Monday, May 12, 2008

Do you really hate the Eagles?

So I was scanning The AV Club's latest Inventory column about 'great bands with more than one prominent lead singer.' Since the Eagles made the list, I wasn't surprised to see the following about 3 comments in:

The section I've highlighted says:
Also, the Dude taught me along time ago to question the greatness of the Eagles

I'm going to refrain from mocking him for his "along" typo, since that would reveal just how thoroughly white I am...

But what I really want to talk about are fake bullshit opinions like this. What Mr. "Hans Sprungfeld" is referencing, of course, is cult favorite The Big Lebowski, wherein a character named "The Dude" expresses disdain for The Eagles. See below, and all video clips in this post contain NSFW language!

Since Lebowski is a pretty big deal for our generation, I know a fair number of people that automatically respond, Pavlov-style, to any mention of The Eagles by quoting that scene. They can't help it. And it's not just quoting the film; they really actively hate the fuckin' Eagles.

Now, there are many legit reasons for disliking The Eagles. Perhaps you feel worn out on them due to their ubiquity on oldies radio. Maybe they're too pop for your tastes. Maybe you're of the mind that "Hotel California" should be, like, 4 minutes shorter than it is--call it "American Pie syndrome". Maybe you get tired of falsetto singing really fast. You've got options for Eagles-hate, and I'm not here to convince you otherwise.

But if you hate The Eagles just because The Dude hates The Eagles? I hate you. You are worthless. Do you really hate The Eagles? Really? Who in our age demographic cares that strongly about The Eagles anyway? Are your opinions so malleable that an unlikeable character in a cult movie can shape them?

You know people like this. They're the same people that refused to drink merlot for two years after seeing this scene in Sideways:

They also hate Sonic Youth after seeing that scene in Juno when Ellen Page says, "I listened to some more Sonic Youth, and it sucked! It's just noise!" Now, I happen to agree with that one, but I had a few Sonic Youth albums around and already had decided that they're a decidedly unlistenable band. I also hate playing Kool Thing in Guitar Hero 3.

Yeah, you know these people. Lemmings. Sheep. Uh... spies that are chasing after a Macguffin briefcase of opinions, the contents of which are unimportant but after which they are compelled to give chase. ... Right. Should have stuck with 'sheep.'

Telling you what to think is NOT the point of characters expressing opinions in movies like this: the character is expressing their (and arguably the screenwriters') opinion as insight into their personas. The Dude occupies a universe of his own choosing and has no time for contemporary popular culture. Sideways's Miles is an insufferable, unyielding snob who is incapable of fitting in with less exacting peers. Juno rightly prefers melody, harmony, and resolutions instead of aimless drifting and abstract noise experiments. I'm not reaching too hard here.

These expressions are not meant to change your opinions. If you happen to agree, you nod approvingly and bond with the character. If you don't have a solid opinion either way, maybe you should look into it before you express a movie character's opinion as your own, mmm 'k? Or, worse, letting a screenwriter change your mind about what you like to listen to.

In the interest of full disclosure, I think The Eagles are just ok. Their songs are cover-friendly though, like this heartbreaking cover of "Desperado" sung by an 11-year-old girl as part of the Langley Schools Music Project.

Or this cover of "Hotel California" by The Gipsy Kings:

That song is featured prominently on the soundtrack to... well... take a guess.


kdiddy said...

I hate the Eagles because they suck and everyone has such baffling reverence for them. I like merlot just fine, though I prefer cabernet or pinot noir. I kind of wanted to punch Juno for not liking Sonic Youth.

Erin Mc said...

I am late to comment on this, but you summed up my thoughts completely on the subject. I'm glad you're updating again!

Anonymous said...

what kdiddy said:

Eagles: Suck
Merlot: No complaints.
Sonic Youth: ROCKS.

That is why Lebowski will be an enduring work of art and Sideways and Juno already have a false ring to them.