NY Times: “Flo Rida Is So Fucking Emo”

05/19/2009 9:21 AM |

ba6a/1242701043-bbaj-andrewinfront-200x250.jpgYesterday’s New York Times featured a theater review, written by Ben Brantley, of a play called “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson: The Concert Vision,” and at the time of this writing, I still can’t decide what I find more ridiculous: the very conceit of the play, or the review itself. Let’s have a look.

The play, written and directed by Alex Timbers, tells the story of the seventh U.S. president, Andrew Jackson, through the lens of the modern day emo scene, and… oh wait, I’m sorry, what’s that? It’s 2009 and you still don’t know what emo is all about? Ok, no problem. Brantley and the Times will define it for you…

“Emo, for those of you who don’t download your songs, is a postpunk rock variant that wears its shattered heart on its tattered sleeve, throbbing with the narcissism, masochism and frustrated powerlessness that come with being a teenager.”

I won’t even go into the fact that, by this definition, basically all rock bands that formed after Nirvana are emo. I’m more interested in the “for those of you who don’t download your songs” bit, which, aside from being a super clumsy clause with a terrible rhythm to it, is just completely out of left field, a bitchy little joke that’s supposed to have a knowing tone — only Brantley doesn’t actually seem know what he’s talking about.

He’s implying, I guess, that only fans of emo music download music? And what’s more perplexing is that no one else at the Paper of Record knew enough to tell him how horribly wrong he is, or even to question his insane assertion deeply enough to pay a little fact-checking visit to a small online music retailer called iTunes, whose current ten most list of downloaded songs looks like this:

“Bom Boom Pow” — Black Eyes Peas
“Waking Up in Vegas” — Katy Perry
“I Know You Want Me” — Pitbull
“Fire Burning” — Sean Kingston
“Poker Face” — Lady Gaga
“Don’t Trust Me” — 30H!3
“Sugar” — Flo Rida
“Halo” — Beyonce
“Note to God” — Charice
“Beautiful” — Eminem

So, have you got all this, people? If you know a narcissistic young person who wears shirts with tattered sleeves, sings like Beyonce, dances like Flo Rida, hates women like Eminem (and Katy Perry), and frequently employs onomatopoeia like Black Eyed Peas, he or she is probably emo.

My other favorite part of the review is the opening paragraph:

Populism. Now there’s a word that makes you want to shout and strut and do something funky with your hips. Or that’s the effect this Latinate noun has on the young and restless residents of the young and restless country portrayed with zeal in “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson: The Concert Version,” the raw but tasty new musical that opened Sunday night at the Public Theater.

Do something funky with your hips? Shout and strut? Raw but tasty? Disgusting, and also really, really nerdy, and not even the good kind of nerdy, like, if he’d known the correct joke to tie in with this line:

The production’s cultural references find the common denominator in artists as seemingly different as Stravinsky (whose “Rite of Spring” is wittily evoked)…

Ugh, really? You couldn’t think of anything else about the title “Rites of Spring” that might come in handy in an article that’s partially about emo? I am going to read back issues of Punk Planet or something.

One Comment

  • Not Brantley’s greatest work, but I’d cut him a little slack on the downloading line. I read it as “only young people download music and young people know what emo is, even if they aren’t fans.” The first half of that is not true, of course, but it’s less annoying than when read as “only emo fans download music.”

    Also, he’s the lead theater critic for the Times. Being clueless in these matters is probably part of his printed job description and it’s surprising that he was even reviewing this play instead of one of the more junior theater critics.