In case you haven't heard, the Internet currently hates MC Chris. People that hadn't ever heard of him previously are forming virtual lynch mobs behind the rallying cries of angered former fans, their end goal being...I don't know, I guess they want him to either learn a lesson or kill himself. Well, having just gone to see him perform live for the second time (the first being back in 2005), I'm here to report that I will not be joining their ranks.
When you read the original Reddit submission and its subsequent comments -- as well as the following story from yet another fan -- it's easy to get yourself worked up a little. He seems like a real piece of crap, right? Even though I've been a pretty big fan since I was introduced to him over seven years ago, I scanned through the pages of hate and found myself questioning that a little bit.
Eventually logic worked its way back into my brain. I just recently saw Danzig on tour as well, despite knowing what an egotistical bundle of anger he is. Honestly, I really don't care what a performer thinks, says, or believes, as long as the work they put out is worthwhile (to a point, obviously). That's what I'd always told myself. So, armed with my inner debate over whether or not I still believed MC Chris was a good person, I decided to go see him again. It had been far too long, and he just happened to be coming through town.
Something happened about halfway through the show. Something almost exactly like the two situations that have gotten him on the Internet's hit list. In fact, you might even be able to read about it on Reddit tomorrow from the antagonist's point of view. Through witnessing it live, I realized how overblown it could possibly be when taken out of context and presented to a group of people that, frankly, are quick to outrage.
Chris started to play the song “Older Crowd”, only with a new intro and backing track. An extended audio clip from the movie “When Harry Met Sally” came over the speakers in which Meg Ryan blubbers about getting old, and a wannabe funnyman in the crowd seized his opportunity to yell out “WHAT'S GOING ON?!” The attempt at attention was ignored, the clip gave way into an 80's dance hit, and MC launched into the lyrics. Right after he said the words “I've got to find myself an older crowd.” he abruptly stopped.
“See? The song is called older crowd. The clip is about getting old. Who yelled out?” MC asked as he walked in the direction of the heckle. A man raised his hand. “It's a theme. It's thematic.” he continued, now directed at the man. “We learned about shit like that in school. Maybe you need to go back to fucking school.”
It was all done with an air of playfulness to it, but also clearly stated that screaming out and trying to be a comedian wasn't going to get you anywhere here. The audience laughed, and the loudmouth should have escaped entirely unscathed, able to handle a joke directed at him in a playful manner. Unfortunately he didn't. The song was restarted, intro and all, and the man saw fit to continue yelling at Chris once more throughout the entire movie clip.
“Why are you doing that?” Chris said, stopping the song again. “It's not funny. It's not. It's not funny at all. You know what? You obviously just need some attention, right? That's what you want. So come up on stage.”
|Unfortunately MC did not eat the man's head off and shower the crowd with his blood. GWAR would have done that. Just sayin'.|
Now, if that man gets online and relates that encounter from his point of view, it is no doubt going to make MC Chris look like a complete jerk. But stop and think about how much heckling bands have to endure from overzealous drunken people on a constant basis. How many times can someone hear “FREEEEEEEEEEBIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRD!!” shouted at them? When I saw The Hold Steady a couple of years ago, an idiot yelled “MAAAAARIOOOOOO!!” at the fabulously mustachioed Franz Nicolay throughout the entire set. Franz just took it and kept on performing, no doubt completely used to being compared to the Italian plumber.
Musicians are probably used to having intoxicated people yell at them in poor attempts at being funny, and from every example I've seen they're pretty good at just ignoring it. The stand-up comedian, however, cannot afford to ignore things like that, and the good ones don't. You can find countless videos online of successful comics directing all of their wrath toward people intent on forcing themselves into the show. They obliterate these people, then dismantle the awkward scenario like a pro and lead it right back into the jokes. Maybe not every comedian has that fine-tuned a skill, but the point is that it is common practice to target the heckler and shut them up, making an example of them so that the show doesn't nosedive on their lead.
Sometimes videos of these exchanges make their way out of the context from which they were birthed, and people who don't fully understand what stand-up comics go through get outraged. For the most part, though, we don't condemn comedians for doing this. It's a necessity to survive in front of those bright stage lights. So why can't a musician do the same?
Why would we demonize MC Chris for putting a stop to the same type of behavior in a similar manner? Bands and other musical performers are just expected to “shut up and sing”, despite the stupid things being yelled at them? I don't really think that's the case, I just think the Internet isn't getting the full picture.
|Also, he's got a robot, so we better not fuck with him.|
I, of course, haven't addressed the encounter that got MC Chris in hot water with the Internet in the first place, but you might have guessed why: I wasn't there. I could read the-guy-who-got-thrown-out's opinion as much as I wanted, but it wouldn't give me the proper context. Yeah, some of these situations might make Chris seem like a real jerk, but just like in the world of stand-up comedy it's a necessity for him to survive. Imagine all of the things that have been yelled at a short, dorky, white guy who gets up on stage by himself and raps about video games, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and a slew of other nerdy topics.
All I know is that musicians have to endure a lot of shit, and perhaps, sometimes, they overreact to it. As MC Chris said Sunday night, “I'm just a human, and I make mistakes. But guess what? So do you, motherfuckers.” If you're dead set on passing judgement without having actually been there, at least keep that in mind. Otherwise, stop and think for a second before you get worked up over something like this. Does it really matter at all? Maybe your favorite musician did do something shitty, but you can never truly know what was going through their heads or what they've had to put up with before, so why try?