Monday, June 06, 2005

The Ignorant American

The Braffies. Already a beloved American tradition, and they haven't even happened yet. For the first time, here is the full list of celebrity guests, musical acts and presenters who will fill out the line-up for Braffy Night 2005, The Worst Person Alive Awards, sponsored by Mountain Dew Warm (it's lukewarm 2 the X-Treme!).


And it will all be hosted by Cedric the Entertainer! Don't miss it. This is one of Satan's only two North American appearances this year (he's doing the Braffies and Bonnaroo, THAT'S IT).

Okay, on to the nomination. Tonight, we come to not praise an Angry American, a country singer who has paraded his own unique brand of racist xenophobia in front of the entire nation in a defiant rebel yell against good taste, decency and rational thought. Folks, you can't mess with God's America, but you certainly can mess with Toby Keith, and that's what I intend to do right now.

You hear the word "gobsmacked" occasionally, but I never knew what it meant until one night several months ago. I was dining with my parents at the very classy Orange County hotspot Opah when we got into an extremely bizarre back-and-forth with a couple seated at the bar. They seemed somewhat normal, if a bit gregarious and tipsy, until the conversation turned to their plans for later that evening.

My parents plans, of course, consisted of going home and going immediately to bed, because my parents insist on waking up before the entire donut-making industry. For them, the Farm Report is late-afternoon viewing. I have no idea what they expect to enjoy between 5 and 7 am that the rest of us are missing out on, but whatever it is, it negates even the possibility of remaining awake past 10 pm under any circumstances save, perhaps, worldwide nuclear war. And even then, only if the fallout has physically reached Orange County, California.

But I digress. This couple, who otherwise seemed somewhat sane, was going to see Toby Keith perform at the Los Angeles Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim. "Toby Keith actually performs in California," I thought to myself. "I would have imagined only states in which the number of NASCAR collectable plates exceeds the number of people with all of their teeth had big Toby Keith concerts."

I was wrong. Toby Keith is popular everywhere. People actually like this horseshit.

I mean, okay, the guy sounds cheesy and lame like just about every country singer currently plying his or her trade in America. I don't want to hate on country music as a genre, because there are plenty of fine artists who have worked in the country-western milieu, even if it's not neccessarily my favorite. But, man, country music just sucks so badly now, just represents everything ugly in the American character - it's taste for oversimplification, it's fear and hatred of progress and displays of intelligence, its prejudicial and exclusion-oriented religiocity and its tendency towards really big, stupid looking hats.

Oh, if only his worst crimes were against fashion!

Let's take a lyrical look at the song that catapulted Toby to both infamy and superstardom, "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)":

American Girls and American Guys
We’ll always stand up and salute
We’ll always recognize
When we see Old Glory Flying
There’s a lot of men dead
So we can sleep in peace at night
When we lay down our head

My daddy served in the army
Where he lost his right eye
But he flew a flag out in our yard
Until the day that he died
He wanted my mother, my brother, my sister and me
To grow up and live happy
In the land of the free.

Okay, nothing really horrible so far. It's incredibly trite, but it does have the virtue of being true. Keith's dad really was a patriotic, eyeless veteran.

Now this nation that I love
Has fallen under attack
A mighty sucker punch came flyin’ in
From somewhere in the back
Soon as we could see clearly
Through our big black eye
Man, we lit up your world
Like the 4th of July

More problematic...

Keith, like all ignorant Americans, confuses interpersonal policy with diplomatic American foreign policy. He equates how countries should behave toward one another with how people behave toward one another. What happens when you're in a bar and someone you don't really even know comes in and hits you in the face for no reason?

You get up, look around, try and real quick figure out who hit you and hit that motherfucker back, am I right? Well, okay, that's not what I would do. I would probably start to cry a little bit, in that way that you do when you don't want to start crying, and then go to the bathroom and throw up. But a manly man would do the throwing a punch thing.

So Keith approves of America responding in the same way. Someone crashed a plane into your building! Hit that sumofabitch. You don't know who it was? Just hit the sumofabitch closest to you. Right on!

Also, there's the whole "delighting in the conquest of your enemies" thing that's not very dignified or, can I say, American. After WWII, we didn't dance around in the ruins of Germany sneering and writing songs about how we messed up them Krauts what good. And considering the fact that this song was about Afghanistan, which was already a pretty janky country to live in to begin with, it's almost inhuman to write a catchy, radio-friendly country tune celebrating its further degredation and destruction.

I mean, that line "light up like the 4th of July," that's bombs. He's happy that we went over and dropped bombs on Afghani people, because 9/11 was a tragedy and they're brown and they had it coming.

Hey Uncle Sam
Put your name at the top of his list
And the Statue of Liberty
Started shakin’ her fist
And the eagle will fly
Man, it’s gonna be hell
When you hear Mother Freedom
Start ringin’ her bell
And it feels like the whole wide world is raining down on you
Brought to you Courtesy of the Red White and Blue

Oh, man...Is this really what we want America to stand for in the world? The country that wants to stomp on every other country? Making this guy a popular musician is like sending Stone Cold Steve Austin to the UN. We're communicating to the world that this guy speaks for us.

Toby, the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of international peace and brotherhood, you stupid fuck. It was a gift from another country, it's urging the world to send us its huddled masses yearning to breathe free. That's the whole point. It doesn't have a fist, for a very good reason! Nowhere on that inscription does it read, "unless you blow up some of my buildings, in which case it's on you camel jockey motherfucker!"

All this patriotic/militaristic imagery, conflated with the word "Freedom." As if a country representing real freedom would have anything to do with the merciless slaughter of innocents we call the War on Terror. As if any country interested in spreading freedom could also be telling Muslim fanatics to "bring it on." It's all right there in the song. Toby envisions a world in which "freedom" is raining down on people like napalm, making their world into a living hell. Sounds great, donnit?

Justice will be served
And the battle will rage
This big dog will fight
When you rattle his cage
And you’ll be sorry that you messed withThe U.S. of A.
'Cause we`ll put a boot in your ass
It's the American way

You know what I never realized? This song was actually quite prophetic. It was written right after 9/11...He didn't actually know for a fact that we'd end oup in a long, protracted war of cultures. He was just postulating how America would respond, and he was 100% right. Remember, back then, the media was totally willing to let Americans believe this would be a brief, easy campaign to take out the Taliban. There wasn't yet strong talk of going to Iraq at all.

And Toby was so right. The battle is raging. We're a big dog, and we're sure fighting. Although the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks aren't exactly sorry they messed with the US of A. They got what they wanted. Hardline Muslims now dominate the world's focus. The US is involved in an extended, casualty-heavy military action against Muslims in the Middle East, enraging other Muslims and encouraging further activism. Suicide bombings and attacks against Israelis are on the rise. Issues involving oil pipelines in Afghanistan, the Saudi royal family's relationship with the US government and US military presence throughout the Arab world dominate international newspapers. Surely, we've played right into their hands.

And of course, Toby winds up with the sound bite, "We'll stick a boot up your ass" line. This song is disgusting. It's a national disgrace. Every time he opens his mouth to sing it, he should be pelted with manure.

A few years removed from the WTC attack, even Toby's kind of realized his song is inappropriate. Here's the message about the song from his website:

This was written a few days after the September 11th terrorist attacks. My father was a soldier in the Army in the ‘50s and always flew a flag to show his patriotism. I had just lost him in a car wreck six months before the attacks took place, so I wrote my feelings down. I never really intended for this to be a song. It was originally titled “Angry American.”

Notice the backpeddle? "I never really intended for this to be a song." Then why did you put it to music, record yourself singing it, release it as a single, perform it on live television and in concert and make a music video starring yourself singing the song? Jackass. Of course he intended to make it a song. What else could it be? Slam poetry? He's just trying to distance himself a bit from the song, because it's so inappropriate and hateful. So he's both ugly and disingenuous. What a combo!

In the summer of 2002, Toby was scheduled to appear on an ABC July 4th special and perform "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue." Anchor Peter Jennings got hold of the lyrics of Toby's song and used his veto power to get Keith booted off the show. Toby Keith proceeded to slam Peter Jennings to any reporter that would speak with him.

I thought he never even intended it as a song?

From the USA Today article of July 2002:

"I find it interesting that he's not from the U.S.," Keith says of Jennings, who is Canadian. "I bet Dan Rather'd let me do it on his special."

Man, Toby is so patriotic, he's even prejudiced against Canadians! Mmmm...that's good jingoism.
ABC News spokeswoman Cathie Levine downplays the controversy and says that Keith's camp overstates the reasons he's not going to be on the show.

"They talked to him, but they talked to a lot of people," Levine says. "There were a lot of factors in play," among them a travel conflict, since Keith already had booked a show in Provo, Utah, that night. "The whole production is still in the planning stages."

So, ABC denies that Toby was ever offered an actual slot on the show. Would he possibly trump up all of these charges in an attempt to weasel himself a slot on a big, attention-grabbing network TV showcase? Hmmm???

"By the time the 4th of July gets here, that thing'll be No. 1, and it'll sit there for weeks," says Keith, who returned this week from a USO tour to the Balkans.

"It was a song I was inspired to write because I lost (my father) six months before 9/11. Nobody wrote an angry American song, and this was one. It was the way everybody felt when they saw those two buildings fall."
Toby's egomania makes Kevin Spacey look martyr-like in comparison. First off, he predicts his song will remain number 1 for weeks and week, because it's so freaking good. I mean, it wasn't even supposed to be a song and look how well it's doing!

Then, he ventures to say that his stupid little country song about kicking Muslim ass speaks for all of America. It was the way everybody felt when they saw those two buildings fall.

Guess what, Keith, you jagoff? It wasn't how I felt! I felt, "man, this sucks...I wonder who did this to us...I bet that ape in the White House will use it to start some war with some unfortunate country full of brown people...Do I have to go to work today?"

What I did not think at 8 am that morning, watching a New York office building crumble to pieces like it was nothing, was "Hey, you dumb A-rabs, we're a-commin' for ya. I'm gonna stick my boot up yo ass! Yeeeeeeeeeeee-haw!"

Not to change the subject so late in the game, but you wanna see what Toby looked like in the 80's?

Hey now, hey now, don't dream it's over...Seriously, don't dream it's over. We're got a ways to go yet. I know...this is a long nomination. But this is a total shitbag, and I want to make sure I've covered all the bases.

The Smoking Gun grants us a look at Toby Keith's rider, which has this illuminating factoid:

"Any opening act must match ARTIST'S merchandise price...ARTIST has his own roaming glow ring, glow rose and live rose operation. No glow products of any nature or any live roses are allowed to be sold by anyone other than representatives of the ARTIST in or around the venue."

TK, you are a delight...So, opening acts who don't have nearly the name recognition or ability to mass produce of a major act like Toby Keith have no choice but to charge his exhorbitant merch prices, just to make sure he can't be undersold. Bastard. And what's with that glow rose stuff...I guess there's nothing wrong with that, but how weird...little plastic roses with light bulbs in them? Who wants that again? And for what reason?

Submitted for your approval...Toby Keith. Redneck. Owner of a lonely goatee. Angry angry American. Hungry hungry hippo. Will that list soon include Braffy-winner? Only time will tell...


Konrad said...

Jessica Simpson, where has your love gone? It's not in your music, no!! You need a vacation to wake up your caveman and take them to mexico........

Anonymous said...

To whoever wrote "The Ignorant American"


Anonymous said...

Yeah, Toby Keith is awfully icky, especially in these sensitive times. Unfortunately, there are too many other folks like him and worse then him to be a really serious contender. Besides, the Antonio dude is unbeatable.

chuck mills said...

that is what is wrong with the country now. no score soccer games, no dodge ball, and people like you. you have no spine. your mother was a femenist and casterated you at birth. there nothing ignorant about the song. if it wernt for warriors you wouldn't be living in this great country. warriors made this country. bitches like you stayed with the woman and did the women work. hell look at the state you live in, its a disaster and i cant wait til it fails,and it will. it all started with that hippie shit over there.warriors keep you safe also. when we catch those rag head terrorist alive and they come here for a trial. you hippie fux send them home and they fight us again. we look out for you but you all hate us. if you dont like american culture (warrior) then leave. we have enough women around.