During the 1990s, his rock band conquered the charts with a string of smash hits. Now, acclaimed rock musician Billy Corgan has a new target: social justice warriors and the “narcissists” of social media.
In a no-holds-barred interview with Alternative Nation, Corgan, the frontman for The Smashing Pumpkins, criticised social media for encouraging outrage culture, political tribalism, and slavishness to the state. He also criticised Facebook and other social media companies for being too close to “big government.”
Corgan even had words for Breitbart’s open comment section:
The social media construct is cuddly and fuzzy for a reason… True democracy is uncomfortable. This is not uncomfortable. Look no further than some post from the New York Times and read the comments. Go on Breitbart and read the comments. It’s all right there, it’s all you need.
Following the trend of an increasing number of celebrities and entertainment figures, Corgan also threw down the gauntlet to the “social justice warriors” of the internet, and their chilling effect on artistic expression.
If you have people like Jerry Seinfeld come out and saying, “It’s not worth playing at colleges anymore because social justice warriors will be all over you the moment you step out of line.” So you’re right about a comedian using Facebook or a musician using Facebook, but I guarantee you the minute they put something up that doesn’t align with the social justice mob mentality, the risk is too high. So you have a watering down of diversity and homogenizing of general messaging. That, as an artist, is death.
Corgan also displayed some distinctly anti-government views, criticising social media for their closeness to the state and attacking the mainstream media for their slavishness towards the Obama administration.
They [Facebook] are too tied into big government. The government is literally in league with these big social media companies becasuse they are mining the data! Why do you think Mark Zuckerberg learned Chinese? Whatever happened to this talk about ‘the government this’ and ‘the press that,’ that’s all gone out the window. Again, money rules, power rules.
I find that I read the mainstream websites because I want to see, basically what are the marching orders. It is pretty interesting to see the White House press a button and how the mainstream media verbatim with very little questioning factor that propaganda out. Maybe less in the past year but still pretty hot [sic], in the way the White House can dictate the conversation. Drudge is good but obviously he is right leaning and/or libertarian. I tried for awhile to read more leftist stuff… but I don’t know… I’m at a point now, I don’t know if if it’s the Salons of the world, I just can’t read it. Because I feel my intelligence is being insulted. Maybe that’s just where I am politically in my life, I just can’t have my intelligence insulted.
In airing such non-conformist views in the leftist world of arts and entertainment, it could be argued that Corgan is taking a risk. Celebrities often toe the progressive line to avoid backlash. But Corgan is not alone: a growing number of high-profile entertainers and artists have slammed the progressive left over the past year, including Jerry Seinfeld (who Corgan explicitly references), Chris Rock, and Eli Roth.
Corgan’s unapologetic comments are another sign that social justice warriors advanced too far and too fast over the past few years. Initial victories, such as the firing of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich and the imposition of so-called “safe spaces” on campuses, have been met with a growing counter-movement. From the founding of the politically tolerant Heterodox Academy and the growth of cultural libertarianism, to GamerGate and the growing revolt of entertainers and celebrities against outrage culture, the tides of the culture war no longer flow solely in the social justice warrior’s favour.