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Where's the Love?

Posted: February 8, 2003

By Kevin Forest Moreau, Chief Playa-Hata

"If I was Eddie Vedder, would you like me any better?" --Local H, "Eddie Vedder"

Memo to Pearl Jam fans: All you need is love.

Those five simple words sparked a small flurry of activity on our message board late last year; one of our readers, displeased with my less-than-glowing review of Pearl Jam's new Riot Act CD, decided to take me to task for chiding front man Eddie Vedder for trotting out the well-worn lyrical cliché above. In one of the most skillful showcases of hair-splitting ever recorded by man, "Jawn," whose "pearljamslion" email address is a sure sign of his objectivity, had this to day (all posts printed verbatim, grammar and spelling intact):

The author made a very dipshit mistake here, if hes disagreeing with "all you need is love", hes disagreeing with John Lennon, not Eddie Vedder, so dont blame Eddie you moron

When I pointed out, in response, that this coarse, unimaginative attempt at provocation went against the spirit of the whole "all you need is love" philosophy, and that I doubted using words like "dipshit" and "moron" would win "Jawn" any points with Mr. Vedder, he fired off another erudite electronic epistle with the following sentiment:

You fucking moron, Eddie isnt jesus, quit being such a dipshit

On the same day that "Jawn" first posted, another reader, who chose to remain anonymous, offered a similarly reasoned response to my review:

you loser. nice review of pearl jam's Riot Act.
screw off. You would rather sit and listen to bullshit current pop crap.

(Yeah, Anonymous. You've really pegged me there; at least do your homework before making statements about my musical tastes. It's not like you don't have a whole site full of my self-indulgent reviews and top 10 lists to draw from.)

And there the matter lay, save for a quick dissent from a second anonymous poster, until this week. Here's what a guy named Dave had to say about the whole affair:

Listen, Kevin....your review of the album was terrible. It don't really care about u and the hard core fan disagreeing about eddie and john lennon...but you obviously have no clue about music. Riot Act is a great album from one of the guttsiest, innovative and truly artistic bands we have left. You've just no clue and it shows!

There, in a nutshell, is what keeps nagging at me about this whole thread. Disagreement = cluelessness. I don't mind getting slammed by readers who disagree with my opinions; it comes with the territory, and my self-esteem is secure enough to be able to laugh at such venomous outbursts. But am I the only one who's struck by the irony of Pearl Jam fans, of all people, being such a crude, overly sensitive and quick-to-anger bunch? This is a band, after all, that's well regarded for its passionate advocacy of (mostly) worthwhile causes (Ralph Nader, anyone?), and for its intelligence. One assumes Mr. Vedder and his compatriots hope their music is connecting with a more reasoned and thoughtful segment of the public. I don't fault these posters for disagreeing with me, but I know that if I were in Mr. Vedder's shoes, I might find it embarrassing that these are the kind of zealots springing to my defense. I can't help thinking about how Kurt Cobain reportedly agonized over the fact that his music was becoming popular with the very kinds of people he'd always hated, as the story about the idiots who allegedly committed a rape while singing Nirvana's "Polly" made clear. I'm certainly not equating these posts to rape, in any conceivable way, nor comparing the writers to rapists. But you wonder if the members of Pearl Jam might feel they deserve better representation.

To quote one "Lerxst," who has so far contributed the one post on this topic that expresses sympathy with my viewpoint:

My message to them is..."lighten up". Arguing for your favorite band by sounding off like a reject from the Jerry Springer show does little to sway the intelligent over to your "cause".

Valentine's Day is coming up, you guys. If you're so quick to defend Mr. Vedder for stating that "All you need is love," why are you so quick to lash out in a defensive manner? I'm sure Eddie would agree that the right to disagree with one another is perhaps our most important and cherished right. So where's the love?

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