After escaping to the woods of Montana and making two albums that were both modestly received and modestly purchased, John Mayer is ready to: shed his image as a grotesque womanizer, live in a hotel in seeming perpetuity to avoid living in “another bachelor pad,” settle down, and have a baby. And! Make hits again so girls will like him.
Mayer famously set himself on fire in 2010 in two especially odious interviews with Rolling Stone and Playboy, or as he describes to the New York Times this week, the “double-headed dragon.” If you forgot what he said, the Times has this very Timesian summary:
Recalling the consequences of those infamous magazine articles — in which he used the phrase “sexual napalm,” chronicled his onanism in horrific detail, referred to his male anatomy as David Duke and somehow separately used a racial epithet — Mr. Mayer was vivid and virtuosic in his self-laceration.
“What has to happen for a guy to believe that he’s totally well-adjusted and be that far out of touch?” Mayer told the Times. “My GPS was shattered, just shattered.”
So! John Mayer has since purchased a new GPS for navigating his life and it first took him down a rugged, rambling road of redemption and reflection…
At 32 and obsessed with outsmarting the idea of a “clichéd rock star,” he explained, “I started to invent my own grenade.” (His big mouth.) He was “a Mack Truck without brakes.” Tabloid fame was “a human-growth hormone” and “extracurricular stuff” anyway, Mr. Mayer said. “I basically realized I’m no good at that, so I’m going to drop that major.” Also: “What I did was probably semiconsciously just reboot it — control, alt, delete.” “It was an induced coma.” His career had “flatlined.” “It was cat and mouse,” he said, “and the mouse lost.”
…and then brought him back home again, where he writes hit pop songs for the radio that make him attractive to women…
“I’m a young guy. I like girls. I want girls to like me. I want to make music and be thought of as attractive. I was finally ready to re-enter that world and grow back into it.”
…and where he can film music videos for the lead single for his new album (“Still Feel Like Your Man”) which feature what Mayer himself describes as “ancient Japanese R&B”—which, as Mayer also admits to the New York Times reporter he is trying convince that he no longer says things that make him seem very stupid and insensitive, “isn’t a thing.”
The video, the Times reports, will also include a “makeshift bamboo forest, a woman in full geisha garb and two people in giant panda suits, making up a bizarre tableau that Mr. Mayer called a ‘disco dojo.’” (As Vulture points out, pandas are native to China).
If this all sounds like cultural appropriation—it’s fine, he knows, but it’s NOT.
“Part of cultural appropriation is blindness,” Mayer assures the Times. “I’m on the right side of the line because it’s an idea for the video that has a very multiethnic casting, and nobody who is white or non-Asian is playing an Asian person.”
So that’s where John Mayer’s GPS took him: to the right side of the line of cultural appropriation, where he can use Asian culture (and people) as marketing material for his comeback with impunity.