Puddle of Mudd’s Heteronormative Filth Rock

Let me tell you something, folks: sometimes no amount of ass smacking can salvage your toxic relationship. Puddle of Mudd frontman Wes Scantlin knows what I’m talking about. When he’s not berating audience members for (allegedly) stealing his house, there’s nothing our man Wes enjoys more than a good, hard slap on the ass, preferably in the context of a shitty relationship. “Control”, Puddle of Mudd’s debut single from 2001’s Come Clean, features a frustrated Scantlin yelling about his fruitless efforts to be the one wearing the beer-stained, torn jeans in a partnership that’s obviously running on fumes. In an interview with MTV the admittedly untamed Scantlin explained that the song documented him “going out with an uncontrollable person,” but sticking around on account of “the intimacy” being “really, really good.” According to him there were some “freaky-deaky things going on” in the Scantlin bedroom, i.e., flagrant ass smacking, and the song’s climax marks the realization that “the mental frustration isn’t worth the bonus that you get intimacy-wise.” It takes a brave man to admit when he’s in a bad situation, Wes. Sonically “Control” just sounds like more of the dumb asshole rock fans of the Puddle of Mudd brand have come to expect over the years. While four white men expressing their misogyny through a tuneless banger about angry sex shouldn’t exactly make for a hit, “Control” somehow climbed its way to the number three spot on the Mainstream Rock chart and was even selected as the theme song for WWE’s 2001 Survivor Series pay-per-view. A track celebrating a man’s unhealthy sexual interactions with women being featured in a “sport” fixated on homoerotic fake fighting? That sounds about right. Puddle of Mudd clearly have a keg or two worth of baggage to sort through.

The video for “Control” takes Puddle of Mudd’s hate rock to a whole new level. Shit’s real from the outset, with Wes getting thrown out of his girlfriend’s truck after she screams at him for never listening to her (NAG, NAG, NAG, am I right?). No problem. He just grabs his guitar out of the truck and calmly walks away, even as she drives off and flips him the bird. When Wes shows up late to that evening’s Puddle of Mudd gig his bandmates are understandably pissed, as is the promoter, who taps his watch like an impatient prick. Just back off, man. That’s the last thing Wes needs right now. Seeking an explanation for their frontman’s tardiness, some idiot in the band blurts out, “dude, seriously.” Wes ain’t having no guff, though, replying, “bro, you know what’s going on, man.” ENOUGH SAID! Now let’s shut the fuck up and rock! And with that Wes channels all his pent-up aggression and rage into a ripping performance, periodically interrupted by shots of his heroically defiant march to the show. We all have our crosses to bear in this life. Eventually we see his girlfriend’s truck stopped by the side of the road. Hoping for cooler heads to prevail, she tenderly embraces him and attempts to reconcile. Although it initially seems like these star-crossed lovers are an item once again, Wes proceeds to yank the truck’s keys out of the ignition and toss them into the nearby forest, where they land in a – wait for it – puddle of mud(d). Nice one, bro. And then our man just struts off, safe in the knowledge that someday soon he’ll meet another woman just as eager to smack his already swollen ass. Fucking badass. Who’s in control now? That’s what I thought! 


Control (Official Video) by Puddle Of Mudd on VEVO.

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