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May 9, 2014 / Brittany Hendrick

Imposter! Where is the real Wayne Coyne and what have you done with him?


Me, with official WC mask taped to my face

Satirical appropriation

The Flaming Lips haven’t been on my radar for years. No exaggeration.

At my previous job, I dealt with Oklahoma City- and Norman-based clients on a daily basis. Not once did it cross my mind, “Hey, Flaming Lips Land!” That’s how little often I thought about the band.

I didn’t even know they released a new album last year.

No idea about projects with Erykah Badu, Kesha et al.

No idea about this year’s Record Store Day release.

No idea Wayne Coyne and his wife had split.

Each album release after The Soft Bulletin, as the band’s commercial reach, and brand recognition increased, my interest in them exponentially decreased. Not for any reason other than the fact that the music didn’t make an impression upon me. Then I just sort of gave up on paying attention to the band altogether, remaining content with the albums I do like.

And there is the live show. It started to get old and predictable. Boring even. The audience was growing noticeably assholier. The atmosphere Phishy. In 2011, I was so thrilled to see The Soft Bulletin performed in its entirety. I tried to stay focused on the music, really… but I was so annoyed by the clueless sorority girl with the beach bag-sized purse standing on next to me. Who brings a purse that large to an indoor rock show? Who are these people? I’ve skipped every Lips concert since then.

And there is the Virgin Mobile TV commercial. I had to catch the ad three times before I could put the pieces together.

1.) “I’m far from the TV and can’t see very well, but that kind of looks like Wayne Coyne…”

2.) “Is that guy supposed to be a Wayne Coyne lookalike?”

3.) “Oh my God… that is Wayne Coyne! ………what happened to his face?

A chill ran through my body.

Not only was Wayne unrecognizable, but also his aura seemed rather unsettling. Something felt not right. He looked organically diabolical, mean. His face appeared “off” to me. Cosmetic surgery was not my immediate thought. No, something else was behind this facial metamorphosis. But what? Though disturbed, I didn’t care enough to pursue information on the matter.

And there is the Miley Cyrus thing. “Surely, this is an April Fool’s joke,” I reasoned, upon seeing a DListed (I think it was) post about an Instagram photo Cyrus published while getting “high as fuck” in the studio with Wayne.

I still didn’t believe it. “Wayne has stated in the past he doesn’t use drugs. This is just dumb Miley publicity. As usual. Ignore.”

I waited for the HAHA, FOOLED YOU!

It never came.

Still, my annoyance and confusion with Wayne’s attention-seeking — and now-obvious pandering to a, um, different demographic — didn’t motivate me to investigate what the fuck was going on. But I knew enough to complain.

“I’m over Wayne Coyne,” I told a friend, back in mid-April, when Flaming Lips came up in conversation. “The TV commercial, aligning himself with Miley Cyrus… he’s lost me. I’m tired of him.”

Little did I know that, indeed, something was rotten in the state of Oklahoma — and it was about to get worse.


The details of the drama are so lengthy, so convoluted… and so sad. You can read about it on an Oklahoma blog called The Lost Ogle, which has covered these events from the beginning. The supplementary hyperlinks will give you context, too. In a nutshell:

— Wayne’s been cozying up to Oklahoma’s right-wing Republican gubernatorial nasty lady and her daughter whose name I won’t say so she doesn’t receive any more undeserved attention. Instead, I’ll take The Lost Ogle’s lead and refer to her as Hipster Boo Boo (HBB).

— HBB is in some crappy band. Apparently, the band, too, think they’re crappy, and drum up publicity for themselves in the most basic, unoriginal way (i.e. shock value without artistic merit). So, HBB posts a photo of herself in a Native American headdress with the caption “Appropriate culturation.” This upset Native Americans as well as non-Native Americans. And because, Oklahoma.

But, hey, HBB can learn from her mistake, right? Accept responsibility and then show some humility and empathy, right?

— HBB and her “artist and philosopher” bandmate/boyfriend (the LOLs just keep on coming, don’t they)  issue a sarcastic, backhanded, defensive, unapologetic apology.

— Kliph Scurlock, Flaming Lips drummer, publicly calls out HBB on her non-apology, on social media.

— HBB runs to Daddy Wayne and whines, “Kwiph hoit mah feewings!” Weird. Earlier, it looked like HBB was poised to take on stardom. But now she can’t handle criticism? Babygirl, you ain’t ready.

— Daddy Wayne demonstrates his “solidarity” for HBB and posts an Instagram photo depicting members of his idiot entourage wearing a headdress. Ick. Guess who’s absent from the photo. Way to go, Geppetto.

a wayne-coyne-headdress


SHEEP (and one dog)

— HBB’s band purposely perpetuates a rumor that they’re going to perform at the Norman Music Festival in “full” Native American regalia. In anticipation, a peaceful protest group organizes at the festival.

— HBB takes the stage in a suspiciously Native American-inspired shawl with the word “SHEEP” scrawled across the back . Our 21st-century answer to Aristotle gives protesters the middle finger and unsuccessfully attempts to have them removed from the premises (even the best comedy writers couldn’t make this up, guys).

— Ever the supportive friend to HBB, Wayne and his crony companion allegedly point and laugh at the protesters from sidestage.

Oh yeah — somewhere in the middle of all this bullshit, Wayne fires Kliph.

When the news went public, you can imagine the PR nightmare that has ensued since then.

Eddie Codel/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Wayne and his weird, new Dr. Evil face.

Based on comments from fans, the consensus is that Wayne Coyne is going through a mid-life crisis; he’s off his rocker; he’s become the exact asshole rock star he once denounced; he’s a hypocrite; he’s more egomaniacal than ever; he’s hanging around the wrong people; he’s on the bad shit (which, to me, explains his facial oddity… and so much more.).

This isn’t the eccentric Wayne Coyne we know and love. This is some Highway to Hell shit. It’s a surprise to me because I haven’t paid attention to see it unfold over the past few years.

Though, in the big picture, it doesn’t matter that Wayne fired Kliph. I mean, it does matter, because it happened over a shitty medium, and Kliph seems like a stand-up guy, and he’s like Animal from The Muppets on the drums. But I’m working toward a point…

It doesn’t matter if Wayne’s an asshole to his bandmates, fans or friends.

It doesn’t matter if he’s a hypocrite.

It doesn’t matter if he’s having a mid-life crisis and on the bad shit (or getting facial fillers).

It doesn’t matter if he goes Hollywood and Republican.

It doesn’t matter if he sold his soul for money and fame.

And, if he wants to fool around with headdresses, that really doesn’t matter, either.

What matters is the context and intentions behind his shenanigans. He did it not to be artistic, not to be ironic, but to be mean.

Wayne poured salt into a gash, kicked a [literal and metaphorical] man while he was down, in favor of looking, like, sooooo cool to his new Hollywood friends, enablers, hipsters, hangers-on and yes-men. Wayne appears to be unmoved and unaffected by his actions and his educated fans’ reactions. You know, until he assesses his financial bottom line at the end of this month.

For the “say something nice” paragraph, I don’t believe Wayne is inherently racist (as many people are accusing) — he’s insensitive and… not thinking straight. Also, he still lives in OKC, and contributes to the community. The Flaming Lips sounded 653% better when he took over lead vocals. Even THINKING UP Zaireeka.

I’m not making excuses for him — he is old enough to know better. But he’s blinded by fame, money and people half his age right now.

And what’s this I read about death threats against Wayne? Yo, that’s not cool. That’s an unbalanced, unhealthy reaction. Who says stuff like that?!

When people annoy me, I do things a little bit differently: I satirize.

So, Wayne, because you doubled down — no, [5/9/14 afternoon edit] quadrupled quintupled down — on mocking Native Americans, mind if I take a few minutes to mock you? Cool, bro. I’m not really asking your permission anyway. Kind of like how the white peoples didn’t ask permission from the red peoples to commit genocide. ZING!

Laurent Diebold/CC BY-NC 2.0

Then we all did our best @waynecoyne pose … and then … #partyinfortwostraightdays

I’m not on Twitter or Instagram, because I’m not 12 years old; so, forgive me for adorning your “mock-down” with my beautiful sentences longer than 140 characters.

Stickers: You mean to tell me, all this time, all I had to do was slap puffy stickers and sparkly bullshit on my face, to show that I’m a “true freak”?  Well, fuck me. I thought not hanging out with the popular kids, listening to weird music and breaking rules was enough. Now I have to shop at Lisa Frank, too??? I can’t keep up.

Colorful nail polish: Does this make one a “true freak,” too? In what year, 1995? ‘Cause that’s when Shirley Manson and Garbage were doing it. And probably some other band before them. David Bowie comes to mind.

Glitter: The herpes of the craft world. Used in preschool classrooms. Oh! Wait a minute! I get it now. Kesha. Sorry. Sorry, I still have trouble wrapping my head around a greying grown man consorting with twentysomething yo-yos. Don’t worry, I’ll get used to it, eventually. I just… I just need some time to think… JUST GIVE ME SOME SPACE! God, why are you always so clingy?

Emojis: WHAT?

Body painting: Original. Revolutionary. Counterculture.

Throwing the “peace” hand sign: Doesn’t mean shit; cliched. See: Lindsay Lohan. Oh… you know her?

Illuminati imagery: That’s so 2011. Britney, Rhianna, Kesha, Gaga, blah blah. Are you a leader? Or are you a follower? Please clear up this matter, at once. Your children impressionable, adoring fans are depending on you.

Morgan Tepsic/CC BY-SA 2.0

Wayne, in kinder-faced days

Nudity: There was this great band named Jane’s Addiction. One time, they put out this album called Nothing’s Shocking. And guess what — the cover art depicts a sculpture of two conjoined women and — you’re not gonna believe this — they’re NAKED! Yeah. That was 1988. Where was a going with this again…? Oh right — your neverending nudity phase. We know, we get it. Vaginas! Boobies!  Sex! We’re not offended; we’re desensitized. Nothing new, nothing to see here. Now it’s just creepy and overdone. HA! Get it? Overdone! Like how the nude Nothing’s Shocking ladies’ heads are flaming! Flaming Lips! Oh God, I can’t be stopped. Bahaha! I did it again, a Miley Cyrus allusion! I’m so in love with myself and my ingenuity. Sounds like we’re a match. Let’s get naked and roll around in body paint, see where it takes us.

Hipster Boo Boo: Oooo, I like the White Girl Appropriating Game: Celebrity Edition! Let me guess, are you trying to look like… Gwen Stefani? Courtney Love. Francis Bean Cobain. Shit. Pink! Um… Lady Gaga? AMBER HEARD?! SHE’S SO NOW!1!! C’mon, help me out here. Why you gotta be so non-committal? I don’t think I like this game anymore.

Trite quotes and aphorisms passive-aggressively posted on social media, in response to adversity or things that make you go “waaahhh”: Hey, I just took a How Annoying Are You on Instagram Buzzfeed quiz for you. You scored a 47 out of 60. #congratulations #inspirational @mileycyrus LOL

“Yesssssss!!!!”: You’re probably not used to people telling you this, lately (see group headdress photo), but: No.

Plastic bubble/confetti/balloons/suits/fake blood/megaphone/oversize foam appendages/dancing anythings: Sounds like a fun party! I’ve never seen that at a concert in the last 10 years!  You know what would really be novel and punk rock? And I’m not being sarcastic here: if the Flaming Lips rocked out, no gimmicks, no “Yoshimi” Woo! Woo! bullshit, and see who shows up to the concert. It’d be the equivalent of finding out who your real friends are.

A part of me would like to think Wayne is pulling the biggest social experiment or artistic endeavor, ever: infiltrate the ugly inner circles of humanity — right-wing politicians; vapid, expendable Hollywood stars; famewhores, hangers-on, etc. — gather the dirty secrets about the machine, and reveal the truth about all that is soulless and wrong in society. The joke would be on them. It’d be pretty awesome of Wayne. That would be love. *enter Emoji heart here*

5/9/14 afternoon edit: I just can’t with this guy anymore. In an interview with Rolling Stone (mainstream press for 18-24 year-olds), Wayne finally addresses his “not-firing” Kliph; and distances himself from a sincere apology to Native Americans, by using the word “if” a lot. It’s an uncomfortable, embarrassing read.

Given the examples of Wayne’s recent output I listed above, it’s astounding how he accuses Kliph of lacking creativity.

And I don’t hear the voice of a 53-year-old professional, press-savvy musician; I hear my five-year-old nephew saying “made-up lies” and “hater.”

Imposter photo: Me, with WC mask taped to my face
Headdress photo: Everywhere
Evil-faced Wayne photo: Eddie Codel/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Flat Eric doing the WC photo: Laurent Diebold/CC BY-NC 2.0
Kind-faced Wayne photo: Morgan Tepsic/CC BY-SA 2.0

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