The Roots' Walk-On Music For Michele Bachmann Was Ha-Ha Funny, But...

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Monday night the Republican Presidential candidate and frequent source/target of Photoshop japery Michele Bachmann appeared on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon in an effort to promote both her autobiography and her appearance at last night's Presidential debate. As a rebuke to the Minnesota congresswoman's somewhat slippery relationship with the truth, Fallon's house band the Roots—who aren't always into shying from making a "why is this person even here?" counterpoint with their choice of introductory music—decided to dust off an old chestnut by the skacore pioneers Fishbone as she walked onstage. "Aight late night walkon song devotees: you love it when we snark: this next one takes the cake," ?uestlove tweeted before the show aired Monday. "ask around cause i aint tweeting title."


Michele Bachmann gets greeted by Fishbone's "Lyin' Ass Bitch"

The band picked "Lyin' Ass Bitch" by Fishbone, a 1985 track about a cheating (yet still lovable) lover that's punctuated by strident las and, of course, a very moshable beat. It's a fun tune to pogo along with, and those people who got the joke were pretty into it; ?uestlove's at-replies lit up with giggles from bleary-eyed couch potatoes who recognized the song in the broadcast's initial wake, although they were later accompanied by rebukes from Bachmann sympathizers. My Facebook news feed was punctuated by clips of the Roots' version and the original, appended by lols and other virtual noises of approval. Fallon publicly told ?uestlove he was grounded, which seemed to serve as a bit of a wink to his bandleader, although he later apologized to Bachmann via Twitter.


Fishbone, "Lyin' Ass Bitch"

While I appreciate any efforts to get Fishbone back into the public consciousness and punctuate fluffy Entertainment Tonight-style treatment of people who might one day be entrusted with keeping this country in order, and I certainly don't agree with the way that Bachmann views truthfulness as a minor inconvenience blocking her path to righteousness, the marriage of song and target bugged the hell out of me. Sure, this was an attempt to turn a title/hook into a 15-second punchline (leaving out the lyric about the titular character also being a slut), but the fact that this woman was obliquely being called a "bitch" on national television, and that it's an insult that would probably not be flung at her competitors, curdled any mirth that I might have felt.

Bachmann is the first 2012 GOP presidential candidate to be on Fallon, although she's certainly not the only one who's been caught in her own deceptions. She's also the lone woman remaining in the field, which makes me wonder if Rick Perry or Rick Santorum would have been greeted by this particular Fishbone track had they been first to Fallon's couch. The answer, sadly, is "probably not." Casual sexism in politics and entertainment and, you know, the rest of the world is of course nothing new, and it's something that as a consumer of the Internet crushes me on a near-hourly basis—even though I've aesthetically internalized it enough to enjoy songs like, say, "Lyin'-Ass Bitch." But it kills me when it's used by smart people who I respect against someone like Bachmann, who has no shortage of completely legitimate reasons to inspire ire. Calling her a bitch is too easy—it glosses over the actual concrete problems with her as a candidate—and more importantly, the woman-specific use of "bitch" toward people who allegedly "deserve" it only serves to further crack open the door to it being used against any woman who's trying to make her way in a male-dominated field.

There are tons of songs out there that call out liars in their titles without having to get all gender-specific about who's doing the lying—why not use one of those? If nothing else, the Roots could really show off their instrumental chops by busting out Megadeth's "Liar," which is at least a bit more gender-neutral in its kicking against the pricks.


Megadeth, "Liar"

UPDATE: And now Bachmann is demanding an apology: "The point is, if that had been Michelle Obama who had come out on the stage and that song had been played to Michelle Obama, I have no doubt that NBC would have apologized to her. This is clearly a form of bias on the side of the entertainment elite." Another bad side effect of this sort of sexism: Victim complexes getting actual reasons for existing. Hooray for everyone!

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44 comments
Supermom374
Supermom374

Really people- we live in a society that shoves tolerance down the gullet of anyone with ears to hear about it. Some people share her views, some don't. It doesn't matter who the target is, liberal - conservative - male - female .... whatever happened to just being civilized? This act was underhanded, immature, and just plain mean.

Takei Thrasher
Takei Thrasher

To the author of this article: La la la, la la la, la la la la la......LAAAAAAAAAAAA

eek4ever
eek4ever

It's funny how when a conservative artist uses some easy humor to expose their political feelings the whole right wing cult rallies behind that person, but here you are basically spoonfeeding conservatives a retaliation.  Lol liberals always shoot thenselves in the foot with "common sense."  Move to Sweden, Maura.

maura
maura

Oh come on, like her people didn't think of that defense the second the song title got figured out. But if you're going to sponsor a visa for me, I'll happily take you up on your offer.

eek4ever
eek4ever

I'm sure they did, but that's their job.  The point is, let's focus on the issue that The Roots are trying to bring attention to, not the semantics of the song title.  Would you rather the song was an inside joke no one understood?

maura
maura

It pretty much was until the news got out!

Timothy Hearn
Timothy Hearn

It's not sexism, it's the truth and in America, you can't just go around speaking freely. sheesh, what do you think this is, a democracy or something? One must never say anything to offend anyone at anytime. I wouldn't just yell out that "Michelle Bachman is a whack job, lying bitch", it might be twisted into something sexist, or some lyin' crap like that

Fat Guy
Fat Guy

Jeez, give a self-important music critic a blog, and she'll swear she's the center of the universe. What a pointless post. 

tracytale
tracytale

Well what do you expect. The Roots are from the ghetto. You can take them out of the ghetto and put them on tv but they will always be trash. What more can you expect from them?

I'll be laughing when they play the song 'go home negro' as they walk on stage for an interview.

that will be funny. lets see how sensitive everyone is towards that!

Timothy Hearn
Timothy Hearn

I want to just call you a piece a shit punk, but that wouldn't be nice, despite the accuracy. Oh, but I degress. I've never heard of the song Go Home Negro, but I commend you on the correct spelling of the word Negro and it is curious, despite the obvious racial tendencies you display, you did not use the dreaded 'N' word. Hmmmm, could it be you are not a real racist, just a wantabe racist that doesn't really have a clue what he is talking about and no balls to back it up. BTW, the 'ghetto' is not just for our citizens of color. asswipe, couldn't help it...lmao 

maura
maura

Hey, way to be racist! Thanks for further elevating the discourse.

113121
113121

She is in fact a lying bitch. Whose fault is that? I think she should apologize to the American people for lying. Will she? No she won't.Get over it. I love the The Roots for this, no body else said a word on Tuesday when she lied about the CIA and the ACLU? Or the vaccine causes mental retardation bullshit and on and on. 

Safaflowers
Safaflowers

Don't get all worked-up because the term "bitch" was used. This seems more like a "figurative vs. literal" argument, in which case "figurative" wins because language is so much more complex and bountiful than music critics crying about gender politics.  

maura
maura

I'm going to guess you're a male.

jadziadragonrider
jadziadragonrider

Good article. I agree, but I would contend that Fallon should have apologized to the American people for further legitimizing this woman's already powerful footing in this country's decision making machine.

maura
maura

I agree! The puff-piece late night talk show treatment of politicians has sure helped the issues recede even further into the background.

Gbee
Gbee

Actually, the author is wrong. Even though it wasn't written with this interpretation in mind, Fishbone now regularly dedicate this song to politics and politicians of her persuasion, both female AND male. As they say,  *itch is a *itch!

maddogm13
maddogm13

After all the psycho shit she spews about gays and lesbians on a daily basis, I think she can handle it. Maybe you have something to say about this too? Oh, I forgot, you're just a music critic.

maura
maura

So you think that all of American discourse should be a race to the bottom, then?

Carlos
Carlos

?uestlove picked the right song, Fishbone is an amazing band, and as much as I love metal, far more talented and political than Megadeth. Fishbone's politics have always been on the left, while Megadeth's one attempt at making a political statement was their ludicrous anti-UN album cover, the stuff of right wing nutjobs. The only problem I see here is that ?uestlove apologized, he should have stood by his principles. When politicians lie, we should call them on it, especially if they're lying to get into the presidency and potentially take away our rights. Michelle is the last person who could cry sexism or any ism for that matter, she's anti-choice, anti-gay, and anti-woman, she wants an end to birth control and would potentially turn the clock for women back to 50s, she's not a martyr of the woman's movement and she certainly not a feminist. The song could have just as easily been directed to a male candidate, and so what if it wasn't, bitch is an equal opportunity insult. Try calling a man a bitch and see what happens, he'll be just as furious as a woman.

Marcos Da Rocha Carvalho
Marcos Da Rocha Carvalho

?uestlove picked the right song, Fishbone is an amazing band, and as much as I love metal, far more talented and political than Megadeth. Fishbone's politics have always been on the left, while Megadeth's one attempt at making a political statement was their ludicrous anti-UN album cover, the stuff of right wing nutjobs. The only problem I see here is that ?uestlove apologized, he should have stood by his principles. When politicians lie, we should call them on it, especially if they're lying to get into the presidency and potentially take away our rights. Michelle is the last person who could cry sexism or any ism for that matter, she's anti-choice, anti-gay, and anti-woman, she wants an end to birth control and would potentially turn the clock for women back to 50s, she's not a martyr of the woman's movement and she certainly not a feminist. 

Brian
Brian

what a waste of an article. Bachmann is a lying as bitch. that's that. shoutouts to the roots and ?uestlove. "curdled my mirth???"  really??? you are so full of yourself.

Gwenjoynyc
Gwenjoynyc

Had it been Michelle Obama it would have been inappropriate because Michelle Obama is not in politics and is not... Well a lying ass b*tch. Michelle Obama never gave a prepared speech saying the founding fathers fought to end slavery, never said HPV vaccine causes mental retardation, and never ran a clinic that give "gay to straight" therapy then denied it.

This is only during THIS campaign season, I'd be writing until next Tuesday if I listed all of the lies she's said publicly and on the House floor.

Zinovy
Zinovy

I don't think being specfic about gender is a sexist issue.  It was a well-placed and accurate-gender-specific derogatory term. Sure, nobody would call Rick Perry or Newt Gingrich 'bitch.'  That would be stupid and innacurate because of their gender.  They might be called dick or a-hole.  Michele Bachmann is one of the most polorizing fiqures in all of politcs.  She has made no bones about her dislike and contempt for 70% of the country, questioning anyone's patriotism who isn't a vicious right-wing false Christian. The term bitch is reserved for malicious women and Bachmann has displayed that continually.  Michelle Obama has not.  I want a personal apology from the queen of the Dunce Elite for questioning my patiotism.

Repdirt
Repdirt

i think the liar part is the bigger issue.her being the liar she is makes it way easier to call her a bitch.

Steve
Steve

zzzzzzzz.....

GHG
GHG

Fantastic article.  Another alternative:  Henry Rollins' "Liar"?

Rick
Rick

you call bachmann a bitch. you all the perry a dick. they're all useless. this is a non-issue.

Nate
Nate

Thank you, this nails it exactly.  As much as I love the tune to 'Lyin' Ass Bitch' and relish my memories of those mid-80s Fishbone shows I saw, I can never sing along (or hear the tag at the end) without squirming a little in discomfort.  This kind of stunt also just hands ammunition to the Fox News/right wing radio crowd and their continually bubbling brew of cultural resentment.

If Bachmann was really the first Presidential candidate this cycle to go on Fallon, what are the chances that any of the others will be willing to follow suit without strict riders and conditions on how they'll be treated?  Wouldn't surprise me at all if this stunt bought ?uestlove and his bandmates a little less freedom in their song selection for future guests.

Roxy Lonergan
Roxy Lonergan

awesome article.  there is nothing subversive about 1) inviting a political candidate on a talk show and giving them a free pulpit to discuss their agenda and 2) using a really limp, obscure, misogynistic thing to denigrate a woman.

Dj
Dj

I call BS on this.  You had no idea who Fishbone was before you looked them up to hear the song for the first time today on Spotify.  Did you also write an article about the use of "Princess Nancy" in the GOP debates?

Kristy
Kristy

Huh? Anyone born before 1988 knows who Fishbone is, and certainly a reputable music critic does. That's missing her point.

Innajunglestylee
Innajunglestylee

I think this guy's whole purpose for posting was to miss the point.

maura
maura

Uh, no, because this is a music blog?

Also, dear, I was listening to Fishbone before you were ever leaving crabby anonymous comments on the Internet.

Matt Tyson
Matt Tyson

sexism: not okay.ageism: totally cool!

visitor
visitor

Wouldn't that be reverse ageism?

maura
maura

Not being ageist! The Internet wasn't widespread in the late '80s! If this person had a CompuServe or Dow Jones account I'll retract my statement.

Chris Edwards
Chris Edwards

Much better track choice at the end of this article.

cma cma
cma cma

NBC’s Jimmy Fallon apologizes to Michele Bachmann for Roots’ song choice.

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