Blood, Sugar, Sex, Dickheads
April 25, 2016 8:03 AM   Subscribe



 
I told myself that I knew what I was getting into when I started working in the music business.

This is just the saddest and most anger-inducing sentence, for some reason. It's amazing how much we've normalized horrific behavior as part of doing business with men.
posted by xingcat at 8:08 AM on April 25, 2016 [65 favorites]


I read a news story about Flea playing the national anthem as a bass solo at Kobe’s final game with the Lakers and I went nuts

Even the kids at r/bass, half of whom think that Flea is greater than The Beatles and Jaco Pastorius rolled into one, thought this was terrible.
posted by thelonius at 8:11 AM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


Wouldn't "The Red Hot Chili Peppers have put their dicks away for twenty minutes" be more newsworthy?
posted by delfin at 8:15 AM on April 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


Afterwards, I took two of the Chili Peppers to the storage room where we kept the box sets and CDs. As we looked in the cabinet, they pressed up against me and told me about all of the ways we could make a super sexy sandwich.

At first I thought they were joking. When I realized they weren’t, I ran from the storage room to my office, where I closed my door, sat down at my desk, and cried. I was humiliated and weirdly ashamed, and embarrassed that I was humiliated and weirdly ashamed. There was far worse going on in the music industry at the time, and I thought I was a badass. Being a victim didn’t fit my self-perception.

When the Chili Peppers’ then-manager knocked on my door a few minutes later, I stopped crying and let him in. He offered an apology that sounded memorized; it was one he’d obviously offered many times before. The A&R guy apologized after the Chili Peppers left, and I decided to get over it. I told myself that I knew what I was getting into when I started working in the music business.
Fuck these guys. Ugh...
posted by Fizz at 8:29 AM on April 25, 2016 [9 favorites]


The music industry is especially sleazy. People do shit like destroy people's lives telling themselves it's necessary to get a good performance out of them. Producers are the worst about that kind of shit. Knew a respected producer who used to encourage a friend's self destructive addictions in the studio, then years later, the same crowd socially rejected and ostracized the guy for being a lost cause and casually joked about how he might be dead. Especially lately, people in the arts seem to have become viciously sadistic as a point of perverse pride. It's horrible.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:33 AM on April 25, 2016 [7 favorites]


And I think I lost my wife and family to that culture, in a way, when I'd been hoping to figure out some way to make music work for us as a sideline without having to be so sleazy.

It's normal in that culture. We promote it and encourage it as a wish fulfillment fantasy. The gatekeepers demand it.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:38 AM on April 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


Whoever wrote the headline of the second article doesn't seem to have read it, since that question is neither asked nor answered. Fortunately I already don't like the Red Hot Chili Peppers so it's not a question I have to grapple with.

Around the time of the Ender's Game boycott I decided that if you could only like art if the artist was above reproach, then you wouldn't like any art. This was especially illustrated when Bowie passed away and some writers had to interrupt the celebration of his life and work to point out that he raped a 15-year-old. I haven't read enough of the Prince coverage to see if there has been any backlash yet. But RHCP's work is just so tightly bound to that macho posturing and toxic masculinity that I bet most feminists were already repelled by them before this story came out.
posted by ejs at 8:46 AM on April 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


some writers had to interrupt the celebration of his life and work
Consider that he was dead when this happened, and he has no idea of the "interruption." Now consider the young woman (women) whose live(s) he actually interrupted. You know, by raping them. I think it is absolutely fine - maybe necessary - to question worshiping a rapist, or a sexual predator, death or no.
posted by sockermom at 8:53 AM on April 25, 2016 [43 favorites]


And as usual, there's always someone that will show up to argue in support of the system, using the "Orson Scott Card" defense. "Oh, it's not the person that's important, just the work." Which usually boils down to "These people should face no consequences for their actions."

I wonder why people bother having ethics at all, when they are so easily traded away for entertainment.
posted by happyroach at 8:56 AM on April 25, 2016 [26 favorites]


This was especially illustrated when Bowie passed away and some writers had to interrupt the celebration of his life and work to point out that he raped a 15-year-old.

Yeah, you make this sound like something, I'm not sure what, run amok, but it seems like maybe the least one could do. Your overall point seems to be that all artists are likely flawed, to which I say, maybe. I have my doubts if all artists are flawed in the particular, "I've used my power and position to demonstrably harm or try to harm people," way that you are identifying. But the notion that we shouldn't talk about the flaws just because they are ubiquitous is completely unsupported and seems like it comes from a place of great privilege.
posted by OmieWise at 8:58 AM on April 25, 2016 [36 favorites]


A good way to end this kind of bullshit? Give men's testimony in court the same weight, percentage-wise, as women's salaries in the real world. You'll fix at least one of those problems.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:58 AM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


Apologies to all; I did not intend to say that Bowie's rape shouldn't have been pointed out, or that it wasn't valuable to do so. I was a Bowie fan all my life and I was surprised and upset to hear that story. More discussion of such behavior is warranted.

I also don't think beloved artists shouldn't have to face the consequences of their actions. If they commit rape or sexual assault they should face charges, and not be protected by the industry that makes money off them. But the question that I'm curious about is, do you have to stop liking the art because of the shit the artist pulls?

I'm not a big Orson Scott Card fan; I've only read two of his books and neither struck me as anti-gay. If I were to re-read them now knowing what a dick he is, would my opinion of the books change? I'm not so sure. But my opinion of RHCP was always that they'd be date-raping storage-closet-assaulting assholes, who happened to play bad music.
posted by ejs at 9:09 AM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Around the time of the Ender's Game boycott I decided that if you could only like art if the artist was above reproach, then you wouldn't like any art.

I share that sentiment, but it really shouldn't be up the average consumer to police the norms of the music business, or any other business. They can, of course, exert pressure at the margins -- Bill Cosby's career is effectively ruined, for example -- but you would need some kind of reform within the business to change the way things are done so that bad behavior is no longer seen as the cost of genius, or whatever. That may not be in the realm of possibility now, but it's what would need to happen.
posted by Cash4Lead at 9:09 AM on April 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


The RHCP are the fucking worst. Check out this 1994 Rolling Stone profile of Kiedis (subtitled "Red Hot Chili Peppers' singer is not the punk bonehead with raging hormones he seems – even if his girlfriend did just graduate from high school"):

Kiedis waves an arm toward his refrigerator, the surface of which is almost entirely covered with stickers and photos, mementos of his travels. "That's the senior picture of my girlfriend right there," he says, pointing out a high-school graduation photo of a pretty blonde.

Senior picture? Oh? How long ago was that taken?

Opening his mouth to answer, then stopping short, Kiedis looks much like a hare caught in the headlights. What with all the time he spent yesterday deflecting questions about his Don Juan image, it won't do to blab to the journalist that his main squeeze is fresh out of high school.

Kiedis sneaks a glance at Dammett, trapped. For an instant, their eyes lock in a priceless display of hand-in-the-cookie-jar telepathy. The question hangs in the air a moment before Kiedis decides to bite the bullet and fess up.

"It's pretty recent," Kiedis admits a tad sheepishly, and then father and son burst out laughing.

posted by The Card Cheat at 9:12 AM on April 25, 2016 [9 favorites]


The way I look at is: there's a lot of art in the world, and if hearing these stories, important stories, turns me off of an artist, even one i used to admire , then it's just opening a door for me to experience another artist who's not a fucking rapist, and i'm better for it. So I say yes, it's important to keep art and artist connected -- I don't ever have to watch another Polanski film, or listen to another chili peppers record or read another OSC book and I'm fine with that.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:16 AM on April 25, 2016 [31 favorites]


Further testimony about Anthony Kiedis.
posted by The Tensor at 9:20 AM on April 25, 2016 [7 favorites]


From the Kiedis profile The Card Cheat linked to above:

"He's really a very conscientious, kind, altruistic person," Dammett says, as eager as the next father to brag about his kids. "Do you know what he did on Thanksgiving? He brought meals to the homeless people downtown, 50 of them or something. With little place mats that he designed and signed and everything. He does that kind of stuff all the time, but he'd never tell you about it."


DUDE SIGNING THE FUCKING PLACEMATS COUNTS AS BRAGGING ABOUT IT
posted by item at 9:28 AM on April 25, 2016 [20 favorites]


Thanks for posting that Miki Berenyi interview, The Tensor. I'd wondered exactly what was hiding behind the word "obnoxious" in this Lush anecdote about Lollapalooza 1992:
Anderson and Berenyi were the only women to appear on the main stage, unless you count the industrial rock group Ministry’s dancers, which you probably shouldn’t. Among their touring companions, Ministry were fun, Pearl Jam gracious, the Red Hot Chili Peppers obnoxious and Ice Cube standoffish. “We wrote on his mirror: ‘Hey Cube, say hi to Lush,’ in lipstick,” Anderson remembers. “He came in and said: ‘Some people got no respect.’ We were quite drunk.”
posted by Sonny Jim at 9:30 AM on April 25, 2016


How many people have actually said that you have to stop liking an artist's work once it becomes known that they've done despicable things?

I see a lot of people saying that it has personally turned them off, and that they would prefer to listen to something else. I've seen people say that it made them reevaluate a work in a more negative light. I've seen fewer people say that you shouldn't financially support them while still living, and even fewer say that you shouldn't ever enjoy their work.

There is one RHCP song that I really like. (It's a famous one.) My personal line in the sand is not to give known harassers and rapists my money, so I will never buy an album from them. I'll never pay to see a Polanski film. Etc. I think this is a pretty reasonable ethical standard for myself in the context of this very complicated topic, and I'll even advocate for people to adopt it for themselves--but it's very different than saying I can never listen to that song.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:35 AM on April 25, 2016 [14 favorites]


Around the time of the Ender's Game boycott I decided that if you could only like art if the artist was above reproach, then you wouldn't like any art.

I wrote the definitive Defend Orson Scott Cart beanplate, and even so this feels like a problematic stance.

Art, as it exists on its sheer objective merits and its observable cultural contexts, doesn't magically liberate its creator from being human. You can think David Bowie did great things for music and also consider his sexual behavior kind of fucked up; you can let yourself love or hate an artist based on if you can bring yourself to accept who they were as people or not. This is true of far shallower things than, I dunno, being a misogynist scumbag: I reserve the right to be supremely irritated by Edward Sharpe, Bon Iver, and Katy Perry for reasons that are astonishingly petty, and feel all people should be entitled to their reasons for disliking shit as much as (or even more than) they're entitled to their reasons for loving stuff.

I also feel that we pay too little attention to the connection art has to politics, as a general rule. We uphold pretty mild statements from supercelebs as if they're somehow making this grand and brilliant stand, then get real pissy when it turns out you can be a shitty person and still present yourself as in keeping with whatever the political trend this decade happens to be. Meanwhile, artists whose works tend to be more flamboyantly and insistently political in nature are frequently criticized or kept out of the mainstream for being too partisan, too divisive, even if they go on to careers full of great material and no discernible scandal.

Art makes for an incredibly powerful social fulcrum, and has the capacity to transcend conventional social, political, and economic boundaries. If anything, that should mean we're more critical of artists than we are of other groups of people. I tend to react a lot more strongly to, say, the shitstorm surrounding Michael Gira and Swans this year than I react to political scandal. People are bound to be some amount of awful in any field, but artists directly impart their worldviews, their approaches to life, their beliefs, upon their audience, sometimes in really insidious ways. (Some of my favorite Cosby routines as a kid have become virtually unlistenable now.) If an artist has something fucked up lingering in their psyche, I both want to know about it and am going to be wary about their work once I do know.

Anyway, this is all way too high-concept for a discussion about Red Hot Chili Peppers, a terrible band that in my experience is only loved by would-be sexual criminals anyway, so I'll can the rest of these thoughts for somebody whose ought-to-be-criminal activities are actually a surprise to anybody whatsoever. (Though, as mentioned above, the fact that none of this surprising is bewilderingly fucked up.)
posted by rorgy at 9:37 AM on April 25, 2016 [14 favorites]


"Consider that he was dead when this happened, and he has no idea of the "interruption." Now consider the young woman (women) whose live(s) he actually interrupted. You know, by raping them. I think it is absolutely fine - maybe necessary - to question worshiping a rapist, or a sexual predator, death or no."

Considering the young woman has no regrets about it, I'm comfortable calling it skeezy on Bowie's part, but it seems a little hyperbolic to talk about the girl's life being interrupted by it. It's skeezy because of the power imbalance, not because of a lack of consent (as far as the woman recounts it) — whereas the RHCP's harassment was gross specifically because of a lack of consent.
posted by klangklangston at 10:04 AM on April 25, 2016 [29 favorites]


"Anyway, this is all way too high-concept for a discussion about Red Hot Chili Peppers, a terrible band that in my experience is only loved by would-be sexual criminals anyway, so I'll can the rest of these thoughts for somebody whose ought-to-be-criminal activities are actually a surprise to anybody whatsoever. (Though, as mentioned above, the fact that none of this surprising is bewilderingly fucked up.)"

One of my biggest surprises in moving to LA has been how widely beloved both RHCP and No Doubt are — across generations, even late-period RHCP got all of my coworkers singing along. Punks and preps, 40-year-olds and 22-year-olds. The outsized local affection for people like Tupac or Sublime I can kinda understand, but I have never felt more like an alien in LA than riding in a car with five other people while a RHCP mix played and everyone else knew every word to every song.
posted by klangklangston at 10:09 AM on April 25, 2016 [6 favorites]


When I calmed down, I thought about how overblown my reaction was, and allowed for the first time that maybe I didn’t hate them simply because they suck.

But they actually do suck. This is important. Not only are they a shitty band made up of dudes who abused male privilege at a time when that meant more, they are also a shitty band made up of white dudes who appropriated black music at a time when white guys making black music safe for white people was a thing. They're basically everything that was wrong with American culture 20+ years ago. And they sound like garbage.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:10 AM on April 25, 2016 [19 favorites]


but I have never felt more like an alien in LA than riding in a car with five other people while a RHCP mix played and everyone else knew every word to every song.

There's RHCP songs with actual words?
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:13 AM on April 25, 2016


I haven't seen Kiedis doing an interview where he doesn't come off as a douche, to put it lightly. I kind of expect most bands to have some kind of fucked-up story somewhere in their past, but RHCP seem to be the embodiment of such bullshit.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:14 AM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


One of my biggest surprises in moving to LA has been how widely beloved both RHCP and No Doubt are — across generations, even late-period RHCP got all of my coworkers singing along.

I'm originally from LA and I have a visceral, knee-jerk distaste for the Red Hot Chili Peppers matched only by my distaste for Garrison Keillor's voice. The only song by them I like is "Higher Ground", which is convenient because I can just listen to the Stevie Wonder original instead.

...I have never felt more like an alien in LA than riding in a car with five other people while a RHCP mix played and everyone else knew every word to every song.

Seven Hells.
posted by The Tensor at 10:17 AM on April 25, 2016 [11 favorites]


I feel like discussing whether or not the band is any good is actually kind of missing the point.
posted by kyrademon at 10:22 AM on April 25, 2016 [29 favorites]


"One of my biggest surprises in moving to LA has been how widely beloved both RHCP and No Doubt are"

I think you might just be sheltered. Everywhere I've ever spent time, people loved RHCP. They're one of the most universally beloved bands in America today, I imagine. And their music kind of blows. So I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that the reason a lot of people love them so much is precisely because of their, uh, transgressions of social propriety, to put it a bit euphemistically.

It is nice, though, to confirm that a musician you dislike aesthetically is also morally reprehensible.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:32 AM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


My experience is that people in LA love old RHCP, before Blood Sugar Sex Magik. People in OC, on the other hand, celebrate No Doubt's entire oeuvre, in part because Gwen Stefani was the most upbeat, friendliest, hardest-working, savviest self-promoter in local circles since 1986.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:43 AM on April 25, 2016 [15 favorites]


I feel like discussing whether or not the band is any good is actually kind of missing the point.


Kind of, but the question that is posed: "Is it ok to respect the public output of someone who conducts themselves reprehensibly personally?" My reflexively empathetic response is absolutely not, but the question gets easily nuanced. I had no idea there was a consensus opinion that RHCP music sucked, but I have liked them and have respected their musicianship and live performances (like in the 80s when they were just another punk band touring the west coast in a van). Keidis has been a schmuck privately but also kind of publicly. And I don't love them so much now that I can't live without giving them money.

But I'm much more conflicted in other cases. Lou Reed, Sun Kil Moon, hell, Bill Clinton. Is it possible for me to still adore The Velvet Underground, Ghosts of the Great Highway, or the economic expansion of the 90s? It's an emotional question and an ethical one, and the logic of ethics is tricky. Yes, surely we are all better off if this stuff is aired out and the artists must face the legal and social consequences their actions. But is it ok if their career or their legacy survives, especially if the celebrity never faces those consequences?

I guess I would say it depends. Bill Cosby fucked up a lot of people in a really awful way and his creative output just isn't worth it to me. But James Brown is a lot more important, both personally to me, and to the artistic landscape of the modern world. Can I still rock to that without giving him a pass? Yes, probably. Is it unfair to Dee Dee Brown? Damn right, and we shouldn't forget it.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:49 AM on April 25, 2016 [8 favorites]


finding out RHCP are gross is probably the most unsurprising thing anyone could have told me today.

Still not sure the appeal of Kiedis. The man sucks at singing, and not in the good "punk" sort of way, either. His way of moving to the music is weird as hell too, also not in the good way. Occasionally the band can make a track that has elements I like; Suck My Kiss has pretty good riffs, Breaking the Girl is a pretty good song only brought down a few notches by Kiedis' singing, I liked their (inferior) cover of Higher Ground at some point as a young kid, and Taste the Pain also for some reason (early 90s, man, I don't know). They also made a lot of AM radio hits in recent years that are as good as any of the other random stuff they play on top-40 radio, but yeah by this point they are about 15-20 years distanced from where my tastes lie. Also a lot of their stuff is painfully bad, too.
posted by Hoopo at 10:55 AM on April 25, 2016


There's strong peer pressure to be manipulative and cutthroat in the entertainment industry, it's seen as virtuous and proof of toughness. It's not really even deniable. That attitude of viciousness and sadism creates a crabs in a bucket effect in a lot of small music scenes. I've seen it and tried to raise awareness of the problem as long as I've been making music, and that's been almost 30 years now. It never seems to get any better.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:01 AM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


I realized I had to leave. I knew I’d be unable to restrain myself if I had to hear Anthony sing “mop tops are happy when they feed you” or “can’t stop, addicted to the shindig, chop top, he says I’m gonna win big.” When I calmed down, I thought about how overblown my reaction was, and allowed for the first time that maybe I didn’t hate them simply because they suck.

While she certainly has way more valid reasons than the fact they suck to hate them, that particular song is soooooo bad. It's 200 proof distilled annoying.
posted by Hoopo at 11:07 AM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


But the question that I'm curious about is, do you have to stop liking the art because of the shit the artist pulls?

Let's turn that question around: am I obligated to like an artists work, even if I can't stand the artist? Am I required to buy Orson Scott Card or the Red Hot Chili Peppers, no matter how they act?

The thing is, I don't believe artists are black boxes, producing art that's totally distinct from their nature; they put themselves into their work.I can see in Card's early work the seeds of his attitudes that later became text. With RHCP, the same applies.

And it's not as though I'm denying myself- if I avoid Card and all of the Rabid Puppies authors, I still have more books than I can read in a lifetime; avoid RHCP, and I still have ask l the music I could want. So why not exercise the occasional ethical choice?
posted by happyroach at 11:09 AM on April 25, 2016 [8 favorites]


20-odd years ago someone claiming to be Hillel Slovak's (original RHCP member who OD'd)brother called Loveline, said he was a porn director and described how if he had paid sex with an actress while it was being recorded, this wasn't prostitution. He then went on to say he didn't have to pay these women if "he didn't like their performance"
posted by brujita at 11:10 AM on April 25, 2016


The thing is, I don't believe artists are black boxes, producing art that's totally distinct from their nature; they put themselves into their work.

I believe that good art comes from the best part of a personality, but I am also quite sure that best part can be an island in a sea of shit. It would be nice to believe otherwise; I just don't.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:14 AM on April 25, 2016


they are also a shitty band made up of white dudes who appropriated black music at a time when white guys making black music safe for white people was a thing.

I mean they got George Clinton to co-sign, sorta. Maybe he needed some cash - I don't think he's said much about them one way or another.

But they actually do suck. This is important.

I used to hate them on principle - because early white-boy sex rap Kiedis is awful in every way - but more recently came to terms with the idea that they eventually became pretty talented songwriters. Or at least took on a guy (Frusciante) who was. Maybe I should have just kept hating them on principle.
posted by atoxyl at 11:22 AM on April 25, 2016


Also does anyone on any side really want another thread about whether an artist's life can be separated from their work? Where you draw lines about this is up to you.
posted by atoxyl at 11:25 AM on April 25, 2016 [10 favorites]


pretty talented songwriters

pretty talented radio songwriters I mean, like - "alright these guys really do know how to put together an effective 3:30 of pop"
posted by atoxyl at 11:31 AM on April 25, 2016


RHCP - the 90's bonehead fratboy version of "Tell me what you want what you really really want."

Fucking ew.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:34 AM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


Bringing up artistic quality is a massive derail in a thread about the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:39 AM on April 25, 2016 [16 favorites]


Didn't read the articles but does she name the two who wanted to make a sandwich or not?
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 11:55 AM on April 25, 2016


I believe that good art comes from the best part of a personality

I couldn't disagree more, speaking as an artist. A huge amount of creative work comes from compulsion, or financial needs, sometimes by the same artist at different times. I don't think it's a question of morality. A lot of great artists are pretty obsessive about creating more art when they're in their process. It seems morally neutral to me. Of course, narcissism can be motivating, but not necessarily a personality disorder. The rock star ideal is almost guaranteed to attract a lot of dysfunctional people to the music business.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:07 PM on April 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


As a child of the late 80s/early 90s, I have a RCHP story which is decidedly less sleazy than the standard.

That said, I'm totally not surprised that they were all disgusting and sexist jerks. I mean, just listening to the words of the majority of their songs makes that pretty clear.

Seriously, it's hard to love any musician or writer any more.
posted by teleri025 at 12:13 PM on April 25, 2016


I remember seeing RHCP on Thicke of the Night many years ago. IIRC, it was their national TV debut. Alan Thicke looked stunned after their performance... To me they seemed like a hybrid punk funk band with a great bassist, but very juvenile in attitude, which is not at all unusual for punk. But they weren't really my style as much as Primus, a better band with a prominent bassist IMO (but way more nerdy tbh). After a while it became clear that RHCP morphed into rock stars creating a frat house soundtrack as they wrote about heroin addiction. I always got the impression from interviews with RHCP that I really wouldn't enjoy hanging out with these dudes at all, because they couldn't stop acting like a bunch of assholes, like constantly, which seems to be the way some unfortunate people have misinterpreted the punk ethos. Punk rock is not a license for you to act like a complete shit and laugh about the misery you inflicted on others, ffs. Fucking rock stars...
posted by krinklyfig at 12:26 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


This thread has made me belatedly realise who the nightmare, possessive, asshole ex-boyfriend Ione Skye refers to a few times during the DVD commentary to Say Anything was. I seriously had no idea.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:47 PM on April 25, 2016 [7 favorites]


I remember reading somewhere, probably Jane or maybe it was Bitch or Bust, a really long time ago, a little squib where Flea jumped on top of some unsuspecting woman who was just lying on the beach in a bathing suit and simulated sexual intercourse. I think that's what it was, but it might've been something way worse. I remember for sure the headline was Flea Is a Pig.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:52 PM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


This thread is . . . weird to me.

1) I had no idea of how gross RHCP were/are to women, but it doesn't exactly surprise me.
2) I am, not a huge, but a sizable RHCP fan. However, I don't like their early work and I can barely stand Blood Sugar Sex Magic. My favorite RHCP album, heck, one of my all-around comfort albums is By The Way. I bought it when I started college (2002) and it's awesome (apart from Can't Stop, which I agree, sucks).
3) just listening to the words of the majority of their songs makes that pretty clear. I don't understand this at all. Perhaps it's because I don't listen to their earlier work? But most of their songs are completely made up of nonsense words with killer bass and harmonies you could swim in.
posted by chainsofreedom at 12:56 PM on April 25, 2016


a terrible band that in my experience is only loved by would-be sexual criminals anyway

I know we all love to do the "your favourite band sucks" thing here, but are you fucking kidding me? Now we're calling other Mefites sexual predators based on their musical tastes? Even if RHCP were the most objectively terrible band in the world, this would still be a shitty thing to say.
posted by randomnity at 12:59 PM on April 25, 2016 [30 favorites]


Also, I was only a kid then but I get the sense (and even got the sense at the time) that the 80s and 90s were a terrible time to be a woman in the working world. I know a lot of people may feel like "it's in the past", but I say bring it all to light. There's no reason something like what happened in the first article shouldn't have caused RHCP to have been named and shamed at the time, and it's horrible that the music industry just let something like that slide. They're overdue for having these things come out.
posted by chainsofreedom at 1:02 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yes, Don Pepino, that's what I'm talking about. Those kinds of stories sprouted up all the time in the '90s, often told by the band. It was what they were known for, being out of control and sometimes sexually aggressive to random strangers, a lot of which could be considered assault and battery.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:03 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Where you draw lines about this is up to you.

Exactly. But we've still got a conformist streak deep down--everybody's gotta be like us or we start to think they must be looking down on us or a threat to who we are. It causes so much unnecessary social friction and grief.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:07 PM on April 25, 2016


Your fave is problematic, episode K in a series of N.
posted by theorique at 1:08 PM on April 25, 2016


And as usual, there's always someone that will show up to argue in support of the system, using the "Orson Scott Card" defense. "Oh, it's not the person that's important, just the work." Which usually boils down to "These people should face no consequences for their actions."

The thing with RHCP is, their brand is all about being outrageous, sexually uninhibited, fun party animals. So it's impossible to separate the performer of lyrics found in (e.g.) Sir Psycho Sexy (NSFW) and the image of the band itself. They sang about what they liked, and they appear to have lived out the image in an aggressive way that did not involve consent.

At least in this case, the work is the group.
posted by theorique at 1:13 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


I couldn't disagree more, speaking as an artist. A huge amount of creative work comes from compulsion, or financial needs, sometimes by the same artist at different times. I don't think it's a question of morality.

This stuff gets a person's ass in gear, but I genuinely don't think any great art was created by a person whose sole motivation was getting paid or lionized. I am very much in favor of both, but I don't think anything of real value was made by a person who cared more about their check -- no matter how much they need that check -- than the work while in the process of creating the work. But I also think a person can care a lot and still make shitty art. And a person can care not at all and still hack out a catchy but vapid single.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:30 PM on April 25, 2016





just listening to the words of the majority of their songs makes that pretty clear. I don't understand this at all. Perhaps it's because I don't listen to their earlier work? But most of their songs are completely made up of nonsense words with killer bass and harmonies you could swim in.

The thing with RHCP is, their brand is all about being outrageous, sexually uninhibited, fun party animals. So it's impossible to separate the performer of lyrics found in (e.g.) Sir Psycho Sexy (NSFW) and the image of the band itself. They sang about what they liked, and they appear to have lived out the image in an aggressive way that did not involve consent.

I think there's definitely a difference between their early image and their more recent image. They're still brahs but now they're chill brahs, you know? So yeah if you weren't familiar with the sock-on-their-dicks era you might not have known that was their reputation but it definitely was.

My favorite RHCP album, heck, one of my all-around comfort albums is By The Way. I bought it when I started college (2002) and it's awesome (apart from Can't Stop, which I agree, sucks).

Probably not the place to spend too much time on their musical trajectory but yeah that's the one that shifted my opinion of their music in a positive direction.
posted by atoxyl at 1:54 PM on April 25, 2016


I think there's definitely a difference between their early image and their more recent image. They're still brahs but now they're chill brahs, you know? So yeah if you weren't familiar with the sock-on-their-dicks era you might not have known that was their reputation but it definitely was.

Yeah, I probably should have said "was" there. My greatest interest in RHCP coincided approximately with my last couple of years of high school in the mid 1990s, right after BSSM.

It seemed like the mid-1990s was their transition from punk-ish bad boys (their 1980s reputation) to something ballad-y that could be played on adult contemporary stations without scaring the squares.

It seemed like Kiedis had a rough and complicated childhood, according to his bio Scar Tissue. Everybody in the bad seems to have/have had capital "I" issues.
posted by theorique at 2:08 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


a guy in my high school used a fake ID to get a tattoo of the RHCP logo on his back. It was a big one, too. I bet he doesn't take his shirt off very often these days.
posted by Hoopo at 2:15 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


a terrible band that in my experience is only loved by would-be sexual criminals anyway,

Is your experience just really, really limited, or is this simply a rhetorical flourish that got away from you a bit? The overbearing prevalence of RHCP during the 90s is an unpleasant memory and yet this statement is still completely bewildering to me.
posted by vanar sena at 2:39 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not only was that statement bewildering, but it was easily the single dumbest thing I've read today. (And considering the fact that I just exposed my brain to Red Hot Chili Peppers lyrics, that's really saying something.)
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:50 PM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I was 6 when they wore socks on their dongs, so. There's definitely an energy to their early music that's intriguing, but I can only name maybe one or two songs they did before By The Way that I enjoy. I don't like Give It Away, Suck My Kiss, Scar Tissue (ugh), that monstrosity that was linked above (seriously, wat), Soul To Squeeze, Aeroplane . . .

This is why I say bring it all to light. I'll always like their music but you don't get a pass on poor behavior because you've changed your image. Anthony Kiedis could totally have taken responsibility for his actions and used the band's new image and turn-around to say, "Look, I was a stupid brah and I was gross to women, here's how to not be like me," and make amends, but instead it's completely swept under the rug.
posted by chainsofreedom at 3:04 PM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, chainsofreedom, exactly. That's what Adam Yauch did with Beastie Boys' earlier music and attitudes about women.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:29 PM on April 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think no matter how much we like a form of art, no matter how talented the artist, no matter how introspective they appear to be*, they are ultimately human, and the human capacity for indifference is universal. For example, David Foster Wallace is not a person I would have tagged as "a total shit to women", but there you go. Artists must be held accountable for their actions, and then each person on their own kind of has to decide their limits for figuring out at which point those actions detract from the art itself.

* and the RHCP are not at all in the top percentile of any of these things
posted by schroedinger at 3:30 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Further testimony about Anthony Kiedis.

Forgive me but that was not exactly the most damning indictment I've ever read:

He was friendly and chatty and attentive, and we got along fine, but I got the impression after a while that it was all some kind of charm offensive. I remember a woman from the record company turned up during the tour and she was eulogising about how Anthony remembered her birthday and her favourite food and where she'd gone to college etc etc even though they had only met once months and months ago, and she was so dazzled by this and it made me think - Oh, I get it. This is his shtick - he wows the ladies by using these tricks to collect acolytes for the Anthony Kiedis fan club. It's like those books that tell you how to manipulate women to get laid. And it's just really tiresome because you feel that all your entire conversation was a complete waste of time - it was all just a game with one unswerving aim and you were being conned.

Sounds like she basically picked up a creepy vibe from him while he was doing stuff straight out of Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence people. Fair enough, everyone should probably listen to their brains when the creep alarm goes off, and there's certainly enough evidence in this thread to confirm any suspicion of Kiedis being a creep. But...from this it sounds like they just had a friendly conversation?
posted by Hoopo at 3:36 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


The music industry is especially sleazy. People do shit like destroy people's lives telling themselves it's necessary to get a good performance out of them. Producers are the worst about that kind of shit. Knew a respected producer who used to encourage a friend's self destructive addictions in the studio, then years later, the same crowd socially rejected and ostracized the guy for being a lost cause and casually joked about how he might be dead. Especially lately, people in the arts seem to have become viciously sadistic as a point of perverse pride. It's horrible.

This is pretty much every industry and all walks of life. I've seen it in business, the arts, public interest. Doing a quick Google search you can read insane stories and lawsuits about brutal, sadistic sexual harassment at high-profile non-profits, male bosses and female bosses. It's just the way of the world, and anyone who says otherwise is willfully naive, maliciously naive, or just inexperienced.

So I guess you either become one of these yourself, or you live under the boot. Not even lefty progressives care about any of this, except in empty words, so I guess if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
posted by gehenna_lion at 3:42 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


> So I guess you either become one of these yourself, or you live under the boot.

three archetypes: Sociopaths, Losers and the Clueless
posted by bukvich at 4:00 PM on April 25, 2016


three archetypes: Sociopaths, Losers and the Clueless

Rev. Stang called 'em: Larrys, Curleys, and Moes.
posted by ovvl at 4:10 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


what's wrong with playing the national anthem (on bass at some sports thing)? not trolling - just curious about us social mores.
posted by andrewcooke at 4:10 PM on April 25, 2016


This is pretty much every industry and all walks of life.

It's not, though. Not to the degree that it occurs in the music and entertainment industry. Sure, you can find shitty, exploitative bosses in all industries--but you can also find HR departments that do their job, successful civil lawsuits, and an expectation that you will adhere to professional standards.

When we say "oh, this happens everywhere" we run the risk of dismissing that it happens disproportionately in certain industries, especially ones that are male-dominated and an unwillingness to follow rules is actively celebrated.
posted by schroedinger at 4:48 PM on April 25, 2016 [11 favorites]


andrewcooke, nothing, but the bar for doing it as a rock solo was set very high by Jimi Hendrix's performance of it, and the redditor bassists were merely opining that it was a bad version
posted by thelonius at 4:50 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's not, though. Not to the degree that it occurs in the music and entertainment industry. Sure, you can find shitty, exploitative bosses in all industries--but you can also find HR departments that do their job, successful civil lawsuits, and an expectation that you will adhere to professional standards.

I've worked a lot of jobs in a lot of different industries, and I'd say you're wrong here. I think people just have a hard time admitting that this really is just life across the board, and it's not contained in any one industry or another.

The actually good, ethical work environments are the anomaly, and not the other way around. I've yet to encounter one. From Fortune 50 global tech companies, to publishers, to government agencies, to non-profits, to Fortune 500 retailers, nope. Warped, demented, exploitative shit all around.

If the music industry is worse than this, like people are literally murdering each other in the hallways, or stabbing heroin into unwitting people, then count me wrong. Maybe it's beyond the normal bounds of sleaze you find everywhere else in life. I wouldn't know, and if that's the case, then god help your soul if you get involved with that. I'll take sadism, rampant sexual harassment, and career assassination any day over that.
posted by gehenna_lion at 5:03 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


This isn't just the industry, it's a generational problem. It's a cycle of sickness. I don't know what the fuck to do about people like Anthony Kiedis and Terry Richardson and the way most of pop culture looks away from both the crimes that happened to them and the crimes they've spent their adult lives perpetuating. I don't know what to think about the way their lives seem to be so out in the open and yet none of the things that make me want to take legal action against them or cry seem to be topics of mass outrage.

Whenever I think about Anthony Kiedis' hypersexuality and decades of abusive sexual behavior I think of the passage from his book about when he was a kid and had just moved out to Hollywood to live with his father, John Michael "Blackie" Dammet. At 12 Anthony is booted out of his mom and stepfather's family, and moves out to the Sunset Strip, somehow allowed to live in the custody of his father. Dad is a drug dealer who smokes his middle school age son up, gives him coke, and, at 14, heroin. When Anthony is twelve years old, his father coerces one of his 19 year old models to take Anthony's virginity. A few years later, he and Flea basically take to the streets of California as feral children. I don't remember if the passage recounting this in Kiedis' book, 'Scar Tissue', talks about this as a rape or talks about his father as having molested him by proxy. I'm not sure if Kiedis has successfully or truly kicked the heroin habit that was started for him when he was in middle school. I don't know how many girls and women like this editor or the senior photo girlfriend he's dragged into that destructive tornado with him.

Looking up at the scumbag high school girlfriend passage up there, I'm reminded that Terry Richardson's father was sexually involved with a 17 year old Angelica Huston when Terry was living with them as a young adolescent. If you want to go down the list of boxes to tick of adults with no boundaries, molestation, drug exposure, it's all there too. Angelica was in the house when Roman Polanski raped a 13 year old girl. Terry works in NYC and is celebrated for his creative genius and is allowed to routinely rape and harrass women as society's price to pay for his talent, just like young Angelica and young Terry were considered an acceptable price for his father's.

In a lot of ways as a native Angeleno I feel like the RHCP's music is something spiritual, a modern day cult of Bacchus. When Anthony Kiedis sings, "I walk through the hills cause she knows who I am" or "She's my priestess, I'm your priest", he isn't joking, whether consciously or not, he is participating in some kind of pagan worship of this city in a very serious way. You want to know why people from LA love them so much? This is why. They're channeling some old, old human impulses about art and wildness, art and intoxication and sex. "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" is just an album title, but it's also not. I want to say we as a society have moved past the part of Dionysian rites where the worshippers are torn apart by their god or where human sacrifice is tolerated but it seems like that's not something we are yet prepared to do. But I think it would be fucking worth it for Anthony's record labels to hold him accountable for not trying to fucking rape women in the hallway. Or to name it when these artist men are raping their children.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 5:12 PM on April 25, 2016 [29 favorites]


Schroedinger's link regarding David Foster Wallace leads into a question dependent from my earlier question in this thread: If you enjoy a work of art, but that could be affected by your knowledge of the artist's behavior, then does it not behoove you to do due diligence on the artist's behavior? Because man, I do not have enough time to read that many biographies.
posted by ejs at 6:48 PM on April 25, 2016


I'm originally from LA and I have a visceral, knee-jerk distaste for the Red Hot Chili Peppers matched only by my distaste for Garrison Keillor's voice. The only song by them I like is "Higher Ground", which is convenient because I can just listen to the Stevie Wonder original instead.

I have the same reaction to both, though I'm hard pressed to see any connection.

I'm not much surprised to see that members of a party bro band were gross, though it is still disappointing. Other people managed to do better, and they could have too.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:07 PM on April 25, 2016


andrewcooke - it wasn't just some sports thing. It was Kobe Bryant's last game. Kobe Bryant with the rape charge.
posted by queensissy at 11:16 PM on April 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


I loved rhcp growing up. Got all their albums on CD from Columbia House and made tapes for all my friends with more watchful parents. They finally came through podunk when they toured with Foo Fighters and I went to see them. During the course of their show (maybe 70 minutes?) Chad Smith pissed off the back of the stage like three times. As in urinated. I know taking pee breaks would have been disruptive but I could only think of the poor bastards who would be cleanining it all up. That kinda pierced the veil of adulation. They'd already started their decline musically IMO but we're still "fun." And then I never really heard anything good about them again...
posted by the christopher hundreds at 1:45 AM on April 26, 2016


I get that their lyrical content expresses the kind of sexual aggression brought forth in these stories, but I'm not sure it's entirely helpful to respond to these testimonials by saying no one should be surprised, whether because of the band's message, or this is the music industry in general, or this is all industries everywhere. Whatever the motivations it sounds decidedly diminishing, like none of us should be repulsed or angry about this because what did we expect. I mean, there are definitely systemic problems in the music industry, clearly, but I think responding to individual incidents of sexual harrassment/assault by saying sexual harrassment/assault is everywhere misses the point here.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:12 AM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I first became aware of the RHCP on James Whale's late-night TV show in the UK, in about 1990. Their antics toward actress Cleo Rocos from about 2:03 are interesting in light of the above.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:45 AM on April 26, 2016


"...the RHCP's music is something spiritual, a modern day cult of Bacchus. When Anthony Kiedis sings, 'I walk through the hills cause she knows who I am' or 'She's my priestess, I'm your priest,' he isn't joking; whether consciously or not, he is participating in some kind of pagan worship of this city in a very serious way. You want to know why people from LA love them so much? This is why. They're channeling some old, old human impulses about art and wildness, art and intoxication and sex. 'Blood Sugar Sex Magik' is just an album title, but it's also not. I want to say we as a society have moved past the part of Dionysian rites where the worshippers are torn apart by their god or where human sacrifice is tolerated but it seems like that's not something we are yet prepared to do."
Yes, exactly. The same ancient Pow'r was afoot one Mardi Gras when for a few magnificent hours Dionysius was embodied in streets of New Orleans in the form of T.J. Hooker who sat in awesome majesty on a parade float and waved a scepter over the drunken sex magikians of the city and they all fell to rapin one another in a big ol' plasticbeaded pile of pure spirituality. Also every Black Friday I hit Target and smash Bartles 'n' James bottles over the heads of the worshippers and when they protest, I say, "it seems like giving this up is not something you are yet prepared to do," and then I pee on them. IOW, why you putting on some intensely hifalutin Crowleyesque airs about the underwhelming news that Los Angeles has birthed yet another frat party band that is acting like tools and scoring the toolish behavior of their fans?
posted by Don Pepino at 6:54 AM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


"I've worked a lot of jobs in a lot of different industries, and I'd say you're wrong here. I think people just have a hard time admitting that this really is just life across the board, and it's not contained in any one industry or another. "

No, really, you're being wrong and dismissive.

The top industry for reported sexual harassment is the restaurant and hospitality industry, where relatively young, relatively powerless employees are regularly harassed by both customers and bosses. Many of the workplaces add alcohol to the mix, along with other forms of substance abuse in a largely cash market.

Given that while there is harassment in every industry, reported rates vary across industries, the claim that this is just life across the board is wrong. From there, when you look at the music industry, or even entertainment industries on a broader scale, you have a lot of young, relatively powerless employees and workers, in often sexualized environments, with a significant amount of alcohol and substance abuse, huge egos and an ethos of valorized transgression. The only thing you don't have is the traditional employer-employee relationship, which both weakens protections for workers and diminishes the ability to report harassment.

That this is also an industry with a long, documented history of egregious financial abuse, outside of general business norms, would imply that sexual abuse and harassment is likewise prevalent. You may have worked in many industries — I've worked in a few — but I can't remember anyone lauding CEOs for fucking 14-year-olds. The "rock and roll lifestyle" is not the same as the "non-profit lifestyle."
posted by klangklangston at 9:36 AM on April 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


« Older The Headless Women of Hollywood   |   I'm confused about the crisps/mug recommended... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments