by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & Misplaced Aggression & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & O & lt;/span & n the question of shrinking money from album sales, the world of aging rock stars is split into two sects: the David Byrne-ians and the Metallica-ites. The Byrne-ians ask, rather humbly, "What does this new landscape look like? What is its topography? How do we get from this place of dwindling revenues to a place of greater financial stability?" And so on.
The Metallica-ites just walk up to every perceived leech in turn, clap them upside the head -- beginning with services like Napster -- and say, "F__k you, pay me." To the file sharers themselves: "F__k you, pay me." To the colleges who let filesharers go to school: "F__k you, pay me." And now, most absurdly, to the Internet service providers (ISPs) with contraband mp3s flowing through their digital pipes: "Pay me, pay me, pay me!"
On Monday, the manager of U2, Paul McGuinness, placed his band squarely among the ranks of the Metallica-ites, calling for ISPs to compensate U2 for the copies of How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb that may or may not be (we're guessing not) floating around. To justify the attack, he offered a really bad analogy: "If you were a magazine advertising stolen cars, handling the money for stolen cars and seeing to the delivery of stolen cars, the police would soon be at your door."
Allow me to offer a better one: Asking Internet service providers for money to compensate file sharing is like Britney Spears being unhappy with the way she's portrayed on Access Hollywood and TMZ, but, having no legal recourse against the shows, deciding to sue each individual station that broadcasts them. That's called misplaced aggression, folks.
So the Byrne-ians are smart and progressive while the Metallica-ites are myopic lunk-heads. That's clear enough. What's interesting, though, is that this bears out in their music.Byrne-ians (evidenced best by David Byrne himself) are generally still breaking new musical ground while Metallica-ites just aren't. Metallica's dormant, Eminem's dormant, Dr. Dre's dormant, Peter Gabriel's ineffectual and Madonna's got kabala.
The best way, then, to combat the inflammatory rhetoric of U2's manager isn't with a counter-analogy, but with a question: "Hey, uh, when was the last time your boys put out a good album?"
The answer is 1993.