By Jason Menard,
For a show called Glee, there’s certainly a lot of anger surrounding this show floating around the Internet — a lot of anger, but a stunning lack of common sense.
At the heart of it stands show creator Ryan Murphy, who taken up the standard for his show and, like a protective parent, is fighting back against those who don’t think his brainchild is the greatest thing in the world. In his crosshairs: Kings of Leon and Slash, formerly of Guns ‘n Roses.
The arguments have descended into puerile name calling at best – and homophobic slurs at worst. But what’s lost in all of this is the simple fact that artists should be allowed to do what they want with their music. Glee is a TV show; and while they may do a Mahalia Jackson-themed episode one day, a request to use a song by the show’s producer is certainly not gospel.
Now, there are nicer ways to say no than how Nathan Followill and Slash did. Followill unleashed an anger-fuelled tweet hitting back at Murphy (who had said F-you to the Kings of Leon in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter) that, despite his protests to the contrary, were stereotypical and offensive, if now downright homophobic. Slash compared Murphy’s show unfavourably to Grease – a movie/play he obviously has no love for — in rejecting the opportunity to have their songs on Glee.
So, instead of taking the high road, Murphy’s huffing and puffing (and swearing up a storm), calling Kings “self-centered assholes” and insinuating that Slash is uneducated, stupid, and washed-up.
All because two bands exercised their rights to choose.
If an artist controls the rights to their back catalogue, then they get the right to choose how their music is licensed. If they want to sell it for a commercial, great. If they don’t, that’s their choice. They get to choose with whom or with what their music and their brand are identified with.
Sure, there are some people out there who will reject Glee outright for whatever reason. Some people are stuck in that high-school mentality where only certain music is ‘cool’ and if you like something else, that’s wrong. Usually, you hope people grow out of that and learn to appreciate music in all its forms. Some people don’t.
Others may reject the show because they just don’t like it. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not a Gleek, but my wife and kids are. Ryan, you like your show. Great. So do millions of others. Be happy with that. So what if the Followills don’t? Or if Slash doesn’t tune in? There are millions of other people who don’t watch your show. It’s fine. It’s called choice.
And if Kings of Leon and Guns ‘n Roses don’t want to let you use their music, that’s OK too. I’m sure there are tonnes of other bands out there who would love to expose their work to your audience.
However, I’ve yet to read the law that states “When Ryan Murphy requests that a band’s music be included on his show, then the only acceptable answer is ‘Yes’ upon penalty of being on the receiving end of a temper tantrum.”
I’m hoping Murphy’s rants are solely motivated by the desire to gain publicity for his show. In an ideal world, these negotiations would take place behind closed doors and if a band says ‘no’ then both parties walk away with no hard feelings. I hope that’s the case because if it isn’t then Murphy’s coming across as a whiny little brat.
In the end, you’ve got a good little thing going on there with Glee, Ryan. Perhaps you should be happy with that. Not everyone has to be on board — nor do they have to be.
When you create any content — whether it’s music, prose, or other forms of art — you, as the creator want to control where and how it’s represented. It’s safe to say that I don’t want any of my writing conscripted by anyone without my permission. And that’s my right. Nor would anyone begrudge me for choosing to not allow my writing to appear somewhere that represents an organization that I don’t support.
Yes, Glee is fluff. Yes, Murphy et al. are making a mountain out of molehills. But while the show may be light-hearted fare, the issue creative control is not.