There are many popular things in America that make no sense to me – Twilight, Neil Patrick Harris, Jeff Dunham, the 2nd Amendment. There are also many unpopular things whose unpopularity make sense to me – Jerry Sandusky, the WNBA, Arbys. But lately I have been perplexed by two things that seem to be very unpopular without sufficient reason. One is the band Nickelback, who performed yesterday at halftime of the Lions-Packers Thanksgiving game and the other is Jon Huntsman, the Republican candidate for President. The vitriol aimed at Nickelback seems very aggressive, if one were to read my Facebook comment stream, whereas the Huntsman unpopularity seems to come more from apathy. But the two have very similar stories. I will make my case for why they don’t suck (quick plug – my weekly podcast RIGHTEOUS PRICK, will be launching January 3rd on iTunes, will do the opposite – making a case, in debate form, for why something popular actually sucks).
Nickelback burst on to the American rock landscape with their hit song “How You Remind Me.” This song’s post popularity phase is right there with the decade following Ice Ice Baby in terms of people afraid to admit liking a song that was wildly popular. For a reminder here it is:
Now sure the lead singer looks like a Super Jewish Bee Gee and the lead guitarist is a little to excited to finally be in a music video, but is that a reason to hate these guys?
Meanwhile Jon Huntsman was an extremely popular, two time governor of Utah, a very Red State (but perhaps religion haters need to start acknowledging that for all their quirks mainstream Mormons feel like a less hateful and dangerous bunch than mainstream Evangelicals) and a CEO of a multi-billion dollar chemical company. So in other words he is a Republican wet dream on paper – leader, businessman, rich, white and popular. For God’s sake his name even has “HUNT” in it!!! Yet he is polling around 3%. Now as Democrat I almost definitely won’t be voting for Huntsman if he made it to the general election, but it says a lot about a political party that cannot rally behind one of their own like Huntsman
Foreign Experience a Plus or a Minus?
Nickelback is Canadian. Is this why we hate them? Jim Carrey is Canadian, we don’t hate him. I don’t buy it. Probably neutral here.
Huntsman was the ambassador to China for two years and speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese. Those should be enormous positives. In the coming decade and beyond, relations with China will be of paramount importance. To everyone except the “City on a Hill” Republicans still stuck in the 17th century. Alas he was ambassador under President Obama, which is the same to many Republicans as finding their daughters under President Obama.
Trying To Do The Right Thing
Now sure Nickelback has had many awful songs, but still How You Remind Me, Savin’ Me and Burn It To The Ground are pretty solid rock songs – or if you are absolute haters, they are at least good efforts at rock music. As a huge fan of Guns N Roses, the last great rock band we have seen, I appreciate any group that at least makes an effort to keep traditional rock alive. You may think they suck, but heavy bass and drums, big guitar licks and solos and screeching power vocals are missing from music. Perhaps that is why they are popular despite the critical and cool kid negativity surrounding them. Because rock used to be common and popular, but now every popular song is just some bastard child of hip hop and Britney Spears (for example why is Pit Bull not a bigger fecal dump on music than Nickelback – if Nickelback were anything besides 4 regular looking white dudes they would not get hated on as much). So I salute Nickelback – maybe not most of their final product, but at least the effort to keep traditional rock alive, even if only on life support.
Huntsman, like Nickelback has been at least trying to do the right thing, even if mired in the intellectual and moral wasteland that is the Republican Party primary. Huntsman is a believer in evolution, climate change, but is also a pro-business Republican. As a billionaire businessman it at least makes sense – he and his family have had success and he had success as a governor. He is pro life, but has articulated exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. Sure this is still unacceptable to the left, but it is a morally reasonable pro-life position. He at least appears to be a reasonable and intelligent man. That is why if President Obama were to be a one term president I would prefer Huntsman to the other Republican alternatives. Perhaps that is why Huntsman is so unpopular – he believes in science and reason (and that may mean he is open to the most dreaded thing of all – compromise). And sure Huntsman makes some corny jokes sometimes, but given the success of CBS comedy (with the exception of Two Broke Girls which is blessed by both good writing and good cleavage) you would think bad joke telling would help, not hurt Huntsman.
So for Nickelback and Mr. Huntsman I leave you with this inspiring message from Nickelback: