Monday, April 27, 2009

The Glenn Danzig Virus

Glenn Danzig has probably always been metal's biggest asshole, at least in mainstream pop-culture consciousness. There might be worse insider or niche personalities, but he ironically looms large for the non-fan who only occasionally gets news from that world. This is no mean feat, considering he comes from a genre of music known for appealing to and being created by alcoholic white people angry at and victimized by things others can't discern and for reasons that remain mysterious. You'd think the world would know about dozens of these guys, but nope. It's just mostly Danzig.

Like most people, my knowledge of Danzig began with the sudden popularity of his song "Mother" in 1993. Over the years my education got filled in by friends who liked the Misfits — and one friend in particular, Tony, who made outstanding compilations of 1970s soul and lovemakin' music and capped them off surprisingly with a single track from either Danzig, Danzig II: Lucifuge or Danzig III: How the Gods Kill. Somehow, over this period, the only things I've learned about Danzig himself have made me think, "What a fuckhead."

He runs a godawful comic book press called "Verotik" (Violence + Erotic!), which combines the subtle comic-book understanding of gore with the even subtler comic-book understanding of fucking naked ladies. He supposedly treats his fellow musicians like garbage. Even without any testimony on that account, one way or another, it'd probably be a safe assumption to make, considering the abundance of "I met Danzig" stories that invariably seem to end with, "and he was a complete penis." Virtually any long interview with him involves his eventually answering questions by disavowing the truth of any previous interviews and implying that all journalists are prevaricating scavengers. And even without all that, there's just his appearance. He snarls and scowls even offstage, wears tight shirts that show off his muscles and generally looks like he's flexing all the time — which is silly as all hell, because he's shorter than the average grandmother.

The best place to see this in effect is in any non-concert Danzig music video. Take "Killer Wolf" for example. He spends the beginning of the video inexplicably walking around with a fucking wolf. Nevermind that the presence of a killer wolf contradicts the implication that Danzig himself is the killer wolf; the fact is that the wolf's about two-thirds his size. Then, about 2:40 in, Danzig gets down on all fours for about five seconds, for no reason. Incidentally, "Killer Wolf" inaugurated the Danzig video tradition of casting a white-trash leading lady who looks like she was "discovered" in a tattoo parlor and too drunk to say no to anything at the time.

All this might make it seem as if I'm being uncharitable to Danzig, but consider this. The day after he got punched out by a fat dude, Youtube had something like two dozen different videos of the incident, all of them netting five-star ratings, thousands of views and comments sections exploding with an orgy of schadenfreude. And that's the thing: even people who like his music (and that's not hard; it's basically classic blues with a ton of distortion and metal posturing that obscures a pretty conventional blues-rock backbone) enjoy making fun of him, because he comes off like a giant dicklord.

Which probably goes a long way to explaining how Danzig's become a minor humorous cottage industry on Youtube. Everything's funnier with Danzig in it because Danzig himself is constantly funny. You can insert Danzig into any video footage or pair him with any other piece of music or video and it will be funny, because the man himself is unintentionally hilarious even when he's doing something he means to do. Double him up with a Hall & Oates song, and it works perfectly, because this is someone who struts and poses as a lethal badass despite probably having to wear platform shoes just to be let into the line for Space Mountain. He fills his songs with "WHA-HO" and "URRRRRR" and "YEAYAH" noises at the weirdest times. A friend of mine once re-wrote "Last Caress" to be about yurts and monkey shit, and it still made about as much sense as the original. Danzig even falls off the stage because he's just singing with too much evil — or gut. (About 4:05 in.)

But enough beating up Danzig. You want to see Youtubes. Glorious Youtubes. The things you can derail a party with by bringing out a laptop, being that guy and making people watch things. The first is a re-recording of his greatest hit, "Mother." If you haven't lost it by the solo, I don't know what's wrong with you.

The second isn't as good, but it is disturbing how well the Danzig video links up with Hall & Oates' "Maneater." I wish whomever made it had spent a little more time trying to edit things together less obviously, but there's probably a whole level of comedy coming from the sloppiness just because the songs parallel each other uncannily with almost zero effort.

Finally, there's probably the best Youtube video of 2007, Shakira (Featuring Danzig) "Hips Don't Lie":

Look for the singing (killer) wolf.

There's nothing to say to any of that, other than, "WHOA HO OHHHH."