It seems like only yesterday that we were fawning over Adam Schlesinger during our “Stacy’s Mom” episode. Simpler times. Since, we’ve delved a bit into the nu-metal/post-grunge realm. As we’ve come to learn, this is/was an unavoidable chunk of the zeitgeist in the first third of the 2000s.
(Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park were both nominated for Best Rock Album at the Grammys in the early part of the decade.)
Yes, it’s Puddle of Mudd week here at the Reminiscent Podcast -- more specifically, it’s “She Hates Me” week.
After doing some research on the band, we’ve learned the following: there are plagiarism accusations, lip syncing accusations, and a bunch of other noise surrounding their Wikipedia page. We also learned that Fred Durst helped Puddle get their first break (and we also learned that Durst’s hometown is Jacksonville, Florida, which feels like something people should know).
With all of this in mind, let’s keep this simple: in a vacuum, “She Hates Me” is a catchy hit song with an above average music video that is strangely self-aware. The song is, at the absolute least, a fantastic turn-up-the-car-radio tune. It was seemingly written for this purpose, whether the listener is going through a break-up as described by the narrator or not. As we see in the music video, people in a variety of situations may feel the way the narrator feels, and they all proceed to collectively lose it.
But who got their money’s worth?
Let’s work through it:
Young man employed as a dishwasher
This one isn’t so bad. He is at work, and perhaps the dishwashing machine itself is flawed. He, while alone in the back of the restaurant, takes the spray nozzle and splashes himself in the face while proceeding to scream the lyrics to the song. Nothing too psychotic, we’ve all had bad days at work.
Freak-out score: 5/10
Young man sitting at the restaurant
OK. We’re looking at a solid tantrum here. The boy is presumably eating out with his parents, and whatever was bugging him before dinner boils over, causing him to scream (the lyrics to the song, of course) and begin squishing food in his hands while yelling. Is he doing this at the same restaurant mere feet away from our dishwasher? It’s hard to say. This will come up later.
Freak-out score: 7/10
Young girl in her bedroom
So one of the earlier scenes in the video involves a girl talking on the phone in her bedroom. Though she’s first seen screaming the chorus into the phone, I don’t believe she’s supposed to be viewed as the “she” in the song title. Though no pillows or stuffed animals are torn as the action rises, she does take the phone itself and throw it across the room (presumably smashing it). Similar to our dishwasher, this one takes place in private after a bad phone call. But we’re going to assume electronics were damaged, so let’s up the grade a smidge.
Freak-out score: 6/10
Boy in classroom
OK this is the first person we meet in this music video’s universe. It starts with him quietly singing along. It should be noted that the first run through the chorus is sung without distortion on the guitars, which helps build up to the eventual freak-outs in the video. So it’s a little scary trying to guess what our student is going to do. But, when he simply cannot take it anymore, he stands, walks to the front of the classroom, and is confronted by the teacher. What’s interesting about the freak-outs in this video is that they aren’t exactly rage-filled tears, but rather emotional reactions by people who just can’t take it anymore. (Best I can tell?) I think we can call this assault on the teacher, as contact is made, but if you look close the student grabs the adult’s tie and almost collapses under his own weight, as if asking the teacher to save him from whatever is bugging him. With that said: we do not know what the fuck this kid is thinking, and this behavior is entirely innapropriate. This was a good freak-out.
Freak-out score: 7.5/10
Fast-food worker flipping burgers
We meet this fast-food employee on the day he quits his job, though we do not know that when we first meet him. But before our time is through with this boy, we will have witnessed him doing the following: screaming aloud while at work in a small space, continue to scream as he turns to face a customer, continue to scream when confronted by his boss, stop screaming only to kiss his boss on the mouth, and then continue to scream-sing as he quits and leaves the restaurant. There was a lot going on with this one. We could have done without the mouth kiss -- blowing one calmly would have been equally strange, but this was quite the breakdown.
Freak-out score: 8.5/10
High school QB in the middle of a play on Friday night
Working under music video logic, this is the big game. Oh boy, this is a big one. The biggest game of their young lives, to be sure. The quarterback walks up to center, eyes the defense, and proceeds to take off his helmet, yell-sing the lyrics to “She Hates Me” and then tackle his own running back, halting play and forcing the referee to throw a flag. (For what? I’m not sure whether you can unnecessarily rough your own player.) Regardless, it’s a ruckus. Similar to the teacher tie grab and emotional crumble, the QB doesn’t necessarily lay the wood on his own ball carrier. He’s kind of going down on his own anyhow, and just kind of grabs his teammate on the way down. It counts as a tackle, but there wasn’t a ton of malice involved. If this were an episode of “Friday Night Lights” (and it may have been -- the girl in the room is played by Minka Kelly), Mrs. Taylor would have her hands full the following Monday in the counselor’s office. It’s worth asking what during the game caused the quarterback to break mid-play; you’d think something weighing on the young man’s mind would have worked its way to the surface before or after the game. It could be argued that the game itself, competitive team sports in general, would be a healthy outlet for a teen to work through the trials of growing up. But nonetheless, this was a wild one, and it probably cost them the game. The big game!
Freak-out score: 9/10
So this is where it gets interesting. The janitor is singing along throughout the music video. We’re led to believe that he is alone in a hallway, just venting the frustrations that must come with working a second- or third-shift custodial position. But when his break comes, things get explosive, quite literally. The school’s electrical system begins to short, sending sparks flying through the hallway around him. If his life was a movie, perhaps Joaquin Phoenix would play him. But it doesn’t stop there, and this is what gives some credit to the theory that all of these breakdowns are happening throughout the same city at the same time -- the bright stadium lights at the football game begin to spark while our QB1 is hurling himself at his own teammates (a huge health hazard that the cheerleaders seem unphased by). OK, it’s probably the same electrical grid. Fine. But wait, there’s more -- the lights downtown, where the band is playing a live version of the song, also begin to spark. What the hell, janitor? Did the person who got yelled at while buying her fast food burger earlier have to deal with powerless stoplights on her drive home? The public is put legitimately in danger by these actions. This doesn’t feel much like a freak-out, but rather a premeditated criminal act. Maybe he’s never tried squishing food in public with his bare-hands while yelling -- I hear it can be very therapeutic.
Freak-out score: Disqualified