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James McCartney toughs it out in Macca's shadow

Greek mythology is teeming with dudes who want to murder their fathers so they can bang their mothers. Nevertheless, as compelling as it is, I don't really buy Freud's Oedipus theory; personally, I've never felt any particular urge (that I'm aware of) to take my mother to the bone zone. But whether I disagree with Freud or not, the fact remains that all men incubate within ourselves a dark and preternatural desire to surpass and destroy our fathers. It's like every time we zest a lemon, we're doing it just to be like, "Fuck you, old man! You'll never zest like I zest." 

Or at least I'm pretty sure that's why James McCartney's interview with the BBC last week was so depressing.

Deep in our weird, neurotic hearts, I think all men feel an instinctual sympathy for dudes with great or famous fathers: When your dad is someone like Paul McCartney, possibly the most beloved member of the most beloved rock-and-roll band of all time, for example, how can you hope to even compete? You can't. And it definitely doesn't help if, like James McCartney, you look pretty much exactly like a young version of your father — if your father had been way uglier, that is. Seriously, it's pretty weird.

Really, the best you can hope for when you're the uglier son of a great man is just to quietly accept defeat and become an accountant or something. Whatever you do, don't try to compete, because you will fail, and it will be sad, and everyone will pity you. As far as that goes, James McCartney is making every conceivable mistake. Just the event on which that interview was based was unbelievably bleak: James McCartney is kicking off his upcoming tour with a gig at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where the Beatles, of course, got their start. Which is pathetically coattail-riding enough, but it gets worse.

Here's the thing about dudes who "embrace the legacy" (actual quote) of their great fathers and try to follow in their footsteps: They invariably shrug off that whole surpass-and-destroy-your-father thing, as if they're totally past it, but they can never quite hide the fact that, on some level, it emasculates them. "I dreamt of being better than the Beatles," McCartney admits with an excruciating lack of self-awareness. "I'm not sure if I can do that. If anything, I would love to be equal to the Beatles — but even that's quite tough."

Dude! For God's sake, snap out of it!

But James McCartney is not unique in his doomed quest; the sons of the Beatles have always been pathetic in that way — like Sean Lennon, whose public ambivalence toward his father is pretty much his sole claim to fame. The only way it could get more degrading is if the collective sons of the Beatles were to swallow their testicles entirely and just start a band, like a Next-Generation Beatles. Oh, wait — turns out that's a possibility. In fact, they've talked about it. "Sean seemed to be into it," McCartney offered. Ringo's son Zak, thank God, is apparently not. That's some nice dignity, Zak.

Then again, there's still hope for the Oedipus complex: Maybe Yoko will ruin this band, too.


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