Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kings of Leon's Nathan Followill vs. Glee Creator Ryan Murphy

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Nathan Followill (L), Ryan Murphy (R)
  • Nathan Followill (L), Ryan Murphy (R)
I don’t know if the rest of you have followed this week’s war of words between Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill and Glee creator Ryan Murphy — remember, the band inspired a gasp or two when they declined an offer to license their mega-hit “Use Somebody” to the god-awful song-and-dance-com last fall — but I can tell you we here at the Cream sure have, kinda.

Let me bring you up to speed: A Hollywood Reporter cover story quoted Murphy who, in a less than gleeful fashion, lambasted the Followill clan for snubbing the show and not falling all over themselves with humility and honor at the opportunity to have their tune ritualistically slaughtered on national television by a gaggle of fictional high-schoolers who make the Dawson’s Creek set look like Dean-tastic rebels without a cause.

Murphy said:

Fuck you, Kings of Leon … They’re self-centered assholes, and they missed the big picture. They missed that a 7-year-old kid can see someone close to their age singing a Kings of Leon song, which will maybe make them want to join a glee club or pick up a musical instrument. It’s like, OK, hate on arts education. You can make fun of Glee all you want, but at its heart, what we really do is turn kids on to music.

Damn, Ryan, even we here at the Cream have never gone that hard on the Kings (have we?) and we turn kids on to music too. (Sometimes.) The article went on to quote head Followill, Caleb, as saying:

This whole Glee thing is a shock to us. It’s gotten out of hand. At the time of the request, we hadn’t even seen the show. It came at the end of that record cycle, and we were over promoting [“Use Somebody”]. This was never meant as a slap in the face to Glee or to music education or to fans of the show. We’re not sure where the anger is coming from.

So that seemed like a pretty defusing, reasoned response. But the shit really hit the fan when Followill drummer-bro, Nathan, shot back at Murphy via-Twitter, tweeting:

Dear Ryan Murphy, let it go. See a therapist, get a manicure, buy a new bra. Zip your lip and focus on educating 7yr olds how to say fuck.

Now, I mean this with the utmost sincerity: Sick burn, Nate-dogg. Way to call out Murphy on his feigned altruism and the total and utter false equivalency of his eye-roll-inducing “arts education” argument. But maybe not so much on the whole “manicure” and “new bra” jabs, which Murphy — who is openly gay — took offense to, and responded, via an email to Perez Hilton, fueling the feud's fire, saying:

Just read Nathan Followill's Tweet...in which he implied I should “get a manicure and buy a bra.” Wow. That's a homophobe badly in need of some education. I'm all for manicures, don't wear a bra. Would guess most gay dudes don't. But it's telling that Nathan can reduce a group of people to a mean-spirited cliche, in a time where young gay men are killing themselves all over the country because of hatred like this.

Wow indeed. I’m pretty sure Na-Fo didn’t anticipate THAT kind of blow-back. If he had, he probably would’ve just stuck with the killer line about swearing to 7-year-olds. The tweet that started the fire has since been removed, and Followill was quick to make a viral mea culpa — on Twitter, of course:

I’m sorry 4 anyone that misconstrued my comments as homophobic or misogynistic. I’m so not that kind of person. I really do apologize.

Now that right there is 140 characters of raw contrition.

While it appears cooler heads are prevailing, it’s really a shame that — with hypothetical bras and manicures — Followill surrendered the moral high ground to Murphy, effectively diverting the debate from his astonishing arrogance at questioning a band — no matter who they are — for not bowing at the alter of Fox prime time, and then hiding behind a pious, pompous argument about “arts education.”

Damned if they do, damned if they don't — the old "sellout" argument in rock 'n' roll really seems to have evolved something fierce. It's seems like only yesterday R.E.M. were winning praise for turning down millions to license "It's the End of the World as We Know It" to Microsoft, now Modest Mouse help sell cars and no one seems to give a shit. But I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen a band get called out and criticized for NOT licensing a song to television. I mean, seriously, who the fuck does Murphy think he is? I mean, did Aaron Spelling publicly lash out at alternative rock bands that turned down the inevitably cred-building opportunity to rock the Peach Pit After Dark? Hey, Kings of Leon. You just missed the opportunity to add "becoming the next Jamie Walters" to the feathers in your cap …. oh, and educate kids. Way to go!

I think Glee is probably about as likely to educate kids on the wonders of rock 'n' roll as Nancy Reagan was to keep kids off drugs with the D.A.R.E. program, and Murphy's furious umbrage — months after the fact — is perhaps the most shocking display of entitlement since Miley Cyrus’ crusade to “ruin” Radiohead for passing on an organized Grammy summit with the “singer.”

As a guy who puts his foot in his mouth for a living, I’ll take Followill at his word on his apology, and forgive his brone-headed bra and manicure remarks. I'm gonna go ahead and side with Kings on this one. Ryan Murphy needs to go do trust falls, build fires and forage with Kanye on some kind of character-building wilderness retreat/survival mission, or something — it could be a buddy comedy — and Glee needs to get the fuck over itself.

Hey, I’m all for kids getting hipped to the rock music and all, but maybe their first impression of it shouldn’t be through seeing a bunch of impossibly wholesome kids caroling out the jams in a musically-emasculating alternate reality captured from one of Mitt Romney’s wet dreams. Just sayin’.

Anyway, here's a video of a 7-year-old kid playing drums to Kings of Leon:

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