Jeffrey Morgan’s Media Blackout

This is in defense of Pete Townshend, who’d probably be the first to argue that he doesn’t need anyone defending him in public — least of all a rock critic half a world away. But that’s just the point: Thanks to the Information Superhighway and the proliferation of 24 hour news, entertainment and music channels, nobody is half a world away from anyone anymore.

These days nothing is private, which means that everyone is vulnerable and susceptible to being misunderstood — especially a "public figure" whose slightest foible or most grievous transgression is instantly transmitted to a world wide audience of billions, no matter how geographically isolated.

And it’s all possible because the "relay" that Pete envisioned back in 1971 does exist now. Today the story does travel on from you to me, twice as fast as on any freeway. It does get passed on. And because we’re all as close to each other as our electronic devices, a number of people all over the world have been passing on their own vociferous personal feelings of disappointment concerning Pete Townshend.

Does Pete care? Oh, I’m sure he does to a certain extent; perhaps even more than you might think and he might let on. After all, nobody who’s truly human ever likes to be thought of negatively — especially someone who’s walked down as spiritual a path as Pete has tried to for most of his life.

So when people bemoan the fact that every time they turn on the television these days it seems his songs are being heard on everything from the CSI franchise to car commercials, they’re sorely missing the point. This isn’t a Who sell out on Pete’s part. On the contrary, every time his music is heard — regardless of the context — it’s karmically affecting the entire planet in a positive manner.

If you don’t understand that, then chances are you’re probably one of those berks who mindlessly cheers every time Pete sings "It’s only teenage wasteland," never realizing that it’s not a complement but an indictment. You didn’t understand what Pete was saying back then and you still don’t understand what he’s saying now.

Listened to "The Seeker" lately?


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