CMU Beef Of The Week #139: Jack White v NME (not Lady Gaga)
By Andy Malt | Published on Friday 7 December 2012
What does Jack White think of Lady Gaga? It’s a question we’re all constantly asking ourselves. Sometimes I can barely sleep thinking about it. Often I wake suddenly, screaming: ‘Oh my god, what if he doesn’t think her music is up to scratch?’
Finally, this week I thought my torment was over. White, according to the NME, had told Esquire in an interview: “I don’t think she lives it because it’s all artifice. It’s all image with no meaning behind it. You can’t sink your teeth into it. It’s a sound bite. It’s very of this age, because that’s what people want. They want a Twitter line, a jpeg, an MP3”.
That seems pretty definitive. Except that the ‘it’ in the first sentence of the quote isn’t defined. Still, he’s clearly talking about her music, right? Not so though, says White.
In a statement published on the website of his label, Third Man Records, the former White Stripes frontman said: “I’d like to address the recent tabloidesque drama baiting by the press in regards to Lady Gaga. I never said anything about her music, or questioned the authenticity of her songs in any way. I was in a conversation about the drawbacks of image for the sake of image, and that it is popular nowadays to not question an image in front of you, but only to label it as ‘cool’ or ‘weird’ quickly and dispose of it”.
Oh dear. He continued: “I don’t like my comments about Lady Gaga’s presentation being changed into some sort of negative critique of her music. If you’re going to try to cause drama, at least get the quotes right. I think journalists should also be held accountable for what they say. Especially publications like the NME who put whatever words they feel like between two quotation marks and play it off as a quote”.
To be fair to the NME, Esquire used the same quote to promote its interview with White and was similarly vague about the exact specifics of the conversation. It’s a shame, really, that they and others pretended White was dissing Lady Gaga’s music, because the actual point he was raising – about on-stage personas – was much more interesting.
Does it actually matter if Stefani Germanotta is Lady Gaga all the time? Is the Jack White we see on stage the same Jack White who sits down on the sofa at the end of the day? Probably not. In the case of most celebrities, if they genuinely were the people they present to the public then they’d be utterly insufferable for everyone around them. If anything, I hope Lady Gaga is someone else when she goes home. But this is not a discussion for now, because Jack isn’t finished with his NME/reporters rant.
“Maybe somebody with more lawyers can take them [NME et al] to task, but I’ll just use the internet and Twitter instead”, he wrote. “I also think that kind of tabloid drama encourages artists to not express their opinions in the press, and instead give polite soundbites that don’t stimulate thought about creativity and the consumption of art in its many guises”.
These are more interesting points. He should have said all this before. The media both seeks and inhibits the opinions of the rich and famous. Discuss.
Though I’m not sure Jack should be having this conversation via Twitter. At risk of taking something he said out of context again, he also said in the same Esquire interview: “Twitter is the most perfect example of modern living. I think the only people who should have [Twitter accounts] are comedians, because it’s all about one-liners”.