The Brutality Report, by Sam McPheeters
On the subject of Green Day, I have behaved myself for a long time. When the band went mainstream in 1994, I shut my trap. Many of my pals shut their traps as well. For any of us involved in punk bands to publicly disavow the world’s largest punk band would have come off as a massive sour grapes hissy fit. Also, Green Day’s rise highlighted the futility of critiquing anyone for “selling out.” It’s hard to remember now, but GD concerts in ‘94 and ‘95 literally involved protestors—adults—waving anti-major label picket signs, as if they were involved in some kind of labor dispute. For years, I’d made selling out my own personal bugaboo-crusade. The Green Day backlash illuminated my wrongness. I corrected my behavior.
Fast forward to July 2011. I found myself with some time to kill in the lobby of a cheap Israeli hotel. In a corner of the room, a TV played a block of Green Day videos. Curious, I pulled up a chair and watched one song, then another, and another. I’d been aware, obviously, of their continued existence. I’d distantly registered that they’d kept making records and had produced a Broadway rock opera. Now I understood how much I’d willfully overlooked. While I’d spent the last 17 years ignoring this band, this band had not ignored me. They’d been hard at work making my life more difficult. I’d been hearing their songs for years, as the background music for my life in public. Their music had tormented me in supermarkets, lobbies, airports, and doctors’ offices.