The New Pornographers are hands down my favorite band. I’ve seen them live in concert twice and it was an incredible experience both times. I have all their albums, the B-sides, the bootlegs I’m not supposed to have, etc.
They play colleges, too, and Calvin College — a Christian school in Grand Rapids, Michigan — invited them to do a show.
But that’s not happening anymore.
Why not? Because — oh no! — their name has the word “pornography” in it and that’s too confusing for everyone!
Regrettably, Calvin College has decided to rescind its invitation to the band, The New Pornographers, slated to perform on Friday, October 15, 2010, in the Fieldhouse Complex on campus. We believe that the decision to invite the band fit our rubric of engaging culture through a Christian lens. The band makes good, thoughtful music, and we invited them here based on their artistic merit. However, 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. The Student Activities Office regrets the way this has happened. We regret the message we have sent to the band and their fans with this cancellation, and any confusion this has caused generally. We have been in contact with the band to explain this regret and the breakdown in our own processes that led us to first invite them and then withdraw that invitation. Calvin College remains committed to the difficult, yet important work at faithfully engaging popular culture.
What the hell…
Somehow, it wasn’t an issue when they sent the band the invitation… but it is now?
Here’s what I gather happened. Some older donors to the school heard about the event and assumed the school was allowing an orgy to take place on stage.
Instead of explaining that the name has nothing to do with actual pornography, the Student Activities Office just caved in and cancelled what would have been an excellent concert.
(Notice the explanation never explains who the “some” are who wrongly associate the band and the school with porn.)
This is a stupid decision made by cowardly administrators.
Not that it was needed, but how hard would it have been to just include a little disclaimer with press releases to indicate that the band’s name is a play on words?
I mean, is it really that hard for a Christian school to tell people not to take things so damn literally?!
(Someone, please tell the Barenaked Ladies not to accept invites from Calvin College anytime soon.)
***Update***: Wait… the Barenaked Ladies have played at Calvin College?! Then why are they cancelling the New Pornographers show?
Incidentally, here’s lead singer Carl Newman‘s explanation of where the name comes from:
“I saw the Japanese movie The Pornographers and I thought it was an interesting word. On the first Destroyer record, Dan has a song “the Pornographers.” I remember wanting to put the word new in front of something like “the new sneakers of the new Christy Minstrels.” I always thought that bands that put new in front of their name was somehow kind of modern in a false way. Like do you really have to call yourself the new? Does it really have to be illustrated by those words.’ So I like the words “the pornographers,” and “The New Pornographers” just fell together. I don’t know, I can’t tell if it’s a bad name or shitty name.”
It’s a fine name and an excellent band. It’s too bad Calvin College wants to deprive their students from hearing them because of “some” anonymous people who don’t have five seconds to Google the band and learn something about them before they complain.