I've been fed up with a lot lately, from gun control to immigration reform, to an argument I saw in the parking lot at my beer distributor over a political bumper sticker. However, I often hesitate to voice my opinion on matters, lest it ruin friendships I have, or relationships with family, many of whom see things from a very different perspective and belief system than I do. However, I'm going to do a bit of that regarding one particular issue before I continue on to my main point.
I'm a hard working social liberal (someone's head just exploded) with no real grasp of economics (so I don't tend to chime in on those matters, lacking in convictions in that realm as I am), who likes guns, plans on owning one, and yet dearly wishes they would be restricted to protect the American people, though I do NOT believe that simple restriction on firearms themselves is a cure-all for this nation's epidemic of gun violence, so chill out, half of the people I know. As a country, I think we have done ourselves a huge disservice by not adequately funding mental health initiatives and research, nor have we done enough to curtail poverty in inner cities and rural areas, both of which I see as being as important in this matter as gun control.
That's neither here nor there.
Actually, it's the only thing that IS there, so I'm just one more voice shouting into the abyss of the angry mob the world seems to have become. So I'm going to move on and write about something that might be different, if not a breath of fresh air in the midst of the torches and pitchforks.
Why do we always have to kill our heroes?
I understand the saying, "never meet your heroes", and I abide by it. I don't want to be let down by an encounter with James Hetfield from Metallica or Brian Fallon from the Gaslight Anthem, so I would never choose to meet them. Sometimes the mystique is enough for me. James Hetfield wrote the music that fueled my angry adolescence, and has been the archetype of what I believe a heavy metal musician should be since I was 12. Brian Fallon, simply put, writes the songs I wish I could have. Anything I've ever been proud of writing, any funny story or personal reflection, I would trade in to have been the one to write "Handwritten," "Mae," or almost any other song he's written.
But would I willingly meet them? No.
In 2016, it seems there is a fascination with, and indeed a gleeful response, to being able to be the one who discovers something nasty about one of our heroes, and spreading this information to everyone they can. If, tomorrow, it is discovered that Tom Hanks (in my opinion one of the more beloved people in America), did something the majority deems unacceptable, there are many who are themselves guilty of the same indiscretion, who will go out of their way to bring him down with a fervor to their anger and a smile on their face. Simply put, pride in being a part of the movement that pushed a revered person off the cliff into infamy, alongside the broken shells of a dozen Kramers.
In (almost) all of these cases, starting with Kramer (Michael Richards), the people who committed the acts that others have used to destroy them were, undoubtedly, in the wrong. There's nothing right about what they did. But I'm uncomfortable with how much satisfaction people get from tearing them down. The latest subject of the public's scrutiny? Led Zeppelin.
I'm biased. I fucking love Led Zeppelin.
In my opinion, there are four rock bands to whom all others are inferior in terms of legacy: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Led Zeppelin. Sure, you could name the Doors (utter crap), Bob Dylan (see: Doors, The), Black Sabbath, or any number of other bands, as being worthy of Mt Rushmore, but you would be wrong. It's the four I mentioned and that's it, because I'm the only person to ever have a correct and infallible opinion.
As you probably know by now, the remaining members of Led Zeppelin were in court to defend themselves against civil charges claiming plagiarism in the case of their most popular song, "Stairway to Heaven". Today, they were acquitted, which led to the Twitter mob of self-righteous keyboard warriors (a group I'm occasionally a regretful member of) proclaiming them the usual "rich, old white men", among other things, negating a nearly 50-year legacy unparalleled by almost any other group.
I think it's necessary to call people on their errors, but sometimes I feel that a part of the problems we have now is that there is nobody to rally around. If someone gains fame, particularly if they stand for something positive, there is always a group working tirelessly to catch them in a weak moment, ready to bring them down in front of the masses, a pack of hyenas on the corpse of a gazelle.
I do not wonder whether or not there will ever be someone we, as a country, will ever look at again with the admiration and trust that we once felt for the people carved into a mountain in South Dakota.
I wonder, rather, if we will allow it.
Obviously, Led Zeppelin isn't the person or group of people I wish we had today, to trust as we follow them into that dark night, but they are a microcosm of a greater problem. Before we rush to judge others, we should work on ourselves. We are not infallible. You are not perfect. Maybe you've cheated on someone you professed to love, maybe you've lied on your taxes, maybe you've bullied people in school, or maybe you've neglected a grandparent in the only remaining time you'll have with them.
My point is, don't be happy to point out the flaws in the way others live their lives. If something is egregious, don't take it laying down. But it's time a lot of us worked on ourselves. No one person is ever totally wrong or totally right. Maybe you disagree with someone else's political stance, or perhaps their social life. In the case of the former, consider that outright dismissal and mocking of one's views is unproductive, and leads to the horrible state or hate and anger we are in today. In the case of the latter, it's none of your fucking business. In all cases, unless someone is doing something to harm others, you have two options: engage in constructive discussion or shut the fuck up and move on. It's pretty easy.
And, most importantly, always consider that everyone is facing an uphill battle in some respect. Think before tearing them down.
It's not always our heroes that get torn down. Sometimes it's just a normal person. Someday it might be you.
Perhaps it's too late and the train has left the station on a one way trip into the aforementioned abyss, but I hope that we someday allow ourselves a moment to put aside the distrust, skepticism, and malice, and believe in something or someone again.
As for me, I'll always have Led Zeppelin.