All pop culture evidence indicates that Anthony Kiedis hasn’t worn a shirt in 30 years. This needs to stop, but before you nod your head, let me explain why.
There’s an odd commonality between aging rock stars and aging wrestlers that I’m just now realizing. With both, the costumes and the personas often remain the same despite the accumulation of years. The venues shrink, the stomachs swell. New fans are more a fluke than frequent and old fans are too drunk on nostalgia to notice or care about the diminished product slowly gyrating before them. It’s depressing, but so is the death of youth that we all must bear witness to.
Anthony Kiedis and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are in the in-between space right now. They haven’t slipped from relevancy because ‘90s things have been blessed with +10 longevity thanks to the miles wide and inches deep expanse of our at-once evolving and repeating pop culture interests, but their appearance on Carpool Karaoke probably left some searching Wikipedia. Because of this, no one has been all that bothered by Kiedis’ reluctance to start walking toward the dark and, seemingly, inevitable path that is Great American Songbook covers and Rod Stewartian Depends-bulge sexuality.
In the latest Red Hot Chili Peppers video, for ” Go Robot,” Kiedis walks the streets as a silver painted robot in a codpiece and nothing else. On one hand, he’s 53 and he’s still keeping it tight and right, so good for him. On the other hand, though, I can’t stop thinking that his naked phase — which was once such an asset to the band’s pop-punk(ish) brand when they were in their 30s and rocking c*ck socks — might be at its natural conclusion. Because let’s face it, Mick Jagger worked out a deal with El Diablo to wear skinny jeans until he turns into a pile of sex dust and Iggy Pop likely threatened father time with a razor, but no one else gets to be a shirtless rock God forever.
I should point out that this is more about my issues with getting older. For a time, it’s comforting to see rock heroes get stuck in a frozen moment because you’re in that same frozen moment which is facilitated by a passionate desire to not let go of your twenties or accept that you’re not really a part of the most important demographic anymore. Some never break free from that prison, some turn into bitter assholes on the internet that hate everything that isn’t explicitly made for them, and some of us just get tired of acting young.
At 34, I feel like I’ve hit all those checkpoints but I’m starting to realize that the universe medicates you with a kind of novocaine against the pain of no longer being 24 in the form of allowing you to not give as much of a f*ck. It’s fine to like what you like and it’s fine for other people to like what they like. Art is immortal, we are ephemeral, and we should spend our time looking for the next love affair with a song or a film, telling everyone about it, and not fixating on our past loves or judging others for what they love. It doesn’t always work out like that (not nearly) because Twitter fights and nostalgia and ego, but it’s a nice ideal to hang your hat on.
But if a state of “f*ck it bliss” is where I reside, why do I roll my eyes when I see Anthony Kiedis raging against the dying of the light with his pecs and his man nips? Maybe, to quote a Death Cab lyric, “f*ck it bliss” is the sound of settling and maybe I wish I could flout the prescribed transition to a graying state and chase the unattainable comet that is perpetual youth and vigor. Whatever it is, I’d like Anthony Kiedis to put his shirt on because it’s making me uncomfortable.
Jason Tabrys is the features editor for Uproxx. You can engage with him directly on Twitter.