I’ve been a fan of Michelle Shocked when I first saw her video for “When I Grow Up” on MTV back 1988. I bought Short Sharp Shocked and really enjoyed her countrified pop with a kind of punk underbelly. Indeed, I continued to buy her records until 1992…and then it was a kind of blur because of graduate school and Julie giving birth to Maya in ’96. Long story short: I really didn’t keep up with current releases. But that’s not the point of this post. Rather, it’s about Michelle Shocked anti-gay verbal vomiting at Yoshi’s in San Francisco. I mean, if you’re going to both make a stand and clear the room with your views on homosexuality, I suppose a landmark of gay culture is the place to do it. It’s just that I didn’t think Shocked would be the type of person to do that.
She was raised as a Mormon, but rebelled against that and became a kind of skate punk hillbilly with a guitar. She had a lot of success with that identity as a singer songwriter with an anarchist streak. Oh, and she said in print that she had been with women in a sexual way.
She married a man (Bart Bull) and was with him for about 12 years. She divorced him in 2004, continued to release an album every now and then, and became involved with the West Angeles Church of God in Christ. While it’s not clear to me if this church regularly preaches that famous sermon Jesus gave called “God Hates Fags,” it is a church that attracts a certain subset of Hollywood celebrities.
I think it’s pretty clear that I don’t know Shocked. I just know her music. But it seems to me that she’s been trying to find a strong identity that she can clothe herself in since she started recording music. “Skate punk hillbilly,” “Anarchist songwriter,” “Married woman,” “Devout believer in a narrow-minded view Christianity.” Plus, her stage name is Michelle Shocked, so it stands to a kind of career-minded reason that she would pull a stunt like this. According to one person (Matt Penfield) who was tweeting during the concert, it seemed like this was planned well in advance — but at least the first set was solid.
— Matt Penfield (@TheGuapo) March 18, 2013
Now, whatever the result of this (it will certainly push up interest in her music, her Wiki page, and her Google ranking), it’s certainly soured me on her music (like others who are fans of her songs). Shocked may have planned this to make a statement about what she believes (no matter how stupid and vile), and given her metaphorical bomb-throwing tendencies that go with her desire to find an identity, the irony is that she may be stuck with one that is far more ugly and reflective of part of the west Texas culture she was rebelling against all those years ago.