You Are Not a Fucking Rock Star

Standard

Lately, I’ve been rather annoyed.

I won’t claim it’s a new thing for me, especially when it comes to linguistic conventions – the way we abuse words infuriates me. Nothings means anything anymore, because so many words are interchangeable.

Calling something “awesome” used to mean it was extraordinary and truly great in a way one couldn’t hope to encounter every day. I just unfollowed someone on Twitter who insists on using the word to describe almost everything anyone in his online clique does. It made me feel sick. Can they really all be so enormously talented as to create awesomeness at such an unbelievable rate, or has “awesome” gotten watered down somehow?

Why do we find it so easy to believe the “unbelievable” things our friends tell us?

Because we’re all too used to the perversion of our most powerful words to add interest to uninteresting situations.

I’m not going to go on some kind of rant about how language is a static. It’s not. I’m glad it’s not. I think language has to change with culture and society, because it serves enormously important roles in cognition and in holding society together in the first place. What I don’t like is when language gets weakened by ignorant usage.

I do it too. I say “crazy” to mean fantastic when I’m talking about Bill Frissel’s solo on “Monica Jane” (in which there is very little that meets the traditional definition of the word – it’s just really, really fantastic). Yet, I do draw some lines.

Which brings me to…

Real Rock Stars

Some people – it’s true – are genuine rock stars. David Lee Roth comes to mind. Matthew Bellamy from Muse is a more current example.

In 2008, Rolling Stone said Lil Wayne was “Rock Star of the Year,” but I think calling what he does “rock” might be a little bit of a stretch.

Still others used to be rock stars, but are no longer. Krist Novoselic was a rock star when he played bass for Nirvanna, but nobody knows who he is anymore, which pretty much removes the “star” part, even if he continues to rock (which, for the record, I have no idea whether he does or not). Though Slash and Axl will probably always be rock stars, nobody else from any GNR lineup to date makes the cut anymore.

Keith Richards, make no mistake, is still a rock star.

But what about all those ass-kicking, third-tribing, guest-post-writing, web entrepreneurs?

I’m sorry. No.

Why Everybody Needs To Quit Calling All These Lame People Rock Stars

  1. There is nothing sexy about social media. Think what you like, but while you’re clicking like buttons, adding links to Digg, and RTing that “awesome” blog post somebody wrote about how to hack (another often misappropriated word) your inner game for more ebook sales, I’m going to be doing shots behind the bar with that barista that always gives you the fake smile when she hands you your nonfat latte.
  2. Consistently doing the thing people expect you to do in a professional manner is great, but it’s not what makes a rock star. Rock stars surprise and often offend us. That’s what makes rock so rocky – you can’t always predict where it’s going, and that makes it more fun than your next email campaign.
  3. Web-business-types are always going on about life balance and trying to optimize the perfect proportion of writing blog posts and watching Hulu shows with their real-job-having spouses. Rock stars don’t care about balance – they care about rocking, even if it means they spend half the year in rehab.
  4. While most web entrepreneurs obsess over their number of Twitter followers, rock stars are busy fucking so many models, strippers, and random groupies that they don’t bother counting at all.
  5. Rock stars don’t wear khakis or Polos. Um… ’nuff said.

Look, I’m all for giving praise when people do things well. That’s great. It builds relationships and keeps the web turning.

But I know actual rock stars. Some of them are famous now. Some used to be but aren’t any more. None of them look anything like the people I see being called rock stars online lately.

  • This guy says that an “entrepreneurial rockstar” has a holistic approach and values wealth “from a lifestyle perspective,” whatever the fuck that means.
  • These people seem to have confused the band with a brand and offer to teach you, among other things, “Rock Star SEO.”
  • This place holder site describes a rockstar entrepreneur as “the type of person who spends their day playing while everyone else works in a cubicle!” Does that include children?
  • Don’t even get me started on all the things wrong with these jackasses.

I Don’t Really Have A Point

I think the correct formula is to write a post about something like this, be a little controversial, say “fuck” a few times while challenging a common practice, and then tie it all together at the end with a pithy lesson that people can go out and apply immediately to get more newsletter subscribers.

That’s bullshit.

I didn’t write this for you to write more effective Google ads or blog post headlines. I wrote this to make you not look like a fucking moron when you call your SEO consultant a rockstar. He’s not a rockstar; he’s an SEO consultant. They have very different job descriptions (thank Sweet Jesus for that!).

If there is a message here, if I really must close with a strong and clear Call To Action, it’s this:

By all means, as someone who has rocked a few screaming fans back in my day, I beg you: please stop insulting the great and glorious history of rock music by referring to your dorky web friends as rock stars.

Unless they are.

Thank you.