On a day filled with sincere tributes, the crazy change of pace that absolutely no one asked for: The Daily Mail’s bizarre, posthumous takedown of Lou Reed, entitled “A VERY debauched walk on the wild side.” In a nutshell, they’re glad Reed is gone and wish it had happened sooner.
“For a man who made no apology for a life lived at full throttle, the harvest took a long time coming,” Tom Leonard writes, citing lyrics like “Feeling sick and dirty, more dead than alive” as clear evidence that Reed intentionally glamorized drug use throughout his life and career and “and exerted a deeply dubious influence over his many fans.” And look, there probably are a few people out there who have taken unfortunate substance-related cues from Reed and other musicians, that’s a conversation that can be had. But, as Henry Stewart wrote after the Post‘s similarly ghoulish post-mortem jab at James Gandolifini, “There’s a way to report that someone struggled with addiction problems that suggests sympathy and maybe influences others with similar problems to seek help, and there’s another way to do it that suggests superiority and shames the dead.”
The piece does spread its shame around, though, criticizing Reed for “crude allusions to oral sex” in “Walk on the Wild Side,” his “bizarre relationship with a transsexual Mexican hairdresser called Rachel” (the relationship that inspired much of Coney Island Baby), his bisexuality in general, “his signature habit of always wearing sunglasses indoors,” the fact that he sometimes wore eyeliner, “his insistence on wearing drainpipe leather trousers and large sunglasses,” being born to middle class parents, and “reducing Susan Boyle to tears” when he wouldn’t let her sing “Perfect Day” on Britain’s Got Talent (sadly, he relented on that last point pretty quickly). In sum, they really hated him, everything he represented, and probably everyone who actually liked him. Maybe the Daily Mail even hates you? Just wait until you die, and then they’ll let you know.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.