Do you remember the guy who hit the headlines in 2014 when he attempted to raise $6 million to destroy the then new Wu-Tang Clan album, The Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolim? Well in light of the ongoing developments in the Martin Shkreli vs Wu-Tang story, we decided to get back in touch with the man in question, Chris Everhart, who dusted down his writing pen to give us his opinion on the events a couple of years on, and how the whole episode has immeasurably changed his attitude towards his one-time favourite group Wu-Tang Clan for good.
Everyone on the planet knows that Martin Shkreli is a douchebag. The media reading world (or at least my household and all my Facebook friends) celebrated when he was arrested. If Donald Trump, lord of the a-holes, thinks you are a world class a-hole, chances are, you are. Despite this, I believe it is time to give him a standing ovation for one decision he threatens to make.
What makes a man Mr. Lebowski? Is it being prepared to do the right thing, whatever the cost? Who decides what is the right thing? We live in a world surrounded by black-and-white assertions of what is right and wrong. I believe that we are all the amalgamation of right and wrong and walk each day toting our baggage of good and bad equally in the yin-yang existence that we call life. Is there truly a person with the capacity to embody evil?
I’ll skip defending grade-school-go-to bad guy. Instead, let us acknowledge that every human on the planet has within their capacity to do something good in their lives. Whether intended or not, Martin Shkreli has had an idea that is brilliant, hypocritical, diabolical, and good. Martin Shkreli is threatening to destroy the only copy of the Wu-Tang Clan’s, Once Upon a Time In Shaolin, an attempt at innovative singular releasing of an entire album of music to a single buyer.
Why would a man threaten such a heinous act?! Destroying a work of art by the self-proclaimed most prolific group of rappers of all time is a deplorable idea and a defloration to the concept of the sanctity of art. Why? Because there IS a God and He wants us to learn.
This idea is brilliant because it turns a piece of art into an instant legacy. The world will never know what this album holds. It is both an insult and a tribute to the artists that created it. The album becomes bigger than it ever, ever could have been if it had been released.
The idea is hypocritical because it represents a blatant disregard (if not encouragement) for the capitalistic approach set forth by the artist. Say what you will about this tactic being an attempt to innovate and empower art, Mr. RZA. I am not buying that bullshit. Creating art that you know will not reach your fans leads us to the only remaining conclusion – somehow this is a ploy to make more money. The RZA, the mastermind/puppeteer behind the Wu-Tang Clan, is a businessman. I have no problem with this title (philosophically). I have a problem with him claiming otherwise in the name of art. Shkreli is now enabling one of the most powerful and simplistic concepts of business: supply and demand. By lessening the supply to zero, the demand for, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin: 2, has just skyrocketed.
“Say what you will about this tactic being an attempt to innovate and empower art, Mr. RZA. I am not buying that bullshit.”
The idea is diabolical for obvious and subtle reasons. We all understand (emotionally) that Ed Rooney is a self-loathing bully trying to rain on the figurative and literal parade in Ferris Bueller’s happy day off. But he’s also the goddamn principal who is responsible for policing truancy and setting an example for the rest of the school. So too is Shkreli is the bullying mastermind who can put a stop to the evil consumerism being created by this album. So too is Shkreli the one of the few with the power and money to make this purchase a reality and police these other self-absorbed rich people. I hate you Ed Rooney and I love you. Same goes for you, Martin Shkreli.
Finally, the idea is good because this guy thought of it first: cool guy explaining way more articulately than Martin Shkreli why, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, should be destroyed. He even created a kickstarter campaign to raise the money to buy and destroy the album. Pathetically, it only raised $10,781 towards the final goal of $2,000,000.
So what’s the point? There are a million great lessons to learn from this story. For the sake of brevity and the hope that people will actually read my overly introspective ramblings regarding these on goings when there is so much real injustice in the world – I will sum up.
First lesson: Let us not get so distracted by Martin Shkreli’s fully intentional attempts to make us hate him more than we already do, that we miss the turn and forget the Wu has attempted to pull the wool over our eyes. By misdirecting and claiming actions in the name of art, these guys have finally and fully exposed how capitalistic they really are.
Second lesson(s): there’s always a bigger fish out there, you’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake, and life sucks then you die. As if it weren’t demoralizing enough to be reminded that Shkreli is not only a billionaire from swindling people with AIDS, but also that he can take away from me what I could never have had in the first place. There was once a time when I would have given my left testicle to get a copy of an unheard set of Wu-Tang Clan tracks. Then the Wu entered the era when they filmed the Gravel Pit video in 2,000,000 B.C. and allowed ‘Ol Dirty Bastard to sing his chorus on, Conditioner, from jail through the phone. Even if I can convince myself I don’t want the album, I can’t have it anyway.
Third (lesson) verse, worse than, but same as the first. Fuck you, Wu-Tang. That’s some bullshit, dude. You have taught me the lesson that the only way I can hate myself more is to like someone I hate. You released an album to be bought by one wealthy person. I cannot think of a greater spit in the face to fans that have stuck with you over the years. Now it seems the best and only remaining solution is to begin destroying your work. Enter Martin Shkreli. This is the lowest of low in a human being. Perhaps someday he will be reveled with the likes of Stalin, Hitler, Kim Jong-il, and Oprah. But for today I get to say thank you to the Wu-Tang Clan for making me agree with this monster.
Once upon a time in my living room, I entered the artistic integrity gone wrong chamber, and all I got was this stupid Wu-wear shirt and no album to fuck with. Perhaps it is true that you can never truly love something without being capable of hating it. If that is so, then today is the day I finally learned to love the Wu-Tang Clan.
Words: Chris Everhart