The Hate Parade

In their classic soul ballad, the Persuaders persuaded pop fans that "there's a thin line between love and hate." In their fine cover of that classic soul ballad, Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders pretended to agree. But the truth of the matter is that there's a wide gulf between love and hate in the world of rock and roll.

Love gets you favors, conversations, kisses, maybe a free meal now and again. Hate gets you a swift kick in the ass from the steel-toed boot of disrespect. That's why rock critics, even highly exercised critics, try to buffer their complaints with facts and analyses. Critics may long for the freedom to write a review like the famous two-word dismissal of Spi¬nal Tap's Shark Sandwich LP: "Shit sandwich." But even when we hate a band -- hate it worse than the Hatfields hated the McCoys, worse than Seinfeld hates Newman -- professional standards demand that we not fire at random.

Maybe that's why the Internet's rock hate pages are such a find.
To those in the know, Internet buzzwords ("interactivity" and "push technology" and "digital community") do little to conceal the fact that most online communication takes the form of mudslinging. Much of that mud is slung, of course, at celebrities. Politicians, actors, athletes -- they all get theirs in newsgroups and discussion forums. But the most zealous forms of Net malice, like the most zealous forms of praise, are reserved for pop stars.

Who tops the hate parade? Answering that question is as easy as answering the question "What British, all-female, singing/dancing quintet has earned the derision of critics from the moment it came into being right up until this fall, when its members were booed off the stage at a Spanish awards show?" There are at least two dozen anti-Spice Girl pages on the Net, including the subtly antagonistic Death to the Spice Girls (www.vianet.net.au/~jee). Why so much opposition?

Because fans think -- well, all right, they know -- that the Spice Girls are talentless hacks assembled by a manager for the sole purpose of moving units. They're even more soulless than New Kids on the Block, who were even more soulless than the Monkees. Don't agree? Check out the Horrible Truth About the Spice Girls (www.cybercomm.nl/~sanderh/spice2.htm), which provides indisputable evidence that the Spice empire is "a very sneaky conspiracy plotted to undermine the sanity of normal people."

The most creative hate page is the Anti-Spice Fan Fiction Archive (www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Club/6620), which collects Spice-hating literary parodies of Dr. Seuss and "The Night Before Christmas" ("The moon on the fake breast of Geri the Slut/Was uglier than my grandfather's butt/So I knew I was right, I had made the right call/But soon those Spice Whores, they all must fall").

But even the Spice Girls know that parodic doggerel is the last refuge of a scoundrel. If you really want to get your catharsis working, head over to Slap a Spice Girl (www.urban75.com/Punch/spicebelt.html), a Shockwave game that lets you Ike Turner the five perky popettes into submission. The more you go medieval on the chosen Spice Girl, the more bloodied and bowed she becomes. But be careful: Spice girls fight back. If you could play a game about hitting women without letting its covert authorization of misogynistic violence seep into your subconscious (note to O.J.: You can't), Slap a Spice Girl would provide you with hours of fun.

On the continuum of bloodthirsty dictators, Hitler is more hated than Stalin, and Stalin more hated than Pol Pot. In the world of peppy, pap-and-pablum pop stars, the Spice Girls are Hitler.

Stalin, though, comes creeping in the form of three adorable all-American teens. "If Hanson is not the closest thing we have to a biological weapon," said President Clinton last month, "then I didn't not ask Paula Jones to refrain from not performing oral sex on me on that fateful day when I either was or was not in her presence." Or something.

The teenyboppers with the flaxen hair and the hex on America's youth are about as beloved online as Bill Gates. Anti-Hanson pages like Things That Go Bop in the Night(www.angelfire.com/ak/strelane/bopni.html) have what you'd expect -- parodies of "MMMBop," gentle jabs at the brothers' strong family life, outlandish rumors that attempt to discredit the trio ("Taylor is an alien who has been sent to Earth to EAT OUR BRAINS!").

What you might not expect is that many Hanson pages go in for something quite a bit worse than immoderate music criticism -- namely, a sort of modified gay-baiting that equates the brothers' pretty-boy looks with homosexuality and then equates homosexuality with unacceptable, immoral behavior that deserves to be wiped from the planet like any other plague. Kill the Queers (www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Palladium/8152/killhanson.htm) is typical of this species, with crude graphics and even cruder language ("Half of the globe is infested with pitiful teeny morons who worship the three whiny-no-heiny pansies," including "Taylor the PMS-ing Harpy," "Zac the Overgrown Tuna-Smelling Rat," and "Isaac the Mutated Monster Goat"). So rampant is this trend that a perfectly respectable hate page like Humans Against Hanson (www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Stage/9746) is forced to carry a disclaimer that it is "nonviolent and nonhomophobic." Just remember: First they come for Hanson, then they come for you.

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