By now, much of the music world has heard about veteran folk singer Michelle Shocked's deplorable rant in San Francisco from earlier in the week. Almost everyone has weighed in on it and to put it bluntly, her career is on life support.
Here's a quick recap for those of you who don't know: During her encore at her show at Yoshi's, the singer went on an unsolicited and extremely uncomfortable anti-gay tirade that had some at first thinking it was a crude joke before the crowd completely turned on her and the venue cut her mic.
"When they stop Prop 8 and force priests at gunpoint to marry gays, it will be the downfall of civilization, and Jesus will come back," she said to the stunned crowd. "You can go on Twitter and say, 'Michelle Shocked says God hates fags.'"
Listen to the audio here below.
Needless to say, the rest of the singer's tour vanished into thin air, much like her career.
While everything about the singer who once called herself "an honorary lesbian" and even used her ambiguous sexuality to appeal to many gay and lesbian fans, no one should be surprised about the career torpedoing actions of a singer. Yes, the subject manner, the city and setting where it took place are certainly appalling and dumb beyond belief, but Shocked's actions shouldn't surprise anyone. Musicians have been taking controversial stances and have been taking on their fan bases throughout music history (examples: Bob Dylan becoming born again, Dixie Chicks vs. George W. Bush etc), but this one was unprovoked and the timing as perplexing as the rant itself.
Remember a gal named Sinead O'Connor? Remember her tearing up a photo of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live? Well, yeah, that caused just as big of a backlash back in 1992 that this is causing today. The big difference is O'Connor was an up-and-comer who was derailed and eventually built a cult following. For Shocked on the other hand, this is likely the last the mainstream public will ever hear from Shocked again. (Side note: While it could be argued that is a publicity stunt, anyone who would say this to get publicity is a shortsighted idiot and I don't think this was a PR stunt by any stretch)
The singer has since backpedaled from the incident, probably by the negative venom that's been spit her way. Yet judging by the audio above, the only thing she's probably sorry about is that she got caught and caused such a backlash. It's hard to imagine how a singer in the age of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube can make comments like these and NOT expect people to find out.
Congratulations on your hateful, insensitive, divisive comments Michelle Shocked. I'll be shocked if she ever has a career outside of performing for far right groups since she's obviously abandoned her core fanbase. Until the next musician has an epic meltdown on stage, Shocked will be used as a textbook example for years to come of how a musician can ruin 20-plus years of goodwill in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, she won't be the last.
Daniel Kohn is a writer based in Southern California. With bylines in an assortment of outlets, Kohn primarily specializes in music with other interests ranging from sports to food. As a transplant, Kohn loves the beautiful weather and is glad he no longer has to deal with brutal winters. If you see him, say hi and of course, he’s always willing to down a beer or two…if you’re paying.