It’s 3 p.m.! Let The A.V. Club briefly make use of the waning hours of your productivity with some pop culture ephemera pulled from the depths of YouTube.
There are lots of ways that music stars try to make their concerts places of radical inclusivity. From putting up “No Hate” signs to between-song pleas for getting along, there are numerous strategies for bringing diverse people together. If you’re feeling ambitious, why not just claim you’re one of those diverse identities, even if you’re not?
To be fair, we all used to say things we wouldn’t any more. And in the defense of Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, there’s probably only so many different ways rock stars in the ’90s could articulate some version of, “We’re all just people, so let’s come together rather than be divided.” Artists are always looking for ways to connect with their audience, and the sentiment of unity is a simple and uplifting one which you can find in everything from Bob Marley’s “One Love” to crap like “We Are The World.” None of which makes it less embarrassing to watch Rossdale spreads his arms like Jesus on the crucifix and solemnly intone, “I am a black man ... I am a white man” in the middle of his band’s performance at Woodstock ’99.
It must really fuck with your sense of perspective to do something like remove your sweat-drenched shirt and have tens of thousands of people shriek in approval at the sight of your lanky, muscled torso. Perhaps so much so, you have the thought, “How can I connect with these people? I know, I’ll just say I’m them!” In addition to claiming bi-racial identity (following by an ill-timed spit), he goes to claim he’s both an Englishman and an American, which, also not true, but hell, it sounded good at the time, we suppose.
We’re constantly moving the goalposts of language when it comes to identity politics, shifting them in hopes that such rhetorical adjustments will contribute to structural ones that might make the world a more respectful place. Sometimes it works, sometimes it ends up being a little silly. But regardless of the state of our struggles toward equality, hopefully we can agree that the image of a topless Rossdale vaingloriously proclaiming his blackness will always be hilarious.