Never Made it as a Working Class Hero: The Unbearable Lightness of Green Day

05.08.09 by Sam | 8 Comments | Digg This

Green Day is dropping a new record soon and they debuted a half-dozen of the new jams on KROQ the other day.   “American Eulogy”, a probable single, features the chorus, “I don’t want to live in the modern world,” belted the way that only the smug and deluded can belt unintended truths.  It’s fitting because Green Day have always been about going backwards while using a nominal level of punk pretension to stave off creeping blandness.  Anyhow, the song is catchy and has enough of an icing of aggression to make you lightly scuff the walls of your childhood bedroom.  If that’s all your ears need, grab the radio rip and make sure you don’t leave the CD-R in your mom’s Corolla since, even though the bad swears are blanked, that life-giving bitch can probably still tell what they are.

Circa now, Green Day continue to ride a perfect storm of utter redundancy that forces you to wonder how they managed to end up dragging punk into nearly every bit of territory that made it necessary in the first place, horking songs commitedly into the middle of the road while also dropping “Time of Your Life,” which will haunt KissyFace+Jello-Shot-Fueled-Hookup slide shows until the human race finally gives up and cedes the planet to the Alligator People.

In even be enough to get them laughed off of Hype Machine were the band on the rise today.  When the time came to “evolve,” they did it by adopting the most irritating aspects of U2 and stuffing in everything that keeps prog rock in punchline territory while the whole puzzle of pop, politics, and the economics of the business shifted under them.Their current claim to relevance hinges on the false conflation of “writing about politics” and actually being on some grown-ass man shit.

  You can have a left-wing agenda and still push it with the kind of airhead simplicity that confers dumb righteous on the audience every bit as effectively as Bill O’Reilly confers it on his; it doesn’t mean you’re rebellious or subversive, it means you’re the kid who refuses to stand for the pledge of allegiance out of laziness and says “nuh uh, freedom of speech” when he gets called on it.  Green Day’s music is about ideology as a tag cloud, not as something that filters through a piece of art and inspires insight or exploration.

When Billy Joe sings “My generation is zero/ I never made it as a working class hero.” in the chorus of “21st Century Breakdown” while surveying a landscape in the verses that he stole from “Born in the USA” after first stripping out the Boss’s eloquence and empathy, I can’t help but hope that it’s as disposable as it sounds.

  After 30 years as a point from which anyone can reasonably go anywhere, I hate the idea of punk as a mechanic for another generation of kids to corner itself into lazy nihilism, cocooned in tragicomic Hot Topic ensembles; putrefying under third world skull prints without a whiff of the sort of elemental rawness that woke me up when I first heard static bloodied 7″ rips or the sense of empowerment that comes from being exposed to DIY for the first time.  Great political art seldom claims politics as its subject in the same way that truly classy people never talk about how classy they are.  The sort of pomp that Green Day has now adopted is for politicians.  Punk is for everyone who knows that enough rope to hang yourself with is also enough to make a foothold and that wiping the slate is about negation, but is ultimately meaningless without imagination.


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