Why Hollywood Is More Rock’n’Roll Than Rock’n’Roll Itself

With sympathy expressed to the victims of the bad behaviour outlined forthwith, and anyone who’s endured damage emotional, physical or financial as a consequence of the protagonist’s resulting actions – my god! – it’s been an outstanding week for Hollywood stars acting like fucking maniacs.

Prior to the start of the week, Randy Quaid was best known as the wackjob pilot in Independence Day who came to pass by flying his plane straight into the heart of an alien mothership. Now he’ll be forever known as the wackjob actor who’s fighting extradition from Canada by claiming he and his family are on a “death list” of Hollywood stars – a list he claims included the late Heath Ledger and David Carradine. Quaid claims Ledger and Carradine were snuffed out by an evil cult of “star-whackers”, apparently he’s next. Mkaaaay…

(Pssst. If any of the aforementioned star-whackers happen to be reading this, look me up. I’d love to join the cause and I’ve got a list of actors, principally ones who starred in any of the Jaws films after the first one, that I’d love to add to yours).

Then there’s Charlie Sheen, no stranger to this sort of thing – this is, after all, a man who once shot his ex-fiancée in the arm “by accident” – who was found last Friday in a New York hotel, naked, wasted, passed out on the bed, covered in shards of a smashed chandelier, with a naked porn actress crying in the corner of a wardrobe. It’s probably worth mentioning that all this took place in a room next door to the one occupied by his ex-wife and kids. Upon sobering up, Charlie attempted to explain this away by saying he’d suffered an “allergic reaction”. I hear you Charlie. I get that way when I’ve eaten dairy.

And of course, then there’s Mel Gibson, the undisputed titan of recent Hollywood scandal, who was dragged back into the news this week when his proposed cameo in the sequel to The Hangover was scuppered after the films cast and crew objected to his involvement, based upon the actors past anti-Semitic rants and recent alleged domestic violence. Apparently the cast had no problem sharing screentime with Mike Tyson – a convicted rapist – in the first film, but then, that’s a different blog all together. I think Mel needs to book a session on Oprah as soon as possible and learn to cry on command. And he should probably stop ringing his ex-wife up and shouting at her too. He should get another hobby, like Airfix.

Yet while it goes without saying that this sort of behaviour is messy, destructive and often outright vile, I can’t help thinking that modern music could learn something from Hollywood’s commitment to chaos. I’m not suggesting that Laura Marling gets high on PCP and holds up a petrol station with a shorn-off ukulele (well, I sort of am, but I digress), but I might have the tiniest bit of interest in the timid warbling of the Arcade Fire, for example, if they treated music as the same sort of playground for decadence and anarchy as so many of Hollywood treat their industry – and not like they’re just trying to get on Bono’s Christmas card list. Recent events in Hollywood make me think it’s time we stopped viewing ‘the spirit of rock and roll’ as a dirty word (or six dirty words in fact).

The fact is, incidents like those outlined above make Hollywood seems exciting and vital in a way I don’t think modern music is anymore. This hasn’t always been the case; I fondly recall the days when I used to look to music as a place where freaks and weirdoes lived their lives loud and proud. They made mistakes, they fucked up, they said and did stupid things – but there was often glory in their recklessness, a desire to be different, larger than life, anything other than normal. And you know what? That’s inspiring. Now when I look at music, all I can see are people forging careers, only with Telecasters and Marshall amps instead of suits and ties. I go to the bank for order and sense; I want to listen to music for big ideas, bold opinions and people acting just a little bit nuts. Ridicule, said Adam Ant – and really, he should know better than anyone – is nothing to be afraid of.

What I’m talking about is a spirit that was never just limited to music; from William Shakespeare to Lord Byron, Paul Verlaine to Antoni Gaudi, Dorothy Parker to Sylvia Plath, great art has always been born out of chaos and confusion. Yet now it’s seemingly the solo preserve of Hollywood where I see oddballs like Quaid, maniacs like Sheen and… okay, I can’t think of much positive to say about Mel, the horrible piece of racist, women-hating shit. My point is that the spirit of rock and roll is dead, or at least dormant within rock and roll. But in cinema, it’s alive, and not just kicking, but screaming, snoring, brawling and laying waste to hotel rooms from LA to NYC.

Raise your game Mumford & Sons, rent a John Belushi video, take some notes, spend your royalties on a castle in the Highlands, then smash it up, dress like a giant mutant lizard from outer space and get into speedboats, do anything to prove you’re alive.

I’m falling asleep here. Thankyou to Hollywood for keeping me awake.