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There’s not a week that goes by where some “smarter than you” Hollywood leftie goes on a little anti-Bush/conservatives rant and, in the process, demonstrates total cluelessness. This week it’s singer Billie Joe Armstrong from the Berkeley/Bay-area band Green Day, a band that saw huge success in 1994 with the album “Dookie” and again in 2004 with the album “American Idiot.”
“American Idiot” was a “critically acclaimed” album worldwide, and won a Grammy in 2005, and is in the early stages of becoming a rock musical for a reason: It is highly anti-Bush/conservatives. Newsweek wrote this puff piece about the album earlier this year:
Before Green Day released “American Idiot” in September 2004, two months ahead of President Bush’s reelection, most music fans assumed that the Bay Area punk-pop trio was on the downward slope of a successful but artistically undistinguished career. No one expected these guys to nail the fear, frustration and apathy of a war-torn nation on the brink. Until then, Green Day’s signature album was titled “Dookie,” and its big hit was an anthem to a lazy afternoon of television and masturbation. Songs about a broken social system, the disappearing middle class or WMD were the job of seasoned boomers like Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, both of whom released sober protest albums that preached, predictably, to the choir. But the iPod generation—and its artists—had better things to do, like downloading a billion ringtones and partying like it was still 1999. Maybe that’s why “American Idiot” was such a bolt of lightning: not just because of the message—finally, a rock-the-boat album that actually rocked—but because of the messenger, too. The clowns finally got serious, and no one could look away.
“American Idiot” was frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s version of “Tommy,” a concept album about a clueless teen—the “Jesus of Suburbia”—who feels forgotten in Bush’s America: “This land of make-believe/that don’t believe in me.” Over the course of the album, the kid sleepwalks from 7-Eleven parking lots onto the battlefields of Iraq. The video for “Wake Me When September Ends” scored the most direct hit, picking up the antihero at a moment of crisis: seeing little future at home, he deceives his girlfriend by joining the Marines, then ships off to Iraq and never returns.
With magical timing, “American Idiot” became a soundtrack for anyone disillusioned by millennial America (“Now everybody do the propaganda and sing along in the age of paranoia”). Sure, Bush was re-elected, but that only elevated the album into protest art. “American Idiot” wasn’t especially subtle or eloquent—if you want poetry, stick with Springsteen. But it mattered simply because somebody finally said something, and, of all people, it was Green Day.
Yeah, I mean up until “American Idiot” no popular actors/actresses/singers ever opened their mouths about how they felt about America under President Bush. /sarc
I brought all this up because the “edgy” Armstrong was asked in a recent interview for “Spinner” magazine (very appropriate title, all things considered) about his political views. Here’s what he had to say:
Still, ‘See the Light’ closes the album with some optimism. Are you optimistic about the country’s future?
I am optimistic, as long as these right-wing conservative a–holes don’t try to ruin things for people — like throwing around ideas that we’re headed for a socialist government. Which, the way they’re throwing it around, they don’t even know what socialism really is. It’s reflected on the record and it’s also reflected in society — there’s all this crisis and there is all this crazy s— going on right now. All you have to do is flick down the channel from ‘Rock of Love’ and look at CNN, and you could see it. Or Fox News — they make it look like we’re headed for the apocalypse and Barack Obama is the anti-Christ. But at the same time, it’s the first African-American in office, so that’s totally a progression. And that does give you faith in the idea of America — it can be a progressive country and we can dig ourselves out, because that was a bold statement. We dug ourselves out of George Bush by putting this new intelligent human being into office.
Do you feel that maybe ‘American Idiot’ might’ve motivated your fans, old and new, to vote and play a part in the presidental election?
Barack Obama is such a charismatic person, and with this person being as charismatic as he is and us doing stuff with like punkvoter.com, it could’ve helped out a little bit. Maybe we at least created a soundtrack for people that are coming of age, and they start thinking for themselves for the first time. And here they are voting for the first time at 19, three-and-a-half, four years later.
Yeah, they’re “thinking for themselves” alright. And I’m Hillary Clinton.
Armstrong, quite simily is an American Idiot who is, ahem, full of “Dookie.”
God help if teens and young twenty-somethings look to bands like Green Day for political “guidance.” Looking to MTV and their lame “Rock the Vote” efforts (which are not so subtle attempts at getting young people to blindly vote Democrat) is bad enough. If we have to rely on self-important twits like Billie Joe Armstrong to “get the word out” to young folks, well … I don’t even want to think about it.