'Glee' vs. Kings of Leon: Who Wins?
by Stephanie Earp, posted Jan 31st 2011 5:00PM
Last week Egypt erupted into revolution, and indie band Kings of Leon and 'Glee' creator Ryan Murphy had a media fight. As much as I'd like to tell you how I feel about current events in Egypt, I am a pop culture and television writer, so instead we're gonna be talking about a bunch of overpaid, self-congratulatory boobs -- which I swear would be my description of anyone who resorts to fighting on Twitter.
But if you sense more than the usual amount of venom in my turns of phrase, I can't deny it and feel I should warn you: I am not a fan of either of these two entities, and if you don't think you can handle someone crowing about how stupid they are without resorting to death threats, you should click elsewhere.
And now, to recap -- let's look at how this developed:
1. This all started many moons ago, when 'Glee' wanted to include KOL song 'Use Somebody' in an episode. The band turned down the opportunity, saying they'd never seen the show. And then bassist Jared Followill said the thing that started the fight. "We could have sold out so much more. We turn stuff down constantly."
Will selling out ever stop being an issue for bands with nine Top 40 singles? When, oh world, will we stop caring and let rock musicians enjoy their success without having to worry about this ever-shifting line in the sand? But I like the image this conjures up, of the band sitting in a boardroom at their label, saying 'Next' every time they are presented with a chance to make a crapload of money.
Advantage KOL -- they avoid having their song made worse, and they give the impression they're totally pimping.
2. Piqued, Ryan Murphy responds in The Hollywood Reporter, saying: "F**k you, Kings of Leon. They're self-centered assholes, and they missed the big picture. They missed that a 7-year-old kid can see someone close to their age singing a Kings of Leon song, which will maybe make them want to join a glee club or pick up a musical instrument."
I, along with the rest of the Internet, actually snorted out loud when I read this. 'Glee' is a stand-in for music education now? But I get it -- Murphy is trying to say that being on 'Glee' isn't "selling out," it's contributing to an artistic culture. Which would hold more water if the show wasn't an enormous cash cow for Fox and for Murphy and didn't make so much use of Auto-Tune that it's actually my reference point for describing Auto-Tune to people over 50. "You know the way the kids on 'Glee' have no dynamics or personality to their voices and it sounds sort of like your speakers might be on the fritz?" I'll say. "That's Auto-Tune." Works every time.
Advantage KOL -- Murphy comes off deluded about the role of his show and makes it personal.
3. Trying to make nice, singer Caleb Followill told THR: "This whole 'Glee' thing is a shock to us. It's gotten out of hand. At the time of the request, we hadn't even seen the show. It came at the end of that record cycle, and we were over promoting ['Use Somebody']. This was never meant as a slap in the face to 'Glee' or to music education or to fans of the show. We're not sure where the anger is coming from."
Now, this is a fellow who fights with style. The 'out of hand' makes Murphy looks childish, the 'record cycle' says it's just business and the 'I'm not sure where this anger is coming from' points out that Murphy is totally bringing the crazy. If this had been the end of it I think I might have gained new respect for KOL.
Advantage KOL -- A shout-out to the 'Glee' fans, and playing hurt and confused? Sir, you fight like a girl. And I mean that as the highest compliment.
4. Nathan Followill tweets: "Dear Ryan Murphy, let it go. See a therapist, get a manicure, buy a new bra. Zip your lip and focus on educating 7yr olds how to say f**k."
Oh, Nathan. Would that you had not mentioned bras. You might have gotten away with the manicure line, but now you're heading into homophobe territory against a writer who has made queer issues and bullying a central theme of his work.
Advantage Murphy -- talk about giving away your power. Nathan just became the Natalie Maines of KOL. I'm sure they'll stand by him in public, but take note: Where's Natalie 'Dixie Chicked' Maines now? Eh? Eh?
5. Murphy responds via Perez Hilton, because when you need to make a mountain out of a molehill, Perez is your man. "Just read Nathan Followill's Tweet," he wrote in an email. "Wow. That's a homophobe badly in need of some education. I'm all for manicures, don't wear a bra. Would guess most gay dudes don't. But it's telling that Nathan can reduce a group of people to a mean-spirited cliché, in a time where young gay men are killing themselves all over the country because of hatred like this. That said, I would love to sit down with Nathan or any member of Kings of Leon, and tell them how on 'Glee' we actually love their music, and support their artistry... but cannot condone or even laugh at their clear disdain of gay people."
Advantage Murphy -- I hate to say it, but Murphy wins this round, however dubious his claims. I too would love for Murphy to sit down with the members of KOL and explain to them what "self-centered assholes" they are, but only if a reality TV crew is filming it.
6. Nathan apologizes via Twitter: "I'm sorry 4 anyone that misconstrued my comments as homophobic or misogynistic. I'm so not that kind of person. I really do apologize."
Advantage? None. In the end, this fight was sort of like watching the person who beat you up in middle school fight with the person who beat you up in high school, and watching them both lose. In other words: awesome. And in a world gone mad, it was a pleasure to behold. Keep it up, gentlemen. Without you, we might all be lobbying our government to support democracy around the world or something.