By Jerry Bonkowski
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – I'm not a NASCAR hater. I actually love the sport and most of the people in it.
But because I can be extremely critical of things within the sport that I see as either hypocritical or downright wrong, I get labeled as a hater or troublemaker for focusing on the negative things.
It's funny how so many people forget that I also do write a lot of positive stories about the sport – actually I probably write 10 positive stories for every negative story.
And even if the topic I deal with was perceived as negative by some readers/fans of certain drivers – like some of the columns I've written about Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s struggles this season – I've taken great care and gone to somewhat of an extreme to remain fair in my comments by backing them up with statistics (as bad as they may be) and facts.
Recently, I've dwelled at length on a "negative," namely, the ongoing saga of Jeremy Mayfield and his battle with NASCAR over allegedly testing positive on a drug screen – as well as Mayfield's attempts to not only to get his indefinite suspension rescinded and redeem his good name – not to mention getting back on the racetrack.
Now, the last thing I want to do is be negative once again unless it's warranted, but you tell me if I'm wrong with what I'm about to say.
There is a rock band called Buckcherry that has had some moderate success over the roughly 10 years the band has been together.
Unfortunately, much of that so-called "success" has come from songs that contain blatant references to drug use and sexually demeaning women.
For example, one of the band's most recent "hits" – and I use that word very loosely – a song called "Crazy Bitch," mentions the F-word 13 different times, while also trumpeting how the female is such a good sex partner to be used for the satisfaction of the male in the song.
Some of the band's other songs over the years have included titles such as "Porno Star," "Slit My Wrists," "Dirty Mind," "Too Drunk" and "Stayin' High."
And then there was the band's first hit, "Lit Up" back in 1999, which has a great guitar riff if you're a metalhead, but also has lyrics that blatantly promote drug use, most notably, "I Love The Cocaine, I Love The Cocaine."
Now, call me crazy, but a band with that type of resume would be one of the last ones I would think NASCAR would want to be associated with – particularly in light of Mayfield's recent troubles or the sanctioning body trumpeting its new drug testing policy that went into effect at the start of this year.
Can you just imagine little Johnny asking his father during a TNT Sprint Cup race telecast what a "Crazy Bitch" is, or what it means to be "Lit Up"? That would go over real well on the home front, wouldn't it?
Who does TNT pick to promote its six-race TV coverage of Sprint Cup racing that begins in a few weeks at Pocono Raceway?
Yep, the same Buckcherry, which TNT trumpeted in a press release earlier this week: "TNT Teams with Grammy-nominated Buckcherry to Create Musical Anthem for the Network's NASCAR Summer Series."
That's all well and good, but let's clarify a few things:
First off, Buckcherry did not create any kind of anthem, as TNT claimed. The band is simply doing a remake of Deep Purple's 1972 hit, "Highway Star."
Second, I find it very ironic that in its press release, TNT, which refers to the band as "the Next Great American Band," brags about Buckcherry's Grammy nomination for its first Billboard Hot 100 and Pop 100 top-10 hit "Sorry" from the band's "15" album.
Yet, not one word was mentioned in that same press release about Lit Up, Crazy Bitch or any of the other songs I've mentioned.
Something tells me a well-paid advertising firm told TNT officials about this great up-and-coming band that would be perfect to build an ad campaign around – only that same ad firm may have conveniently left out a few key details about the band's history.
That same press release trumpets Buckcherry's most recent offering, "Rescue Me," which would seem to be an attempt by the band at becoming more mainstream – in other words, to become more popular and richer, obviously, by downplaying the drugs and sex.
Let me share an excerpt from that press release:
" 'Rescue Me' came about after (Buckcherry's) lead singer Josh Todd read Dave Pelzer's book, A Child Called 'It', about a horrific case of child abuse in California. Todd says of A Child Called 'It,'
'There were times when I had to put the book down because the abuse of this boy was so bad, but I felt like the book found me. … I was compelled to write this song out of inspiration from this guy’s incredible journey.' 'Rescue Me' is currently trending towards the top-10 on the Active Rock and Rock Radio charts and the band have created a PSA (Public Service Announcement) to support child abuse awareness and prevention as well as performed a benefit show for the Childhelp Organization."
Oh, puh-leeze! Excuse me while I gag.
Am I looking at this the wrong way? Is it so normal for rock bands to sing about drug use and exploitation of women as sex objects, that those same subjects should be overlooked by NASCAR in a high-dollar ad campaign?
I'd love to see some feminist or anti-drug groups take TNT and NASCAR to task. At the same time, frankly, I wonder if NASCAR had any knowledge about the band's history to begin with?
And, if I was Brian France, particularly in light of the Mayfield incident, I don't care how significant a "broadcast partner" TNT is. Would I really want to have my sport and sanctioning body associated with a band like that?
What are your thoughts? Tell me if I'm wrong to feel this way.