Whenever I look at this blog’s visitors, it always surprises me how many people still read a post of mine titled: Billie Joe Armsrong: American Idiot, Sunshine Patriot, or Both? It must have struck a chord (perhaps one of the four Green Days plays over and over and over, albeit really well?). Who knows. But it seems there are a lot of people out there coming to the same conclusions I do about Billie, although perhaps The Killers’ Brandon Flowers was the first high-profile musician to do it:

“You have Green Day and American Idiot. Where do they film their DVD? In England. “A bunch of kids screaming ‘I don’t want to be an American idiot’ – I saw it as a very negative thing towards Americans. It really lit a fire in me. “You have the right to say what you want to say and what you want to write about, and I’m sure they meant it in the same way that Bruce Springsteen meant Born in the USA and it was taken wrongly, but I was really offended when I saw them do that.” “To go to a place like England or Germany and sing that song (American Idiot) – those kids aren’t taking it the same way that he meant it. And he (frontman BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG) knew it.”

Is it me, or did Brandon Flowers just take out “Glass Joe” like Little Mac on steroids? That one had to leave a mark…

"Glass Joe" (aka: Jesus of Suburban Hot Topic Shoppers), TKO'd by Brandon Flowers of The Killers.

Billie Joe knows exactly what he’s doing, which is why it’s annoying that in his mind the US military is only legitimate when all branches apparently become support for Coast Guard humanitarian missions; (otherwise they’re just mindless drones suckered into enlisting by the big bad Bush-Hitler and predestined to die a needless death, a 21-Gun salute to remember them by?)

If you’re not familiar with Green Day you might wonder what Jesus of Suburbia is all about. I’d say, skip that question for now, because the more interesting observation is that Billie Joe seems to think he’s Jesus of Suburban Hot Topic Shoppers whose lives are so comfortable that they have to create things to be angry about.

Perhaps this blog post is a bit pre-mature, as Billie will be appearing on Real Time with Bill Maher…or was that Real Time with Guy Who Gets Paid to Belch Intellectual Bile? Either way, I’ll be watching. And then writing, because right now we haven’t heard too much from Billie Joe since Barack Obama’s nomination left a lump in his throat. Oh wait, we do have this little gem:

“I am optimistic, as long as these right-wing conservative a**holes don’t try to ruin things for people — like throwing around ideas that we’re headed for a socialist government. Which, the way they’re throwing it around, they don’t even know what socialism really is.”

Hmmm…perhaps I’m just a “right wing a**hole,” but I’d say the government taking control of one-sixth of the US economy in one fell swoop is pretty darn close to what conservatives said would happen if he was elected.

When you go on Maher’s show to wax political, Billie, just remember that at one time you understood that it was you who happened to be the basket case. Word for the wise: You still are. Only now, you think you’re Jesus of Suburbia…

Leave the reform up to people who actually know what they’re talking about and stick to being a punk, because that’s what you’re good at.

15 comments

  1. This is spot on. I loved Green Day as a middle schooler and at the start of high school but then I realized what they were talking about…I think it’s extremely out of line and offensive that are so disrespectful to a country that has given them virtually everything they have.

    1. I actually think, musically, American Idiot is a good album. However, while I can appreciate their musical talents, I’m also more than willing to point out that outside their established careers they’re not very bright.

    2. “Out of line and offensive”? I’m sorry to burst your bubble there Emily, but that’s what punk is all about! They wanna show the world that America has a flipside, that underneath everything the media tries to cover up, there’s really all this corruption and evil that the rest of the world isn’t seeing. I’ve been a fan of Green Day for 6 years now so maybe you think I’m being too soft on their part. But I’ll tell you this: America did not give them everything they have. They all came from lower middle-class backgrounds so this wasn’t something they recieved on a silver platter, they worked their way to the top. The majority of their fans aren’t even American. And if you don’t agree with their lyrics, at least try to enjoy the music itself. A few “fuck America” songs shouldn’t be a reason to stop loving an otherwise very talented band.

    3. Thanks for the post, Gaby. My one critique is this: How many countries in the world routinely reward hard working “lower middle class” groups of kids by turning them into economic success stories? Not many.

      The truth of the matter is this: America is a unique, exceptional place. Science, Free Markets, Limited Government, and a consistent respect for basic human rights has made the United States the greatest nation in the history of the world. If Green Day thought about this perhaps they’d be making rock operas about REAL threats to world peace, like Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Kim Jong Il, etc.

  2. I write theory on media forms such as music and film. I don’t even like Green Day and this blog is sub par. Green Day has always been a band about lower/middle class suburbia. Their fears are escalated by what is on the TV, this can be seen as early as “Having a Blast” on their Dookie album. They are like any major rock band that cashes in on what they know. Personally, if you look too deeply into Green Day you can’t be too smart. They don’t even take their work seriously. Why should you?

    1. Actually, John, people who go on Bill Maher’s show DO take themselves seriously. That’s why they go on his show. Like Billie Joe.

      I also find it interesting that the guy who has dedicated his life to “theorizing” on music and film insinuates I’m “not too smart” out of the gate… I’ll fight the urge to get into a pissing match over academic credentials and the intellectual circles we walk through on a daily basis.

      Even if I agreed with you that Green Day doesn’t take *cough* its life’s work seriously, it doesn’t matter because the broader point is that OTHER PEOPLE DO (just like Brandon Flowers so aptly put it in the article cited).

      I suggest you go theorize in a corner somewhere for a bit if all you can muster are ad hominem attacks.

    2. How can anyone argue that Green Day owe their success to the US government? They come from difficult working class backgrounds and it is only due to their commitment, talent and effort that they have achieved success. They don’t owe the government anything but contempt.
      America’s entire political system is designed to suppress the working class and make multinational corporations richer. They use the media to scare and control the populus so as to gain their support for iniatives which will harm the very populus who support them.

      American Idiot describes what it’s like to live in America in an age devoid of spirituality or meaning, when the average working joe is subjected to so much consumerism, propaganda and distraction through television, that they are unaware of wars being waged. It shows the disillusionment and apathy which has infected American culture and stands tall, desperately trying to shake America from its deep sleep and help them see through the lies they’re administration subjects them to.

    3. How old are you, George? Are you 21? You sound like a guy whose read a couple books and now he thinks he’s historian. I feel bad that Billie has a drug problem, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t call him out for being a political buffoon and a hypocrite.

  3. very well said gaby! and wind your neck in douglas about america being the greatest country ever, you dont even have free healthcare for goodness sake, youll probably take as much offence to me saying that as i do about you claiming us english and every1 else is lesser than you, this is about g.d, not whos the greatest country ever! and as gaby said, green day are punk, top and bottom of it they dont want to be told what to do when to do it, and why support governments that are only there to screw every1 over, that they pledge they. do what people want, yet when they get in power, do nothing, yet you have haters saying there music has changed, well maybe it has, but its still punk! punk isnt a sound, nor a musical note, punk is a way of life!

  4. “you dont even have free healthcare for goodness sake… and as gaby said, green day are punk, top and bottom of it they dont want to be told what to do when to do it…”

    Really? Then why do English punk bands readily accept the government telling them “You get this one brand of crappy health care and you’ll deal with it.” It seems to me that the “punk” thing to do would be to demand more choices. I can choose from a thousand different cell phone, cable, and internet providers, but I’m supposed to be okay with the government forcing me to take THEIR sub-par health care? No thanks. Come see me when you need highly specialized medical treatment and you take the first plane to NYC or Washington, DC.

  5. The USA is the single, greatest threat to world peace. Since the end of WW2 they have:
    Endeavoured to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically elected;
    Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries;
    Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders;
    Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries;
    Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.

    If you believe America is a force for good in the world, you should ask the people of Iraq.
    Or Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea, Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, Yugoslavia, Pakistan, Lybia, Yemen, Guatemala, Panama, China, Russia, Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Argentina, El Salvador, Honduras, Algeria, Congo, Cambodia, Laos, Chad, Brazil, Haiti, Fiji, Guyana, Colombia, East Timor, Lebanon, Iran, Italy,Uruguay or Venezuela.
    Green Day are simply continuing in the long tradition of American musicians critiquing their government for their actions abroad.

    1. Slow clap for George Dickinson. How long did it take you to flip through your Noam Chomsky reader? Why don’t you ask the Kurds about Saddam Hussein? Why don’t you ask Iraq’s about Uday and Qusay Hussein? Or not, because hearing about rape rooms and torture rooms is never fun. Why don’t you do a little research into the bodies that piled up under Stalin or Mao? Or not, because then you’d realize that your charge that the U.S. is the “greatest threat to world peace” is laughable.

      It’s funny you should bring up World War II. What would have happened if the U.S. never jumped in? Oh, yeah, that’s right, you’d be speaking German right now.

      Cheers.

  6. How would you know if my, UK healthcare is sub-par? I am proud to live in country where sick, poor people don’t die in the streets because they can’t afford treatment. And as for Brandon Flowers assertion that non-american GD fans don’t understand American Idiot, I would like to say this: How dare he be so condescending to a group of people he’s never met. I also have the right to voice my anger at America’s administrations, which I have done with both Obama and Bush. Billie Joe is saying that he doesn’t want to conform to a right-wing, Fox News, redneck, traditionalist view of what an American should be. He wants to voice his dissent and express the way billions of people around the globe feel about his country.
    Music is a valuable form of dissent as it can reach out to so many people as bands like Green Day, Rage Against the Machine, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Billy Bragg, Bob Dylan, MC5, The Smiths, The Who, Jimi Hendrix and Woody Guthrie will testify. It is important that these bands serve as examples to future generations so that the struggle for peace and equality may continue. Viva la Revolution!

    1. How would you know if my, UK healthcare is sub-par? I am proud to live in country where sick, poor people don’t die in the streets because they can’t afford treatment.

      I apologize. Perhaps you’re just proud of the fact that they unnecessarily die in hospitals because the system that the U.K. adopted stifles innovation and causes health care rationing?

      Viva la Revolution!

      Remember, you can’t have a socialist revolution without a few skidmarks in your underwear.

      Venezuela: You can’t have a revolution without a few skidmarks; ignore the toilet paper shortage!

      Venezuela’s Maduro tries to stop spinning down the toilet drain by spinning faster

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