What is the purpose of rock’n’roll?
Is rock’n’roll supposed to soothe the soul of the savagebeast? Is it supposed to re-engineer the framework of art, culture, andpower? Is it supposed to obliterate your freak-ass mind and make youdance like a hydroelectric grizzly bear.
Those are all important functions ofrock’n’roll, and they’re all valid. But none of those things is theprimary purpose of rock music; they are all peripheral. What rock musicis supposed to do is save the world. That’s its job. Any rock song thatdoes not save the world is a failure. And this is why rock isstruggling in 2004. Right now, television is saving more people thanpop music.
I used to think reality television was successful because ofnarcissism. Later, I decided it was actually successful because ofvoyeurism. Later still, I concluded that it was successful because ofthe way it changed our perception of celebrity. However, I’ve hadanother realization: People love reality television because realitytelevision can save your life. It can give you a better job (The Apprentice), a better car (Pimp My Ride), an awesome house (Trading Spaces) that looks completely gay (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy), a drag queen’s body (The Swan), and Kate Winslet’s cheekbones (I Want a Famous Face). Reality television does what rock music once did: It gives us hope. Rock music has lost its way.
Last night, I watched a new documentary called MC5: A True Testimonial. This film accomplished something that Trainspotting, Requiem for a Dream, and Wonderlandcould not do: It made me terrified to take drugs. The surviving membersof MC5 are the most burned-out, über-delusional morons I’ve everwitnessed. But those Detroit-based bozos had at least one good idea:Along with their nutjob manager, John Sinclair, they founded the WhitePanther Party, a political-action group that ate a lot of acid andfired automatic weapons at trees. Obviously, this had only a marginaleffect on U.S. policy. Nonetheless, I always like to see young peopledoing something. That is why we here at Spin magazine HQare creating our own fringe political organization, and we’re hopingthat myriad rock luminaries will join us. It is time for change. It istime for revolution. It is time for the Weather Panthers.
You’ve undoubtedly heard of ’60s bomb-throwers the WeatherUnderground, and you’ve undoubtedly heard of the Black Panthers. Thatwas the past. The Weather Panthers are the future. We plan toforce-feed C-4 plastic explosives to leopards, which will then betrained to blow up Ralph Nader’s electric car and the place whereCondoleezza Rice gets her hair done. We didn’t want it to come to this,but there is no other option. Let’s face it: The world couldn’t be muchmore fucked than it is right now. We have a president who casuallyasserts that “the verdict is still out” on the theory of evolution;this means that the man who’s helping decide the Palestinains’ fate hasthoughts such as “I’m not sure if we should change the borderdemarcations of Israel, especially since there were dinosaurs on theWest Bank only 6,000 years ago.” This is disquieting. Moreover, I’mpretty sure an Islamic fundamentalist sleeper cell will detonate adirty bomb at LAX if John Kerry doesn’t win this election, and it willprobably happen even if he does. This is similarly disquieting.
This is why we need the Weather Panthers; we need to getpopular musicians involved with the overthrow of our government. Sure,Bono tried to save the world by touring Africa with former U.S.Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, but that wasn’t enough (especiallysince O’Neill only hit .288 for his entire career). We need rockers whowill go for the jugular (in case we need to overthrow circus jugglers).As such, we are beginning the Weather Panther recruitment processposthaste. The first guy we want is Kanye West, because anybody who canrap with a broken jaw is our kind of mofo. We also want Kiss, becausethey already have their own army. We want the Strokes, because therevolution needs to be very, very sexy. Jack White might make a goodWeather Panther, although he’d probably demand that we fightexclusively with 18th-century muskets. I’d like to get Interpolinvolved, since they’ve already proven themselves as the world’spreeminent global police force. And we need Courtney Love, since allthe best soldiers are insane. This is the time, my children. Kick outthe jams, pantherfuckers!