The musical performances at the Biden inauguration chime with America’s bankrupt culture
Michael McCaffrey is a writer and cultural critic who lives in Los Angeles. His work can be read at RT, Counterpunch and at his website mpmacting.com/blog. He is also the host of the popular cinema podcast Looking California and Feeling Minnesota. Follow him on Twitter @MPMActingCo
In a grand ceremony worthy of an ancient aristocrat, geriatric Joe Biden was yesterday sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. America has had an inauguration for the president every four years since 1789, making yesterday’s event the 59th in US history – and Joe Biden looks like he has attended every single one of them.
Four years ago, Trump’s low-rent inauguration celebration featured Toby Keith, Three Doors Down, and Lee Greenwood, which wasn’t a murderers’ row of talent so much as a ‘makes-you-want-to-kill-yourself’ lack of it.
I think we can all agree the last thing this country ever needs to see again is Lee Greenwood serenading the masses with his flag-fornicating hit from the Paleolithic era, ‘God Bless the U.S.A.’ – a heinously malignant earworm that makes me not just ashamed to be an American, but a sentient human being.
Not surprisingly, the stars came out in full this year to salute Joe Biden, who had considerably more star power on hand to ring him into office than Trump in 2017.
Case in point, Lady Gaga sang the national anthem at the swearing-in ceremony. The glorious Gaga, who has the voice of an angel and a face made for radio, arrived looking like she just came off The Hunger Games set. Her dress appeared to be a tribute to a venereal-disease polyp designed by Oscar de la Herpes.
Gaga gave her all – but the problem was that it was just way too much. Her heartfelt performance quickly devolved into an overwrought vocal spectacle that looked and sounded like a drag queen Brunhilde murdering an alpaca.
A short while later, Jennifer Lopez strutted out to sing ‘This Land is Your Land’ and ‘America the Beautiful’. If you needed any more proof that America was a vast cultural wasteland, just consider that Jennifer Lopez is now the Woody Guthrie of our era.
J-Lo also gave her all, but unfortunately it wasn’t nearly enough. Unable to utilize her most valuable ‘asset’, Ms. Lopez’s lack of vocal prowess was left as exposed as her backside was covered.
I imagine Biden loved the performance, though, and as J-Lo walked past, he quickly smelled her hair and declared, “I Love you, Charo!”
The final performer at the ceremony was Garth Brooks, who kept it country – Walmart country, by wearing jeans that were two sizes too small, a belt buckle the size of a Ford F-150 pick-up truck, a black blazer and a shirt with no tie.
Good old boy Garth sang ‘Amazing Grace’ in his usual banal country twang and proceeded to remind viewers that only in America can a minimally gifted, chubby, cowboy poseur become a chart-topping music mega-star.
Biden – again, I presume – was deeply moved by Garth’s song and proclaimed he was “so proud that Gene Autry could be here today at my First Communion.”
Later that night, the heavy hitters came out for a made-for-TV inaugural celebration titled ‘Celebrating America’.
The show opened with Bruce Springsteen doing an acoustic version of his song ‘Land of Hopes and Dreams’ at the Lincoln Memorial. For nearly 50 years, Springsteen has been the genuine voice of working-class America and is such a national treasure he should be named poet laureate emeritus. His performance was solemn, soulful, and stirring, and perfectly encapsulated this dire yet determined moment in American history.
The show went precipitously downhill from there.
Tom Hanks, America’s everyman – if everyman were a sanctimonious, self-satisfied, holier-than-thou billionaire – was the master of ceremonies.
Hanks was the perfect choice, since his filmography looks like a greatest hits of Pentagon and Intelligence community propaganda, as his films routinely sell flag-waving revisionist history and muscular American militarism, imperialism, and corporate colonialism all under the guise of honor and duty-bound niceness – just like Joe Biden.
Hanks turned the smug all the way up to 11 and did his best to reassure his “friends and neighbors” that all was well and life is now back to normal, thanks to Biden.
The highlights of ‘Celebrating America’ were easily the aforementioned Springsteen as well as the Foo Fighters – who played a striking rendition of ‘Times Like These’.
The lowest of lowlights was Jon Bon Jovi lip-syncing to his cover of The Beatles ‘Here Comes the Sun’. Bon Jovi’s nasal vocals were so abysmally, egregiously, hellaciously awful it was utterly astonishing. The fact he was lip-syncing only made it all the more embarrassing.
Lip-syncing dominated the festivities, with Ant Clemons and Justin Timberlake, Tyler Hubbard and Tim McGraw, Demi Lovato, Katy Perry, and maybe even John Legend all lip-syncing or being greatly electronically aided in their efforts.
Lip-syncing does make sense in this context, though, since the contrived performances perfectly encapsulated the charade that is our democracy.
Speaking of charlatans, presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama appeared on the show, apparently from the Hall of War Criminals. They each said their allotment of banalities that boiled down to how, despite their political differences, they had been able to come together and kill people across the globe and crush the working class, and we should do the same now, in the name of unity.
If the inauguration ceremony and ‘Celebrating America’ – with all its insipid, manufactured performances and star-spangled sappiness honoring our elderly president, who’s capable only of muttering or shouting incoherent inanities – are any indication, we are an artistically, intellectually, and politically bankrupt nation… and we are truly doomed.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.