The Hate Parade

The Spice Girls and Hanson aren't the only acts to have earned online antipathy. Coming in a distant third, but still generating enough hate to light a small bonfire of his compact discs, is Fort Lauderdale-bred shock-rocker Marilyn Manson. Though Manson has his defenders -- especially after the religious right selected him as a whipping boy -- not everyone is charmed by the bargain-basement G.G. Allin. One self-identified heavy metal fan has created a page called Marilyn Manson Is a Tool ( html). The site opens with a heartfelt statement of purpose: "I've kept quiet for long enough. For the past few years I've watched a person with even less music talent than John Tesh rise to popularity. This piece of shit refers to himself as the Reverend Marilyn Manson and the sight of his face makes me vomit. I've constructed this site as a haven to the thinking individuals of this planet who can see Manson as he really is." Edmund Wilson would be proud.

And speaking of new-age pariah John Tesh, America's favorite former Entertainment Tonight anchor is the subject of an interactive page ( dragon/tesh.html) that lets visitors submit their own observations ("Because everybody in the world agrees that John Tesh is an asshole, maybe it will help bring unity").

British Nirvana emulator Bush and British Beatles emulator Oasis also catch their share of electronic flak. But compared to the tsunamis of anathemas that rubble the villages of Spice and Hanson, opposition to Manson, Bush, and Oasis is limited to the usual carping about image-making, money-grubbing, and mediocre songcraft. Ho-hum.

There's even a stratum beneath this uninspired dislike -- the out-of-date potshots taken at lame-duck suck-rockers like Hootie and the Blowfish (At A Very Hootie Christmas, the page creator details his Yuletide wish for "the destruction of the musical menace known as Hootie and the Blowfish") and Alanis Morrisette (Attack Alanis offers a low-concept version of Slap a Spice Girl that loads a series of pictures of an increasingly bloodied Alanis).

While Spice-hate and Hanson-hate are sophisticated, complex social phenomena that display admirable levels of energy and creativity, the sad-sack retaliation against Morrisette and Hootie just makes you pity the page designers and like the singers more. Isn't that ironic?

Far more interesting than these predictable anti-Alanis broadsides are the pages that set their sites on revered rock acts. The Beatles, for example, are the subject of the disrespectful, disreputable, and thoroughly dyspeptic Help! The Beatles Suck ( ~exclsior/beatles/index.html), which dedicates itself to debunking the legend of "the most overrated band in the history of rock and roll."

In addition to an essay that takes the Fab Four to task for "suit-and-tie dopey pop" and "high-concept indulgence," the page contains an inversion of the most intriguing debate in all Beatledom: Who was the least talented Beatle? Not Lennon: "At least he had enough respect to get himself killed, so we don't have to worry about any more shit coming from this one." Not Harrison: "That 'Got My Mind Set on You' bit a few years back almost had George beat out Paul on the list. One or two more of those and he'll definitely take the title." Not even recent classical music failure McCartney: "Paul and Linda's 'I know what's best so I'm not going to serve meat at my concert' shit definitely brings them up to second place. They can both kiss my ass. I hope Ted Nugent hunts them down and mounts them on his wall." No, moptop mockers -- the least talented Beatle is ol' gherkin-nose himself: "How the hell did this guy get the job? Were the other three so fucked up at the time that Ringo actually sounded good to them? What's the difference between Ringo and a stopped watch? The watch is actually on time twice a day." Visit this page if you think that the group's 1970 breakup was eight years too late.

And finally, there's the charming "ate my balls" phenomenon, a Net-specific brand of humor. Ate-my-balls jokes are crude forms of bricolage, pages on which Web designers take a picture of a celebrity and doctor it so that the resulting image catches that star eating testicles -- or at the very least, thinking about it. The genesis of the genre was Mr. T Ate My Balls, a 1995 page with a comic book image of the A-Team star and a caption in which the mohawked crimefighter orders a punk to "Gimme your balls, fool." Since that page went up -- it's still online, at www. -- ate-my-balls humor has, um, exploded across the Net. It's something of a time-honored (or at least time-tolerated) Web tradition, half tribute and half insult, and the ate-my-balls ranks have swelled (no pun intended) to include in their huge satirical scrotums (again, no pun intended) Michael Jordan, Barney, Boba Fett, Beavis and Butt-head, Ellen DeGeneres, Superman, Snoopy, Shaquille O'Neal, Homer Simpson, Howard Stern, Salma Hayek, Ronald Reagan, Scooby Doo, Woody Allen, Timothy McVeigh, and even disgraced nanny Louise Woodward ("There's no doubt. She's guilty ... of eating my balls!").

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