The "half-billion-dollar franchise" Glee is on the cover of this week's Hollywood Reporter, and creator Ryan Murphy joyfully used the victory-lap profile as his personal soapbox for the show. He's full of grand proclamations, like "I wanted it to be for adults and children: subversive but where the double entendres go over the heads of 8-year-olds." (Never mind that the "double entendres" barely rise above the level of Britney's newest single.)
Murphy also took plenty of shots at critics and perceived foes. After songs appear on Glee, their sales spike (Britney's "Stronger" sold 1160% better in the week after it appeared on the show), and though the effect is only temporary, Murphy has apparently begun to interpret his song choices as favors to artists. Kings of Leon turned down a licensing opportunity with Glee five months ago, but Murphy certainly hasn't forgotten:
"F--- you, Kings of Leon,” he says, raising the volume of his monotonal interview voice ever so lightly. “They’re self-centered assholes, and they missed the big picture. They missed that a 7-year-old kid can see someone close to their age singing a Kings of Leon song, which will maybe make them want to join a glee club or pick up a musical instrument. It’s like, OK, hate on arts education. You can make fun of Glee all you want, but at its heart, what we really do is turn kids on to music.
Musical kingmaking (or not) aside, Glee's particular brand of gloriously lowbrow after-school-special a cappella hardly seems an adequate replacement for declining federal music education funding. When contacted for a response to the rebuke, Kings of Leon frontman Caleb Followill claimed, "At the time of the request, we hadn’t even seen the show. It came at the end of that record cycle"—which is to say, the band is not the licensing hardliner it's been made out to be. In fact, in 2008, Kings of Leon's 2003 single "Red Morning Light" appeared in a Ford Focus commercial, and then in November, two months after their breakthrough album Only by the Night was released, three songs from September 2008's appeared in the Gossip Girl episode "Bonfire of the Vanity." In other words, Kings of Leon weren't interested in boosting the sales of Only by the Night potentially at the expense of their new album Come Around Sundown.
All this seems more than reasonable. But today Caleb's older brother/bandmate Nathan fired back on twitter:
Now, Murphy may be bloviatingly egotistical, but at least his public censures don't engage in casual misogyny. "Buy a new bra"? Really? Characterizing a male foe as female in order to insult him is about as outdated as his twitter background: some dudes rolling a joint on the cover of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Not to mention that most seven-year-olds aren't in the habit of reading The Hollywood Reporter (or looking up the explicit version of "Forget You," which Gwyneth Paltrow sang on Glee in November, for that matter).
Murphy will probably never get the perspective he needs until Glee is ultimately cancelled (which could be any number of years from now), but Kings of Leon should have long ago learned that you never let your drummer speak for your band—even on Twitter! About an hour later, Nathan issued a half-hearted apology—"I'm sorry 4 anyone that misconstrued my comments as homophobic or misogynistic," he said about his homophobic/misogynistic comment—and here's hoping that this mea-sorta-culpa means that both of them will shut up about this. Because when two big egos whine about each other in public, nobody wins.