M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Friday, January 17, 2003  

Can’t Explain

It’s been almost a week since Pete Townshend got nabbed for visiting a child-pr0n website. Given my previously stated admiration of the Who, you might expect me to weigh in on the bust. That’s a perfectly reasonable expectation from which I have been hiding. I know I have to say something, but I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what I think. I’m conflicted and I’ve procrastinated and I don’t deserve your love.

Neither does Pete Townshend, apparently.

I’ve read the defenses of what he did, both his own and from people who know him personally. Part of me believes it. The guy has been an advocate against child abuse. He’s been a huge supporter of charitable foundations that help kids. I’d hate to think that all the good he did for children was only for the sake of getting into their pants. Part of me believes that he really was just doing “research.”

But I wonder if that’s only because all of me wants to believe it. I mean, when Gary Glitter got nailed, it didn’t affect me because I almost never go to sporting events. I thought what happened to George Michael was pretty shitty for him, but it didn’t exactly wreck anything for me. The Hugh Grant thing was disappointing, but whatever. I was in some early denial about O. J. because, you know, Nordberg. The amount of money I’ve paid to see Woody Allen movies in the past ten years is more or less equal to the amount I spent seeing them in the previous ten years. And I don’t care any more about Robert Blake than I do any other accused murderer; maybe even less, considering how much Lost Highway pissed me off.

But Pete? Pete’s a whole different thing. I’m not going to go into what a big part of my life his music has been again, because enough already. Furthermore, everyone who knows him seems to be backing him up. What they’re saying makes sense. It doesn’t seem like a guy can live for four decades in the public eye and be a closet pedophile without anyone even suspecting. Usually, when something like this comes out, people come forward with the “now that you mention it…” statements. Where are those people? I mean, besides the ones who are merely seeing “Pictures of Lily” and “Fiddle About” in a whole new way this week, i.e. everyone? Why aren’t his friends trying to distance themselves? The Michael Jackson lawsuit didn’t shock anyone. The Paul Rubens arrest didn’t shock anyone. Pete Townshend? General shock. I mean, I know a thing or two about Roger Daltrey’s personal habits that I wish I didn’t, okay? Nothing illegal, just unsanitary. And I’ve never met the man. How could I know that about him when nobody knew that Pete had a thing for the little ones? And yet…

I just can’t give him the benefit of the doubt on this. Not yet, anyway. Whether his guilt or innocence is proved, it’s going to be tough to document his state of mind. If he was going to do research, he probably should have done it in his attorney’s office with half a dozen witnesses. Or, better yet, at the police station. It doesn’t help that Pete has a history of being a little playful with the facts; I know about half a dozen versions of the story of the first time he smashed a guitar. All of them from him. And if he changes his story on this, it’s over for him.

And frankly, it bothers me a little that I even have this double standard for celebrities that I like and ones that I don’t. Because it means other people have it too. Someone may have read a previous paragraph and said to themselves, “How could he just write off Gary Glitter like that? ‘Rock & Roll Part II’ saved my life!” By the same token, millions of people wrote off Pete the moment they saw the first headline. I was just as unfair to Gary Glitter as they were to Pete. But should fairness even be at issue here?

John Entwistle’s death was actually easier to deal with than this. When I spent a day accidentally painting our basement the color of one of John’s uglier leather jackets, I had Thirty Years of Maximum R&B in the CD player the whole time. Four CD’s worth of genius are sad enough when you realize that half the guys who played on most of the songs are dead, but I could still enjoy the music. When you think of one of the surviving guys—the main creative force, no less—downloading kiddie-pr0n, that’s something else entirely. When I repaint the basement a less abhorrent hue, I don’t know what I’m going to listen to. And I’m saying this as a person who owns a copy of It’s Hard. I’m really not cool with that.

I’m not going to try and draw a parallel between this and people who felt betrayed by the Catholic Church last year, but I’m sure somebody else will. As for me, I just don’t want it to be true. I want to keep listening to my CD box set when Trash is out of the house. I want the Touched By An Angel network to continue to have Pete’s music as the theme song for nearly ten percent of its prime-time lineup. I want to get sick of hearing “Let My Love Open the Door” in movie trailers for romantic comedies. I really, really hope that he’s guilty of nothing more than stupidity and naivete, because I don’t want the Who’s music ruined for me forever. Even though, in a way, it already has been.

Mainly, I want to pick up my guitar and slash power chords though the strings until there are only three of them left, but at the moment I don’t even feel right doing that.

posted by M. Giant 3:28 PM 0 comments


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