Andrew W.K., the rocker best known for his party songs like “Party ‘Til You Puke,” had hoped to be in Bahrain this week, acting as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. State Department. But at the last minute, according to Andrew W.K., the folks at Foggy Bottom pulled the plug. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said late last month, “I think the conclusion was when they looked at the body of his work, that we didn’t need to be part of his invitation.”
Andrew W.K. appeared on Now With Alex Wagner Monday to give his side of the story. He said the trip had been in the works since last year, when he first received an email from the State Department inviting him to give a motivational speech in Bahrain.
“This was more about spreading a positive party message,” said Andrew W.K. “When I say ‘party,’ I mean about celebrating life, enjoying the opportunities that you have.”
The trip raises the larger, more complex question of how to use American culture to win over the hearts and minds in the Middle East.
“We just don’t really know how to deal with the region at large,” said The New Republic’s Franklin Foer. “Culture is one subset of this because there is a strong love-hate thing that’s going on with our culture in these places.”