The music of Muse is melodramatic and paranoid, full of vague conspiracy theory rhetoric, self-indulgent tangents, and occasional weepiness. So naturally, it's a favorite of Glenn Beck, the former Fox News commentator who is to rational political thought what Muse is to tasteful guitar solos. Much to Muse's chagrin, Beck has been a longtime supporter of the band, latching onto its 2009 single "The Uprising" as putting every one of his Tea Party-revolutionary thoughts into musical instead of tear form, and then, in signature Glenn Beck fashion, fabricating his own victimization by pretending as though the band had demanded he stop playing it on his show, when it did nothing of the sort.
The band did, however, call him "a bit of a crazy right winger" with typical dry British understatement—a position it recently reiterated by lamenting in an interview with The Observer that "The Uprising" had been embraced by people like Beck, with frontman Matt Bellamy saying, "In the US the conspiracy theory subculture has been hijacked by the right to try to take down people like Obama and put forward rightwing libertarianism."
Of course, Bellamy didn't mention Glenn Beck specifically, but if you look at Bellamy's name, it sounds an awful lot like Bel Ami, the famous novel by French author Guy de Maupassant—or G.M., or General Motors, or Government Motors, which President Obama "saved" with the bailout that crippled the American people. Recently you might have heard that GM devoted some $559 million of your taxpayer money to sponsoring T-shirts for the English football club Manchester United—a club that has been revealed to be partly owned by none other than George Soros. And the only person who gives a shit about George Soros is, of course, Glenn Beck. You see? All the signs are there!
So anyway, Beck got out his chalkboard and read between the lines and responded to Bellamy with the below letter that begins, "As uncomfortable as it might be for you, I will still play your songs loudly. To me your songs are anthems that beg for choruses of unity and pose the fundamental question facing the world today—can man rule himself?" Obviously it goes on and on from there, continuing to sound just like what you'd expect from a diehard Muse fan who is also Glenn Beck, including making obligatory references to Thomas Paine and George Washington, and then saying this: "In the Venn Diagram of American politics, where the circles of crimson and blue overlap, there's a place where you and I meet. It's a place where guys who cling to their religion, rights, and guns, connect with godless, clinched-fist-tattoo, guys [sic and sic]." This place is, apparently, a Muse concert.
The entire letter [via Spin]:
I read your comments in the Guardian via Rolling Stone last week and feel like with a little work we could better understand each other.
As uncomfortable as it might be for you, I will still play your songs loudly. To me your songs are anthems that beg for choruses of unity and pose the fundamental question facing the world today – can man rule himself?
In the Venn Diagram of American politics, where the circles of crimson and blue overlap, there’s a place where you and I meet. It’s a place where guys who cling to their religion, rights, and guns, connect with godless, clinched-fist-tattoo, guys.
You seem to have a pretty good grasp of comparative U.S. and European politics, but maybe there’s a pattern that you’re underestimating. Throughout history, leaders have used music to lull young people into a sense of security and euphoria. They’ve used artists to create the illusion that they can run a country that keeps all the good and wipes out all the bad. Think Zurich 1916. Think artists getting behind guys like Lenin and Trotsky. Think of pop culture’s role in the Arab Spring. The youth rises up, power structures crumble, and worse leaders are inserted.
America, on the other hand, does not rely on leaders — we rely on the individual. Our country was built on the principles of mercy, justice, and charity — we ultimately believe that man left alone is good. That is a primary reason I disagree with Chomsky and others that you’ve touted.
American Libertarians understand that smaller government gives people freedom — the freedom to earn or lose, eat or starve, own or sell. The potential for wild success and happiness is tempered by an equal chance of failure. And it is all up to the individual to take control of their destiny.
This has been a debate since the founding of America, one that has often gotten confused. Even during the revolution — a period filled with the greatest minds to ever discuss the idea of freedom — there were the divisions that continue today. Robespierre or George Washington. OWS or the TEA Party.
Thomas Paine didn’t see the difference at first either — sometimes the difference is too subtle.
Yet the question is an easy one: Do you believe man can rule himself? Or does he need someone ruling over him to force him to be good and charitable?
That is the fundamental divide and everything else follows. Even though faith was important to our American patriots none of them forced Paine to believe. He chose his course and in the end is remembered as a critical patriot in establishing man’s first real freedom.
They understood that we don’t all have to be in the same boat. But rather, focused on the star chart: Are you headed toward freedom or despotism?
The power that American Libertarians like me want to pull down is power that limits the individuals right to roam and create.
Matthew, I realize that converts are pretty hard to come by when the stakes are so high and the spotlight so bright, but I thank you for singing words that resonate with man in his struggle to be free.
I wish I could leave well enough alone and just be quiet…
…but I’ve had recurring nightmares that I was loved for who I am and missed the opportunity to be a better man.
Good luck on the new record.