No, it isn’t “Bash Old Rockers” week at PJMedia.
But we need to talk about “Uncle Ted.”
This isn’t even about his headline-making rant at the Vegas Shot Show, in which he called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel.”
Ted Nugent doesn’t need puny little Canadian me to “defend” his legal right to use that expression, even though I believe we should keep the adjective “subhuman” chambered until someone more like Dr. Mengele is in our sights.
Rather, I’ve been thinking about Nugent all week after reading a searing takedown of Woody Allen and his Hollywood sycophants by Gavin McInnes. (EXTREME language warning.)
McInnes has children; I do not — hence the “EXTREME language warning,” probably. That is: This difference likely colors my feelings about Allen, which remain frustratingly ambiguous and were better reflect by this piece in, yes, The Onion.
That’s because Woody Allen, like the Monty Python gang, were a gargantuan part of my often otherwise unpleasant childhood.
Allen’s impact was deeper, though, because his movies gave me a glimpse into another possible world, in which intelligent, creative people enjoyed deep yet witty conversations in gorgeous urban environs.
The scene in Annie Hall, in which Allen’s character travels back in time to his public school, surveys his unpromising looking classmates and declares, “Even then, I knew they were just jerks” literally changed my life.
I don’t remember my first kiss, but can easily recall that moment in the darkened downtown movie theater around my 13th birthday. I finally felt… understood.
An orphaned duckling imprints on the first creature it sees, however ridiculous its cloying affection for that indifferent St. Bernard looks to us.
And as far as I know, that imprinting can’t be reversed.
I could probably rewire my brain to hate Woody Allen, or any of the other dubious individuals who “imprinted” themselves on my impressionable young mind.
The thing is: I’m not sure I feel like bothering.
I have no such abiding affection for Ted Nugent.
His music wasn’t part of my life. I was a punk in a heavy metal/classic rock town, but judging by the t-shirts, bumper stickers and posters in the head shops, the locals reserved their affection for first tier acts like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd.
That may explain why — until I read about it in the comments beneath Gavin’s article — I’d never heard of Ted Nugent’s relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
Trying to get the truth about this felt like a game of “telephone,” with hysterical left-wing sites like The Daily Kos quoting Wikipedia quoting Spin magazine, circa 2000:
In 1978, 30-year-old Ted Nugent fell in love with 17-year-old Hawaiian lovely Pele Massa. To keep the hassle factor low, the Motor City Madman convinced the girl’s parents to sign documents that officially made Nugent Pele’s guardian. His pitch? Better a horny, rich, drug-free, right-wing bow hunter than a horny, poor, stoned high school student.
That’s the most authoritative citation I’ve found so far.
I invite anyone with a Lexis-Nexis subscription to try to track down a more respectable source and post it in the comments.
Speaking of which: I know I’m not the only person who could parse this stuff for days, yeshiva style.
The Right complains about Allen and Polanski, but Loretta Lynn’s marriage to Mooney at 16 (apparently not 13 after all) is merely quaint.
And many of us missed or ignored one snippet of that controversial interview with Duck Dynasty’s patriarch:
“You got to marry these girls when they are about 15 or 16. They’ll pick your ducks,” the millionaire said in the video, referring to the cleaning of bird carcasses. (…)
“You need to check with mom and dad about that of course,” said Robertson, who married his wife, Kay, when she was 16.
Tribalism (and one’s definition of talent) covereth a multitude of sins. Rolling Stone and “living sex legend” Bill Wyman’s marriage, at age 52, to an 18-year-old woman he’d been dating since she was 14 seems pretty freaky, but I shrug off the equally promiscuous 26-year-old Joe Strummer’s (serially unfaithful) common law marriage to 17-year-old Gaby Salter — their children called him “the cradle robber” — as “how people did things in the Seventies.”
That’s the same vintage as Ted Nugent’s whatever-you-want-to-call it arrangement with Massa, whose feelings about this phase in her life I’ve been unable to track down so far.
And the thing is:
As Adam Carolla notes in his “Statutory Rape Rock” rants (above and below), the era’s songs celebrating what we’d now call “pedophilia” were radio staples.
The first one I ever recall inspiring any blowback was The Knack’s “My Sharona” — the 26-year-old lead singer’s tribute to his 17-year-old girlfriend — and that’s only because The Knack were slickly produced, commercially popular yet critically despised, and those otherwise liberal-minded critics were desperate to pin something on them.
(I’ll bet all these critics own every album by The Clash and The Mescaleros.)
So assuming the Massa tale is true, do you care about Nugent’s past (which also includes alleged draft-dodging, by the way, along with Courtney Love’s claim that she performed oral sex on him when she was 12)?
Like I say, we can play this all night:
Chuck Berry. Jerry Lee Lewis. Jimmy Page.
(We can also wonder why Mia Farrow is so chummy with… Roman Polanski.)
But the bigger question is:
Do we give “our” guys a pass, and if so, why?