Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Thursday, February 11, 2010

When There's Just No Excuse To Be That Stupid

I'm all for free speech. I believe that everyone deserves the right to say whatever they feel comfortable sharing with the world. I don't care who you are, you go ahead and say whatever it is that's just gotta get out of your head.

With the proviso:

As long as you're prepared to live with the consequences.

Long ago, when I was in the experimenting phase of being a young, muddled, teenage idiot, I discovered that I was really good at saying all sorts of mean and nasty things.

Sure, most of it was just a greatest hits list of stuff I'd picked up from being a quiet fat kid in Public school.

But somewhere in the transition from Public to High school I found a semblance of backbone.

Which, like most dumb kids, I promptly abused.

Insults, put downs, comebacks -- my mouth became a loaded weapon and, being a pubescent, angry kid with not a whole lot of self-confidence (or self-control), I reveled in the little bit of power my sharp tongue allowed me.

Until I got punched in the face.

See, one of the things that I only learned in hindsight was that most of the people I'd said horrible things to... they were people that cared about me, or were too nice to do something about it.

They'd shake their heads or walk away or both; Maybe laugh along, maybe spin it into a joke.

Except this one kid. I think his name was Jason... or something. Started with a J.

He didn't like the words coming out of my mouth. Or the fact that other people around him used my words as an excuse to laugh at him.

A lot.

So he punched me in the face.

There's a kind of clarity that rides along with pain, specifically when the stars clear and you realize there's yet another fist coming toward you.

When it was all said and done, when I apologized to him there in that alleyway, I'd meant it.

I'd wiped the blood from my nose and the tears from my eyes and I got it. That immediate physical connection - that fist to the skull, a very literal rebuttal of my venom-tipped words.

I realized very quickly and personally the effect my taunts and put downs had been having.

Angry kid or not, I had no right to spill acid on others.

Now, not saying I was fixed over night... but it set me on the path.

So when I read John Mayer's most recent interview -- that one he did with Playboy where he shared such insights as:

PLAYBOY: Do black women throw themselves at you?

MAYER:
I don’t think I open myself to it. My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I’ve got a Benetton heart and a fuckin’ David Duke cock. I’m going to start dating separately from my dick.

And

PLAYBOY: Did you send Aniston a copy of the CD after it was done?

MAYER:
No.

PLAYBOY:
Maybe she’ll download it from BitTorrent.

MAYER:
If Jennifer Aniston knows how to use BitTorrent I’ll eat my fucking shoe. One of the most significant differences between us was that I was tweeting. There was a rumor that I had been dumped because I was tweeting too much. That wasn’t it, but that was a big difference. The brunt of her success came before TMZ and Twitter. I think she’s still hoping it goes back to 1998. She saw my involvement in technology as courting distraction. And I always said, “These are the new rules.”

Or

PLAYBOY:
If you didn’t know you, would you think you’re a douche bag?

MAYER:
It depends on what I picked up. My two biggest hits are “Your Body Is a Wonderland” and “Daughters.” If you think those songs are pandering, then you’ll think I’m a douche bag. It’s like I come on very strong. I am a very…I’m just very. V-E-R-Y. And if you can’t handle very, then I’m a douche bag. But I think the world needs a little very. That’s why black people love me.

PLAYBOY:
Because you’re very?

MAYER:
Someone asked me the other day, “What does it feel like now to have a hood pass?” And by the way, it’s sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a hood pass, you could call it a ni--er pass. Why are you pulling a punch and calling it a hood pass if you really have a hood pass? But I said, “I can’t really have a hood pass. I’ve never walked into a restaurant, asked for a table and been told, ‘We’re full.’"

I had to stop a moment. I went back and I re-read the interview, trying to see if I was mis-reading, maybe the context was wrong or the questions were leading him or egging him on.

Nope. He was lobbed pretty open questions... and he responded to them like an arrogant douche.

Which I find somewhat ironic considering the whole undercurrent of the interview felt to me like he was trying to explain away how he wasn't actually a douche, just misunderstood.

PLAYBOY: What if you were to google the phrase John Mayer is a douche bag?

MAYER:
You’d get a lot of hits. It’s this whole perception thing about tabloids, where 85 percent of the stories are not true. If you align yourself to be exactly who you know you are and to have dignity, maybe through that distorted lens you look askew to everyone else. I’ve done away with feeling aloof and trying to seem suave and bulletproof. I’ve resigned myself to being slightly awkward and goofballish.

Throughout the interview he wanders across all sorts of territory, from contrite to defiant to matter-of-fact, he almost even manages to make it make sense.

PLAYBOY: Were you one of those smart kids who hated school?

MAYER:
I would act up and get sent to the dean’s office and talk to him as though I was an adult. “I’m not trying to upset anybody, sir. With all due respect to you and your staff, I’m just not supposed to be here. It’s quite difficult for me to sit in class, because I’m supposed to be a guitar player, sir.” I was very cocky. But from the outset, there was opposition. My parents were not the biggest fans, to put it diplomatically. I grew up saying, “You’ll see. I can’t explain it yet, but you’ll see.” Early in my career, when I was 19 or 20, I’d meet presidents of record companies and refused to give them my demos. I’d say, “We’ll see each other again sometime.”

PLAYBOY: That is really cocky.

MAYER:
It was incredibly cocky. I was so tempered in opposition that when the opposition went away, I started to look like a total asshole. When my first record came out, I was still saying, “You’ll see. Check out what I did. Eat it.” It gave me this reputation for being really arrogant. I probably should have stood on top of a roof and yelled, “Fuck you!” That “I’ll show you” instinct is still alive and well. Now, instead of “We don’t think you can do it,” it’s “We think you’re a douche bag.”

PLAYBOY:
Do you still have a chip on your shoulder?

MAYER: Yep. I have an extremely tall antenna that reaches high into the sky and brings in a lot of cool stuff but also a lot of unnecessary stuff. If I hadn’t had my upbringing, I would have probably been like, “Yeah, this is fun. Cool.” But right now I still have “See? See, motherfucker?”

But then you get deeper into the interview, you can almost feel him relaxing. Relating as opposed to preening.

And that's when you get 'white-supremacist genitals'.

Or

PLAYBOY: This was August 2008, when you said you had ended the relationship “because I don’t want to waste somebody’s time if something’s not right.”

MAYER:
It really, really upset her. I wanted to take responsibility for having ended it because I saw it as such an offense. But a lot of people felt I was saving face. This would serve to begin the period of my life I’m just exiting, when love made me feel guilty and people called me a rat, a womanizer and a cad.

PLAYBOY: You’ve also been called a man-whore.

MAYER:
I feel like women are getting their comeuppance against men now. I hear about man-whores more than I hear about whores. When women are whorish, they’re owning their sexuality. When men are whorish, they’re disgusting beasts. I think they’re paying us back for a double standard that’s lasted for a hundred years.

And

PLAYBOY: At this point, what’s your ideal relationship?

MAYER:
Here’s what I really want to do at 32: fuck a girl and then, as she’s sleeping in bed, make breakfast for her. So she’s like, “What? You gave me five vaginal orgasms last night, and you’re making me a spinach omelet? You are the shit!” So she says, “I love this guy.” I say, “I love this girl loving me.” And then we have a problem. Because that entails instant relationship. I’m already playing house. And when I lose interest she’s going to say, “Why would you do that if you didn’t want to stick with me?”

PLAYBOY:
Why do you do it?

MAYER:
Because I want to show her I’m not like every other guy. Because I hate other men. When I’m fucking you, I’m trying to fuck every man who’s ever fucked you, but in his ass, so you’ll say “No one’s ever done that to me in bed.”

And I realize that, in a way... there's a certain elegance to the good ol' fashioned punch in the mouth.

Nothing big, nothing drawn out, just the kind of punch that reminds you there's someone on the other end of your words.

Empathy, learned in 2 seconds flat.

Now, no, I'm not advocating violence or the destruction of fine dental work.

I'm not saying we should all run off and lay the smack down on those who've wronged us or anything like that.

But man, oh man... sometimes I wish people would learn to think before they talk.

And when you can't trust yourself to open your mouth and not spill venom and bile all over... well, sometimes self-censorship isn't a bad thing.

'Cause that punch may sting in the short term, but I'll tell you this:

The last time I went back to my hometown to visit, I happened to walk by that guy. He was bigger now, taller than me and a whole lot meaner lookin'.

I didn't even remember him, but he sure as hell remembered me.

He didn't say a word, he didn't need to. He watched my face as I looked up and the recognition kicked in.

His grin said it all.

So, yes, Free Speech and all that.

Keeping in mind one little thing:

People remember the shit you say about them long after you've forgotten you said it.

Cheers,
Brandon

P.S:

Oh, and John? Fixing your whole 'being a douche' thing starts at home and it starts simple:

Think before you speak, man.

'Cause you're flinging your bile everywhere.

1 comment:

Trevor Finn said...

Wow, that totally changes my perception of John Mayer. For someone that doesn't want to be called a douche, he sure talks like one. I was really thrown by his constant reference to genitals. I mean, I know it's Playboy but still.

Btw Brandon, I was reading this post as you commented on mine! *play wierd alien sci fi music*