Can you enjoy a band's music even if the band members are complete and utter douchebags?
That important philosophical question has been eating away at my soul lately.
Like many people, I've been rocking out to MGMT a lot this year -- especially their song "Electric Feel." Their album Oracular Spectacular has probably gotten more play on my iPod than any other in 2008.
They've also racked up a ton of end-of-the-year kudos, with the album #31 on Rolling Stone's 50 Albums of the Year and their hit song "Time to Pretend" hitting #3 on their singles list. Not that these lists mean anything, but still MGMT has had a kick-ass year.
All was cool until I had a beer in the East Village with my intellectual-glasses-wearing friend who takes music pretty seriously. We were talking about the best albums of the year when I brought up MGMT.
"MGMT?" he said. "Yeah, but they're total douchebags!"
He went on to explain that he liked the album plenty, but then he saw members Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden on a 60-second interview on YouTube and they were such total douchebags that he can't listen to MGMT anymore. Not another note.
"Do yourself a favor a watch that video," he urged me.
I hesitated at first. I mean, who cares? Music is music. Does it really matter what a band looks like -- or even acts like -- as long as you dig their music?
But my friend's words creeped around in the back of my mind for days. Did I really want to listen to a band of douchebags? Finally, I couldn't resist anymore and I gave in.
You can watch the video here.
Now, I'm not sure if MGMT are total douchebags. My first impression is that they're just really, really young. (One of them looks like a freakin' 12 year-old!) Still, they do have what blogger Jay Louis, founder of HotChicksWithDouchebags.com, would call a certain "douche aura." They are, in the end, admittedly kind of annoying.
But so what?
I still listen to Ol' Dirty Bastard even though he admitted to getting gonorrhea multiple times, and was charged with attempted murder, criminal weapons possession, second degree assault, attempted robbery, failure to pay child support, beating his wife, and shoplifting at Footlocker!
People still karaoke to "Billie Jean" even though Michael Jackson, as we all know, sleeps in beds with little boys.
Is being a douchebag that big of a crime?
It certainly doesn't stop Bono.
Should that disqualify U2 from my iPod?
Does listening to MGMT make me a douchebag? Does even thinking about this while the world crumbles around me make me a douchebag? Does reading this make you a douchebag? Is this word douchebag "so 2007"?
Important philosophical questions.
(Oh, and MGMT please don't sue me for this. I like your music.)