Third Eye Blind: The Critical Controversy Continues

As evidenced by the flotilla of news stories and advertisements, Third Eye Blind has a new album coming out. This has sparked much debate on the indie rock interwebs as to the artistic legitimacy of a band whose last successful album was released in 1997 and whose lead singer spawned a generation of fast-talking/singing musicians (hello, Jason Mraz).

Over on New York Magazine's Vulture blog, former Blender music editor Rob Tannenbaum comes out in support of the band, disparaging those who would attribute record sales to a lack of artistic importance. "The huge success of their debut proves what a great band Third Eye Blind is," he states, "and their lack of success since then proves what a great band Third Eye Blind is... Alt-rock bands sought big audiences by infiltrating the Top 40, and no one was better at that than Stephan Jenkins." Beyond criticizing the indie rock critical establishment for focusing on the obscurity of a musician or band, Tannenbaum goes on to explain the ways in which Third Eye Blind mixed rap and rock in a unique, innovative way that departed from the ubiquitous rap-metal wave of the late 90s.

While these arguments are undoubtedly legitimate and worthy of discussion (even I tire of dealing with the latest and greatest niche band that immediately fades into obscurity), the way in which Tannenbaum writes off lead singer Stephan Jenkins' attitudes towards women is offensive, to say the least. He categorizes them as satire, and says, "How could Stephan be a dick? Charlize Theron dated him and she’s beautiful." The logic fails to follow. Discussing Jenkins' lyrics: "He praises one girl who gives him head and greets him “face down on the mattress” but dismisses another who brings him down with “your pissed-off poets, your womens' groups.” Tannenbaum chalks this up to Jenkins' living in San Francisco. Really?

Third Eye Blind had their fair share of hooks, and people shouldn't be made to feel ashamed of liking them just because the indie juggernaut prefers niche bands to those in the Top 40. However, sexism in any form should be questioned and discussed, not written off. Tannenbaum takes the easy road out, bringing up Jenkins' sexism and then dismissing it and moving on without further discussion. His justification for Third Eye Blind's misogynistic lyrics is half-assed and sexist in and of itself. Takes one to know one, evidently.

Third Eye Blind: The Critical Controversy Continues