IT'S TRUE--FRED Durst is indeed a bad role model for young men. On the evidence of the crowds at the November 8 Limp Bizkit show, Durst has convinced a legion of dumpy, slightly overweight boys that flipping a red baseball cap backward and sprouting a tuft of attempted beard turns them into irresistible objects of sexual desire among hotties of the opposite sex. An informal poll I took of high school and college-age women in my section of the Target Center that same night, however, swiftly refuted this assumption. Did these fellows' resemblance to Durst--uh, what do the kids say these days?--make you want to, uh, get with them? I asked the ladies. Not all the unanimous denials were verbal--lots of incredulous giggles and a fair share of the disdainfully parted lips that Jennie Garth perfected on 90120 as the suitable response to a ridiculous question.
I didn't have to go hunting for women Bizkit fans in the arena, contrary to the widespread depiction of Fred's hordes as a pack of bare-chested Fight Club extras who don't know their dicks from their fists. (A myth that, I should mention in the interest of full disclosure, I have been guilty of extending into print before this.) When I caught Limp Bizkit's free, Napster-sponsored show at Roy Wilkins Auditorium this summer, I encountered a surprisingly girl-friendly vibe. I'd estimate the gender breakdown at the Target at maybe 60/40 male at most. In the stands, I'd say it came close to an even 50/50. And while I wouldn't be surprised if this ratio was tilted by Eminem's presence on the bill--whose slut-bitch spew is apparently outweighed by the fact that he's: A) a sharp wordslinger; and B) one delectably fair-haired testosteroni--the women near me, at least, were down with the Bizkit.
And they were there to scream. Not in Beatlemaniacal adulation. No, they screamed along, just like the boys, participating in undeniable tension-release mechanisms like "Break Stuff." Others were young enough that shouting "fuck you" in a crowded auditorium was, if not a liberating experience, a newfound thrill. Another young woman held her cell phone up so her little sister could hear the show, and snapped a full roll of photos as well. Sure, lots of guys were identifying with Durst's everyclod majesty--"I'm just an ordinary/Run of the mill fella," Fred admits in a moment of honesty on the band's latest Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water (Interscope). (He spoils his candor by lying that he's a "hella rhyme sayer" immediately afterward.) But the women got to get with the girlie-man rage that's Durst's peevish essence, a hysterically helium voice that makes Dana Dane sound like DMX.
All gender politics aside, my problems with the LB has always been as mundane as they come--the band's lack of killer tunes. So I'm pleased to announce that I count four good-to-great ones on Chocolate Starfish, all of which I recognized live. Since the band previously could claim three recognizable songs in toto (not counting their dumbass "Faith" rave-up), this startling statistic means a Limp Bizkit show is now--dig--more than twice as good just last year!
Of course, there were far fewer women participating in the pulsing mass of flesh on the floor--and who can blame them? I wouldn't have wanted a daughter/sister/ mother/wife/friend roaming about down there, even if she'd chosen to keep her breasts to herself (which doesn't always seem to be a choice). Then again, I wouldn't have wanted to be on the floor myself, even in my show-going prime; I'm a little guy who learned to accept his limitations early on. I saw dudes with bleeding eyes at the end of the show, reminding me that whatever the homoerotic allure of the pit may be for repressed young thugs, it is not for me to ascertain firsthand. Then again, I'm not a football fan either.
I am, however, a "rock" fan, however loosely or constrictively you define that slippery genre. And that means, no matter what my lofty lefty ideals, I do get off on rage, whether or not there's a machine to conveniently direct it at. In other words, I appreciate the endorphin release that comes from being in a screaming mass of humans. So let's hear it for Limp Bizkit's screamingly dumb new anthem "My Generation" (which isn't really about just-turned-30 Durst's, or mine, for that matter). "You get the blame/And I get the blame," Fred whines for any teenager who's ever been hassled by a cop for no good reason or kicked out of a convenience store for laughing too loud or just come down with a bad case of the summertime blues. I still don't buy the argument that "I don't give a fuck" is a self-defense technique rather than a dejected cop-out. But it sure feels good to shout it out in unison with a crowd of people with nothing to be angry about at all.