In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Jack White said some shit that pissed off a bunch of people. He accused the Black Keys of ripping off his work, and argued that Adele owes a large part of her commercial success to Amy Winehouse’s death. This was apparently controversial enough that White released a statement apologizing for the comments on his website this weekend. To me, the question that needs to be asked is why the fuck does any of this matter?
First off, White’s apology is hilarious. He’s basically saying “Sorry I told you how I really feel.” I mean, it’s not like he’s actually retracting any of those opinions or saying “Nah, I was just shitting around, the Black Keys are a great band.” And as someone who thoroughly enjoys the music of White as well the Keys, I couldn’t possibly care less.
So Jack White doesn’t like a band that happens to be his biggest rival and has had greater commercial success than him over the past few years. Does that really matter? If you enjoy both artists, does it really make it more difficult to listen to either one of them? Kurt Cobain hated Pearl Jam, and that didn’t stop millions of people from becoming huge fans of both bands.
And really, White had absolutely nothing to apologize for. All the dude did was speak his mind. Maybe you didn’t like what he said, or maybe you were annoyed by the admittedly tactless way he phrased he sentiments, but so what? The dude’s allowed to say what he thinks. If he had said something racist or homophobic, I could see the need for a public apology. But saying you don’t like artists that a lot of other people happen to like is not a crime. If it were, every contrarian critic who ever penned a review for Pitchfork would be behind bars right now.
If you’re music fan, there are bands you like that don’t like other bands you like. And sometimes, they’ll say so in an interview or on Twitter. I can understand where that can be a bit disheartening – when I was in middle school, I was super bummed when I found out that Albert Hammond, Jr didn’t like Jet (note: I now agree with him completely) because it saddened me a bit to know that one musician who I respect didn’t like another artist I respected. It sucks because to a certain agree; we want our favorite artists to validate our opinions. We want to feel like the things we like are cool. And if someone says “That band sucks,” it can be a bit disappointing.
But that doesn’t mean that they were wrong to say it, and frankly, Jack White didn’t do anything wrong here. I’m guessing White’s apology was a PR move. He was worried about coming off like a jerk, and possibly alienating fans of his who also happen to be Black Keys fans. But music fans need to be thick skinned about things like this. Some bands you like are going to think other bands you like are trash. It doesn’t mean they’re right and doesn’t make the music you love any less meaningful. So play your Black Keys records and your White Stripes records, and if one of them says something disparaging about the other, just tune them out, and turn the music up.