CMU Beef Of The Week #334: Bob Dylan v Barack Obama
By Andy Malt | Published on Friday 2 December 2016
After Bob Dylan was named the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize For Literature, only to be a right miserable grump about it, many suggested that organisers should have known he’d be a right miserable grump about it (on account of his long history of being a right miserable grump) and gone with someone else. But did anyone consider this: maybe they did know that, and that’s exactly why they gave it to him. Because this story really is a gift that keeps on giving. It’s like Dylan is writing another great piece of literature before our eyes.
I mean, just when you think the whole thing’s over, in he comes with another twist. Having snubbed, unsnubbed, and then re-snubbed the award’s organisers, he’s now snubbed Barack Obama too. The outgoing US president this week hosted a party for this year’s various Nobel winners. And guess who didn’t turn up.
Shall we have a quick recap? Come on, let’s. It’ll be fun. So, as we know, Bobby D won the Nobel Prize for all that literature he wrote. Did he acknowledge this? Did he fuck. He said nothing. Rumours that he was refusing the award unless Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Keidis won it next year were a lie I made up that still amuses me far more than it should.
After a while, organisers at The Swedish Academy started getting a bit shirty and muttering that they might not hand over the considerable prize money that comes with their Nobel awards to Dylan. But then a few days later, the musician said in an interview of course he was dead chuffed about winning the prize, and then he wrote a letter to the Academy telling them so. All was fine, no one was in a grump. Or so we thought.
The next stage was for Dylan to agree that he would travel to Sweden to collect his prize, but only on the condition he wouldn’t have to talk to the bloody press about it. Then he looked up where Sweden actually was and decided that, actually, he had something more important to do that day.
So he won’t be going to the prize ceremony later this month. However, there is still the question of whether or not he will head over to Stockholm to give a lecture at some point in the following six months – that being the condition of him receiving that prize money. Given everything that’s happened so far, including this week’s debacle, I’m going to say no.
Anyway, this week’s debacle. On Wednesday, Obama invited the Nobel winners round to the White House for a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits. Winners of the physics prize Duncan Haldane and J Michael Kosterlitz were there. So was chemistry honouree J Fraser Stoddart. Even the winner of the economic sciences prize Oliver Hart was in attendance, despite the embarrassment of winning a prize for something that isn’t even a real thing.
No Bob though. Two people so curmudgeonly that they refuse to use, but still insist on acknowledging their first names managed to show up. But there was no Bob Dylan.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in his daily briefing on the morning of the event: “Unfortunately, Bob Dylan will not be at the White House today. So everyone can relax”.
Earnest also noted that Dylan had given no reason for not attending. As you might expect. I mean, “can’t be arsed, he’s not even really president anymore” sounds a bit rude.