Every election cycle brings with it a fresh retelling a familiar story: A clueless Republican pol cues up a dad-rock classic and shimmies awkwardly on stage with his embarrassed wife to the pleats-stretching sounds of an ideologically incongruent song, most often Bruce Springsteen’s definitely patriotic “Born in the USA.” Without fail, the musician in question typically replies with a prompt cease and desist, or a “go fuck yourselves,” as we saw this month with R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe castigating Ted Cruz and Donald Trump for an unauthorized use of “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” at a recent rally.
But with the coming-of-age of a new generation of music fans, whose tastes run toward a more recent vintage of rock, we’re starting to see millennials play out this same fuck up with a more contemporary, and hilarious spin. You’ll remember Lexi, 19, of course, from earlier this summer during the Ferguson protests. The only thing she loved more than Fall Out Boy was cops. She became an overnight meme based solely on the novelty of being a teenage alt standing on the wrong side of history. Today, a story in the New York Times bring us the story of Martin Shkreli, a 32-year-old teen who also loves emo and pop-punk, but not as much as he loves gouging sick people for money and arguing with people on the internet.
As the Times reported, Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company run by Shkreli, a former hedge fund fucker who got fired by the last company he founded for allegedly misappropriating funds, acquired the rights to a drug called Daraprim, raising its price to $750 a tablet from $13.50. The drug is used to treat an infection called toxoplasmosis, which, among other uses, can be beneficial in treating those with compromised immune systems as seen in those suffering from AIDs and cancer.
The name of his company, Turing, is rather appropriate here. It’s presumably named for the famed British computer scientist who thought up the Turing Test, the process by which one can judge whether or not a computer is capable of convincing an observer that it’s actually a human; hedge fund bros also happen to be notoriously bad at this exercise themselves.
Shkreli has taken a lot of heat today following the story, but he’s been adamant in defending himself the entire time. “This is still one of the smallest pharmaceutical products in the world,” he said in the original interview. “It really doesn’t make sense to get any criticism for this,” he told the Times. In the meantime he’s been sneering at anyone who’s given him shit on Twitter (almost everyone), and proudly sharing an interview he did with Bloomberg in which he assures us that his profiteering is actually going to help people somehow, making his company rich enough to invent other, also expensive drugs perhaps?
It’s all been rather fascinating to watch. One of his first rejoinders on Twitter this morning once the criticism started rolling in was to address his haters in the solemn words of one Mr. Marshal Mathers:
http://t.co/co6Fmwk3XX And it seems like the media immediately points a finger at me So I point one back at em, but not the index or pinkie
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) September 21, 2015
That certainly seems an appropriate musical act for Shkreli, as does Chamillionaire, but, it turns out, his tastes go beyond the typically avaricious parameters of hip hop.
(Pretty sure they just caught you riding dirty my dude.)
While there’s surprisingly no word on his stance on Genesis or Huey Lewis, browsing through his Twitter feed — which is what we do now when someone pisses us off online, like pulling up to the guy who just cut you off in track to get a good look at the exact brand of asshole you’re dealing with — it’s clear he’s an avid fan of pop-punk and emo as well.
Turing Pharma Puppy Party 2015 pic.twitter.com/0xf1zKUYXy
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) August 27, 2015
I don’t want to speak for Brand New here, an almost universally loved band among a certain age of punk fans, but it’s probably safe to say capitalist drug speculators weren’t their intended target demo when they were writing The Devil and God are Raging Inside of Me. Elsewhere he shared a photo of himself in possession of what he says is Kurt Cobain’s credit card, because when you’re a millionaire music fan what else are you going to waste your stupid money on besides the literal emblem of dead celebrity’s credit rating?
I’d say Cobain’s corpse is spinning in its coffin if my dude’s skeleton hadn’t already long been ground to dust in a carrousel of perpetual heat friction over the decades.
Everyone likes Nirvana and Brand New though, that’s not all that exciting. But here’s our man up close at a Pianos Become the Teeth show for fucks sake, one of the only examples of a band left that’s pure and good anywhere in the world:
Pianos become the teeth pic.twitter.com/oI2xPnt6Ni
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) March 20, 2015
And here he is enjoying a good Saves the Day reference:
…and jamming out to At the Drive-In, and expressing his love for the Hotelier, who only put out one of the most earnest, emotional, and triumphant new records in the past couple years. This dude loves the Hotelier!! This dude right here:
Helicopter back to NYC pic.twitter.com/kN5X4Oeky1
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) July 29, 2015
It gets weirder! Here he is saying La Dispute’s “I See Everything” is his favorite song.
I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right, everyone who likes La Dispute is a douche so that checks out. But the subject matter of the song, considering his foray into gouging people for drugs that can help cancer patients is a little strange. Check out the lyrics:
March 5-The cancer is furious but our son is resilient,
we have all the faith we’ll get through this no matter what the end.
Treatments are violent but he keeps on smiling.
It’s amazing finding joy in the little things.
Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something so hilarious about this guy who the entire country has decided to gang up on today as the perfect example of everything that’s wrong with our healthcare system and capitalism in general being such an emo fanboy. I know that technically speaking it’s supposed to be impossible to be a fan of a band wrong, but I feel like in this case we can make an exception. (Although, in his defense, he does seem to be pretty involved in charitable causes based on a bunch of his other tweets, so, good on him for that.)
But it only gets even weirder. Just when I was ready to write him off as the biggest missing-the-point-punk fan ever, it turns out our man is actually friends with Geoff Rickly, erstwhile Thursday frontman, and now label head of Collect Records. Here he is chilling with Shkreli at a The Hotelier show.
— Geoffrey Rickly (@GeoffRickly) December 28, 2014
Back in March of last year Shkreli went out with Rickly and Norman Brannon of beloved seminal emo band Texas Is the Reason, who works at Collect Records with Rickly. Just like that he’s gone from the worst emo fan ever to the best! Then again, it’s probably pretty easy for a young fan with millions of disposable dollars to spend on things like Kurt Cobain’s coke cutter to figure out a way to befriend bands he likes. On top of that, considering how much whining this dude has been doing on Twitter all day about how he’s being unfairly victimized, maybe the fact that he’s such an emo fan makes sense. Most of it is made by self-centered white dudes unable to consider anything else besides their own needs anyway.
Update: According to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, Shkreli is also a major investor behind Geoff Rickly’s Collect Records. I got in touch with Rickly for a comment but he wasn’t ready to speak on the matter at the time.
Update 2: The band Nothing, who are due to release a record on Collect, have addressed the story on their Facebook page.
Update 3: Rickly and Nicky Money of Nothing spoke with Noisey about the situation. Rickly made a point well taken:
Ultimately I see this going in the same way it always does, where all the artists get blamed for everything and capitalism is never held accountable. I really think that if Collect is going to be scrutinized as being capitalism, but that is how music survives. I’m not making excuses for what has happened, but there is no corner of the music industry that doesn’t live and breathe from subsidies from business. It’s reductive and hypocritical to hold us and only us accountable though, we are all at fault in some greater way.