2013 needs to step up its feuding game. Biebs versus drummer in blues pop band? Florida mysterious guy etymology-core versus tumblr punx? Rick “If you liked Reality Bites you might like” Moody versus feminist by complete default Taylor Swift? Azealia Banks versus the Void That Is Existence (with Perez Hilton as its Twitter proxy)? So many lame houses and not enough poxes. It’s enough to make a man miss Jack White pounding on the dude from the band that had that song on CSI. At least that happened on the mean streets of an indie club, rather than the philosophical dead end street that is Twitter. I know it’s redundant to point it out at this point but: NO REAL IDEAS WILL EVER BE EXPRESSED IN 140 CHARACTERS. Sorry. Twitter didn’t cause the Arab Spring. Countless years of endemic poverty and oppression did. Twitter just gave white comedians’ racist followers a venue to make fun of Chris Brown fans’ grammar. As much as I love the future—what with the marked decline in child labor and all—certain old rules still apply: not signing your real name to comments still makes you a coward, and short pithy statements are only good for jokes and lies.
The Chris Brown/Frank Ocean fight was okay. I know, I know…hear me out. First of all, no sane person, at this point of time is arguing that Chris Brown is anything other than a pretty terrible person. I would argue that he’s no worse than Jackson Brown or any beloved director that either rapes underage girls or fucks his adopted daughter but, hey, hate who you like. I will say this: as someone who has been punched many, MANY times, I can tell you, there are worse things. (I’m referring, by the way, ONLY to this fight. Hitting a woman is never not disgusting. Just to be clear.) The whole Frank Ocean narrative took on a patronizing and vaguely homophobic tinge. Frank Ocean is a grown-ass man. I don’t doubt for a second that, regardless of his having been in love with another man and writing beautiful songs about it, dude can probably take a punch. And return one. That whole “Chris Brown is being a bully again” was a real disservice to Frank Ocean. Ocean’s declining to either press charges or even continue taking part in a feud so trivial was an inspiration to us all. Not that it—you know—actually inspired anyone to change.
The problem with feuding online is not just the oft-cited reasoning that the speed of the Internet provides too much opportunity for heat rather than light, it’s also that, even days later, the outrage is rarely real. No matter how strongly it’s felt, few of the watchers or commentators or even protagonists are truly invested in what’s going on. Biebs posts a tweet, everybody freaks out, Black Keys' drummer is momentarily distracted from having his bandmate talk shit about his ex-wife to the press, and life goes on in pure white noise tedium. That’s why print and award shows are important. The physical is great. Someone says you suck in the pages of Jerkwater Weekly and, by God, that’s an anger you can hold on to for years. You and your least favorite EDM artist are both up for Novelty of the Year at the 2013 Paddington Bear Awards? Shit, bring your friends and dress up like the Baseball Furies. Make a memory that will last forever.
Am I advocating less online feuding and more real world violence? Maybe, yes, not really, but sort of. But not because I think violence is anything other than awful and terrifying, but because nothing meaning anything and all of us falling into a wormhole of empty words is worse. So I make a modest proposal. Famous People of Varying Degrees of Talent: Every time you are willing to take your pathetic feuds into the real world, be it on talk shows or the parking lots of our nation’s capitol for dummies, LA, I will GLADLY be the recipient of one punch by whoever loses. Not to the face, as I’m incredibly pretty and can’t afford new glasses, but anywhere else. This way, even the loser will feel like a big man or woman, and the Internet can discuss ad nauseam something that actually happened, rather than something that was discussed in a forum best suited for role playing games and links to porn bots' oeuvres.
This is a serious offer. If you are famous, and willing to forgo tweeting your juvenile difference via Twitter or any other social media, you will have the opportunity to live the American dream: punching a New York Jew with zero repercussions. I will even tweet about it so you know it happened.
Fight Zach in the streets, follow him on Twitter - @zacharylipez
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