Every so often, I drag myself out of bed wayyyy too early in the morning to head down to the local NashFM station here in Nashville, TN to meet with some wonderful radio personalities in Ty, Kelly, & Chuck and have a laugh. The premise is: have the audience throw out some current topics, choose one of the suggested, and write a song about the trending news in 10 minutes. It's basically a lightning round of songwriting prowess. In my previous 10 minute tunes, I've hit topics such as: Kid Rock's potential senate race, the movie IT, and the winner of Miss America. It's a good mental exercise, it gives my current fans some more content to listen to that isn't a recording, and it brings name recognition to potentially new fans. By all rights and privileges, it's a wonderful thing to do, and worth the loss of sleep.
But this week the topic chosen was the disgruntled Twitter employee who, in a last ditch effort before leaving their job, deleted Donald Trump's twitter account. This is a last-day of employment hijink of some pretty epic proportions. I think we've all, in some deep fantasy in our minds, thought about quitting a job with a mic-drop of some repute. There's something so terribly human about it. Satisfying in some way. I thought it was great fodder for a silly tune. I knew it might be a touchy subject, but I decided to take it on anyway.
I did the tune, went home, and slept it off. I usually get a few comments, a few shares, and a few fans out of the deal. It's all fun and games. But this week was different. I woke up to comments like:
"Nice so-called "tune". I'm sure you lost a few listeners today."
"This is the worst 10 minute tune ever. Do us all a favor and not invite him back."
Listen, these are but two rough messages among an equal or greater number of positive messages, and could just as easily be laughed off, as life on the internet just is what it is sometimes. But here's what really got me: I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out what about this song was wrong. It was well crafted, it had some great call-back references to particularly funny Trump tweets. I feel like, of all of the actions of our current president, one of the things we can all laugh about is the seeming child-like, out of the box, silly things he is wont to say on social media. The amount of coverage his 140 characters get in actual legitimate media sources is egregious. The whole thing, to me, is absurd.
But I guess I was wrong?
So here were a couple of someones trying to voice their opinion that my opinion of someone else's opinion was somehow not only unnecessary, but should maybe be disallowed. That anyone who may have become fans of my real, hard-earned, heartfelt, and true art should put it away because of a slight comedic criticism of a public figure, was a tough pill to swallow. It felt to me (for lack of a better term) laughable.
Art is meant to be a conversation starter. It is something to be commented on, derived, and ruminated over. Disagreement and dissent to an opinion is welcomed; encouraged even. But the desire to weaponize that distaste by taking away opportunities and/or evolving one's personal criticism of art's content into a personal affront about the nature of an artist or his/her craft, is what caught me awry in these particular comments. It wasn't just that they disagreed. But the assumption for them was that my opinion was invalid because it ran against their own, and for that:
My art was bad.
I was bad.
I should be silenced.
The irony that divisive rhetoric on a social media platform was being used to defend a man who uses divisive rhetoric on social media platforms is not lost on me.
The point of the song was to high five a guy/girl for quitting his/her job in an epic way, and bringing 11 minutes of quote-unquote peace to a tumultuous time in our nation's history. It's meant to be funny.
Despite these guys' desire to be offended, laughing at one's self is a healthy, reasonable way to live. I'm sorry that it is an action our current president refuses to do. I'm sorry it's a thing some now refuse to do as a result. I realize he may be 'your guy'. Funny thing is, you probably feel like your guy isn't half as divisive as his predecessor.
Obama made strides in protecting the most vulnerable of our population, and he pardoned the previous administration for potential war crimes in a seeming attempt at unity and solidarity, and tried to make Healthcare universally accessible in a recessive economy.
He also approved drone strikes, bailed out a crooked financial sector for its unethical practices, and failed to pass any kind of financial campaign reform further handing the political system over to monied interests.
Even if he was 'someone else's guy', there are actions he took that are worthy of being criticized.
The point is: in a free democracy, no one gets to escape criticism for making questionable judgment calls. Otherwise you're dancing the line between patriotism and idolatry.
Idolatry, especially of a fallible human being in a complicated modern political system, is not the best idea in the world.
And I seriously can't believe I need to defend a comedy song, written in 10 minutes at 6 in the morning, to a man I've never met, because he felt personally offended by it enough to personally attack me.
But please, let us continue to allow the leader of the free world to say whatever he'd like without recourse, because he is great, and right, and correct, and big, and important. No questions asked. Ad infinitum.
But that's the world that we live in now: when a social media platform is used to share divisive rhetoric because it's been normalized by a leader who uses social media to spread divisive rhetoric... etc. etc. etc.
If only for 11 minutes.