Sunday, November 15, 2009

Beenie Man pulled from BDO lineup.
This afternoon, the BDO organisers released this statement...

"The Producers of Big Day Out have decided not to proceed with the proposed engagement of Jamaican Reggae performer Beenie Man for the Jan 2010 show.

Although aware of the controversial nature of Beenie Man and his previous lyrics that have caused offence with the Gay and Lesbian and wider community, the Producers understood that the artist had renounced these sentiments and no longer expresses those views.

Notwithstanding claims of a commitment to the Reggae Compassionate Act which he signed in 2007 and a promise of adherence to peaceful and humanistic values for the dates here by Beenie Man, the depth of feeling and hurt amongst these groups has convinced us that for us to proceed with his Big Day Out appearances was, and would continue to be, divisive amongst our audience members and would mar the enjoyment of the event for many.

For this reason we have decided not to proceed." (Sourced from Coup De Main magazine).

The response on social media sites like Twitter was mixed, with Coup De Main agreeing with me that yes, it's censorship "but you have to admit its pretty cool that some random girls came up w/ the initiative & it actually worked." A lot of folk seemed to think it was a good thing that this homophobic singer was not coming to NZ.

One of the organisers of the Facebook group protesting Beenie Man's appearance said on Morning Report that she hoped that Beenie Man would come to NZ, so they could go along to the BDO and protest while he played.

Back in 1989, (20 years ago) rapper Ice T released and album called "Freedom of Speech: Just watch what you say". He'd been subjected to intense pressure by lobby groups like the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Centre, led by Tipper Gore, wife of greenie Al Gore) over his lyrics.

"The album was released after Ice-T had been encountering censorship problems on tour. In The Ice Opinion: Who Gives a Fuck?, the rapper states that "People had already told me what I could not say onstage in Columbus, Georgia. You couldn't say anything they called a 'swear' word. You couldn't touch yourself. They were using the same tactics they used on everyone from Elvis and Jim Morrison to 2 Live Crew" (from Wikipedia).

Ice T's response to the PMRC was blunt: "Hey PMRC, you stupid fuckin' assholes / The sticker on the record is what makes 'em sell gold / Can't you see, you alcoholic idiots / The more you try to suppress us, the larger we get." (from the song What ya wanna do).

That last line (The more you try to suppress us, the larger we get) highlights the big point over this absurd controversy about Beenie man and a few of his songs -  his profile is at an all-time high in NZ right now. A savvy promoter would be on the phone booking him for some NZ shows over the summer.

So, where do we draw the line? When is censorship okay? How do we decide when it's okay?
Take Manukau City Mayor Len Brown. In August 2007, Brown was running as a mayoral candidate. To boost his profile, he launched a verbal attack on rapper Ice Cube, prior to the rapper's NZ show.

"Why is Ice Cube coming to the Telstra Pacific Centre on 22 August this year? We don't want him. We don't need him. He is not welcome here,” said Brown. "Ice Cube brings a gangsta message to our community via his gangsta rap. This message promotes gangs, gang violence and drugs.” Brown then stated: "We don't want this in our homes. We don't want it on our streets.”

This is the same Len Brown who was namechecked by Savage at the NZMA's, and appeared onstage with Savage at the I Love the Islands concert, where Brown professed his love for hiphop.

1 comment:

Uroskin said...

Surely hate (and call to murder) speech such as expressed by Mr Beenie is in a different category to inane Tourette's rappers, no?