Tuesday, March 23, 2010

John Mayer, Tool

A Late Night with Jimmy Fallon joke, as seen on the cutting room floor, and documented by Questlove

John Mayer is a tool. There's no way around it.

The problem, I think, is not just that Mayer is a narcissistic meaniehead*, but that his many bloopers, scandals, and jackassery are regularly forgotten, while substantially less offensive narcissistic meanieheads like Kanye West are rarely forgiven. (This may be more because Mayer is a scrawny white dude from Connecticut, and West is African-American. Truth be told, both make accessible, suburb-friendly music.) Feathers have not unruffled since West proclaimed George Bush's slowness to aid New Orleans inappropriate in 2005 ("George Bush doesn't care about black people."), never mind his 2009 Taylor Swift interruption.
*This blog, and specific article, are for my mom, so generic—and accurate—profanity is on hold for now.

Of course, I haven't. I spent the last holiday seething as his Battle Studies commercials played, occasionally muttering, "You're a tool, John Mayer!" My mother called me out on his toolishness, saying I was a little over-the-top. (She acquiesced when I reminder her that he wrote "Daughters," a pandering tune that belittles and dehumanizes women while masquerading as thoughtful.)

The guy really gets under my skin with his unending quest of misogyny and bad decisions. For my defense, I present a brief compendium of his asshattery. There's so much, and the fallout from Mayer's Playboy interview so great, that it's hard to find a link and/or verify everything. If I've left something out, please leave a comment.


September 2006: One of Mayer's charming stand-up jokes, as told by Rolling Stone:
"I'm not worried about how small my penis is — I'm worried about how dark it is. I have a Dominican penis. My penis hit six home runs last year; my penis wears shoes without socks."
Rolling Stone also reports that it was around this time that Mayer took to the stage and began freely using the N-Word, which caused a brief furor. This is why David Chapelle walked away from bajillions of dollars. And a bonus grab from that article:
Mayer's own sexual adventures are less exotic. Six years ago, on one of his first tours, he decided it would be "fun" to sleep with some fans. "I slept with, like, three girls in a week," he remembers. "I thought that's what you did, but there was one girl, I don't remember anything about her, but I left my own body and looked down at myself and said, 'Nuh-uh. Not you.' I stayed up all night and didn't sleep." He never had sex with a fan again — though that doesn't rule out voyeurism. "Totally different. There's ways to have fun with people without ever worrying about violating somebody." Mayer has plenty of platonic female friends, but he finds himself seeing a lot less of them when they find boyfriends. "If your girlfriend knows me, she's really not allowed to see me," he says. "Guys assume that 'Wonderland' guy wants to take their girl." (Later that night, Mayer shares a list of rules on "How to be John Mayer's girlfriend." Jessica, you can clip this out: "One: You've got to be really careful with me on the phone. Distance makes the brain grow more maniacal. Two: Twenty-four-hour phone-sex assistance. If there's a cute girl in the front row, I'm gonna run offstage and call you. Three: You have to run every single fantasy you've ever had through me. You'll never cheat. You see a cute guy at the gym, I'll be him. Or we'll get him. I don't care.")
(Before you whine, compare to On the Road, The Stranger's stories and advice regarding long distance relationships with Ben Gibbard and Brian Cook.)

December 2007: Mayer starts a "129-part series" on his blog to "define douchebag" as an argument that he is not one. He does not complete the series.

September 2009: Mayer brags about his sexual prowess:
I have great balance and co-ordination. Inventiveness. I am a very inventive lover - that's the secret to my success.
October 2009: Mayer threatens to sodomize an editor at New York magazine, because he doesn't like the questions she has her reporter ask at a party. Really.

Highlights from the interview:

These are questions my editor wanted me to ask. I'm trying to build my journalistic career here.
You're not building a journalistic career. You're making yourself look like a moron and you're not a moron. Who's your editor?

Jada is making you sound like a moron in front of people.

Why don't you tell me about your new album? You've been in the studio for a while.
I have a record coming out November 17.

Any particular theme or inspiration behind this one that makes it different from previous albums?
Look what we're doing right now! We're connecting right now! This is great! Yeah, it's going to be quite melodically bright, but the themes are all about heartbreak.

How is that different? Haven't you written a lot about heartbreak?
I think most artists do, but this is really breaking into the theme of it as a concept.

Is there hope behind the heartbreak?
The melody is the hope. The lyrics are the heartbreak, the melody is the hope. If you have the lyrics being the heartbreak and the music as the heartbreak, your editor made you ask stupid fucking questions! You're standing in front of me acting as if these questions are fair, but now we're talking about something real. So there was stuff I wanted to put on the record that just didn't fit the concept. So the next record will have that concept.

What concept?
More political things, worldly things.

Such as?
Nothing rhymed with public option.

You don't always have to rhyme, though.
I'm going to forcefully sodomize your editor.

It should go without saying that even as a "joke" Mayer's threat at assault isn't funny.

December 2009: Mayer tells Details that though he thinks he's a d-bag, and other people do too, he's not really a d-bag:

When he's not adding to his impressive collections of watches, guitars, and automobiles, Mayer is clearly obsessing about those people who, for whatever reason, find him loathsome. "What if I had a booth on the street and I said, 'Attention, everybody who hates me: If you have a problem with me, I'm ready to hear your gripes! I will be outside the Barneys store on 60th Street from two to four this afternoon. I will not be speaking to fans. I will only be speaking to people who do not like me. Come out and let me have it. I will not speak back.'

"How many people do you think would be standing there? I'm talking about people getting the chance to tell me directly, 'I think you're a douchebag.' You know how many people would do it? Ze-ro. You know what they'd do? They'd walk up and say, 'I'm just messin' with ya.' And you know what I'd say? I'd say, 'You're a douchebag!'"

January 2010: Mayer says ridiculously offensive (even by my standards) things to Rolling Stone. The full article isn't online, but the Internet has taken up the cause of sharing each salacious detail it can. Check the resources at the bottom of this post. Here's what Mayer had to say:
Blowing me off is the new sucking me off!
(Because of his "reputation", which is says is totally unfounded, he can't meet new girls.) And:
Do you think it’s going to take meeting someone who I admire more than I admire myself? But isn’t it also about a beautiful vagina? Aren’t we talking about a matrix of a couple of different things here? Like, you need to have them be able to go toe-to-toe with you intellectually. But don’t they also have to have a vagina you could pitch a tent on and just camp out on for, like, a weekend? Doesn’t that have to be there, too? The Joshua Tree of vaginas? …I’ll be happy when I close out this life-partner thing. Think of how much mental capacity I’m using to meet the right person so I can stop giving a f–k about it.
I imaging it going this way, "Well, it turns out, I admire you than me. Not only have you cured AIDS and cancer, but you helped save thousands of orphans. You saved the world, which is great, because that gives me the right to play guitar in my Costco sweatpants all day. Unfortunately, your vagina is only a nine. Sorry, but I need to evaluate a perfect vagina. Could you get a transplant? Because I really need to smoke weed before noon these days." Anyway:
I am the new generation of masturbator. I’ve seen it all. Before I make coffee, I’ve seen more butt holes than a proctologist does in a week.
February 2010: Mayer takes jackassery to a new level with an interview with Playboy. (I read the whole thing for you.) Highlights:
PLAYBOY: What’s strange about this time in your life?

MAYER: In one way or another, people probably know my name now. I’m squarely nestled in the crosshairs of their criticism and media reproach. I originally played music because I was an underdog, because I didn’t want to be in school, and it always had this quality of an uprising. When you first start out, you want people to know you. There is a quality of the unknown that is very sexy—like thinking, There might be a girl in this crowd who will have a conversation with me because she knows my music. For me, it has never been about fucking lots of girls. I could have fucked a lot more girls in my life if I hadn’t been trying so hard to get them to like me. If I have a conversation with a really hot girl that lasts all night and she says, “Wow, I had no idea I was going to like you this much,” that is the equivalent, for me, of getting laid.
MAYER: I’m a self-soother. The Internet, DVR, Netflix, Twitter—all these things are moments in time throughout your day when you’re able to soothe yourself. We have an autonomy of comfort and pleasure. By the way, pornography? It’s a new synaptic pathway. You wake up in the morning, open a thumbnail page, and it leads to a Pandora’s box of visuals. There have probably been days when I saw 300 vaginas before I got out of bed.
PLAYBOY: You seem very fond of pornography.

MAYER: When I watch porn, if it’s not hot enough, I’ll make up backstories in my mind. My biggest dream is to write pornography.
MAYER: It depends on what I picked up. My two biggest hits are “Your Body Is a Wonderland” and “Daughters.” If you think those songs are pandering, then you’ll think I’m a douche bag. It’s like I come on very strong. I am a very…I’m just very. V-E-R-Y. And if you can’t handle very, then I’m a douche bag. But I think the world needs a little very. That’s why black people love me.

PLAYBOY: Because you’re very?

MAYER: Someone asked me the other day, “What does it feel like now to have a hood pass?” And by the way, it’s sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a hood pass, you could call it a [n-word; I don't want any crazy people Googling here just to get John Mayer] pass. Why are you pulling a punch and calling it a hood pass if you really have a hood pass? But I said, “I can’t really have a hood pass. I’ve never walked into a restaurant, asked for a table and been told, ‘We’re full.’"

PLAYBOY: It is true; a lot of rappers love you. You recorded with Common and Kanye West, played live with Jay-Z.

MAYER: What is being black? It’s making the most of your life, not taking a single moment for granted. Taking something that’s seen as a struggle and making it work for you, or you’ll die inside. Not to say that my struggle is like the collective struggle of black America. But maybe my struggle is similar to one black dude’s.

PLAYBOY: Do black women throw themselves at you?

MAYER: I don’t think I open myself to it. My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I’ve got a Benetton heart and a fuckin’ David Duke cock. I’m going to start dating separately from my dick.

PLAYBOY: Let’s put some names out there. Let’s get specific.

MAYER: I always thought Holly Robinson Peete was gorgeous. Every white dude loved Hilary from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. And Kerry Washington. She’s superhot, and she’s also white-girl crazy. Kerry Washington would break your heart like a white girl. Just all of a sudden she’d be like, “Yeah, I sucked his dick. Whatever.” And you’d be like, “What? We weren’t talking about that.” That’s what “Heartbreak Warfare” is all about, when a girl uses jealousy as a tactic.
MAYER: I feel like women are getting their comeuppance against men now. I hear about man-whores more than I hear about whores. When women are whorish, they’re owning their sexuality. When men are whorish, they’re disgusting beasts. I think they’re paying us back for a double standard that’s lasted for a hundred years.
It gets worse! But it's too inappropriate. (Plus the interview is full of claims that he is a Nice Guy. Ick.)

He apologized, first by Twitter, a decidedly inappropriate venue for "apologies", and then in public, but there's no taking back racism or the N-word this rambling, navel gazing, narcissistic attempt at saying sorry because he just wants to be clever. Look, either you are or you aren't. And given your music dude, you aren't.

So! Have I proven my point? (I hope so. I feel so dirty now.)

Additional Resources:
John Mayer Threatens to Sodomize Us, New York
Breaking News: John Mayer is a major tool, Judge For Yourself
John Mayer Labeled an ‘Accidental Racist’ After Interrupting Kumail Nanjiani’s Recent Stand-up Set, New York
John Mayer Apologizes Again for His Racist Penis, New York
John Mayer, Playboy
John Mayer and his white supremacist man-bits, Feministe
John Mayer: “My dick is sort of like a white supremacist”, Womanist Musings
What's Wrong with John Mayer?, Jezebel
The Tao of John Mayer, New York
The Dirty Mind and Lonely Heart of John Mayer, Rolling Stone (print; more here and here)
John Mayer: Rolling Stone Shirtless, Just Jared
Big Mouth Strikes Again, Rolling Stone
On the Road Eight Stories About Being in Love While Being on Tour
, The Stranger
John Mayer: The Douchebag Challenge, Celebuzz
John Mayer: Death To Douchebag, Hollyscoop
a Very Inventive Lover', The Sun

No comments: