The band has been teasing a new album for 13 years, and now it seems that it will finally be released on August 30th. But do people even care anymore?
People are obsessed with enigmas, especially enigmatic musicians.
When The Weeknd released his critically acclaimed mixtape House of Balloons, his haunting voice, eerie production, and ambiguous lyrics were further studied and discussed because of his anonymity. He refused to reveal his identity and didn't make public appearances until he was already a certified underground icon. This kind of air of mystique has historically aided in generating buzz around a band or artist.
For Maynard James Keenan and the other members of Tool, the mystique surrounding everything, from their recording process to their lyrics, have raised them to an almost quasi-religious status among fans. In The Weeknd's case, it was revealed that the singer historically struggled with crippling shyness and anxiety. He wasn't anonymous by choice; the idea of fame reportedly scared the shit out of him. In contrast, for Keenan and the boys, they've purposefully kept their fans at arm's length. The quintet has been teasing a new album for 13 years, giving Tool fans the longest-lasting blue balls in the history of rock and roll.
Keenan has purposefully dodged questions surrounding a new Tool release, many times expressing frustration at journalists for even inquiring. In an interview with The Phoenix New Times in 2015, Keenan attacked his fan base and refused to discuss anything Tool-related. The interview came at the tail end of a two-year-long miscommunication. "The record will be out later this year," said Drummer Danny Carey in 2013 after admitting a near-fatal scooter accident temporarily derailed recording. Later that year, Keenan dismissed this notion, saying there were "no actual songs" even created yet. In 2014, Carey once again said a new Tool album would surface in "early 2014." Keenan once again denied these claims: "I can't write until I hear the sounds...and I haven't heard the sounds." The back and forth continued every year, all the way into 2018. "I'm saying definitely," Carey told Loudwire of a new Tool album. "We'll probably have it done in the first half [of the year] if things go as planned." He later told Kerrang! that the record was actually still a "work in progress." In March 2018, the band formally announced that they had actually just "entered the studio" to begin the "recording process."
Last week, guitarist Adam Jones took to Instagram to announce that the wait was finally over. While the caption spoke of his "excitement," fans were quick to point out how miserable Jones looked in the announcement photo. The new album is called Fear Inoculum and will supposedly be released on August 30th. Keenan followed up the band's announcement with an awkward statement of his own. "Our obsession with, and dream of, a world where BetaMax and Laser Disc rule has ended," he wrote. "Time for us to move on. But never fear. There's a brand new thing we think you're really gonna dig. It's called Digital Downloads and Streaming. Get ready for the future, folks!"
Tool has always had a perplexing resistance to mainstream conformity, and once upon a time, their enigmatic behavior no doubt contributed to their edgy and cool image. But to make such odd and dated statements about streaming music indicates a frontman out of touch with reality. Streaming is no longer the hip new wave of the "future" but the general norm, and if the band's sudden flux of online activity has proven anything, it's that that they know the general public has lost interest in the drama and mystery that encompassed "Tools 5th record."
Keenan's statement was, in its own way, a white flag, because they know if they were to release Fear Inoculum just like past Tool records, it would only appeal to the same fanatics Keenan once called "insufferable retards." The lethargic back and forth over the last 13 years became tiresome for many and painted Tool as hollow and self-obsessed. "Tool's entire marketing platform is steeped in a mystique that tool fans buy into any time you hear Maynard sort of express himself…" wrote a Tool fan on Reddit. Keenan, after A Perfect Circle's flaccid return, is forced to turn towards the band he hates most in order to regain mainstream relevance. At some point, the chicken has to come home to roost, but is it too late for Keenan and the boys?
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The Trump-Twitter Industrial Complex continues to fester and mutate.
This week, President Donald J. Trump tweeted a false statement about mail-in ballots.
He wrote that secretaries of state were sending mail-in ballots to every person, when actually states are only sending out ballot applications. For the first time, Twitter jumped in to fact-check Trump's statement, adding a link to a webpage full of information about mail-in ballots.
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Was the Jimmy Fallon Blackface Skit Intentionally Released as a Distraction from the Murder of George Floyd?
Racist police violence is a modern epidemic. So why are we talking about an SNL skit from 2000?
At this point, celebrity apologies are incredibly common. In 2020, it seems like some formerly beloved actor or TV personality is being put through the wringer of public opinion a few times a week.
Most recently, Twitter canceled Jimmy Fallon after an unquestionably racist skit from the 2000 season of SNL resurfaced online. The skit features Fallon impersonating Chris Rock, complete with black face and an offensive imitation of Rock's speech patterns.
Jimmy Fallon Blackface youtu.be
This quickly led to the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty trending on Twitter. While fans seemed split on whether Fallon should be forgiven for the 20-year-old misstep, most everyone agreed that Fallon should apologize regardless. This morning, he did just that in the form of a tweet.
As far as celebrity apologies go, Fallon's is a pretty good one. He doesn't try to sidestep the blame, he doesn't bring up the fact that there were undoubtedly many, many other individuals involved in the creation of the skit, and he doesn't even mention the fact that in 2000, many people still thought it was possible for black face to be done in the spirit of fun, because the deeply racist nature of the act was largely ignored in mainstream (white) media. Of course, we know better now, and it's easy to see that a white person doing an exaggerated imitation of a black person—darkened skin included—can only be a racist, belittling act with a long, dark history of racial oppression. With that in mind, Fallon's only option was to apologize without caveat or reservation. Indeed, it's refreshing to see a celebrity apology that doesn't try to justify or minimize their own misstep. While we can all agree Fallon made a terrible, racist choice 20 years ago, we have to believe that, like all of us, he's grown since then. If cancel culture is to have any efficacy in making the world a better place, it has to leave room for forgiveness and growth. Hopefully, the whole affair will leave Fallon (and those who witnessed it) more racially sensitive.
All of that being said, one has to ask why the clip was brought up now, given that it's been circulated around the Internet before, and the specific YouTube clip that was shared was posted on the site over a year ago. It's also worth noting that the version of the clip that was going around Twitter has a text overlay that reads: "NBC FIRED MEGAN KELLY FOR MENTIONING BLACKFACE. JIMMY FALLON PERFORMED ON NBC IN BLACKFACE."
Megan Kelly, an outspoken conservative, was indeed fired from her job at NBC because she defended the use of blackface in Halloween costumes, saying on her talk show, "Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who put on whiteface for Halloween," she said. "When I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as a character." While Fallon's instance of racial insensitivity was in 2000, Kelly defended blackface in 2019, long after society at large had begun to acknowledge the hurt that blackface and other forms of racial impersonation could cause. This fundamental difference aside, Kelly also has a long history of racial insensitivity that Fallon does not, even once saying, "What is the evidence that what happened to Eric Garner and what happened to Michael Brown has anything to do with race?" in a conversation about the epidemic of racist police officers in America.
Given the text overlay, it's pretty clear that whoever began the #jimmyfallonisoverparty was not necessarily seeking justice for the black community, but was instead trying to imply hypocrisy in the cancellation of Megan Kelly, given that Fallon (who has been outspoken about the flaws of the Trump administration and political pundits like Kelly) is still on the air. One even has to wonder if, given that it's obvious that the #jimmyfallonisoverparty trend was begun by a conservative individual or group, if the trend was meant to be a distraction from the widespread racist police violence that has been emphasized in recent weeks by incidents like the death of George Floyd, a black man who was murdered in Minneapolis by a white police officer on Monday. It seems oddly coincidental that the clip of Fallon should flood the Internet with controversy the day after Floyd's murder, unfortunately serving to help steer conversation away from Floyd's unjust death.
Indeed, under the unquestionably racist Donald Trump administration, more and more black people are being harassed, attacked, and murdered at the hands of racist white civilians and police officers. But Trump and his supporters don't want you to focus on that–so much so that it doesn't feel impossible that the Fallon skit was intentionally weaponized as a distraction.
In the last few weeks alone we learned that Ahmaud Arbery was murdered senselessly by a white man while simply out for a jog, and we all witnessed the harassment of Christian Cooper, a black man who was threatened by a white woman in Central Park who didn't want to put her dog on a leash. It's clear that racism in America cannot be reduced to insensitive skits from 20 years ago but is instead a current and deadly problem. What Jimmy Fallon did in 2000 was racist, yes; but don't let that distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in 2020, don't let celebrity apologies make you take your eyes of our lawmakers, who aren't doing enough to protect people of color in this country. Don't let the latest "#_____isoverparty" trend distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in our laws, culture, and criminal justice system.
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