What politicians could learn from Jason Aldean and Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl
Swift explanations strike the perfect tone
In the last few days, the music world has had two episodes—one personal with Jason Aldean and one professional with the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl—that were dealt with directly and swiftly. As we head into the first presidential debate tonight, it seems to me that our politicians could learn a lot from how these issues were handled. In both cases, the artists acknowledged how important their voters, I mean fans, were to them and addressed the issues with clarity and, above all, honesty.
We’ll take the thornier one first. As Hitfix readers know, we don’t traffic in gossip, so we stayed away from reporting about country superstar Jason Aldean’s “run-in” with a woman at a bar in Los Angeles. But as you’ve probably seen by now, bright and early Sunday morning, photos of Aldean and former “American Idol” contestant Brittany Kerr appeared on TMZ. To use a beloved tabloid term, the two appeared to be “canoodling” just slightly more innocently than the level of the Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders. There were plenty of photos to incriminate Aldean, a married man, for acting inappropriately.
Within hours of the photos first surfacing, Aldean, who has a new album coming out Oct. 16, responded via Twitter and his FB page:
“I wanted to talk to you directly, so you were hearing the truth from me and not just reading allegations made about my personal life on gossip websites. The truth is that I screwed up. I had too much to drink, let the party get out of hand and acted inappropriately at a bar,” Aldean wrote. “I left alone, caught the bus to our next show, and that’s the end of the story. I ultimately ended up embarrassing my family and myself. I’m not perfect, and I’m sorry for disappointing you guys. I really appreciate being able to work through this privately with my family and for all your continued support.”
Here’s what Aldean did right:
*He tweeted the message instead of having it sent through his publicist, which, even though she undoubtedly held his hand in the process, gave it the feel that he was speaking directly to his fans, which is very important to country music fans who value the direct connect with artists.
* He owned up to his mistake without assigning blame to the photographers or Kerr or anyone else. He doesn’t say his actions were misinterpreted, nor does he feel any need to over explain. He takes responsibility and does not pass the buck.
*He stopped any potential rumors over whether their dalliance continued after he left the bar by stressing he left alone, etc... (of course, now he has a big old bullseye on his back and heaven help him if it comes out this was more than an isolated incident or there is more to this particular story).
*He apologizes without groveling to his fans, many of whom, according to message boards, seem all to willing to give him a pass and brand Kerr as a “slut” and “homewrecker.” He also mentions his family, but doesn’t apologize to them publicly as Stewart did to Rob Pattinson in her heartfelt, but cringeworthy, statement.
On Saturday, while playing the Global Citizen Festival in New York with his band the Foo Fighters, Grohl struck terror in the heart of the band’s fans when he announced from the stage that the band had no shows planned after this and “I don’t know when we’re gonna do it again.” Grohl said something similar when playing a U.K. festival this summer, but it didn’t set off the same panic.
Tuesday, aware that many fans wanted some clarification, Grohl’s publicist sent out a letter from him, which we originally ran yesterday.
Dave here. Just wanted to write and thank you all again from the bottom of my heart for another incredible year. (Our 18th, to be exact!) We truly never could have done any of this without you...
Never in my wildest dreams did I think Foo Fighters would make it this far. I never thought we COULD make it this far, to be honest. There were times when I didn't think the band would survive. There were times when I wanted to give up. But... I can't give up this band. And I never will. Because it's not just a band to me. It's my life. It's my family. It's my world.
Yes... I was serious. I'm not sure when the Foo Fighters are going to play again. It feels strange to say that, but it's a good thing for all of us to go away for a while. It's one of the reasons we're still here. Make sense? I never want to NOT be in this band. So, sometimes it's good to just... put it back in the garage for a while...
But, no gold watches or vacations just yet... I'll be focusing all of my energy on finishing up my Sound City documentary film and album for worldwide release in the very near future. A year in the making, it could be the biggest, most important project I've ever worked on. Get ready... it's coming.
Me, Taylor, Nate, Pat, Chris, and Rami... I'm sure we'll all see you out there... somewhere...
Thank you, thank you, thank you...
Here’s what Grohl did right:
*He thanks his fans in a way that is genuine...repeatedly.
*He assures the fans that this is a hiatus, not an end. He doesn’t have much more to say than he did on Saturday, other than to say that the Foo Fighters are “my life.” It’s nice to hear that a band means as much to the artist as it does to the fans. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel that way.
*He reassures, but doesn’t make any promises he can’t keep. Fans are no closer to knowing when they will get new music, if ever, from the Foo Fighters. There’s ambiguity and the fans have to live with that, but there’s also not the feeling that he’s leaving something left unsaid.
*Fans know where to find him. During the hiatus, he’ll be working hard on the documentary. He’s not disappearing.
Both of these statements could pass factcheck.org’s honest test.
As far as the latest dust-up between “American Idol” judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, we’ll leave that one to Nigel Lythgoe to figure out.
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