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Banned In Grand Rapids


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"FOOTLOOSE 2010: Michigan vs Progression



Is it any wonder we are getting so much resistance to Mm when places like Grand Rapids bans a musical group from performing.









Throughout my love affair with Grand Rapids, I’ve always felt a dichotomy I couldn’t put my finger on. The fanfare regarding West Michigan’s alleged religious fervor is usually one of the first things one acknowledges if one is not from our area (that, and the dry campus myth …). However, through blind luck or as representative of who I spend my time with, I never came into too much contact with this. To me, Grand Rapids represents the polar opposite: a refreshing breath of life from what I grew up with in the Detroit suburbs. There are record stores where the owner cares about what you’re buying and often plays the same stuff you listen to. We have arts collections, indie movie houses and neighborhood bars re-imagining the city logo as a “bloody sabertooth Pac-Man.” This is the culture I always knew I wanted to be a part of and am proud to represent.


Then came the news.


Early last week, cheerful indie rock veterans The New Pornographers were deemed unfit to perform at a Grand Rapids venue. Naturally, one must imagine that new pornographers must surely be even more depraved, godless individuals than any old pornographers might be. This, of course, was the only deciding factor as to the cancellation of the show. Media outlets caught wind of this hilariously ironic event, and suddenly the 49503 made good on its reputation. Out-of-towners already send me their sympathies when I tell them I’m from Michigan. It’s like the boy who cried wolf, only I’m usually crying “Really guys, Grand Rapids is an awesome place! Don’t let the elites fool you!”


Why are we still judging books by their covers? More specifically, why are we dismissing art that is challenging or otherwise contradictory to our own experience? I respect the religious views of all kinds, but really? The New Pornographers have a song called “The Spirit of Giving,” and it’s not sarcastic or ironic. This decision to cancel the show only adds further frustration within members of my generation who are sick of being hammocked between the artistic playgrounds of Chicago and Detroit. In the age of information, how hard is it to click onto the band’s Myspace and save yourself the embarrassing press about silencing one of the least-offensive bands in music? Decisions such as this propagate stereotypes about the town I call home and project them on a national level, and that’s not something I feel comfortable with. Censoring art is unacceptable, and in most cases, those doing the censoring are utterly incapable of understanding the message or intent of the artist. But what’s so hard to understand about the band’s 2010 album titled “Together?” Sounds awfully like promotion of some depraved pornography agenda to me.


Tom Hardy


WGVU Production




WCKS The Whale


Program Director


Published September 19, 2010 in Editorial

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