The Tentative Apologist
4/19/11 at 01:32 PM 0 Comments

Rock stars have feelings too: My encounter with Kip Winger

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I have a few modest claims to fame. Back in 1991 I saw Chris Rock at a suburban shopping mall in L.A. My friend and I followed him for three stores until the body guard started eyeballing us.

Next, when I lived in London my home was a block or two away from one of the homes of Charles Dickens.

And that's about it, I guess.

Actually, that's not about it. Yesterday I got a new notch on my belt: two emails from Kip Winger!! (You know who I'm talking about: lead singer of the glam metal band "Winger" who hit it big right around half way through the presidency of George Bush Sr.) Admittedly the circumstances were not optimal. The catalyst for the contact was the following discussion of Mr. Winger's song "Seventeen":

But how blurred the criteria of social condemnation can be. In the late eighties the glam metal band "Winger" had a song called "Seventeen" in which the slimy lead singer Kip Winger crooned of bedding down with a girl perhaps in her senior year in high school. "Mamma says she's too young, but she's old enough for me!" he wailed smugly. And that was apparently okay. After all, the song climbed the charts.

Mr. Winger's objections were threefold. First, he's not a pedophile. Second, he's not slimy. And third, I got the lyric wrong: it's "Daddy says she's too young," not "Mamma."

Now before I continue let's give credit where credit is due. Imagine if, when I was in high school back in 1990, I passed a note to a friend in English class accusing Mr. Winger of these social improprieties. And then Kip Winger walked into my English class, grabbed the note out of my friend's hand, read it, and said to me: "Dude, I'm not slimy, and you got the lyric wrong!" I mean stuff like that just didn't happen back then. So the credit for this really has to go to the Internet.

Once I got over the initial surprise I had to deal with Mr. Winger's charges. But first I should note the tone. He was a bit ticked off, yes, but under the circumstances he didn't sound all that angry.

Anway, back to those charges. I did get the lyric wrong. Now you might be cynically thinking "Daddy, mamma, who cares? It ain't Shakespeare." But really there is no excuse for sloppiness. It's like when I quoted Carl Sagan a couple years ago as referring to the universe when he actually said "cosmos". I want my students to get their quotes right so the least I could do is aspire to the same standard!

Now for the pedophile charge. If you read the excerpt you'll see that I don't explicity say the song is pedophilic. But I did point out that we have different standards of social propriety for celebrities and average people. Even more importantly, I pointed out that we have different standards for others and ourselves. (The post finished with that punch in the stomach where critic Roger Ebert comes dangerously close to affirming a doctrine of original sin.) So it is not a fair reading to see the article as accusing rock stars of pedophilia. (Mr. Winger seemed to agree with this on his second email.)

Finally, on to the middling charge of being "slimy". That too requires a retraction. I actually was going to make the following distinction in the original post but I opted not to bother: I submit that the song lyrics are indeed slimy, as is the performance of the song in the original rock video. But we must distinguish the performance from the performance artist. I don't know Mr. Winger but in light of his testimony that he most emphatically is not slimy, I'll willingly go along with that. Got it? Slimy song. Not slimy singer.

A final point should be made in my defense however. Even though I called Mr. Winger slimy, the context made it clear that it was Mr. Winger circa 1989 when his song "Seventeen" was popular. Even in the original post I wasn't suggesting that Mr. Winger circa 2011 is slimy. After all, in 1989 I was a moron who drank slurpies outside the 7-11 but I've move on.

So that's it. My third brush with fame. Who would have thought a bit of cultural criticism and theological analysis would yield a brush with rock star royalty of yesteryear? One thing I have learned: evocative and incautious insults in an obscure blog can attract the attention of the rich and famous.

Now about Barack Obama being a Muslim...

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