The culture wars: Conservative versus liberal, pro-life versus pro-choice, anti-gay versus pro-gay, Glenn Beck versus, uh, My Chemical Romance, apparently. As further evidence that not even the most banal pop-cultural crap escapes the bitter divide of partisan politics, the aforementioned pundit and pop-punkers are currently involved in one of the stupidest feuds since Tipper Gore went after John Denver. But wait! It gets even stupider, because it also involves Glee.
The trouble started brewing back in February, when America's favorite singing teens staked their bets on the regionals with the My Chemical Romance power anthem "Sing," which urges angsty teens everywhere to "Sing it till you're nuts/Sing it out for the ones that'll hate your guts," among other messages of white-bread empowerment.
Two months later, Glenn Beck apparently got the memo on that episode, and was so incensed by its vaguely revolution-lite rallying cry that he devoted a very special episode of his soon-to-be-canceled Fox News program to exposing the vast liberal conspiracy of the song's lyrical content.
Now, Glenn Beck has said some wacky shit in his day — the time he called Barack Obama a racist and the other time he confided that he hated the victims of 9/11 because they were whiners, for example — but his beef with "Sing" was nevertheless a possible new height of bizarre paranoia. "This song is propaganda," he proclaimed, taking issue with the lyrics "Nothing but a dead scene/Product of a white dream," specifically. "How can we possibly win against that?"
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Then, last week, shit got even stupider when My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way responded to Beck's craziness by acting as if Beck had a point. "I can't tell what he's angrier about," Way wrote on the group's website, "the fact that's how I feel about the persistent sterilization of our culture, or the fact that it's on network television for everyone to hear."
He went on to take head-slappingly petty issue with Beck's misreading of one of the lyrics from the song, pointing out that it's not "Children living on the railways," but is in fact "Children living on the web-ways." Remarked Way: "And railways? Is it 1863? Seen any children living on these lately instead of the internet? I'm actually shocked that no fact-checking was done on the lyrics."
Gerard, honestly. It sounds like "railways" in the original version, and the Glee kids definitely say "railways" in theirs. Also, I did fact-check it, and every lyrics site I looked at gives the lyric as "railways." Plus, fucking web-ways? That's a stupid lyric, dude.
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But what's really lost on Way here in his infinite lack of a single shred of humor about himself and his lame band is that My Chemical Romance is basically the epitome of the sterilization of our culture. Glenn Beck may be fucking crazy, but at least he's occasionally surprising. My Chemical Romance couldn't be less surprising if their shit was playing quietly from the speakers of an elevator. And the saddest part: Glenn Beck doesn't even have anything to worry about. Because if a bland call to "sing out" against the forces of whatever is the best Beck's opposition can come up with, then all hope is pretty much lost.