So as I was watching a Daily Show clip my friend posted on Facebook, I realized that the next clip on the video player included Jack’s Mannequin (official website), a band I liked back in high school. Jack’s Mannequin has recently come out with a new album called The Glass Passenger as well as a DVD called Dear Jack. The DVD is a documentary that focuses on Andrew McMahon’s, the lead singer, battle with leukemia.
What I found interesting with Jack’s Mannequin’s performance on The Daily Show is that on top of the piano, there is a miniature statue of the Buddha. It’s in plain sight and I wished Jon Stewart asked about it, but it was never pointed out.
Most of the time, when I see Buddhism in American pop culture, it is either being used inappropriately or out of its religious and cultural context. But in this situation, I have a feeling Andrew McMahon didn’t just put the Buddha there because it looked cool. I tried to do some simple research to see if there are any connections with McMahon and Buddhism and I found an interview he did back in May 20, 2005:
Andrew: No, the Buddha thing, truth be told, as a figure, I don’t want to mislead people, I’m not a Buddhist. I enjoy studying that philosophy, it’s brilliant, but I more believe in a Taoist perspective of things. More than anything, the Buddha as a symbol, represents peace, and slowing yourself down. On stage, I can really lose my train of thought, or get carried away. It helps me realize where I am, and keeps me in the present moment. After playing so many shows, it’s easy to focus on the kid in the front row, instead of where you are in the lyric, and are you communicating that to people. That’s why I put the Buddha up there, for those moments where I was straying, and my mind was racing, to help ground me.
I like the idea of putting the Buddha on his piano to help him focus his mind in the present moment. I like that he knows why he puts it up there and it has meaning for him. And most of all, I’m just glad that for once, the Buddha isn’t misused in American pop culture. Thank you. You can watch the Daily Show clip of Jack’s Mannequin below.