Green Day: American Idiots & the New Punk Explosion by Ben Myers (disinformation)
Book review by Jason Isbell
Punk music. It is a genre so full of contradictory dichotomies. The majority of its members often spout musical principles which tend to border on a kind of underground elitism; all the while they thumb their nose at any authority or member of the bourgeois who dare to have the audacity to judge them. Their frequent tendency toward musical snobbery resides in a place where three chord songs, nay, three chord albums, monotone vocals and intentionally shoddy recordings reign supreme. Punk music certainly has a valuable place in society and in the development of contemporary music, no doubt. However, the parallel between the nature of the punk scene and the development of the concepts in this book are surely no coincidence.
Myers, as a journalist, starts off by attempting to excuse himself from any facade of objectivity as he lets us know he is a fan of Green Day and his impartiality when writing this book was present in trace amounts at best. And it certainly shows. But letting someone know you’ve pissed in their beer before they drink it doesn’t make the beer any more appealing. This book reads like a Green Day press pack. For anyone who is an already established fan and reading this book, fine. But for any curious marginal fan with a modicum of critical thinking processes, they may find this Green Day blow job in written form mildly offensive from an intellectual perspective.
Beyond that, many of Myers points are self-defeating. For example, after articulating the virtues of underground punk music, underground punk labels, and underground punk bands, he will often on the same page reference Green Day’s mainstream popularity, record sales, and income as a testimony to how great of a band they are. That, of course, is in between deifying the trio, referring to them as “punk rock gods” and even at one point drawing parallels between Billie Joe Armstrong and Jesus Christ. But I suppose Myers did warn us about his potential lack of impartiality.
Seeing as the book is an unofficial and unauthorized biography, much, if not all, of Myers information comes from previous magazine interviews and online information. In other words, you very well could save yourself the twenty bucks the book costs and just do your own online leg-work, if you were so inclined. While Myers is successful in establishing a few minor well-taken points, the book as a whole stinks of being written by a fan simply wanting to tout the many virtues of their favorite band. This would be excellent material for a junior college comp II paper, but for a published book meant for commerce, I found it sorely lacking. On the bright side, however, I suppose there were very few grammatical errors.