By Kim Thore’
One of the aspects of being a music critic is my email is flooded daily with press releases, notifications that some band is touring, or someone is available for interviews. I love writing about music and I am always in slight awe of the fact that I have interviewed some of music’s biggest icons, but I have to be honest and say that since the end of 2013, I have been hitting my delete button more often than not.
Don’t get me wrong, I never take it for granted even if the last few months have been a wasteland of not so interesting press releases, but let’s face it, I am just never going to be interested in what the band Goatwhore is doing or that Cannibal Corpse released a cd. Sorry guys, but it’s true.
However, my malaise all changed a few days ago when I saw the name Three Doors Down in my subject line— I stopped my curser and clicked open—instead of the standard mumbo jumbo , it was the band’s response to their bass player’s most recent brush with the law.
“According to accounts in the press yesterday, a long-time member of 3 Doors Down, Todd Harrell, has been arrested in Mississippi in a drug related DUI charge. Last summer, Todd was suspended from the band and not allowed to participate in any 3 Doors Down performances, pending the resolution of criminal charges filed against him last year in connection with an automobile accident. Following yesterday’s incident, the band has extended Todd’s suspension indefinitely. We take this action to protect the image and integrity of the band and to encourage Todd to address and resolve his problems.”
I had to read it twice to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me. Could it be true? Someone in the entertainment industry was being held accountable for their actions?
As a consumer and a critic of pop culture, I have always been blown away by the fact that our society celebrates and gives credence to all of the dreadful depravity. We sensationalize and highlight the drunken escapades, mental breakdowns and brushes with the law so that those events are more commonplace than someone actually doing the right thing. It’s gotten so epic that it has, in some cases, become a part of the PR strategy. What? Justin Beiber isn’t trending top of the news this week? Quick-let’s have a story placed where Blake Griffin slapped him at a Starbucks.
Personally, I was really hoping that news story was true…
I’ve been around the music business my whole adult life, and standing on the sidelines has given me a peripheral view of behavior unbound. I’ve seen lead singers struggle to remember the lyrics of songs they wrote, guitar players miss cues and drummers get sloppy. What is more sad than that, is I have seen audiences still pay to see it again and laugh it off as something cool, all in the name of sex, drugs and rock and roll. It’s no surprise that drugs and alcohol are prevalent in the music industry and in Hollywood. Sure, we may get a major casualty every now and then but I doubt much really shifts in the collective awe. A great actor like Phillip Seymour Hoffman dies and I doubt membership numbers in AA went up as a result. Instead, the media will rake the coals of that story until there’s nothing left to sell magazines and as soon as someone else takes a tumble, the spotlight will shine on another crazy diamond.
I asked Jon about what he thought—as a sociologist and former director of the MAP (Musicians Assistance Program) I figured he’d have an opinion- and he is also a fan of 3 Doors Down. He summed it up like this, “with alcoholics, this is basically an intervention- and the only one that tends to work—you can threaten to take away someone’s child, their home, their marriage, but they will generally only respond to the loss of their job—we link our identity to what we do so if that is threatened it may help someone get clean.”
What a concept. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to happen very often.
Instead, bad behavior is glorified and considered a part of the package…behaving badly is the cultural norm instead of the aberration. As a Marketer and Publicist, I get that part too. I also hate it. I hate it because in some weird mathematical universe it works. Get in trouble=Get a headline.
The truly sad part is that I bet this 3DD news release has slipped under the radar. A band doing the right thing, saying no to someone’s dangerous behavior will be a blip… while the fact that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are saying no to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has everyone’s underwear in a knot.
This is not how it should be, imho. This is the core of the problem in our culture—we either turn a blind eye to someone’s antics, or we document it because it’s sensational and it sells. When someone does do the right thing, no one takes notice. Bad is good and good is boring.
Still, I really hope others will take the lead from the guys in 3DD. Maybe if we started holding our stars, artists, and bands up to a higher standard they may rise to the occasion. Then maybe our society wouldn’t be so entranced with giant foam fingers, DUI’s and stars behaving badly. You see, because all of that enchantment equates to acceptance, so the message we are sending is it’s ok to get drunk behind the wheel of a car, shove a needle in your arm and show up to the stage bombed, or commit a crime against someone else—as long as there are great color pictures, cell phone video we can pour over, a byline we can read with our morning latte and the most important thing?—it sells.
I’ve never bought a Justin Bieber cd and I never will. I know in the big scheme it doesn’t change anything, but it makes me feel better. I am not contributing my hard-earned money to watch someone else waste it—I guess you could say, that is one door I won’t open because what is behind it is more costly than you think.