RIP Flipping Off The Camera to be Cool
Born February 24th, 1969 San Quentin, CA — Died February 19th, 2014 Nashville, TN
Yes ladies and gentlemen, we have the death of yet another great American institution to lay at the feet of The Country Music Anti-Christ, Big Machine Records President and CEO Scott Borchetta.
The offense occurred when Scott Borchetta flashed the double bird at a camera as part of a Country Radio Seminar function in Nashville on Wednesday night, November 19th while in the presence of Mötley Crüe members Vince Neil and Nikki Sixx, and Big Machine artist Brantley Gilbert. The photo was later posted on Nikki Sixx’s Twitter feed, with the even more unfortunate caption proclaiming the group “NASHVILLE OUTLAWS.”
Flipping the bird to the camera first became cool when Johnny Cash famously showed his middle finger to photographer Jim Marshall at San Quentin before his 1969 concert at the legendary lockdown in response to Jim Marshall’s request, “John, let’s do a shot for the warden.” But the picture remained relatively obscure until 1998 when Cash was working with Rick Rubin, and country radio refused to play Johnny’s new music. So Rubin took out a $20,000 ad in Billboard with the famous photograph thanking country radio for its support (Read full story behind Johnny Cash’s famous middle finger). Since then the bird flipping had taken on a special significance in country music, coming to symbolize a rebellion against country music’s status quo….until the status quo co-opted it for their own purposes.
But truth be told, flipping the camera off had gone from being cool to being horrifically cliché many moons ago, and was going through a long-suffering and unnecessarily-protracted death leading up to Borchetta finally putting it out of its misery by removing any and all cool factor that might be left in the indecent maneuver. It makes it one measure worse that it comes from a moment of celebrity crotch-sniffing from Scott. His label Big Machine bartered with Mötley Crüe to put out a country-flavored tribute album to the retiring band; a pursuit of vanity for Borchetta who once had his own hair metal aspirations.
So bye bye birdie. It was cool while it lasted, but like so many other things related to country music, it was ruined by posers.