In a recent interview with Playboy Magazine, (which I had the joy of finding behind my bar one Tuesday afternoon last week) John Mayer is quoted as having some sort of “nigger pass” in the black music circuit. Everyone is in conniptions over Mayer’s use of the word “nigger,” which, yeah, bad word John, tisk tisk. But the media’s coverage of John Mayer’s (what I’ll be the first to coin as) “Niggergate” rebukes him for using the word, as though the meaning behind the whole comment wasn’t the actual problem; but my ni##ers the content of his comments issss the problem! So, my initial thought was to pass it off with the ol’ this cracker-doesn’t-know-what-he’s-saying-pass. I laughed to myself, "instead of normal famous people problems like delusions of more grandeur he apparently has delusions of transcending race!" But as I kept reading the interview and then later when I read other interviews with him about his apparent premier guitar ability, I began to understand that he is very aware of the history of Blues and at least partially understands his racial location within the musical genre. But then I realized he might not understand he isn’t made of the stuff but has learned to make a vanilla, pop-culture reproduction of the stuff. We know he certainly does not have the sophistication of someone like filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard who infuses the quote “What has been called classic blues was the result of more diverse sociological and musical influences” from (formerly known) Leroi Jones’s book Blues People into his film. But we do know Mayer is in the very least equipped with the historical proverbial building blocks to understanding the role of race and racism in the history of Blues.
Dare I say, his ass should have known better? Yeah, I’m going to hold him accountable, because nobody else seems to be doing it. I feel like me and this dude, Jon Caramanica, who wrote a piece in the New York Times today are the only people confused by everyone’s ease regarding Mayer’s behavior. Mayer is fully aware that hegemony delivered his white ass (as opposed to an African American with the same talent) to superstardom. So I’m just a little confused to whty ?uestlove and all these other important black artists are writing Mayer’s comments off as a silly misstep. As I understand it, the image he has constructed for himself is that of the reckless musician rocker-dude that says what he means and means what he says whenever he wants to say it. So let’s just call a spade a spade (he's a racist fool) and stop pretending like Mayer’s body is a wonderland (cause it's not).
In his apology on twitter (twitter, great) he says, “I wanted to be a blues guitar player. And a singer. And a songwriter. Not a shock jock. I don’t have the stomach for it.” So he seems to be humbled, to have felt genuinely sorry (yeah, right) for his Niggergate gaffe. But in his apology, there is no acknowledgement of the content of his interview as being the problem. Who CARES about "nigger" when you have a whole glut of other offensive shit you said after “nigger”? He doesn’t think to ask forgiveness from the black music community (both living and dead) that he has taken and taken and taken from. Rather it is (cowardly at best) stab at reestablishing his image as the fringe but “good” white guy who just wants to play “his” music for the masses who love his proclivity for romantic love ballads or his tunes of passivity, waiting for brighter, more equitable days. But is Mayer really waiting on the world to change? It doesn’t seem like he wants to change much in the way his racial privilege. In fact he’s being a pretty active participant in the reinforcement that white people can dominate a historically black craft and do it with arrogance and without concern.
Arrogant and unconcerned John Mayer was also asked in the Playboy interview: “Do black women throw themselves at you?” to which he replied that he didn’t really think of it, calling his penis a white supremacist, comparing it to David Duke of the Ku Klux Klan. Is he serious? He’s been obsessed with a music made by the blood, sweat and tears of a whole bunch of black women and he hasn’t thought about having sex with them? Oh, heya liar! He really gave himself the moniker David Duke. Is he insane? This is too easy.
Dear David Duke AKA John Mayer,
I can’t wait for the world to change so I can hit you over the head with your stupid fucking guitar and never have to hear you play another ridiculous song because you’ll be singing songs of actual pain and suffering. You’ll be singing “oh I can’t wait for the world to go back to the way it was when this black woman that will never have sex with me wasn’t kicking my ass.” Yeah those are lyrics I can’t wait to rock out to.