Letting It Blurt: Lester Bangs and Online Journalism

Why is music journalism still a boy’s club? It’s 2016. There should be more women, and the women that are out there busting their asses for an interview or a feature should not be asked “who are you trying to fuck?”. I know it’s a pipe dream. I might as well wish for world peace or a trillion dollars. Men dominate the industry, in all aspects, not just the one I’m involved in. They are out of touch with women, either as fans of their songs or subjects of their articles. They cannot tell wrong from right.

Take Art Tavana, for instance, with his half assed joke apology to Sky Ferreira about his “article” (in the loosest sense of the word) on what was “supposed to be” her music and ended up being about, of all things, the raging erection he has for her. And that’s supposed to be okay, because he’s a “disciple of Bangs”, which is the same sort of excuse as “I ran over that lady because I play a lot of GTA”.

Lester Bangs fascinates me. I have every book written by or about him. He was a genius of a sort, but he was also a bit of a racist, he never showered, and he was addicted to cough syrup, among other things. I’ve read all his work, but I’ve also read the works of Ellen Willis, Jessica Hopper, Helen Reddington, Cherry Vanilla, and I own several copies of Rock, She Wrote. I devour all writings on rock music, not just the provocative or popular ones (or the ones by women, though they are my favorite). To say that Lester Bangs made you do it is lazy. You’re too unoriginal to find your own voice, your own path, so you’re throwing aside the no trespassing sign on the path that Lester took and you’re barreling down it. You’re trying to do something that’s been done before, by a guy that by all accounts really hated himself.

Like I said, I’ve read Lester’s work. I like it, for all that it’s rambling and at times hard to read. What I took from it wasn’t that I should say what I want and fuck all the consequences, but not to bow to an artist’s ego. They’re just people, if they fuck up or write a bad record, tell them. Under no circumstances did he say “parrot all the worst parts of me for notoriety and clicks to your steaming piles of shit you call think pieces”. If you ask yourself “what would Lester do?” before writing an article, let me answer you: he wouldn’t want you to steal his style, or use his name as an excuse.