Ask a Famous Man: “Should My Son Be Listening to Angry Rock Bands?”

This is a monthly column transcribed by Emma Smith-Stevens, a conduit for the unerring wisdom of famous men—those inhabiting this earth as well as the hereafter. She is also a fiction writer whose stories have appeared in Subtropics, Conjunctions, Wigleaf, and elsewhere.

Dear Famous Man,

My 14-year-old son listens to rock bands and I want to know if you think that’s okay. I’m worried those guys aren’t good role models. I listened to some of their songs and they sound so full of angst and rage. I saw some pictures of them and they wore black and had eyeliner on. What if my son starts dressing like this? I am deeply concerned. I have already told him to stop listening to rock bands but he just gets upset. Am I being a bad mother? Are these bad bands?

—Tuneless in Missoula, MT


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Dear Tuneless,

Please pardon my frankness, but you are quite the hysteric! Your son’s behaviors are common and age-appropriate. However, I am compelled to address your trivial concern as though it were a matter of grave importance, lest your agitation progress to deafness, paralysis, seizures, blindness, fainting spells, amnesia, and any number of the other additional maladies that women are inclined to exhibit.

To begin, let me congratulate you for birthing a son! Daughters are far more troublesome. What makes them happy? What are their needs—their hopes? Even I have no idea what women want. Well, except a penis. They definitely want one of those. Girls hold their mother responsible for their lack of a penis and do not forgive her for their being thus put at a disadvantage. That is why schoolgirls listen to angry rock bands like Electra Complex, Wit-Work, Primal Horde, Anal Character, Parapraxis, and Cathartic Method.

I shall not return any further to these examples, for I have to confess that they are not derived from any actual knowledge of popular music but are inventions of mine. Most probably, too, they are bad inventions.

The point is that when girls listen to rock music this aggravates the many neuroses from which they certainly suffer, but your son’s affinity for angsty bands is due to his sexual wishes in regard to his mother (you), which are rapidly intensifying—a completely natural part of his development.

What you must do is simply require that the boy report his dreams to you in great detail, daily, thereby revealing every aspect of his unconscious mind. This process will expose his true beliefs and perceptions. In all likelihood you will find that everything is your fault. No matter. That is normal. Proceed in a therapeutic manner (i.e. do not “cave in” and satisfy his oedipal desires just because it seems easy or convenient to do so).

The real take-home here is this: envy and jealousy play a much greater part in the mental life of women than of men. It is not that I think these characteristics are absent in men or that I think they have no other roots in women than envy for the penis; but I am inclined to attribute their greater amount in women to this latter influence.

Presuming that your son has a penis, he should be okay.

Sigmund Freud


If you would like guidance from a famous man regarding a personal or professional dilemma, please send your inquiry to emmasmithstevens (at) gmail (dot) com.

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