she’s a girl with glasses

everyone’s afraid of their own life
February 11, 2010, 2:50 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

A not-so-shocking confession: I am a John Mayer fan. Anyone who talks to me for more than five minutes finds this out. Perhaps embarrassingly, it’s become one of my defining character traits when being described to other people: short, glasses, writer, funny, obnoxious, John Mayer fangirl. I’m a person easily led into obsessions, I admit, but, frankly, this one has always been perplexing, since it began, rather innocuously, with a Google of his name after hearing it repeatedly in reference to Jessica Simpson.

Oh, that guy. I remember him.

And I went on with my day. A week later, I downloaded a couple songs, ones I’d heard on the radio. Then I followed that up with buying his first album. And then my natural inclination towards excess kicked in and, as of today, my music files contain 3 days, 4 hours, 45 minutes and 52 seconds of his music/interviews and other assorted mash-ups and whatnot. I could say that I’m ashamed but, frankly, I’m not. I like him, I like his music. I’ve seen him in concert and have tickets to his next appearance here in Denver in March. I follow him on Twitter (but, kids, let’s get this straight: I, for whatever reason, had a Twitter account long before it was cool, and certainly before John Mayer showed up on it. I still don’t know where or how I ended up on there, but my account dates to May 2008, which is a millenia in internet time) and actually have a shirt and calendar. Okay, so maybe it is embarrassing. I was that same girl in high school – my Beatles collection was epic.

As it is, I’ll proudly admit: I like John Mayer. And so the hubub of yesterday was shocking even to me. Especially to me, I suppose. If you’re unaware of what occurred, I direct you to this article. Don’t worry, you’ve probably read select parts of it already and were rightfully enraged. Really, I do recommend anyone already enraged read the interview in its entirety, if only to actually have context. Even if you don’t want to, you have an inkling of the rage that swept the internet in such a wave that me, your humble non-celebrity gossip blogger, was actually compelled to spend several hours discussing it over the past 24 hours. It comes with the territory of being the residential John Mayer freak (fun fact: within my family and circle of friends, “my/Lorrie’s boyfriend” has become short hand for John Mayer), and, I suppose, someone who both talks and types a lot.

Twitter is not the best place for those discussions.

At first, I didn’t have much of an opinion on the matter. My first tweet on the matter, to another fan, in regards to the query “was [I] the only one who read the article and didn’t hate him?” was “i didn’t. it’s pretty much… him. i’m not sure why everyone is up in arms, he’s always had a big mouth.” And, twenty-four hours later, that’s still my position… mostly.

It was when I realized the exact topic of my last blog related to this almost uncomfortably that I chose to think about it a bit more. I’ve always maintained that those who want fame, who want to be Oscar-winning actors, Grammy-winning musicians, even Pulitzer Prize-winning writers have a different sort of drive than other people. It’s an ambition I don’t think any of us can really comprehend. Despite my frank desire to be famous, to be a rock star, I don’t have that singular focus. I can’t even imagine having both the work ethic and drive to be something that huge. And I think John Mayer falls solidly in that “other” category, that breed of people who don’t think in the same way the rest of us do.

Am I excusing his comments? Not really. He said stupid things. He apologized last night, both on Twitter and on stage at his concert, a real and honest-sounding apology, one that I believe you might have to have a heart of stone to at least not feel slightly moved by. I believe he’s honestly sorry. That does not immediately excuse his behavior, his comments, his jokes, as they are. What it does shed light on is his humanity, something that it seems a majority of people are willing to overlook. Is he a racist? I don’t think so. I think he said stupid shit he’s been allowed to say around friends, which is always a very different audience for your jokes. What he said was not deliberately cruel, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t learn from it.

And the reaction of the public to it very much shows we have something to learn from it as well. The changing nature of our media has blurred and warped many of the lines we used to have to guide us in regards to socially acceptable behavior. Is it ever fair to say something that is borderline racist? No. Is it fair to tear a man to pieces for his words before he’s likely even woken up for the day? How has it become that we’re allowed to infer all meanings and context from one interview?

We’re an unfair society. But we’re one, I think, I hope, that can learn from its mistakes. I’m hoping John honestly finds balance and we, as the viewing public, might learn to stop putting people up on pedestals just to tear them down. Because I’m really bloody tired of negativity being the only thing we’re able to react to anymore.

Addendum, sixteen hours later:
I’ve been discussing and writing on this very subject in various formats since it blew up the internet. In an effort not to overstay my welcome on anyone’s browser, I picked a facet of the topic I believe I have a well-formed opinion about and wrote on that. In that, I believe I may have left readers with the idea that I condone what was said, and am calling for an excuse for the man.

I most decidedly am not. I’ve been somewhat physically ill over this, after reading the scores of people who were honestly hurt and troubled by his words. I am the first to admit: I don’t know racism. I am white and was born in a middle class family. I have learned about racism over the years, both through my own research and through what friends of color have shared with me. What John Mayer said is, yes, racist. Do I believe he is a racist? No. I have been discussing his incredible sense of entitlement and how I believe this is the result of such a thing. His shocking and, honestly, horrific comments should not be brushed aside. He has quite a bit to answer for, both to the public in general, and to his fans, in particular those in the very groups he was so callous towards.

The issue I focused on above was the whole: how easily we go negative after making someone a god. I don’t think this happened in a vacuum. John Mayer is a human just as anyone else, a human with incredible talents, ones he should be lauded for, but a human all the same. He, and we, have made him into a god and now are willing to destroy him after one interview. He shouldn’t be let off the hook for his comments, but we also shouldn’t be allowed to damn the rest of his life and career for them. Why shouldn’t someone be allowed to grow and change? Why shouldn’t we tell him he said something stupid, inflammatory, offensive and hurtful and then encourage a change, in him and anyone else with those views?

This is what I meant. And now have said.


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