Where Have All Our Heroes Gone?: The Four Saddest Fallen Idols of Our Generation
When we're kids, we'll look anywhere for idols and role models. Most often, we look to pop culture and we find our heroes there by way of idolizing whoever's work we enjoy the most. We copy them in the worst ways. We adopt their style of dress, their opinions on music, their viewpoints on the world and humanity, even their politics (a sometimes dangerous form of political socialization).
You could put anyone on this list here instead of Tricky Dick and it would probably seem appropriate in 2012.
Inevitably, we grow out of these things and develop our own sense of identity, but we never forget the great impact these minds once had upon our own. We look at these fellows with a certain reverence and nostalgia, connecting them by association with the glory days of our childhoods.
But oftentimes, we look back and we're left feeling betrayed, usually because we come to realize these idols we once loved were either never that great to begin with or have changed irrevocably into something we don't appreciate. We feel a sense of embarrassment and bewilderment at their actions in the present day and wonder how we could ever have come to worship them so when we were kids.
It goes without saying that this happens with musicians and sometimes, it happens really, really bad.
4. Billy Corgan
For those that came up in the grunge era, Billy Corgan and his band the Smashing Pumpkins were a welcome retreat from the aesthetic of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. For those that never felt like they fit in with that world, they gravitated to Corgan's shy and introspective reflection, rather than Cobain's screaming, disoriented way of lashing out at the world. Cobain and his followers took their pain and projected it outwards.
Photo by Marc Brubaker Smashing Pumpkins at Warehouse Live in September 2010
Corgan, on the other hand, took it all inside and expressed it as hurt rather than rage. If this sounds emo, it's because the Smashing Pumpkins did fit the emo scene (in its original form) a lot better than they fit the grunge scene which spun off from the meatheaded anger of metal and hardcore.
But we're decades beyond that. Cobain is dead, emotion is music is almost dead, and Corgan, having grown far too old for anyone to buy his pain anymore, has fallen off the horse and into some kind of deranged lunacy. He's become wildly self-indulgent, refusing to let his band die even as he is the sole original member left in it, even as he's burnt bridges with every former member.
He started his own wrestling organization and he's writing an hours long concept album that has been released in spurts for three years and counting, never seeming to get any closer to the finish line. Everything he does is borne of egotism now it seems, but much of it reeks also of pure insanity, desperation, and bitterness at the world.
And ironically enough, he ended up dating Courtney Love.