Sunday, June 12, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 12: A Song From A Band You Hate

I don't actually "hate" a lot of bands, mostly because I don't really listen to bands that I don't like long enough to log the emotional time it takes to generate real hatred. For today's 30 Day Song Challenge selection, I was going to pick a song by Creed... but then I figured everyone with any kind of musical taste at all hates Creed, so what's the point? So instead I'm picking a band that I've actually put some effort into disliking: The Doors. Why it is exactly that I dislike The Doors so much, and Jim Morrison in particular, is kind of a mystery even to me. In general, I'm a fan of a lot of music that is very much like theirs. I like classic rock-n-roll and, when I'm listening with my most unbiased and sympathetic ears, I can hear in The Doors' sound a lot of what I like in some of my favorite bands. There's a little bit of The Who sound, a little bit of The Velvet Underground, a little bit of Cream, and I like all of those bands. So what is it that just turns me off to The Doors?

I suppose a lot of it has to do less with The Doors' sound than with the iconographic status of images like the one above, which have made Doors' front-man Jim Morrison into something like a latter-day saint. It may also be a generational thing. Oliver Stone's movie "The Doors" (starring Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison) came out in 1991. I was about at that age when it's very important to decide what you think is "cool" and what you think isn't, and it seemed to me at the time that everyone thought The Doors were the coolest. A lot of people I knew then fell face-forward into hippie nostalgia, despite the fact that we were all too young to know anything about the kind of heavily-drugged hard-livin' that constituted Morrison's tragically truncated life. We weren't even old enough to understand nostalgia, for goodness sake. Still, the posters of Morrison and The Doors went up on everyone's wall... and I started to dislike them.

Here's Morrison in action, performing The Doors' "Touch Me" from their 1969 album The Soft Parade:

I can't really blame anyone for liking The Doors. They're not awful. Maybe it's not so much that I hate The Doors as I hate the way people love The Doors... because I don't think they love The Doors as much as they love the tragic story of Jim Morrison. Most of the hardcore Doors fans that I've met harbor a not-so-secret Christ complex. They think of themselves as artistic geniuses, sent to rescue the rest of us from our mundane, suburban, bourgeois and sober ordinariness. They're "misunderstood." This world is not their home. They are defined in equal measures by hubris and hamartia. And they secretly pine for the inevitable tragedy that will befall them, after which we can bemoan their passing greatness at their graves.


The way I see it, almost everyone has some tragedy that he or she loves. (Yes, I'm talking to you, Jeff Buckley fans.) For whatever reasons, Morrison's is just not a tragedy that moves me. And, unfortunately, The Doors catch the brunt of my irritation at everyone else's decision to drink the Kool-Aid.


John said...

Hi Doctor J. I am hoping this blog is still open for comments... even if the "authentication protocol" of this age sometimes creates hermeneutic circles of closure, even in cyberspace... but I am not trying to be provocative, I really am curious why you dislike The Doors and Jim Morrison so much. Assuming that you don't dislike, say the saints themselves, it sounds like it is a matter of Morrison not being real or authentic, having a "Christ complex" and so forth rather than a true spiritual existence. Then it would even be once again an issue of the real and simulation perhaps, the horror you feel before a mindless adoration of a pop star as a kind of "uncanny valley" problem having to do with rejecting deception?

And yet I have to suspect that things are not so simple... But just to be clear, are you saying that we must begin by rejecting or crossing out what is known to be false... that is, the pseudo-canonization of Jim Morrison?

John said...

Also, if I may, the notion of "drinking the kool-aid" is circulated quite a bit in politics, pop culture, and so on... but it is interesting to me in that it contains subtle and perhaps opposite connotations within itself. Variously meaning something hallucinogenic, inducing madness, or something poisonous, fatal... it is akin to the pharmakon, isn't it? And it naturally is the perfect "scapegoat", even if it is ever so hard to pin down and define.