Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Correspondence: A Letter to the Douche We Love

Dear Matthew Newton,

Oh man you put me on shaky ground. This is not how love should be, you know? Love should be ever patient and kind etc., so says The Bible. But at the moment for us love just consists of me making ever awkward and increasingly line crossing public statements to your defence, while you go making ever awful and increasingly line crossing public mistakes.

The problem is that I have this thing for you that I just can’t deny. It originated with Looking For Alibrandi, of course, when you were heartbreakingly perfectly cast as John Barton and made me sob all over myself. Then there were appearances on Thank God You’re Here, when I was just discovering live comedy, and next ABC’s Stupid Stupid Man. Yes, you made me laugh, you made me cry, you made me swoon. You surprised me with the talent you showed in Underbelly and I found your attempts at a New Zealand accent a little alluring.

But along with the good, has also come the very, very bad. From domestic violence to drug and alcohol abuse to trashed hotel rooms and media scandals, you’ve really run the gamut of terrible choices over the recent years, haven’t you? You’ve been involved in incidents which are nothing short of awful, and that makes being a fan of yours a pretty difficult thing. Speaking out about you in any sort of positive way turns me instantly into a social pariah, and the footage of you in all my old favourite television shows and films is now tainted with the knowledge of what the media likes to label your ‘personal demons’.

Matthew Newton, you've turned me into what I call a sufferer of ‘Celebrity Stockholm Syndrome’. Young, na├»ve and inexperienced in the ways of celebrity worship, I was drawn in by your pretty (if unusually large) face and your droll comedic ways. I was, then, shocked and saddened by what I heard was going on in your life outside of showbiz and as much as I have issues with our society’s labelling of celebrities as ‘role models’, I have to say I was pretty disappointed in you, Matthew, you kinda let me down.

But then…then you started getting it back together. Things seemed to be going well, and mentioning you in public no longer led me into an argument about whether I was condoning the abuse of women*. I began to appreciate your lack of headline making, and the longer things were quiet on the media front, the more I felt grateful to you that you were holding it together. Yes, a classic case of CSS indeed; soon you’ll have me robbing banks.

I’ve heard lately on the news the phrases ‘heading to rehab’ and ‘receiving mental help’ being bandied about. If you are, I do hope it is helping. If you aren’t, I do hope you’re helping yourself. For now I’m trying to just remain a definitive fan of your work but not of your person. It’s difficult, because in our celebrity driven society we’re taught to worship the whole person; their personal life, career and media presence all rolled into one, but for now with you I just can’t.

As I said, Matthew, I’m in a hard place here with you, but I think you’re in a harder one. I hope life gets a little bit better, okay? Find something that helps. And stop being a douche, so I can get back to being your fan.


*Which, the author would like to point out, was not, is not and will never be in anyway way condonable or considered anything short of disgusting. 

Dear John Mayer,

I grew up listening to you. When I was in grade eight, your song ‘No Such Thing’ hit the charts and you were, through my narrow understanding of the world, the height of alternative cool. I had a picture of a much younger you on my school books, which I would gaze down at while deeply contemplating putting the lyrics “I want to run through the halls of my high school, I want to scream at the top of my lungs” into action. Your lyrics meant so much to me at the time. “They read all the books but they can’t find the answers”. Yeah. Exactly. Only cool alternative people like me understand life really… Nerds.

Your Room for Squares album would play on repeat while I would play on neopets and chat on msn for hours. It was a pivotal part of my musical education, since I couldn’t pick up Triple J in my bedroom, and the other radio stations weren’t even close to being alternative for my tastes. And you were only a few years older than me… Not really, now that I think of it, but a teenage girl will dream, especially after you released “Your Body is a Wonderland”. Jesus H Christ. Let’s just say, it wasn’t only a love for alternative pop rock that was awoken within me when that song came out.

Your next few albums were released into the untamed musical wilderness and they eventually became part of my rather exclusive cd collection. Bigger Than My Body struck a chord with my dream of becoming a hugely successful Academy Award Winning actress, Daughters similarly managed to evoke emotions deep within me, although what they related to completely baffles me now.

I even bought Continuum at full price. It was around this time that you started being embarrassing. Your pop-rock presence was starting to look out of place in my predominantly cool Triple J influenced cd collection. On top of that your dramas with Jessica Simpson and later, Jenifer Aniston were on every second tabloid magazine, and what they were saying about you wasn’t exactly nice. This was mostly because you were behaving like a douche bag. You had also started to lose your boyish good looks – this didn’t help.

Then I grew up a bit more, and you started being really embarrassing. When people see your music on my ipod I apologetically explain that firstly, I agree with them, you are a douche, but that secondly, Battle Studies (which I’d nonchalantly purchased by myself from JB hifi) isn’t too bad an album, if you’re impartial to slightly bluesy pop rock. However, mostly I just shrug and pretend that I don’t know how it got there.

It’s not so much that your music hasn’t evolved, cause it has, and it still accompanies me when I drive long distances alone, (alone - I’d call it a guilty pleasure, but it isn’t quite that – I don’t like your music quite enough anymore for that title…) but I think your music and your audience from your first album just grew up in different directions… and you’ve been a bit of a git.

It’s just that your music doesn’t fit with the image I have of myself, a grown up, slightly more sophisticated and less famous version of the alternative cool twenty-one year old I had in mind at thirteen. And your behaviour doesn’t match what I now look for in rock star celebrities; way too wanky, not quite enough actual attractiveness, Triple J approved. It isn’t cool to like your music, and you haven’t really been terribly likeable either. And yet I have every one of your cds – and you’re the only artist still living today who I can say that about… (I find it embarrassing to admit, and plan to blame it on the advent of downloading music. Yes, it’s iTunes’ and Napster’s fault.)

So John - if I can call you John – I’m sick of having to be bothered to sneak around if I want to listen to your music. So either pick up your game, get some street cred and stop being a douche, or I’m going to have to break up with you.


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