rolling Stone for their most recent issue and he did not hold back. Here are a few excerpts of Church’s words from the interview, kindly transcribed (and censored) by Lydia Picknell from the blog, Keepin’ It Country.
“It’s become American Idol gone mad. Honestly, if Blake Shelton and Cee Lo Green f—ing turn around in a red chair, you get a deal? That’s crazy. I don’t know what would make an artist do that. You’re not an artist.”
“If I was concerned about my legacy, there’s no f—ing way I would ever sit there [and be a reality-show judge.] Once your career becomes something other than the music, then that’s what it is. I’ll never make that mistake. I don’t care if I f—ing starve.”
“Rock and Roll has been very emo or whatever the f—. It’s very hipster. We played Lollapalooza and I was stunned at how pussy 90 percent of those bands were. Nobody’s loud. It’s all very f—-n’ Peter, Paul and Mary sh–.”
Now, without going into a massive analysis to end in me taking a side, I simply want to know what you take away from something like this string of dialogue. Rolling Stone inquired as to Church’s feelings on these subjects and he gave a non-sugarcoated response. Swearing aside, the positions he takes are very clear cut and very anti in nature. Many times, fans clamor for the kind of raw, ‘up-close and personal’ and “the more obscure the better” (Cit. Hornby, Nick Juliet, Naked 2009) stuff if artists are willing to offer it up on those rare and priceless occasions. It goes along with the idea of startup intimacy that forms and grows when you watch a band or singer go from the garage to the big time.
Yet, despite the fact that it doesn’t get much more “real” and “up-close” than a fearlessly honest explanation about elements in his industry, there are no doubt fans that are turned off by what can easily be called an angst-filled, defaming and rudely judgmental batch of responses, who may be mutual fans of Shelton and Church alike and find Church’s implications insulting.
No matter how squeaky clean your online or offline rep is for the sake of your next job, everyone has uncensored thoughts and feelings, even if they don’t let them out among the public eye or ear. Therefore, despite perhaps breaking the etiquette rules that would most likely destroy the average college grad, is it so wrong, (or unexpected I should say) for Eric Church to express anger toward or disapproval of, essentially the decisions and trends embraced by others in the industry -particularly when a publication like Rolling Stone isn’t opposed to publishing whatever an artist has to candidly say, full swear words and all?
Sure, being in the celebrity light means these public waves of extreme “agree” or “disagree” were bound to happen but if it’s all about keeping up appearances just to stay in the business, then doesn’t everything become bland and insincere anyway? If this incident (or any other controversial one for that matter) wrecks an artist in public view, then so be it. These careers are only lucrative (in the money and recognition sense) so long as those two things keep coming in. If both became no longer important to Church, and he wasn’t concerned about falling to the financial wayside but only cared about keeping country the way he presumes it should be and would be satisfied doing so from his front deck from now on, then does his frankness, his human opinion and the expected/fame induced higher moral standard really matter beyond the one idea of, “treat others the way you want to be treated” – which requires no A-lister status to abide by?