Counterpoint: LIMP BIZKIT Was Fine and RAGE's Tim Commerford Is Just A Dick
One of this week's hottest items was former Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim Commerford “apologizing,” for the birth and subsequently massive (for a few minutes anyway) success of the now-surprisingly-long-running rap metal group, Limp Bizkit.
You can read the quotes in full, along with the details of the bands’ decade and a half-old beef here, but the meat of the story is this line:
"I do apologize for Limp Bizkit," Commerford says. "I really do. I feel really bad that we inspired such bullshit.
Limp Bizkit might be the only piece of fruit currently hanging lower than Nickelback, so it’s no surprise that Rolling Stone chose this little tidbit to tease their “soon-to-be-published, in-depth interview” with Commerford. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with highlighting these kinds of cheap shots. Magazines need clicks. But what I cannot abide is the dumb, lazy, smug, and mean cultural criticism that Commerford is basically spouting here.
Let me explain:
1. Commerford is belittling someone else’s art, taking ownership of it, and then apologizing for it like it was a booger that flew out of his nose during a board meeting. That’s sort of a shitty thing to do as someone who is, y’know, also an artist, and a very favorable (for him) way of interpreting the always-murky waters of musical lineage.
2. About that low-hanging fruit. Commerford is playing into this weird fantasyland everyone seems to be stuck in where Limp Bizkit wasn’t, at one point, one of the three biggest bands on the PLANET, and where they never once nodded their heads to “Re-Arranged” even a little bit. Seriously, in 1999, everyone I knew had a copy of Significant Other and their passion for it was rivaled only by their parent’s disgust with Fred Durst’s prodigious use of the word “fuck.” Taking that away from them is, again, dickish, not to mention some revisionist bullshit.
3. The worst part of this mini-interview might actually be this line: "They're gone, though… That's the beautiful thing. There's only one left, and that's Rage, and as far as I'm concerned, we're the only one that matters." This is both obnoxiously smug and colossally stupid. It’s not music’s job to change the world any more than it is to preserve the status quo. It’s a tool of expression. Rage Against the Machine tried (unsuccessfully, mind you) to use their politically charged music to effect change. Limp Bizkit chose to sing about butts. That is their right. Neither has more or less claim to an artistic legacy.
4. Which brings me to my next point, which is that even if Limp Bizkit just sang about butts (which they didn’t), they still connected with an extraordinary number of people, people for whom Limp Bizkit is an inextricable part of their musical history. Hell, I know for certain that I would not be into extreme music the way I am today if Fred Durst and co. had not introduced my teenage self to the concept of heavy guitars and a white dude screaming. I may not listen to them anymore but I will never deny that. Trying to make people feel bad or ashamed of that connection is lazy and misguided. It’s cultural commentary at its worst.
None of this is mean to be a defense of Limp Bizkit’s music, which may or may not be your cup of tea. I just want to speak up for their place in history…and to point out that Tim Commerford is a dick who tried to ruin one of the biggest moments of someone else’s life because he felt that a meaningless award show was honoring the wrong angst-ridden rap rock group.