The New Pornographers’ October 15 Concert Cancelled On Account Of AWESOME BAND NAME

(above : where taking things way too literally meets no fun whatsoever)

The Grand Rapids Press’ John Serba reports The New Pornographers’ scheduled gig on October 15 at Calvin College has been scrapped.  Since the above headline already explains why, you might want to visit another website rather than continue reading.  Still here?  OK!

The college released a statement explaining, “after weeks of discussion and consideration, the irony of the band’s name was impossible to explain to many. The band’s name, to some, is mistakenly associated with pornography. Consequently, Calvin, to some, was mistakenly associated with pornography. Neither the college nor the band endorses pornography.”

Calvin student activities director Ken Heffner, who books concerts for the college, said refunds would be issued today, and that the cancellation is a “peaceful parting of ways” between the school and the band. The group was scheduled to perform Oct. 15 in the Calvin Fieldhouse Complex. The Calvin box office can be reached at 526-6282.

Keep in mind, this is (allegedly) an institution of higher learning devoted to the liberal arts. And with all due respect to Mr. Heffner and the Calvin board of trustees, decisions like this — or as I like to call ’em, defacto censorship — can have a chilling effect on free expression.  Would Calvin College’s student activities board cancel an appearance by Cannibal Corpse, merely because neither they or the band endorse cannibalism?  Would Calvin turn down a chance to award Michigan treasure Doc Dart an honorary doctorate (thus making him “Doctor Doc Dart”) merely because Lansing’s great man of letters once fronted a band called The Crucifucks?

Probably, yes.  But that doesn’t make it any less sad and I suspect the entire Calvin College community are the poorer for it.

13 thoughts on “The New Pornographers’ October 15 Concert Cancelled On Account Of AWESOME BAND NAME”

  1. Seems like some people have meaningless jobs and have to take a public stand once in a while to justify being on the payroll..
    Nice to see the Calvinists getting back to their roots, exercising their freedom in America to preach an intolerant theology…

  2. Oh My Freakin’ God,

    Thank the Lord that there is a place like Las Vegas whereby liberal-minded heathens can congregate to hear the devil’s music!!
    Neko Case, I am looking for you, Catpower and Liz Phair to share my suite!!!! (OK, you too Bob Pollard, but you provide the drinks!!!)

  3. Ironically, Liz Phair was booked at Calvin 13 years or so ago, performed “Flower” and all… I live in G.R. and many of my friends and I are bummed that the show was cancelled. Calvin has been booking good bands for several years now, which was not the case in the 70s/80s/and most of the 90s. This decision sucks for our music loving community.

  4. That’s crazy. I’m particularly shocked because when it comes to Christian institutions of higher education, Calvin actually has a pretty good record of engaging all facets of culture, regardless of creed, belief, or, er, name. Bummer.

  5. Oh geesh, a respected, good venue for many sorts of thoughtful artists has made a complicated decision and folks call it something akin to terrorism. It isn’t even censorship–nobody is forbidding the Pornographers to play or outlawing their their records so that jab is just silly talk. This is an important debate and ought not be side-tracked by inaccurate comments like that.

    For more than a decade Calvin has brought in remarkable artists and many indie bands love playing there because they get treated well, get to talk about their artistic vision, are given time with students and are respected. They brought in truly notable bands, had artists lecture, and have pushed the envelope within the evangelical community in ways that are truly insightful. So cut ’em some slack. Nobody wants to make light of sexual violence and if the name was causing painful conversations, as apparently it was, I’m sure the folks who book bands at Calvin were deeply conflicted about it all. Terrorism? That’s ridiculous.

  6. “The New Pornographers” is a brilliant band name but I found myself “censoring” it slightly in emails and on msg boards too, calling them the NPs, or the New [email protected] or something. Still, this is a bit sad…

  7. An unfortunate decision to be sure, but give Calvin credit for bringing acts to the college that are often cutting edge and risky for a Christian, evangelical institution. I’m an alumnus, and have seen many great shows, been privy to thoughtful interactions between various bands and students, and trust that the healthy tradition of engaging faith with pop culture will continue there.

  8. After careful consideration, the Christians at Calvin College decided to book a double bill of more appropriately named artists, who surely will not offend anyone. The show is going to feature:

    Jesus and the Mary Chain
    The Jesus Lizard

    Nice Christian bands, these.

  9. Byron:

    What is complicated about the decision they made? The decision was based on a knee-jerk reaction to the word “Pornographers”.

    I’ve seen the New Pornographers in concert and there was no pornography present. The trustees of the college surely know this. So, in essence, they are denying artists the privilege (notice I didn’t say “right”) to perform at their college based on a word.

    Very fucking enlightened.

    Yeah, they may be well respected by indie bands and all that other nonsense you said, but what it comes down to is this: They are afraid of a word

    They need to be very clear as to why they canceled the performance: They were afraid of a word.

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