The chatter greeting tabloid news of John Mayer’s week-long relationship with Jessica Simpson earlier this month was one of overwhelming cultural befuddlement. A Google search of “John Mayer” + “Jessica Simpson” + “odd couple” calls up no fewer than 670 results. “What could the soulful, perpetual college boy possibly see in the once-reigning Daft Queen of Reality Television?” America seemed to be asking itself.
The same question was apparently on Mayer’s mind as well, since no sooner had the nation’s collective consciousness begun to grapple with this pop culture oddity than Mayer posted the sleeve of Public Enemy’s “Don’t Believe the Hype” on his blog, co-opting a militant anthem to whine symbolically about Simpson’s public pining — probably not exactly what Chuck D had in mind. Simultaneously, Mayer’s friends took to the press deriding Simpson as a “desperate” now-ex-paramour using Mayer like some G-rated media succubus to “stay in the spotlight.” What sparked Mayer’s initial interest in Simpson remains a mystery. Surely it was not anything so trite as publicity or physicality. Perhaps it was her theoretical conceptualizations regarding the evolutionary biology of Chicken of the Sea’s long march through history into tuna fish?
Conventional wisdom concerning Mayer’s innate superiority to Simpson in the Smarts Department, however, might be a bit off base. While I can’t say I’ve listened to Simpson’s unfortunately titled A Public Affair, I did toil my way through Mayer’s latest, Continuum, a painfully transparent attempt to stretch beyond the lovelorn ballads that propelled him into international stardom into critiques of U.S foreign policy, media consolidation and youth disenfranchisement. Despite being utterly bland, predictable and completely devoid of anything approaching substance, the new set has earned Mayer much praise as a maturing artist.
“Mayer made his name with love songs like ‘Your Body Is a Wonderland,’ but on Continuum his concerns are more global,” music critic Jody Rosen opined in Entertainment Weekly. “‘Waiting on the World to Change,’ with a melody lifted straight out of Curtis Mayfield’s classic civil rights rallying cry, ‘People Get Ready,’ carries an incisive protest message, defending his generation against the charge of political apathy, and railing against the Bush administration and the corporate media.”p>Never underestimate the power of carefully tousled hair and a carefully cultivated aura of thoughtfulness, I suppose. Still, for some reason I felt obliged to dig into this “incisive” defense of the Mayer Generation â”¢. Here is what I found in the opening verse: br> /p> blockquote> em>Me and all my friends, we’re all misunderstood; br> They say we stand for nothing and there’s no way we ever could; br> Now we see everything that’s going wrong; with the world and those who lead it /em> /blockquote> br> The die is cast. The sneering duplicitous “they” have made a terrible error in writing off Mayer and his friends. This is where one might expect Mayer to assert the reasons why “they” are terribly wrong and detail what punishment will be exacted for this unforgivable miscalculation and shortsightedness. Instead we get: br>
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
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In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
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It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
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