With the exciting theatrical production of American Idiot written by punk rock superstars Green Day now playing on Broadway and their upcoming appearance on the Tony Awards, I can't help but be a bit disappointed in punk rock's contribution to the state the country finds itself in today. Specifically, we have this president that is for lack of a better word, a nothing: nothing much in his past, doing nothing today, and nothing positive on the horizon. He's forced a legacy with his unpopular healthcare bill, scandalously put into law, and he's angered his base by escalating the war, keeping Guantanamo Bay wide open, and providing practically none of the change he promised them.
How did we end up with this guy? I partially blame punk rock for the pass this guy is getting because they made a cartoon out of George Bush to substitute for any substantive debate, so today's "nothing" became amazing by comparison. This was a disservice to the youth they were supposedly guiding. We have American Idiot by Green Day, Idiot Son of a A-Hole by the popular and quite talented NOFX, and it goes on from there. Arguably, American idiot is about rednecks who buy into George Bush's America, but painting people as rednecks with such a broad stroke can be divisive and does the same damage.
Here's a sample of how NOFX presented the last president to their young followers:
He's not smart, a C student
And that's after buying his way into school
Beady eyes, and he's kinda dyslexic
Can he read? No one's really quite sure
He signs stuff and he executes people
Maybe that's why, he doesn't have any friends
Cocaine and a little drunk driving
Doesn't matter, when you're the Commander in Chief.
Idiot son of an a-****
He's the idiot son of an a-****
Put on some make-up, turn on the 8-Track,
I'm putting a week back on the shelf,
Suddenly I'm the President, of the United States,
But then I woke up, and realized I'm still me.
He's too dumb, to eat pretzels, apparently smart enough to fix an election.
Moved boldly into the White House,
but most people voted against him.
These are the geniuses that also went on to start the once influencial punkvoter.com
Since they were friends of mine, I helped them get their site off the ground, introducing them to some political pros, but the whole thing remains beneath the promise of the punk rock subculture that was supposed to reject the "dishonesty" of the establishment, with it's media propaganda.
The cartoon image of the Bush as an idiot, or Reagan as a Nazi, or even Ted Kennedy as nothing but a drunk has always offended me. It's dishonest propaganda. How did Bush get through Yale? I couldn't get into Yale. I have a piece of paper to prove it. How did Bush get a Harvard MBA as an idiot? That's way more impressive than a genius getting one. How did he do all that math to become a jet pilot? If he cheated, his jet would crash the first day. The jet stuff alone makes him way smarter than me so when I hear talented friends of mine like NOFX and Green Day refer to him as idiot, I wonder what kind of a buffoon they must think I am.
I suppose it's a fantasy to wish that the punk rock movement analyzed all these questions, had a discussion about it, and then formed an opinion about what kind of president we had, and what the next one should be like, but why not? I did that. Congratulations punk rock, enjoy your nothing.
Am I going to see American Idiot? Heck ya! I love Green Day.