May 3, 2012

Henry Rollins invites young people to be "morally upstanding... helpful, almost Boy Scout-like, presidential... altruistic."



Via Metafilter.

If you don't know who Henry Rollins is... don't you remember "Liar"? (I went to one of his spoken-word concerts once, long ago. The only thing I remember about it was a rant about how a symphony orchestra playing classical music is a cover band.)

38 comments:

Scott M said...

We phone-interviewed Rollins in 2001 for a spoken word tour he was on. My partner started the whole thing off by asking if he could call him Hanki instead of Henry. There was a long pause and Henry said, "we're about 900 miles apart. You're probably safe to do so now, but I'll be there in a week."

JJ called him Henry for the rest of the interview.

roesch/voltaire said...

Saw him when he fronted for Black Flag in a Madison concert long ago, but you know I like this message which resonates with Aristotle's ethical virtues induced through good habits and appropriate feelings that find a balance between excess and deficiency. Given the moral decay from John Edwards to thugs on the street, this is a good counter-point and one I may ask my first-year students to view and discuss.

Patrick said...

I don't know much about Rollins, but I remember seeing him do some sort of shrieking with a band behind him, several years ago. I think it was on Letterman.

He struck me as the type who would say what he said on this video only in a very ironic sense.

I detected no irony.

Salamandyr said...

Instead of just being "boy scout-like", maybe they should join the Boy Scouts.

Scott M said...

I detected no irony.

Henry Rollins doesn't do irony, at least not in person. He's a darker, more modern version of John Wayne. If it hadn't been for the Great Society/Politically Correct Left and the Rabid Social Conservative Right, I've always thought HR would be more or less what most guys in our country would be like. He's a no-nonsense, give me the facts, practical doer.

jimbino said...

Is he referring to the Boy Scouts who discriminate against gays and atheists? Better to compare righteous folk to the Girl Scouts, who are not so obnoxious.

Lem said...

My recollection is some kid got killed while in Rollins company and the kids parents blamed him for it.

Doc Holliday's Bastard said...

It's a good message, despite some non-sequitur trappings (the whole starting off with "rich kids holding you down by the mere fact of their existence, and was that FDR speaking when he said "politicians who came from nothing"), assholes, bullies, and losers come from all walks of life...but the message is "in the end, you are what you make yourself," and that's something few people feel comfortable proselytizing despite the truth of it.

As for Rollins himself, everything I've seen of him shows a very bright guy who likes people, likes life in general, but can't stand bullshit and has a short temper. Pretty much a good guy you wouldn't ever want to mess with, someone else said a modern day John Wayne...that's probably right.

Moose said...

Isn't it interesting that "mastering" some thing is no longer good enough? You have to "shake it up"?

Is being responsible ("boy scout like") enough for a good person? Do you have to make a difference? Challenge the system? Etc?

traditionalguy said...

The morality based social order usually wins over the support it needs for its authority. That and a cruel Armed force is its governing technique. The upheld rules create a passivity among the citizens being ruled over. The Roman Imperium did that as its policy.

Then along came the radical Christ-ian teaching of Paul that offered in the place of public morality and a stoic will an option to believe and be converted into a relationship based group order that empowers its born again members to live in love with God and with one another.

Paul's message using Roman roads and trade routes won the hearts and the minds of the subjects, although it took aviolent 300 years before it was accepted as the religion of Rome.

Those two approaches to morality are clashing again big time.

IMO that is why Tim Tebow stirs up such admiration and such hatred at the same time.

Robert Cook said...

I saw Henry Rollins singing with Black Flag at the old Ritz in NYC and at Maxwell's in Hoboken. I was also in Tower Records, (remember them?) on lower Broadway some years ago, browsing upstairs in the Jazz section, and and as I moved down the row of cds, my head and eyes down, scanning the product, I saw a tattooed man's bare leg next to mine. I glanced up and it was Rollins, who was perusing the jazz cds as well.

I didn't address him.

edutcher said...

Morality.

There's a word you don't hear much anymore.

jimbino said...

Is he referring to the Boy Scouts who discriminate against gays and atheists?

Yeah, they have this thing about not wanting their kids molested.

As for atheists, I can't say, but I do believe the Scouts were started as a Christian organization.

Better to compare righteous folk to the Girl Scouts, who are not so obnoxious.

Yeah, 'cause they're run these days by the psycho femiazis.

Unknown said...

Henry is actuall right in that all classical music IS done as a cover by modern orchestras, unless the composer is alive and present and/or playing or conducting. Very interesting slant......

I'm always VERY critical of the unoriginal "vocal stylists" of American Idol or similar and this outlines an area where I am probably being a hypocrite or have not thought about it enough?

Dave D said...

Ooops: That previous post was from me. Sorry!

CJinPA said...

The opening lines got right into the class warfare bullshit, 'people born into money might get in the way of your dreams' crap that entertainers have been belching for decades.

If he goes on to do a 180 and undermine his opening message, hurrah. But the tone he set wasn't very honest.

People with money don't want you to fail. Your failure means they'll have to pay more taxes to support you and your spawn, and to cover all of the other increased expenses that losers foist on the productive. Society wants you to succeed. If only so you won't be a drag. Beyond that, it really doesn't care what you do. You're not that imporant. That's an honest message, but probably won't get as many youtube hits for an aging, talentless poser.

EMD said...

The opening lines got right into the class warfare bullshit, 'people born into money might get in the way of your dreams' crap that entertainers have been belching for decades.

I took it more of a message that even if you come from nothing, you can be something.

It was cloaked in a little class warfare, but I'm not really a fan of the idle rich. (Those born into money who squander it or do nothing with themselves)

Chip Ahoy said...

Is this interesting? I was reading a bio on the girl that exploded herself when Bill Ayers was young and read one of her great grand fathers funded the Boy Scouts.

My Boy Scout book said BS was started by Robert Baden Powell but the page I read credits William D. Boyce. I don't know what page I read but going back to pick from Wikipedia, that never jacked with and always reliable fountain of wisdom:

One of Diana’s great-grandfathers (on her father's side) was the founder of Dwight’s Keeley Institute for Alcoholics, and another great-grandfather, William D. Boyce, founded the Boy Scouts of America.

Oh, now I get it. Powell was British and Boyce was American.

Chip Ahoy said...

founded not funded

Donald Douglas said...

I saw Black Flag many times back in the day. Rollins is not my favorite front man.

CJinPA said...

It was cloaked in a little class warfare, but I'm not really a fan of the idle rich. (Those born into money who squander it or do nothing with themselves)

I guess I just don't get why anyone cares either way how the rich spend their time. I just never felt the resentment.

And framing this as a message to young people? Not very honest and not beneficial to the young. Especially coming from a guy who made his wealth by creating nothing more than his own image.

chickenlittle said...

I met Henry Rollins once and he bored me.

Nothing worse than that.

Saint Croix said...

The only thing I remember about it was a rant about how a symphony orchestra playing classical music is a cover band.)

You remember that cause it's frickin' brilliant.

Now I will remember it.

Scott M said...

You remember that cause it's frickin' brilliant.

HR is a pretty outstanding guy in a lot of respects. He's definitely got some rough edges, but their shot through with tinges of brilliance. Funny, too.

chickenlittle said...

HR is a pretty outstanding guy in a lot of respects. He's definitely got some rough edges, but their shot through with tinges of brilliance. Funny, too.

I save that kind of praise for Jello Biafra.

Lem said...

I seem to have a memory of Henry Rollins, Dennis Miller and Vanilla Ice doing a Clinton State of the Union.. I'm shaky on Vanilla Ice.. not sure if it was him or somebody else.

Mike Fundaro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thorley Winston said...

Lem, I think that you were referring to this. It was Harry Shearer.

brian said...

Rollins was very present in the punk scene in the 80s. I met him a couple of times. Slam danced with Black Flag at least once, in Ann Arbor. I do remember that he wrote a back of the magazine column for somebody in the late 80s early nineties. I don't agree with him on quite a bit, but he strikes me as quite authentic.

PatCA said...

I think he's on his way to one day saying, just be a Boy Scout. He seems to be losing faith in the eternal culture of protest qua protest.

Too bad he used the vid of the Arizona high schoolers pounding the tables in protest (like infants) over immigration, which undermines his position.

jeff said...

Not a big fan of his music or some of his politics. However, he is one who actually addresses a issue on its merits and can articulate his point of view based on facts rather than demonizing his opponent. He also doesn't argue against a straw man but tries to understand the opposing argument. Would that more people in the public eye were like him.

Peter said...

A symphony orchestra is not a cover band.

A significant difference between classical and popular music is that in popular music there is tremendous emphasis on the performer and the performer's personality, which is far more muted in the classical music world.

In classical music, the composer is almost always considered more important than the performer. Which is why classical music recordings are usually indexed by composer, not by performer. For that matter, some classical music (e.g., J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor) was probably never performed in the composer's lifetime.

Just as there's nothing lower in Hollywood than a writer, in popular music the songwriter (if different than the performer) is often unknown to practically everyone.

To be sure, there have been attempts to sell classical music to those who new listeners, and these often try to sell it as popular music is sold- sometimes with some success.

RonF said...

"Helpful ... altruistic, almost Boy Scout like"?

I've been registered in Scouting for about 32 of my 59 years on Earth. I defy you to find a better non-denominational moral code than the Scout Law and Oath.

"A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent."

"On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country; to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; and to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."

I get a little tired of people talking about the BSA like it's something to mock instead of something to emualte and admire.

D.D. Driver said...

"The opening lines got right into the class warfare bullshit, 'people born into money might get in the way of your dreams' crap that entertainers have been belching for decades."

I didn't take it as class warfare at all. To the contrary the message was: "Yes. Others will have it easier than you. You can't control that. Here's what you can do."

It's a good message.

chickenlittle said...

I get a little tired of people talking about the BSA like it's something to mock instead of something to emualte and admire.

Hip people can't handle the Cub Scouts' oath: "to be square and to obey the law of the pack." It's anathema to them, but I am not amused.

Thorley Winston said...

"The opening lines got right into the class warfare bullshit, 'people born into money might get in the way of your dreams' crap that entertainers have been belching for decades."


People on the right or center-right are not Rollins’ targeted audience. He’s essentially targeting his message to more leftist or left-leaning demographic, not to people who aren’t alienated by the thought that someone else might have more money but who may be upset more at people they’re forced to support by the government who fall more in the category of “don’t have to pay the full price, mess up the room and don’t clean it up, etc.” Even though the message is generically addressed to “young person” it’s really addressed to “liberal young person” rather than “conservative young person.”


I don’t mind if Rollins is trying to reach out to people he sees as his fellow travelers. To the extent that this video is persuasive, it may persuade some young people to shape up and embrace the values of the other half of the country which may mean in the long run they’re less likely to be Rollins’ fellow travelers ;).

RonF said...

O.K. - a little lesson on the origin of the Boy Scouts.

The Boy Scout Movement was started in 1907 by then-General Baden-Powell. He was a war hero whose publication on military scouting had, because of his heroic exploits in defending a siege, caught the imagination of the youth of Britain. The exercises in it were to teach military scouts how to live off the land, take care of themselves in the field, and observe. This was a little rough for kids, though. The King had a conference with the youngest man every to reach the rank of General in the British Army and convinced him that England would be better served if he concentrated his efforts on the betterment of youth.

In 1910 a gentleman from Chicago called W.D. Boyce was helped through a London fog by a young man in uniform. He was intrigued that the young man refused a tip, saying that a Scout could not accept a tip for doing a good deed. He investigated that and incorporated the Boy Scouts in 1910. By 1916 the organization had become large enough that it organized a National Council, and James E. West became its first Chief Scout Executive. He was instrumental in putting "Reverent" in the BSA's version of the Scout Law and was heavily involved in the YMCA, who became one of the BSA's early sponsors.

However - Scouting in general as organized by Lord Baden-Powell and the BSA in particular never was and never has been a "Christian" organization. While acknowledgement of the existence of and duty to some spiritual authority has always been part of Scouting, all faiths, whether formal or not, have always been welcome in Scouting both world wide and in the U.S. In fact, the LDS (which is not recognized as Christian by any Christian denomination) is the BSA's biggest sponsor of units and boys.

EDH said...

Did you notice Henry Rollins at the end of the "Liar" video looks like the "freaky quadruple deaky 'tanning mom'"?

Tarzan said...

I've never been able to forgive Henry for taking all the fun out of Black Flag and punk music in general and turning it all into a stump for art school politics.

I guess that's all it ever was, but it used to be a lot more musical and a lot more fun, but that made it vulnerable, and vulnerability became something to cover up with a muscle suit and a position of pre-emptive 'rage' shouted into a microphone with veins a bulging.

But that sold more records than pogo dancing and funny hair.

But hey, at least he SOUNDS important.