08 November 2005

Heroes & Villains

At some point in the 20th century, our perception of good
and evil underwent a radical change.

Indeed, at the very heart of the modernist movement lies the
notion that good and evil cannot be so easily separated and
defined -- as one would find in a traditional melodrama or
fairytale. Every human being has the capacity for good or evil
(so we believe) and it is unrealistic to portray any character as
simply a hero or villain.

Unless they are a member of The Beach Boys.

Beach Boys member Mike Love has filed a lawsuit
against former band mate Brian Wilson over Smile,
the famously unfinished Beach Boys opus that Wilson
completed and released on his own last year to much
acclaim, and at Love's expense.

The suit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, alleges
that the promotional blitz by Wilson "shamelessly
misappropriated Mike Love's songs, likeness, and the
Beach Boys trademark, as well as the Smile album
itself," per court papers obtained by City News

. . .

Love, who cowrote and sang lead on many early
Beach Boys classics, alleges that the publicity
campaign for Wilson's solo Smile negatively affected
sales of Beach Boys albums. Particularly aggrieving
Love was Wilson's decision to give away more than
2.6 million copies of a Beach Boys' compilation disc in
an edition of Britain's Mail on Sunday newspaper.

Love's suit seeks damages amounting to "millions of
dollars in illicit profits," claiming the campaign diluted
the Beach Boys' brand name, and addition $1 million-
plus for international advertising "designed to correct
the effects of its unfair competition and infringing
uses." Other defendants include the Mail on Sunday
and Sanctuary Records Group.

For the casual fans who haven’t been keeping score for the
past forty years, here’s a quick recap:

BRIAN WILSON: Boy genius. Musical mastermind.
Wrote, produced and performed some of the greatest
pop songs
ever committed to vinyl. Admired by everyone
from The Beatles to Leonard Bernstein for elevating rock
music into a serious art form. Overcame an abusive
father, mental illness and drug addictions without any
trace of bitterness. Among friends, family and fans his
reputation for having a generous, compassionate soul
ranks somewhere between that of Will Rogers and the
Dalai Lama.

MIKE LOVE: Cousin. Bandmate. Songwriting partner
who wrote lyrics to The Beach Boys biggest hits of the
1960’s. Artistic philosophy is best described by his own
infamous quote to Brian: "Don't fuck with the formula."
Short-sighted, narrow-minded approach to music-making
became primary obstacle to Brian’s progressive ideas. As
a result, Brian shelved Smile, retreated to his bedroom
and The Beach Boys quickly became an out-of-touch,
obsolete musical force. [farce?] In the nearly four decades
that followed, he continued to consolidate his power within
the band, gradually transforming The Beach Boys into
the soulless, traveling jukebox oldies show it is today.
Often appears bitter and jealous in interviews, claiming
he has never received the credit and compensation he
deserves. Endless series of excessive lawsuits,
behind-the-scenes backstabbing and bizarre public
has earned him the eternal disdain of most of
his peers, bandmates and former fans.

And he is a Republican.