Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Open Letter to Douglas Wolk

"The self-destructive tortured-artist routine was bullshit when Kurt Cobain did it, it was bullshit when Elliott Smith did it, and it's bullshit now. As anyone who's seen the video of Amy Winehouse desperately finger-fumbling her way through "Back to Black" at the MTV Europe Video Music Awards knows, her look-how-messed-I-am public persona is now screwing up her art something fierce. So instead of a new record, Americans are now getting a modified version of Frank, her first album, originally released four years ago and subsequently dissed by the artist herself."

"Winehouse is good enough that she was worth paying attention to for her music alone before her drama started ruining it, but in the light of her subsequent career, Frank comes off as the first chapter in the Romantic myth of the poet who feels too deeply and ends up killing herself for her audience's entertainment. And that is some bullshit."
-Douglas Wolk in his review of Amy Winehouse's rereleased 2003 debut Frank.

Dear Douglas,
The "self-destructive tortured-artist" routine you speak of in your review of Amy Winehouse's Frank seems as though you think Winehouse, Cobain, Smith, etc., are well-adjusted individuals who play this role to create a mythic persona that the public can feed off of. I know it's hard to believe, Douglas, but some people have mental problems as a result of a brain that doesn't function properly and many of these individuals are artists whose work often imitates their lives. It's much, much easier for someone who doesn't suffer from any one of a number of mental illnesses to sit back and play arm-chair psychologist and point the finger at those who can't control their "weakness" than it is to actually educate yourself on this particular topic. It was bullshit in the Dark Ages, Douglas, and it's bullshit now.

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