Ted Nugent, the loony, washed-up rocker, is in trouble again for making inflammatory (and potentially threatening) remarks about President Barack Obama.
Nugent reacts during an interview before a concert at the House of Blues at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas
During an appearance at a St. Louis convention of his beloved National Rifle Association, “Uncle Ted” said that if Obama is re-elected in November, Ted would either be “dead or in jail” by next year, suggesting that he might try to kill the president. The comment was so outrageous that U.S. Secret Service agents are reportedly going to meet with the ‘Motor City Madman.’
Mitt Romney, the likely Republican presidential candidate who received Nugent's endorsement, came under pressure to refute Ted (he did very tepidly without mentioning Nugent's name).
But this is nothing new – Ted has long made egregious remarks about Obama, as well as Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and many other people he detests.
One thing you must remember about Nugent is that he is, first and foremost, an entertainer whose primary concern is to remain in the public eye.
It is very hard for a 63-year old rock musician to remain relevant decades after his musical career evaporated.
Thus, it’s all an act on Ted’s part – or, partly an act.
There is no doubt that Ted loves playing guitar, hunting in the great outdoors and bragging about what a wonderful human being he is – these are all genuine sentiments.
But the rest of the hyperbole is designed to provoke, outrage, and entertain the masses.
And he does that very well.
How many rock-and-roll dinosaurs get as much media ink as Ted does?
In terms of rock-and-roll history, Nugent is a rather minor figure. He is basically known for two great songs: “Cat scratch fever” (from the colossally successful late 1970s album of the same name) and the bizarre love song “Wango Tango.”
But now, as far as music is concerned, he is a pariah who is forced to appear at no-name festivals, state fairs and fairgrounds in small cities around the country to perform (there is always an audience for 1970s rock). He no longer gets big-time gigs, nor does the music establishment want much to do with him.
Ted was indeed a major rock star in the 1970s heyday, but his style (which really didn’t change or evolve much) lost its mass appeal sometime in 1980s (when many other rock musicians of his generation also disappeared).
I think at that point, a desperate Ted decided he needed to do something to remain a celebrity.
He looked at the grim “market” for aging rockers, but eventually found his “niche” – that of a rock guitarist who loves the Republican Party, loves guns, loves the Constitution, loves the military, loves hunting, hates hippies, hates drugs, hates Communists, hates liberals, hates feminists and hates vegetarians.
Imagine Archie Bunker with long hair playing heavy metal guitar and shooting deer in his spare time and boasting about it – pretty bizarre, right?
But it was this unique, original niche that Ted identified and has occupied like a prince for at least the past two decades.
Indeed, how many “conservative” rock stars are there really? Ted took all the clichés of rock stardom and turned them upside down -- and created the unforgettable, frustrating and wildly entertaining character he is today.
I think it was mostly planned --- but he is carrying it off with tremendous aplomb.
It is impossible to be apathetic about Ted Nugent – one either loves him, or hates him (I’m not sure which side is larger).
He is unlike any other celebrity out there.
Moreover, being a (former) rock superstar gives him a kind of “cache” even among those people who loathe his right-wing politics.
Ted is highly intelligent, wildly erudite and unfailingly entertaining. How many rock stars do you know that effortlessly use polysyllabic words like “recidivist”?
On the other hand, he is also a huge hypocrite – a rock star who hates drugs? I don’t believe for one second that he has been “clean and sober” for the past four decades as he claims. He was also a Vietnam War draft-dodger, who now embraces the military and everything it stands for, while excoriating anti-war protesters and that ilk.
While watching TV interviews of Ted, I am mesmerized by him. He is basically spewing propaganda – much of which sounds rehearsed. He often repeats the same phrases like “self-government,” “spirit of the wild” and ”we the people.”
In this sense, he is much like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore – an ideologue who brooks no opposition and is mostly concerned with remaining rich and famous. Thus, he remains resolutely polarizing because it pays to be polarizing. Nobody would care about him if he came across as reasonable, calm and compromising.
Whether you love or hate Ted, you must admit that he has enjoyed almost unprecedented longevity and prolonged celebrity far beyond the true value of his talent.
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