PWR BTTM Is A Disgusting Part Of A Bigger Problem In The LGBTQ Community AND In The Music Industry
And I’m here to talk about it.
I’m sitting here staring at my music collection and thinking about all the problematic, gross, cis het dude bands I idolized when I was a teenager. I was so determined to find masculine role models since I felt so alienated from female role models, that I listened to all kinds of horrible people who did horrible things.
But that was then, and this is now, and I was thrilled to discover PWR BTTM, whose songs actually spoke to the experiences of my queer/trans friends and of my own coming of age as someone who had no label (yet) for what/who they were.
In discovering and affirming my identity as a queer trans musician (even if it meant not auditioning for projects featuring cis het guys because I worried they would be transphobic assholes), I started to realize how much I’ve always hated the macho, misogynist posturing of so many of the rock n’ roll bands that so many musicians worship. Why do we continue dismissing or even outright rewarding, this behavior? It’s gross and not okay.
And even in the punk scene, misogyny is rampant. Everyone’s running around in their Misfits t-shirts, but come on, “Last Caress” is fucking disgusting. Let’s don’t even get me started on NOFX and their juvenile songs…it’s all in good fun, except that at the end of the day, we could simply be doing better. Or even the fact that a good 90% of the punk rock that most people hear about, is cis het white dudes. What exactly do they have to complain or rebel about? The system? The system that rewards them again and again?
When you’re a band like PWR BTTM and you’re providing something different than that, and you’re writing lyrics that speak directly to the experiences of the LGBTQ community, I think there is a degree of responsibility involved. When you’re being held up as role models for a community that’s already so wounded and so done with what society has done to them, that’s serious shit. So when I found out not only about Ben’s sexual assault allegations, but when I read their evasive, half-assed non-apology, I saw red.
I know we live in an age of open letters and I think it has the potential to do serious harm to abuse and assault survivors, who are apparently being asked to do all the work here. Which…are you fucking kidding me with that shit, PWR BTTM? I don’t need to take out any more pitchforks…your career is over and you fucking deserve it.
But let’s take a minute to think back on all the cis het men in the music industry who have behaved the same way, and had nothing happen to their careers. That’s a fucking problem. I always laugh when I hear aging baby boomer musicians (and it’s always cis het men) rant about how “rock n’ roll is dead.” Oh, you mean your gross, problematic, hedonistic lifestyle where you destroyed yourselves with drugs and treated women like shit, is over? Aw, oh no! That’s so sad, do you want a cup of Shut The Fuck Up to cry into?
Getting back to the LGBTQ community, can we talk for a fucking minute about how rampant abuse and assault is in this community? And how abusers repeatedly use their own history of abuse and assault, as justification for behaving the way they do? That’s another fucking problem. What the fuck is it with this determination to hear both sides of these accusations? This is the real world, not high school debate class, so no, that’s not how it works. In our clambering over each other to accept and hold space for everyone in our community, we often end up accidentally letting in people who use their power and their privilege to destroy it. And that’s fucked up.
I hope the music industry (what’s left of it, HAAAAAA HA) takes this opportunity to think long and hard about why it’s taken 25 years for some of the shitty sexist bands full of abusers to self-destruct, when meanwhile it only took PWR BTTM 25 hours. Seriously, why is Axl Rose still allowed to make music? Get these assholes out of here…get them out of the Rock And Roll Hall of “Fame” and make room for the artists who truly broke new ground and deserve to be there. Let PWR BTTM be a lesson to the cis het world and their bullshit.
As for our community, we need to do better. We need to stop cutting people slack if they have a history of abusing or assaulting others. And we need to find the people out there who are better role models, and tell them how much we love them…because right now, they could probably stand to hear it.