Picking up the scent of controversy

Music: Bloodhound Gang's lyrics spur threat of student demonstrations, boycott of Art Attack at College Park.

May 04, 2000|By Brendan A. Maher | Brendan A. Maher,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

It's a hit on MTV, but the band Bloodhound Gang will find itself being tuned out by many students at the University of Maryland, College Park tomorrow night.

Citing song lyrics they say are extraordinarily offensive, several student groups have threatened public demonstrations, boycotts and letters urging other acts to cancel if the group is not pulled from the lineup scheduled to perform as part of the campus' annual Art Attack event.

Particularly upset are students of Asian descent, who say the band's lyrics are racially charged and culturally insensitive.

"A lot of students have strong feelings about this band, and they are baffled that the administration has not come out publicly to address their concerns," said graduate student Chris Liang.

Bloodhound Gang is currently enjoying a stint on the Billboard Top 20 with its single "The Bad Touch," a much-played pop tune whose refrain is inspired by images of animals copulating on the Discovery Channel.

But several of its other, lesser-known songs use ethnic slurs and have racist or sexist themes, including demeaning statements about African-Americans, homosexuals and women.

Most incendiary, its critics at Maryland say, is the track "Yellow Fever" from the band's most recent album, "Hooray for Boobies," which describes a fictitious Asian girlfriend as a sex slave doing laundry and leaving the singer "burnin' up like Napalm / burstin' like an A-bomb."

"[I am] most concerned with the [song's] sheer objectification of humanity," said Brecken Chinn Swartz, a graduate student in the College of Journalism.

Having the band perform at a school with a large Asian-American community, she said, "is a very poor decision and will be a divisive influence on the College Park community."

Some students have suggested that "Yellow Fever" and other offensive songs are not to be taken seriously, that Bloodhound Gang is little more than a "joke band." But others refuse to take them lightly.

The campus' Asian-American Student Union sent a notice to a number of student cultural groups objecting to the band's appearance. That led Student Entertainment Events, which organized the concert, to meet with concerned students. But the organizers decided to keep the band in the lineup.

They have defended their choice, citing both the group's wide popularity and the fact that they received no feedback when they called for student input on band choices. Canceling the band's appearance would mean forfeiting its fee, they say, and might mean that two other bands -- A and Nerf Herder, which were signed as a package with Bloodhound Gang -- would also be canceled.

As a result of the uproar, the university's Student Government Association, which funds Student Entertainment Events through student activities fees, has moved to investigate the ways in which bands are chosen for Art Attack.

A student legislator, Chandni Kumar, admitted that little more could be done since the group had already been booked but wanted "to bring to light student concerns."

That's not enough for students such as senior Jenna Wray, a women's studies major who was one of the first to raise concerns about the band's lyrics.

"I don't know what our very next move will be," Wray told the student newspaper, the Diamondback. "We feel like we've warned them that the result of not canceling the concert will be far worse than any money [they'd] lose by canceling."

Some ideas to counter the show include buying an advertisement in the Diamondback or chalking lyrics around campus, bringing attention to the band's most offensive phrasing.

Students say they may also try to contact Outkast, the Atlanta-based hip-hop band headlining Art Attack, and inform the group that its opening act plays material that is racially charged. Also, an online petition has been set up for students to voice their concerns to administrators.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.