Musicians dipping their toes into the literary world isn’t anything new — Logic just became the first rapper to earn a top spot on the New York Times bestseller list with the companion novel to his new album, Supermarket. But a recently-announced “handbook” for girls by veteran pop-punkers Green Day has opinions split regarding the legitimacy of three old white dudes tackling such a subject.
Based on their song of the same name, Last of the American Girls is billed as “an inspiring homage and handbook for the rebellious every-woman who refuses to capitulate.” Artist Frank Caruso is credited with both illustrating and co-authoring duties, inviting further criticism due to the complete lack of female perspective on a book that’s entirely about that:
I'M SO INSPIRED THAT THREE DUDES FOUND A FOURTH DUDE TO ILLUSTRATE THIS HOMAGE FOR REBELLIOUS EVERYWOMEN!!!!!!! https://t.co/uBoKT1L41o
— Mikki Halpin (@mikkipedia) April 2, 2019
I’m sure this book will be inspiring and meaningful to Green Day’s fans, and no one can take that away from them. But if you’re going to claim to empower women with your book you should probably consider the optics of having no women involved in creating it.
— andi zeisler (@andizeisler) April 3, 2019
Whether it’s blunders like this or the welcome political outspokenness of albums like American Idiot, the band have (for better or worse) never shied away from making themselves easy targets. The criticism seems to be more than just kneejerk lampooning, however, with even fans of the band feeling the need to speak up about the perceived irresponsibility behind Billie Joe Armstrong & Co. dedicating an entire volume to mansplaining girlhood:
boys i love u with all of my heart and would happily take SEVERAL bullets for you but dont you think the main ''rule'' to being an independent woman in punk should be to, well, not be told how to live their lives by men who have no experience in what its like to live as a woman??
— lina (@wedrovenorth) April 2, 2019
Writing for the Guardian, music critic Laura Snapes mused that “You can’t help but wonder if Green Day thought this through. Surely no self-respecting rebellious woman would buy a book about ‘female empowerment’ by three washed-up punks.”
Snapes notes that though “Green Day’s early work was surprisingly progressive, and rarely – especially for US pop-punk – overtly misogynist,” the band have, in recent years, drifted toward “fetishising, contemptuous and paternalistic language” when it comes to the topic of women: “If only songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong could portray women as anything other than a random assembly of rabble-rousing tropes, including wearing makeup that looks ‘like graffiti on the walls of the heartland’, digging conspiracy theories and owning vinyl.”
Maybe, just maybe, the Billie Joe Armstong of 2019 isn’t the best candidate for the voice of the 2019 female experience. Despite the online stir caused by the announcement of The Last of the American Girls, Green Day have yet to make any comment on the situation.