Over the years, Jack White has taken umbrage with overzealous radio programmers , the Internet and, uh, Jason Stollsteimer (to name just a few) but in the new issue of Interview magazine, he lashes out at a new foe: The folks at Guinness World Records.
Yes, in what could only be described as the latest step in his ongoing transformation into the music world’s foremost eccentric — sorry, Kanye — White has lashed out at the venerable record-keeping institution, calling them “a very elitist organization” after they refused to acknowledge the White Stripes’ one-note performance in Newfoundland (seen in their 2010 doc “Under Great White Northern Lights” ) as “the shortest music concert ever.”
“I was thinking that afterwards we could contact the Guinness World Records people and see if we could get the record for the shortest concert of all time. So we did it, but ultimately, they turned us down,” White tells astronaut Buzz Aldrin (for real) in the Interview piece. “[They're] a very elitist organization. There’s nothing scientific about what they do. They just have an office full of people who decide what is a record and what isn’t … so something like the shortest concert of all time, they didn’t think [it] was interesting enough to make it a record. I don’t know why they get to decide that, but, you know, they own the book.”
Well, yes, they do own the book … and, as it turns out, the Stripes’ Newfoundland concert was featured in the 2009 edition of it, as a spokesperson for Guinness World Records pointed out to MTV News on Thursday (May 17). Of course, they’d subsequently remove the notation in later editions, though it had little to do with elitism and more to do with the simple fact that Guinness had no way of qualifying what actually counted as a performance.
“We received a large volume of applications from bands and performers seeking to beat this record. We got an influx of individuals claiming that simply appearing on stage was enough to qualify them for this record,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to MTV News. “It became increasingly difficult for us to measure this objectively (for example, how many members of the crowd need to be able to see the performer before they disappear off stage?)
“The nature of competing to make something the ‘shortest’ by its very nature trivializes the activity being carried out, and Guinness World Records has been forced to reject many claims of this kind,” the spokesperson continued. “As such, we have closed record categories for similar designations such as the shortest song, shortest poem, and also the record of shortest concert currently in question.”
Of course, the spokesperson was quick to add that Guinness World Records “admires the band and we encourage them to attempt any of the 40,000 active records currently housed in our database.” And knowing White, we’re pretty sure he’ll take them up on that offer. Soon.