So today, I watched Stuff magazine's list of "Fugliest Rock Stars," presented on MTV. Because, you know, MTV doesn't give one fat damn about musical talent or quality or any of that unprofitable stuff--it's all about the image! It's what sells the product, image is! All hail the All-Holy Image!
The host of the show is self-deprecating and "ironic" about the whole thing, insisting that these are the judgments of Stuff magazine instead of MTV or him. I put "ironic" in question marks because it's just the lame-ass pseudo-snark that we so often get among teenagers these days, rather than real irony or--god forbid--subversion.
So at the start, the host explains that in order to avoid being put on this list, he's going to get a makeover. I only wish I was making this up. All through the rest of the show, whenever he talks to the camera and doing his hosting duties, we see him getting a shave or haircut or massage or face exfoliation or what have you. Then the various celebrity panelists (none of whom I've heard of, all of whom are either models or Stuff editors, though there was a comedian or two) try to define what "fugly" is. Aaaand fail, miserably-- lots of "uh"s and "um"s, and nobody can quite agree. The closest consensus they can get is "stuff that turns our stomachs."
Keep this in mind for the list, folks. By the panel's own definition, the following rock stars are ones that turn these peoples' stomachs to the point of nausea. Doesn't matter about their music--they look bad, and that's all that matters! (Tangent: This is reminding me, now that I'm typing it out, of the comment David Lee Roth made once--"The only reason rock critics like Elvis Costello is that so many of them look like him.")
Coming up in a future entry: I get on my soapbox about how closely the culture of the United States resembles the culture of high school! Stay tuned.
Anyway, here's the list of rock stars, and the comments I could remember. I have no idea who said these things--half of them were from panelists, and half of them were vox-pop people-on-the-street things.
1. Wes Scantlan (Puddle of Mudd). "He never smiles." "He always looks so mean and angry." "Definitely fugly." "He's just the poor man's Kid Rock."
2. David Darou(sp?) (Adema). "Fugly beard." "He looks like a sex offender." "Bald is beautiful, but not David Darou."
3. Steven Tyler (Aerosmith). "He's the quintessential fugly rock star." "Looks like Barbra Streisand's love child." "Dude looks like a lady!" (Plus many comments along the lines of "He's so old!")
4. Tom Petty. (Though the host mentions that "If he'd been around in the 1880's, he probably would've been hot.") "Looks like a nightmare." "He's an eyebreaker, not a heartbreaker." "He's fugly; who cares?" "The older he gets, the more like E.T. he gets." (As with Steven Tyler, many other comments along the lines of "He's so old!")
Commercials! Get a phone with Virgin Mobile and it'll end the conformity imposed on teenaged Americans by the mean ol' cell phone companies--be an individual, just like everyone else! Plus, clerks in electronics stores are desperate, pathetic, lonely nerds who try (and fail) to act all smooth and suave whenever some girl with a belly chain buys a Gamecube. Also, TNN Is America's first network for men! Some teenaged girl shilling for Tobacco Free Nebraska says "I'd never kiss a guy who chewed tobacco!" Finally, a spot for a local photo studio, in which a high school senior totally insults her mom's high school pictures--"Please, mom, tell me you seriously didn't wear that ugly thing!!"
And we're back, and the list goes on.
5. Slash (Guns 'n Roses). "What is that, a plant on his head?" "He probably had some hot girl tell him one night 'You look really good in a top hat.'" "I don't get the hat." "Thank got he's got the hat and that hair, so we don't have to see his face." "Slash? I don't even know who that is." "He's fugly because he's weird."
6. Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers). "Looks like David Letterman's illegitimate son." "The offspring of Popeye and the Keebler Elves." "He should really fix that gap in his teeth; care about other people." "Looks like a baby Godzilla."
7. Michael Stipe (R.E.M.). (Host mentions that "he didn't go bald gracefully.") One of the models says "I'm embarassed to admit this, but I used to have a crush on him." ('Cause, you know, if your friends knew you had a crush on an ugly guy, they'd never let you sit at their lunch table again and you'd have to sit with the Chess Club and nobody would like you any more and then you'd have to run away from home and become a crack whore and freeze to death in the streets and nobody would care because YOU LIKED AN UGLY GUY HAHAHAHA. Gaaaaaah.) "If you sneezed, he'd fall down. If he sneezed, he'd fall down." "He looks either like Moby after a three-day bender, or John Malkovich without pigment." (Okay, I despised this show, but that comment was choice.) "He's senior citizen fugly." "It's just his genes, there's nothing he could do about it."
8. Billy Joel. "He's not fugly, but he's definitely not handsome." (Lots and lots of comments about "He's sure got a hot wife, though.") "The uglier you are, the hotter the girl has to be that you wind up with." "He must have charisma; he married Christie Brinkley!" "How'd he manage to bag her?" (These comments are just so very very wrong that I don't even know where to start.)
9. A.J. MacLean (Backstreet Boys). (Host starts this off by saying "When I was in high school, all the girls just loved the boy bands." Okay. The boy-band craze didn't start until about...1998, right? This guy was in high school in 1998. In 1998, I started graduate school. And this little bastard has a steady MTV gig already? Rar.) "He's the band's token freak." "Have you heard A.J.'s new album? It's called I'm Balding At Age 26." "Well, is he really fugly? Howie did have that ponytail, after all." "Eeew!" "That goatee looks fake."
More commercials! MTV2 plays videos, dammit, so shut up about "oh MTV never plays videos anymore" or we'll throw a TV through your window! Also, preview for the movie How To Deal, starring Mandy Moore who's giving an interview about it. Apparently, this movie's intended to give "hope to people my age." The tagline is something like "A lesson in love for nonbelievers." Because, you know, falling in love when you're a teenager is the most important thing in the world you can do.
10. Marilyn Manson. (The host says "he's a self-made fugly. And you know what? It's probably all the fault of those kids who teased him when he was younger--those kids, you made him fugly!!") "He's banging strippers every night, and he's got that long horse face!" (Like with Billy Joel-- the panel has to admire the fact that the guy they see as "fugly" is making time with lots of women. They mention it so much, I guess, because it so doesn't fit in with their tiny little worldviews-- "Hey, what gives? He's ugly, he's not supposed to steal our women!!") "There's no hope for him." "Looks like he's trying to hide behind something." "He should just lock himself in a room."
11. Chad Kroger (Nickelback). "He's a dead ringer for Michael Bolton." "Being Canadian makes you fugly by default." "He's the Fabio of the rock world." "Long hair, I'm not really liking that." "He looks like Jesus!"
12. David Drayman (Disturbed). "Looks a little bit like Charles Manson's son." "Does his mom know about those facial piercings?" "Looks like Hannibal Lecter."
Yet more commercials! Have you wondered, in light of Pizza Hut's recent DVD promo deal, that they somehow acquired a shit-ton of really lousy movies on DVD and thought "How the hell can we move these?" Oh, it's just me? OK. Also, a commercial for "Verb: It's What You Do." I'm dumbfounded. Apparently, I'm supposed to "get permission to go online" and go to some website whose address I forget to find out more.
13. Sulley Erna(sp?) (Godsmack). "Too many tattoos." "His pants are too tight." (I missed a lot of the comments on this because I was getting some water and saying to myself "Oh, this is the band that I thought was Alice In Chains.")
14. Aaron Lewis (Staind). "Looks like a bald Dave Matthews." "Mini-Me!" "He wouldn't look any better even if he didn't shave his head."
15. Serge Tankien (System of a Down). "He tries to look evil, but he's just too baby-faced." "Cut the beard!" "There's no reason to have a beard like that--closeup on his face looks like something you'd see in a 1971 porno film." (Get it? Because pubic hair on women is ugly! Get it? Do you? DO YOU? See, this is where feminists really miss the boat re: criticism of porn. They just sit back in their peer-reviewed journals and are just content to toss down little theoretical pearls saying that pornography is rape, period. Nobody's really talking much, though, about the disturbing trend among porn women--a trend which seems to be crossing over to the mainstream--to eradicate every last trace of body hair, no matter what. No body hair, plus these pumped-up fake breasts--it's like porn's trying to turn women into little plastic dolls. Giving hetero guys the expectation that "real women" don't have body hair, breasts smaller than a D cup, etc. etc. And that's the disturbing and harmful thing about porn, not the whole "watch porn and be a sex-killer" thing. Graaah. Sorry, the whole body-hair thing is something that really gets to me.)
Lord God help us, more commercials! Women who're having their periods need Midol-- "and a good pair of sweatpants!" Because, you know, your period is just like being sick for five days every month. Plus: Ohmigawd, did you know that tobacco companies actually make money off people smoking?!? What shock! What horror! Those big meanies!
16. John Mayer. "He's a big hit with the ladies, I don't know why." "Almost handsome." (Lots of comments that are just "Fugly!")
17. Robert Harvey (The Music). "That guy's a walking horror show." "He looks like a member of the insect family." "Spastic fugly." "He shouldn't even be let near a TV camera." "Put this guy out of his misery, he's so fugly!" "There's just so much wrong with his face--just look at him!" (Because one vox-pop standard of aesthetics is objective truth for the rest of the human race to follow without question!)
18. Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach). "Loud fugly." "He could use a workout." "Looks like a fratboy jerk who comes to your house, does a kegstand, pukes all over the place, and tries to pick up on your mom." "He looks like the guy who buys beer for freshmen."
Finally, it's over. The host, his face covered in white makeover goop, advises us to buy the next issue of Stuff because "Pam Anderson's naked on the cover!" And then turns to the camera, and in all seriousness, says "Remember, folks, true beauty comes from inside."
Yes. We've just sat through an hour of snide comments about the way these people look bad, and one sentence of "true beauty comes from inside" is supposed to make it all better and make us take a lesson away from the show? What the SHIT is that??
When I was younger, various adults would seek to soothe me after I'd been teased or whatever by saying "This doesn't matter, the pain you're feeling now, because when you get older, it'll be your brains that matter, not your looks." This program has reinforced a truth I've been finding out ever since high school: Adults are fucking liars.