An Open Letter to Limp Bizkit
tom walsh

I heard one of your songs on the radio yesterday, a supposed remake of the Mission Impossible theme (you've killed it's original sound), and I have to say that it was just as negative and as much of a downer as I've heard your music is.  (I don't listen to your stuff because you have no melody, and melody is what I most like in music.)

The gist of the song comes in the lines, "I know why you want to hate me/because hate is all the world has ever seen lately."  You repeat these lines over and over again, some sort of mantra that you want the entire world to believe is true.

It's not true.

First of all, how many people do you think truly want to hate you?  I know of legions of people who dislike your "music" very much, who wish that their children and the children of friends weren't constantly exposed to the anger, violence, and aggression in your "music," much less your paranoia and neuroses.  That doesn't mean that they hate you, or that they even want to hate you; it means that they care for their kids, and they know that constant exposure to such destructive emotions and feelings as those you express is, indeed, destructive to their children who are trying to find their ways in life, and who are being shown negative aspects as a result of your asocial and paranoid fantasies.

Fortunately, most kids grow through this stage rather quickly and abandon your stuff immediately upon doing so (which says a lot about the quality of the stuff you make).  Your "music" and lyrics are very obviously marketing tools targeting a particular age group, and therefore can hardly be called "music" at all, so from here on, I'll refer to it as "product."

(Please keep in mind that your "success" is due to the target market and the number of records you sell, not to the quality of your product.  Ten years from now, your songs from today will be merely an unpleasant reminder of some of the weakest "musical" product our country has seen.  Even disco has lasted and is enjoying a comeback; you won't).

But back to your "song."  First of all, you've proven the point of many people with your line "I know why you want to hate me"--you have strong paranoid tendencies, and you're using this aspect of yourselves to sell records to kids who are confused about where they fit in in this world.  Instead of encouraging them, you're making them feel more isolated, just because that's how you feel.  Hate, though, is an extremely strong word that you obviously don't understand fully, or you wouldn't use it in this sense (except, of course, to get a rise out of your teen-age male audience).

I can think of no person in this world whom I hate.  There are many actions that I hate, and many ways of being that I hate (prejudice, spouse and child abuse, intolerance, violence, etc.), but that doesn't mean that I hate the people who are that way or who commit horrible actions.  Hate is a strong, destructive feeling, and when I hate a person, I'm destroying a bit of myself in the process, diminishing myself as a human being.  People who hate tend to be very unhappy, as their focus on the object of hatred keeps them from focusing on their own lives, keeps them from being productive and enjoying life.

Your use of words in this line is very insidious.  The words "I know" immediately give your listeners the idea that you're a credible source who has realized something and even thought it through, though this is obviously not the case.  Next, "why you want to hate me" is attributing thoughts and feelings to others that you can't even begin to prove are there.  Can you prove that anyone wants to hate you?  Only if they tell you in so many words, and even then, do they hate you or your product and what you're doing to affect their children?

But these words obviously serve your marketing purposes--you're further broadening the rift you've created between you and your idea of "the establishment," and you're also giving your adolescent male audience an idea that they can use as an explanation for any negative reactions to their actions on the part of parents or other authority figures in their lives.  How often do we hear adolescents claim that their parents "hate" them when the parents take them to task for something they've done?  How often do these kids claim that they "hate" their parents?  You're merely using these traits of teens to try to make them identify more strongly with you, and when that identification is strongest, they'll buy more records.

On to the second line:  "hate is all the world has ever seen lately."  This line is so wrong that it's tempting to call it stupid, but I'll stick with "ignorant," instead.

If you have any artistic integrity at all, if you wish to be at all accurate, you would change this line to "hate is all I choose to see in the world today."  All you choose to see.  There's an important distinction here.

I'm in Spain right now, and about an hour after I heard your "song" for the first time, I saw a news report about a Spanish doctor.  She's going down to Africa with a group of Spanish doctors to give medical help--free help, and she's receiving no pay from other sources--to people there who need it.  Can you really call this "hate"?  Newspapers and news programs very often run stories such as this one--do you not see them?  Or do you conveniently choose to ignore them?

The world is full of people giving their time, energy, and resources to help others.  Doctors and nurses heal; teachers teach; environmentalists try to keep our planet healthy; entertainers entertain; blood donors donate; police officers police our roads and neighborhoods to keep us safe; firefighters fight fires; some of these people risk their lives for the sake of others; many volunteer their time and energy and expertise with no pay involved.  And we can't forget the people who show love and kindness on a regular basis on a much smaller scale--the people who encourage others, who help them with homework, who work extra hours for others so that they can get something else done.

Is this hate?

Of course it isn't.

Your line, then, is completely wrong.  If we keep our eyes open and pay attention, we'll see that hatred makes up a miniscule portion of our daily lives, and that only people like you--people who choose to focus on hatred--seem to want to make it seem much more predominant than it truly is.  The major danger to us is in listening to those who, like you, want to claim that "hate is all we see," when in fact hate is rather rare.  Unfortunately, some people--especially among your target audience--consider you to be a credible source, and put credence in what you say.  Quite honestly, though, you have no credibility at all if you choose to ignore most of life in order to manipulate your target audience.

You're involved in a very lucrative business--the selling of anger and frustration to adolescent males--and you've been very successful at it.  But monetary success doesn't mean quality, nor does it give you credibility, nor does it make you admirable as "artists."  I'm really very sorry for you that you choose to make a living instilling negativity in our youth, but if they choose to listen to you, that's their choice.  I can only hope that one day you'll open your eyes and minds to the beauty and caring in the world, and cast off the negative ignorance that permeates your "songs."  Only then will the youth who listen to you get something to take with them that will affect them in positive ways, and that will help them throughout their lifetimes.


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