It has to have been the one and only time Pope John Paul II and Fred Durst will see eye to eye on anything. A few weeks back, as JP2 was making his official plea to the White House to avoid war with Iraq, Durst was throwing his sweat-stained ballcap into the political arena, offering up this golden chestnut at the Grammys: "I hope we all are in agreeance that this war should go away as soon as possible."
If nothing else, we're all in agreeance that Fred's a fucking loon. After his comments, Durst was predictably lambasted in the press: The Orange County Register branded him illiterate; others referred to him as "Fred Dunce."
But the bigger problem here is this: Fred Durst bleating about international diplomacy is like the Pontiff swapping tips on bird-dogging chicks. This is a guy whose next foray into the public spotlight came on the Howard Stern show, where he addressed such hot-button issues as what it's like to nail Britney.
Never mind that Fred Durst is a misogynist and a gay-basher (we once saw him dedicate a song to all the "butt pirates" in the crowd). Or that his band, Limp Bizkit, was banned from Australia's annual Big Day Out festival, after Durst's inflammatory remarks to security guards during a 2001 performance led to crowd violence, resulting in the death of a 15-year-old girl. Or that he settled a $5 million suit last year for allegedly throwing a mic at a lighting technician during a fit of rage on the . . . ahem . . . Anger Management tour in 2000.
Durst, more than anything, is a man who has made millions peddling sophomoric violence to America's youth. "I pack a chainsaw/I'll skin your ass raw/And if my day keeps going this way, I just might break your fuckin' face," he sorta rhymes on Bizkit's 1999 hit "Break Stuff." When Durst is confronted with a problem, his response invariably calls for aggression. Wanna mess with Fred? Better count on getting "knocked the fuck out."
Musically, anyway. When it comes to matters of actual violence, this guy's suddenly a dove.
To be fair, Durst's Grammy outburst was not his first stab at social commentary. Take, for example, his thought-provoking rumination on the state of our planet from Limp Bizkit's 2001 album Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water: "It's a fucked world/We're a fucked up place/Everybody's judged by their fucked up face/Fucked up dreams/Fucked up life/A fucked up kid/With a fucked up knife." When he's not penning such dissertations, Durst spends his time thinking up euphemisms for "butthole."
None of this, of course, is to say that musicians don't merit a voice in protesting or advocating war. There are plenty of artists, like System of a Down's Serj Tankian, Audioslave's Tom Morello, and Def Jam Records head Russell Simmons, who have offered poignant, well-reasoned opinions on the looming conflict with Iraq.
"Things translate across borders, and we've got to be very careful in dealing with situations in the world and being more just and evenhanded than we've been," Tankian told us in an interview late last year. Tankian, an American of Armenian descent, who co-founded the political activist group Axis of Justice with Morello, has long been outspoken about the dangers of armed conflict. At a time when most of our pop stars are (rightly) criticized for being vacuous, we can respect insights like his.
Durst, on the other hand, is a self-proclaimed "redneck from Jacksonville," a former tattoo artist/skate rat, whose admitted areas of expertise are nosegrinds, not foreign policy. He doesn't understand the issues he's talking about, and his hypocritical grandstanding only makes him look all the more foolish.
Here's a thought, Fred: Let's all just stick to what we know here: In your case, evidently, that's music.
Perhaps Durst himself says it best on Hotdog Flavored Water, with his admission that "understanding everything has never been my deal."
Finally, words we can all agree on.