Since the release of his Goblin album last week, Tyler the Creator, Odd Future’s ringmaster and spokesman, has battled more than your usual brand of critics. After a run-in with the cops and a riot incited by a record signing, Tyler’s tendency to promote bad behavior seems to be becoming more than lyrical. But that doesn’t mean the lyrics are being left out of it. This weekend, a different type of battle began against Tyler and his fans, led by Sara Quin of the Canadian indie rock duo Tegan and Sara.
In an open letter released on Tegan and Sara’s website on Friday, Quin attacked Tyler for his slurs against women and homosexuals, but focused her disgust on the industry that supports him. In her post, entitled “A Call for Change,” Quin writes:
When will misogynistic and homophobic ranting and raving result in meaningful repercussions in the entertainment industry? When will they be treated with the same seriousness as racist and anti-Semitic offenses? While an artist who can barely get a sentence fragment out without using homophobic slurs is celebrated on the cover of every magazine, blog and newspaper, I’m disheartened that any self-respecting human being could stand in support with a message so vile.
In case anyone doubted who she was referring to, Quin made sure to note Tyler by name:
As journalists and colleagues defend, excuse and congratulate ‘Tyler, the Creator,’ I find it impossible not to comment. In any other industry would I be expected to tolerate, overlook and find deeper meaning in this kid’s sickening rhetoric? Why should I care about this music or its “brilliance” when the message is so repulsive and irresponsible?
Yet although Quin drops Tyler’s name, her anger centers on the journalists and scene makers that continue to jump on the Odd Future bandwagon, including prominent names like Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and even The New York Times. Sparing no harsh words, Quin accuses the music media of promoting Tyler out of fear of the “claim that [anti-Tyler] detractors are being racist, or the brush-off that not ‘getting it’ would indicate that you’re ‘old’ (or a faggot).”
Quin, both a woman and a lesbian, feels personally attacked by Tyler’s lyrics and message, and unfairly ignored by the music industry. She writes:
Who sticks up for women and gay people now? It seems entirely uncool to do so in the indie rock world…It is not without great hesitation and hand wringing that I enter into the discourse about Tyler, the media who glorifies and excuses misogyny and homophobia, and the community of artists that doesn’t seem remotely bothered by it. I can only hope that someone reading this might be inspired to speak out. At the very least, I will know that my voice is on record.
Tyler, of course, was inspired to speak. He chose to respond to Quin via his Twitter account on Sunday:
If anyone doubted the validity of Quin’s argument against Tyler, his vicious, immature, and straight-up disgusting response perfectly illustrates the hostility and disrespect Sara Quin describes. And while I wouldn’t expect anything else from Tyler the Creator, his response does confirm that his lyrics of hate have at least some basis in reality, which reflects badly on those who support him.
Torn, I want to grant Odd Future and Tyler the ability to fuck shit up without consequence and play without boundaries. It’s sort of refreshing to watch someone be completely irreverent (and yet be successful), and I think that’s the most attractive part of the Odd Future phenomenon for many of their followers. But this most recent revelation and response is incredibly unsettling.
With all the power Odd Future and Tyler are claiming in the hip community, their antics may be dangerously misconstrued as fun, but really be malicious. As much as I would like to believe otherwise, it’s starting to seem like this isn’t one big joke on the industry that we’re all in on. Instead, this could be the breeding grounds of hate and fear.Tags: a call for change, Goblin, homophobia, misogyny, Odd Future, open letter, racist, Sara Quin, Tegan and Sara, Tyler the Creator, tyler twitter