How Annoying Can Jack White Be?

Dear Jack White: we get it. You’re very talented. Still, do you have to have your head up so far your own ass about it?

When The White Stripes hit the scene they blew everybody away. How did a simple two-piece with no bassist create such a robust sound? I instantly became a fan and still listen to Elephant all the time.

They were so cool, with their signature color theme and catchy as hell melodies. Where did it go wrong?

White has very little chill. He seems to live for feuds with fellow musicians, from his 2002 squabble with Ryan Adams to his 2015 clash with The Black Keys.

And he doesn’t only fight musicians. In 2010, he asked his audience at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park if any vegans in the crowd wanted to join him on the stage to “kill a cow together.” And he beefed with The Guinness Book of World Records in 2012 when they wouldn’t accept his one-note concert as the world’s shortest concert. He called the Guinness people “elitists” (like, way to call the kettle black, White).

The feuds might have been the first sign of the real Jack White.

I can’t whine about his solo bluesy-garage stuff and side projects like The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs, because I’m also a fan. The White Stripes were better, rawer and more real, but White knows how to write a song no matter the context. His last two releases, Lazaretto (2014) and Boarding House Reach (2018) are worth whining about, though.

Lazaretto is the most pretentious shit I’ve ever been a fan of. That’s right, I’m still a fan of it—what can I say? White’s got them hooky tunes. But damn, every time I’m grooving to that album I can’t help but think how detached White has become from rock ‘n’ roll. He used to be true blue gritty garage rock to the heart, but now he’s less interested in bashing out hooks than putting out vinyl with impressive but useless special features.

The critics didn’t even give Boarding House Reach a chance—and for good reason. His hooky tunes train kinda derailed while making it. The tracks in Boarding House Reach are the opposite of The White Stripes’s minimal sound. It’s got way too much going on. Maybe he should try and explore his core strengths on drums and guitar instead of every sound effects and instrument he could find.

But it’s not music that makes White annoying. You might question his choices but you can’t deny his talent. The problem is that he’s an asshole who’s way too into himself.

The most recent strikes are his anti-phone policy and his multiple self-released documentaries about himself—most recently the upcoming Kneeling At The Anthem D.C..

I get it that people being on their phones, especially at a concert, is super annoying and people are missing out on life. And there is a special place in hell for people who have their phones up recording the entire show. But a policy that enforces a strict no-cell phone usage at shows is even more annoying than actually seeing someone on their phone at a concert.

Also, am I the only one that’s a little irked that he named his forthcoming movie after an important protest movement that seems to have no relation? Maybe the upcoming Kneeling At The Anthem D.C. is more than a live concert/tour documentary. Maybe it actually focuses on a movement standing (or kneeling) for civil rights. Who knows? But right now it feels like he’s just jumping on a social movement for attention.

There was a time when rock stars were praised for being assholes. Wearing sunglasses indoors was cool and telling people to fuck off was hot shit. But now it’s just gotten old. White hasn’t done anything unforgivable yet. I don’t plan to stop listening to his music anytime soon. But enjoying his music would be much easier if he stopped acting like an asshole.