The Third Eye is Blind

Music plays a huge role within the OWS movement. My next few posts today are going to show just a few of them. This post features the sad truth of how people use music within the movement as a personal stage.

To start things off, we look to a man named Stephan Jenkins, from Third Eye Blind. Stephan Jenkins recently wrote a song about the OWS movement to perform acoustically live in Zuccotti park. Unfortunately as a fellow musician, I found myself incredibly disappointed with this video I came across on Youtube today. Music exists to bring people together, it truly is a universal language. It can change people’s lives.  Regrettably Stephan Jenkins merely used the OWS movement and his music as a staged bandwagon to hop right onto.

This was clear to me before this song even started in this video, as he hopelessly stumbled and stuttered over anything to say, and only generic “fight the power” words came out. And while I’m sure he touched many people’s lives with his hit songs back in the day, I fear this song he wrote is just an attempt to jog people’s distant memory of him. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with Mr. Jenkins, but he is certainly no songwriter. The lyrics for his song in the description of this video reveal this, with words like “if there ever was a time to get downtown and get nonviolent and fearless”. What? Furthermore a rather concerning part was the chorus itself: “oh where are the youth, we need you now come speak the truth, come break it down where are the youth, we need you now”. What do you need to be a famous pop star? The attention of the youth. And while it was smart for him to come attempt to reclaim his fame with the age groups that most recognized him from back in the day, the youth has moved on. Also the youth has little to do with those upset by being the 99%. The average age of these protesters are in their mid-thirties.

I’m sorry if you like Stephen Jenkins and his music, I know it seems like I have been drinking way too much hater-ade. But honestly, if you watch this video yourself, you will see the undeniable facts. Sneezing Pandas and laughing babies have millions of more views than this video, in fact is has less than 8,000. Stephan Jenkins wrote a…song, in an ill-attempt at some attention. Some celebrities have gotten away with things like this, it seems he is just not one of them.

Sarah

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8 responses to “The Third Eye is Blind

  1. I am with ya on this one. He’s washed up and starving for attention. You make a good point in saying that he is using OWS trying to appeal to the youth, and if you look at some of the corporate sponsors of OWS (entertainment industries, ice cream companies) they are trying to do exactly the same thing. Its almost as if the whole movement is trying to say “we don’t like what we have, sell us something new!”. Sorry Steve–Third Eye Blind is old news.

  2. I agree with both you and Sam. I feel like this is just an attempt to try to become relevant, just like many of the other “band-wagoners” (no pun intended). I also find it a bit hard to believe that Stephan Jenkins actually shares OWS’s ideals. I’m mean Third Eye Blind was a pretty successful band, and I don’t see him rejecting his social position to try to strive for a more equal distribution of wealth. Instead he is trying to indirectly increase his own wealth.

  3. coffeeshoprhino

    Sarah, Any examples of “good” protest music and how it has been used for a different perspective? Right now your post seems a little overly focused on the failed career of Jenkins instead of issues around OWS.

  4. Stephan Jenkins actually has an extended history of writing songs that deal with social issues (see “Wounded” and “Non-Dairy Creamer” for a few examples) including rape and homosexuality. The nature of the issues he addresses suggests that he is not a “bandwagon” jumper because there really is no bandwagon to jump on these other issues and these songs were not released as singles to gain attention. His band has also been touring since their peak in the 1990s and early 2000s with a strong and successful cult-following (in fact they are playing a sold out show in Columbus, OH tomorrow), which suggests that he does not write his songs to “re-claim” his fame (although neither one of us can define his motives for sure) because Third Eye Blind seems to be doing just fine financial- and popularity-wise.
    Instead of focusing on your personal vendetta against Jenkins, it would be really valuable to use your thorough investigation of the song to explain why it does or does not work within the movement. You do a good job of pointing out some lyrics that you feel do not quite represent the OWS cause, but the nature of songwriting is that it can be interpreted differently by different listeners; this is what makes music so powerful. You could do a really interesting expansion of this post by exploring the other side of the song…in what ways could it be useful to the movement? However, this would necessitate that you do a thorough and fair evaluation of Third Eye Blind as a band and Jenkins as a song-writer, beyond what you have heard of them on the radio recently (which is not an accurate representation of their success or popularity by any means) or how many views a singular song has on YouTube.
    Your critical analysis provides strong support for your argument but is severely one-sided. I would love to see an exploration of both sides of the issue at hand, you picked a really interesting topic here!

    • I agree with the above comment…you may want to revisit the language you used in your post, since much of it is loaded and makes your writing seem biased against Stephan Jenkins. I understand you are analysing a primary source, but I noticed a lack of evidence to support your claim…do you have articles to prove Jenkins / Third Eye Blind is a failure who has been forgotten by everyone. Also, what is your source for the statistic of the average age of protestors? If it is true they are in their thirties, does this necessarily mean the song will not find popularity with the “youth”? Just because teenagers (who are minors) are not commonly present at the protests does not mean they do not sympathise with the movement’s aims. Find more evidence to justify the claims you’ve made here.

  5. Here is a really informative video that you might want to take a look at. In it, Stephan Jenkins explains the politics behind his band and their history of addressing social issues in depth in an interview. Although it is only Jenkins’s opinion here, I think what he says really speaks against the argument that he wrote “If There Ever Was a Time” to get attention.

  6. I resent whenever a so-called “celebrity” throws out the “we as a culture/consumers are to blame for glamorizing violence and suffering” bilge. Really? Simply because one has written songs, (not very good ones) and sold albums, he believes he is now a relevant expert on American/Global politics? Actually, he is trying to sell records and has found the perfect “disaffected” wallet to tap into.

  7. SamT and kjonach: Thank you!
    Coffeeshoprhino: This post is greatly about Jenkins himself and his deal with the OWS movement. My next post will definitely be more focused on how music has been directly affecting the movement itself. 🙂
    Others: Thank you for your thoughts, as well. Keep reading my posts!

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