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Woodstock ’99 Epitomized The White Male Gatekeeping Of Rock Music In The MTV Era

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If you were anywhere near a TV in the summer of 1999, images from the hellfire that was Woodstock were inescapable. The renowned three-day rock and roll festival, which once promoted messages of peace and love in its hippie era of 1969, turned into all-out anarchy at the end of the ’90s, complete with drug-fueled riots, arson, vandalism and rampant rape.

Or as a few of the folks in Netflix’s new docuseries “Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99” describe it: It was like “the fall of Hanoi” or “Lord of the Flies.”

But it was neither a war zone nor a scene from a dystopian novel. Those interviewed in the docuseries — including journalists, festival organizers, musicians and attendees — often point to a number of logistical issues that catalyzed these horrific events. Those included the insufficient security, up-charged food and drinks, and malfunctioning sanitation that somehow led to attendees walking around drenched in a mud/feces concoction.

The intense July heat and the rage anthems of some of the alternative and new metal bands that permeated across the festival, like Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff,” are also mentioned as motivators to the mayhem in Rome, New York.

But if you were Black and familiar with the alternative rock scene in 1999, you know that there is another troubling truth about Woodstock that still hasn’t gotten the study it deserves: Although it catered to a variety of music listeners, it was co-opted by a quarter-million mostly young white male fans who primarily attended to engage in nihilist behavior — by themselves.

A group of young men climb to the top of a sound tower and knock it down in footage from the music festival shown in “Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99.”

They were hopped up on their own bitterness, entitlement and a consistent diet of misogyny in the era of MTV and “Girls Gone Wild.” Even if you weren’t there to see it in person, that image alone should be pure nightmare fuel.

So most people who didn’t fit into that — even those who were just as into acts like Rage Against the Machine, Korn and the Dave Matthews Band as much as anyone else — knew not to show up for Woodstock.

“Because it’s not for us,” said Laina Dawes, an ethnomusicologist and the author of “What Are You Doing Here? A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal.” As part of her work, she talks to Black women in punk, hardcore and the metal scenes.

“They wouldn’t be going to that because they would not feel comfortable going to a show where those bands are playing,” Dawes added. “They’re big Korn fans. But they also would not feel safe being in that environment.”

Truthfully, by the end of the ’90s especially, there was no typical fan of alternative rock music. That’s because the previously more underground genre had gone mainstream. It was always on the radio, and music videos like the one for Korn’s “Freak on a Leash” or Limp Bizkit’s “Nookie” were heavily played on VH1 and MTV’s “TRL,” alongside Britney Spears and Aaliyah videos.

Alternative, though still dominated by images of cynical and/or depressed white guys, went pop.

Limp Bizkit lead singer Fred Durst performing for an amped-up crowd in a scene from Woodstock shown in the docuseries.
Limp Bizkit lead singer Fred Durst performing for an amped-up crowd in a scene from Woodstock shown in the docuseries.

“This was a very commercially successful, aggressive music that was distributed in a manner where anybody could get it,” Dawes said. “Limp Bizkit, for instance, went directly to the mainstream, so you could buy albums at Target. Same with Rage Against the Machine.”

With its wider audience by that time, alternative rock could more easily appeal to anyone who was going through anything at that time — whether it was mental illness, low self-esteem or angst. That is to say, practically every MTV viewer, regardless of race or gender.

“They have certain anthems and phrases in their music that anybody can latch on to,” Dawes said. “The most popular one is [Rage Against the Machine’s] ‘Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.’”

And rebellion, even wearing a disaffected statement from your favorite band printed on a T-shirt, was alluring to a generation that was in many ways already lost by the end of the decade.

To a large swath of young white men, though, alternative music spoke directly to them and their issues and was specifically for them. As we saw at Woodstock ’99, they reacted to that in ways that showed their inherent entitlement and violent objectives more than anything else.

A young man eagerly talks to an MTV News reporter in footage from the festival in Rome, New York.
A young man eagerly talks to an MTV News reporter in footage from the festival in Rome, New York.

“The music and these types of festivals are perfect for that type of demographic,” Dawes said. “Because it’s the only time they can seriously let loose without having any societal constraints placed upon them.”

Because they were virtually the only ones in the audience (Dawes recalled a Black friend who attended told her it was only him “and all the security guards”). But the interesting thing about Woodstock ’99 and the way white male privilege works is that while they made up most of the faces in the crowd, they were far from the only ones at the festival.

In fact, George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars, DMX, and Wyclef Jean and the Refugee Allstars were just a few of the Black acts that performed. Even in the alternative music space, there was Rage Against the Machine, which has mostly members of color, including its guitarist, who is Black.

For Dawes, the way young white male fans claimed this particular band, whose music was always political, is a function of white gatekeeping that persists within live rock music to this day.

“Black people are OK as long as we’re singing and dancing and performing for white people,” Dawes said. “But anything after that, hence the lyricism from Rage Against the Machine, is suspect, and you can just block it out. I don’t want to hear about that race shit.”

Vocalist Zack de la Rocha jumps high from the stage as he performs with guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk in Rage Against the Machine on Jan. 23, 1999, at The Troubadour in West Hollywood.
Vocalist Zack de la Rocha jumps high from the stage as he performs with guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk in Rage Against the Machine on Jan. 23, 1999, at The Troubadour in West Hollywood.

Lindsay Brice/Getty Images

Dawes has been a fan of the band since attending their first concert in her native Canada in the mid-’90s, where she and her friend were disappointed to realize they were the only Black people in the audience with mostly white “frat boys with their shirts off, beers in hand and baseball caps.” She says their message got totally lost on white audiences even back then.

I don’t want to hear about Native Indians and Leonard Peltier and all that crap,” she added, echoing the white fans’ limited attitudes. “I don’t want to hear about the Zapatistas. So white privilege is also taking these elements from the music that they like and getting rid of the rest.”

And creating an illusion that the music is actually theirs to enjoy as well as to contort to fit their own objectives, like what happened at Woodstock ’99.

“In doing so, that doesn’t really help diversify music fans,” Dawes said. “It certainly does not work on getting Black bodies into those festivals. So there’s people that want to go, but they’re like, ‘Hell, I ain’t going to go. Look at the crowd. It’s crazy. I don’t [want to] get my ass beat.’”

That’s a shame. Particularly because the white male mob at Woodstock ’99 not only monopolized the image of alternative rock toward the end of the decade, but at this festival they also took over the crowds for performing acts in other genres, like DMX, Sheryl Crow and Alanis Morissette. And corrupted their messages to fit inside their savagery as well.

A young woman is pulled out of a violent crowd at Woodstock '99 by festival security.
A young woman is pulled out of a violent crowd at Woodstock ’99 by festival security.

But that is what white male rock supremacy looked like at the end of the ’90s. It was holding up a sign in the audience demanding women like Crow and fellow feminist performer Jewel show them their “tits” or it was listening to the angry, personal lyrics of DMX and his use of the N-word and justifying chanting it along with him.

Because within this space, they felt justified doing so more than anywhere else.

“I think that there’s a lot of voyeurism within new metal in general because it allows white kids to think that they can behave in ways and get away with it, knowing that if Black folks did the same thing that they were doing, they’d be in jail,” Dawes explained. “There’s a power in that.”

But it further marginalizes both the nonwhite male performers, putting them in a similar danger as the many white female fans who were allegedly assaulted, and it shuts out all potential for a more diverse crowd.

We are gatekeeping, and this is a men’s event,” Dawes said. “But it’s not. And it never was. And it was never aimed to be. [Festivals] want all different bodies in there.”

A young man waves the American flag in the midst of wreckage at Woodstock '99.
A young man waves the American flag in the midst of wreckage at Woodstock ’99.

Woodstock ’99 obviously didn’t reflect that, though. What it became is yet another chapter in a long and enduring history of young American white men empowered by the twisted notion that their grievances give them permission to run amok.

“Right now, we’re living in a world where — look at all the mass shootings that are happening by young white men,” Dawes said. “Look at all the violence that is happening from white men.”

She pauses for a brief moment before getting to the crux of what’s not being talked about enough in conversations about Woodstock ’99.

“I mean, people are losing their ever-loving minds right now, but yet there will never be a kumbaya, come-to-Jesus moment, Let’s look at the pathology of white males and why they react with so much violence. Because those white people reflect the majority.”





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Joe Exotic Presses ’90 Day Fiancé’ Pal Jesse Meester For Biden Pardon

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Joe Exotic, the disgraced animal handler and incarcerated “Tiger King” star, is trying to turn a newfound friendship with “90 Day Fiancé” alum Jesse Meester into a presidential pardon.

Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, made that baffling claim of political reach Monday in an Instagram post that included a shirtless photo of the reality TV star.

“Meet my amazing dear friend Jesse Meester, actor, model, and so much more,” wrote Exotic, imprisoned since 2020 for animal abuse and attempted murder. “You will see him around on my stuff more and more as he is going to help me get a voice to the White House for President Biden to sign my pardon before November of this year.”

“Show him some love,” Exotic added. “Love you, Jesse.”

Exotic’s escapades were captured for the world in “Tiger King,” which became a COVID-19 lockdown hit on Netflix. His rancor toward fellow animal sanctuary owner Carole Baskin initially seemed amusing, but it was later revealed he tried to have her killed.

Behind bars, Exotic got divorced and was briefly engaged with a fellow inmate, according to PageSix.

He failed to convince Kim Kardashian to press his clemency case in 2020. Meester, though, seems all in.

“We love you too Joe!” Meester replied in the Instagram comments. “People close to you turned their back on you, but not us. You helped many people through lockdown and we should never forget the truth and authenticity you lived your life with.”

“It’s sad that the backstabbing and lying has become the norm [in] this society,” Meester continued. “Time to unite and fight back to get you out.”

Unlike Kardashian, whose support led to clemency for several inmates during Donald Trump’s administration, the “90 Day Fiancé” star appears to have no special political clout with the Biden administration.





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Raymond Briggs, ‘The Snowman’ Creator And Illustrator, Dead At 88

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Author and illustrator Raymond Briggs, best known for creating The Snowman, has died aged 88.

His family said in a statement that he died on Tuesday morning.

The Snowman was first released as a picture book in 1978, selling more than 5.5 million copies around the world, and was turned into a beloved TV adaptation.

Briggs was also the creator of the classics Fungus the Bogeyman and Father Christmas.

The Snowman is Raymond Briggs’ most famous work.

The Royal Mint via PA Media

“We know that Raymond’s books were loved by and touched millions of people around the world, who will be sad to hear this news,” his family said in a statement. “Drawings from fans – especially children’s drawings – inspired by his books were treasured by Raymond and pinned up on the wall of his studio.”

Born in London’s Wimbledon district, Briggs fell in love with illustrations while in grammar school. He attended a number of schools focused on art including UCL Slade School of Fine Art, a top-ranked art school at University College, London.

Briggs also taught students about illustration at Brighton School of Art, including three-time Kate Greenway Medal winner Chris Riddell. The award honors illustrations in children’s books every year. It’s an award Briggs won twice.

The Snowman, a book without words, depicts the story of a snowman that comes to life after a boy makes it. The tale later found an audience in the form of a cartoon that featured an introduction from rock legend David Bowie.

The book, and its accompanying film, were beloved classics in the lead up to Christmas and received an Academy Award nomination in 1982. The British Film Institute named “The Snowman” to its “100 Greatest British Television Programmes” in 2000.

“The Snowman and the Snowdog,” a 2012 sequel to the 1982 cartoon, was dedicated to the original’s producer, John Coates. The film also inspired a video game as well as plays.

Briggs, whose wife Jean died from leukemia in 1973, spent his later years living in Westmeston, Sussex. He also shared a home with his partner Liz, who died in 2015 after a battle with Parkinson’s disease, and her family.

“He lived a rich and full life, and said he felt lucky to have had both his wife Jean, and his partner of over 40 years Liz in his life. He shared his love of nature with Liz on South Downs walks and on family holidays to Scotland and Wales,” the family stated.

Briggs was particularly known for his sense of humor.

“He played practical jokes and enjoyed them being played on him. All of us close to him knew his irreverent humor – this could be biting in his work when it came to those in power. He liked the Guardian editorial describing himself as an ‘iconoclastic national treasure,’” the family added.





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21 Savage Contests Critics On Twitter Over His Violent Lyrics

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21 Savage is shutting down criticism over his lyrics, letting fans know his words aren’t an “instruction manual” for life.

The 29-year-old surfaced on Twitter Monday to defend the violent stories he often narrates in his song lyrics after tweeting a message about gun violence in Atlanta.

“Atlanta we have to do better put the f****** guns down!” he tweeted.

A Twitter user quickly swooped in, replying to the Atlanta-based rapper’s message with a GIF of a man looking confused alongside some of 21 Savage’s lyrics from “Jimmy Cooks,” his Billboard chart-topping collaboration with Drake.

“Spin the block twice like there ain’t nowhere to park,” the user wrote, referencing the artist’s lyrics in the song.

“A song is for entertainment it’s not an instruction manual on how to live life in real life I give away a lot of money and spread financial literacy to my community,” 21 Savage wrote in defense of his lyrics.

“Stop trying to make me one-dimensional,” he added.

Last year, 21 Savage similarly came under fire for advocating for more love in the universe on Twitter.

“I wish all this violence would stop it seems like it’s more hate than love in the universe right now!” he wrote at the time.

Twitter users reminded him about his brutal lyrics in a slew of tweets.

“How about you start by rapping less about guns and violence and concentrate more on LOVE @21savage,” one person tweeted.

“You rap about killing ppl,” another Twitter user wrote.

In 2020, 21 Savage released “Savage Mode II,” his third collaborative album with producer Metro Boomin, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Chart.





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Watch Lady Gaga Kick Off U.S. Tour With Fiery Messages About Abortion, LGBTQ Rights

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Lady Gaga kicked off the U.S. leg of her Chromatica Ball Tour this week with some pointed messages for lawmakers.

The pop icon paused her Monday night concert at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., to express her support for abortion rights following the Supreme Court’s June overturn of Roe v. Wade.

Shortly before launching into a piano-driven performance of her 2011 smash, “Edge of Glory,” Gaga told the crowd that she hoped “to dedicate this song to every woman in America” who “now has to worry about her body if she gets pregnant.”

A video of Gaga on stage at the D.C. show sharing her thoughts on abortion rights was widely circulated on social media.

“I pray that this country will speak up, that we will stick together,” she said, as seen in the clip. “We will not stop until it’s right!”

The 13-time Grammy winner, however, didn’t stop there.

“What about all the women who are raped?” she asked the audience moments later. “What about all the women that are dying giving childbirth?”

She went on to explain why she took a moment to address these issues during her performance.

“I didn’t mean to be like a downer,” she continued. “But there’s some shit that’s more important than show business.”

The Supreme Court’s ultraconservative rulings on abortion and gun control as of late have sparked justifiable fears among many Americans that LGBTQ rights, including same-sex marriage, could soon be rolled back at the federal level.

Such concerns prompted Gaga, a longtime LGBTQ rights advocate, to use a portion of her set to share her thoughts on the prospect of the Supreme Court reconsidering its stance on marriage equality.

Lady Gaga is currently touring in support of her 2020 album, “Chromatica.”

Kevin Mazur via Getty Images

“This might not be the national anthem, but it’s our national anthem,” she reportedly declared before segueing into 2011’s “Born This Way,” a track long embraced as a rallying cry for the LGBTQ community. “They better not try to mess with gay marriage in this country!”

Gaga launched the pandemic-delayed Chromatica Ball Tour before a sold-out crowd in Düsseldorf, Germany, last month. She will return to the concert stage Wednesday with a performance at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, before hitting San Francisco and Los Angeles, among other cities.





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Pete Davidson In Trauma Therapy To Deal With Kanye West’s Online Abuse

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A source close to Davidson, 28, told People that the comedian “has been in trauma therapy in large part” due to the many threatening posts that the rapper has posted on social media.

“The attention and negativity coming from Kanye and his antics is a trigger for [Pete], and he’s had to seek out help,” the source said.

Most recently, West, 45, reacted to the breakup by posting a now-deleted photo of a fake newspaper front page on his Instagram declaring “Skete Davidson Dead At Age 28.”

The insider stressed to People that Davidson “has no regrets for dating Kim and wants it to be made very clear that she’s been nothing but supportive of him throughout their relationship.”

However, Davidson has decided that, “moving forward he just wants to focus on his career,” the insider said.





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Steve Harvey Left Speechless By Comedian’s Answer On ‘Celebrity Family Feud’

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Steve Harvey apparently doesn’t keep up with the gargantuan dictionary of whacky New Zealand slang.

The “Celebrity Family Feud” host was visibly shocked on Sunday night’s episode when New Zealand actor and comedian Rhys Darby offered up some new terminology in response to one of the game show’s prompts.

″‘Passed away’ is a nice way of saying someone died. Name a not-so-nice way,” Harvey asked.

“I’d like to say: Carked it,” Darby answered.

Darby clarified: “You know, as in, ‘What happened to that guy?’ ‘Oh, he’s carked it.’ Cause it’s short for ‘carcass.’”

Other contestants jumped in to clarify that there’s an “r” in the word.

“What the hell’s going on?” Harvey asked, still baffled.

One of Darby’s teammates, Samba Schutte, assured Harvey he wasn’t alone.

“I need subtitles sometimes for these guys, too,” Schutte said.

“Carked it” is a phrase commonly used in Australia and New Zealand that means something has died or stopped functioning.

Watch the segment on “Celebrity Family Feud” below:





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Stephen Colbert Taunts Alex Jones With An Epic ‘Dick Pic’ Fact-Check

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Stephen Colbert declared right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones “the worst human on the planet” for the “outrageous lies he told about the Sandy Hook tragedy.”

Jones used his talk show on Infowars to claim the shooting was fake, which led to the families of the victims being harassed by his listeners. Last week, a jury ordered him to pay nearly $50 million to the parents of a child who was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

One key piece of evidence against Jones came when his attorneys accidentally turned over his text messages to the attorneys for the parents. Jones later downplayed that to his listeners, saying the text messages were “no dick pics, no nothing.”

“Oh, Alex,” he said. “I beg to differ: Every picture of you is a dick pic.”

See more ― including Colbert’s impression of Jones ― in the Monday night monologue:





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