Pinkerton: Problematic?

A week ago someone posted a thread on Let’s Talk Music, one of my favorite subreddits, touting Weezer’s classic Pinkerton a “problematic masterpiece”. The poster argues that while it’s a superb album it promotes themes of misogyny, racism, and homophobia.

Here is what I responded:

“The notion that Pinkerton is a ‘problematic’ record is ridiculous. When it was first released it was panned; people wanted a Blue Album Part 2 but instead got something very different. Pinkerton is a nuanced, vulnerable record that expunges Rivers Cuomo’s darkest thoughts. In context, it’s pretty clear that this a nerdy guy’s drunken, spiteful expression of the (teenage-esque) angst he’s held onto. It reminds me of a teenager first expressing their edgy thoughts out loud, maybe simultaneously realizing how stupid they are, but nevertheless not holding back and showing every crevice of his thought process. By no means is he looking like the “good guy” here, but to skew it as racist, anti-LGBT (really?) or misogynist is a huge stretch and absolutely ridiculous. If you’re resorting to that you’re completely missing the point of this album and honestly just shoving your own agenda in a place it doesn’t fit.”

Obviously you’re going to need to be familiar with Pinkerton and Weezer’s history in general to appreciate my opinion/have one of your own on the matter, but there’s a larger conversation to be had.

Can art be offensive?

That might sound like it has an obvious answer, given that offensiveness is subjective, but what really is art? At its purest it’s a raw, honest expression of emotion. There’s a large distinction from something like Pinkerton and Drake’s Views. Not to shit on Drake, but one of these records was clearly made with a monetary incentives and is art for art’s sake.

That being noted: Can one really be offended at honesty? Sure, you can disagree with choices and conclusions, but isn’t it a bit childish to be offended with another person’s truth? Art doesn’t have to be pretty or agree with your political stances, it just is what it is. It’s got nothing to do with the consumer. It’s about the artist’s truth. To suggest that it’s wrong is looking at it without context. I don’t see why everything needs to fit cookie cutter safe guidelines. You can’t tell Cuomo that he shouldn’t feel the way he did when he wrote the record.

You can look at a record like Views in twenty years and say it was just a product of its time, but Pinkerton is something more than that. It’s timeless. It’s real emotion. It’s honest feeling, and you can’t demonize that.

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