PABAAH?! Gensundheit!
November 16, 2004 5:31 PM   Subscribe

Another salvo in the growing culture war. PABAAH (Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti-American Hollywood) takes on Skinny Puppy and college radio. College radio mostly yawns; Some fans resort to bad language and idle threats, a few others offer highly eloquent and reasoned replies.
posted by loquacious (50 comments total)
Frankly, I find some of the responses to be juvenile and overwrought, but understandable in their angst. Then, I don't exactly trust an operation like PABAAH to pick out the most well-reasoned responses and display them. I wonder if they'll be posting the hate mail sent to college radio stations because of this? I know we used to get a lot of stuff from various crackpots and curmudgeons years ago, well before BushCo. Some of them even ended up hosting their own shows anyway.

Though, I think this guy is more than a little confused, and not just about the following: My old Alma Mater is listed in the included-for-boycott college radio list, and AFAIR we never recieved any federal funding. The majority of our funding came from listeners, and a grant from the school itself in the form of free rent and utilities - in exchange for broadcasting school sports and other special events at their command, usurping regular programming. The only "federal funding" I can think of is the granted FCC license, and the whole FCC licensing non-commercial community broadcasts thing is kind of specious to begin with.

So... uh... boycott away, PABAAH. It's pretty obvious you're not actually listening anyway. I hope you realize that a lot of college radio stations also host church/religion related broadcasts as well as providing a voice for both sides of the left-right fence. (My radio station was pretty much dominated by conservative/religious/business talk programs during the day (except for a few leftish talk shows), and alternative/lefty music programs by night. (except for a few conservative-ish music programs. Go figure.)
posted by loquacious at 5:32 PM on November 16, 2004

This is a joke, right? And aren't the members of Skinny Puppy Canadian anyway?
posted by Slothrup at 5:35 PM on November 16, 2004

This so-called culture war is 90% inside peoples heads. It's a cheap tactics by the right to distract from political realities and the left is incredibly stupid for buying into it so wholeheartedly.
posted by jonmc at 5:36 PM on November 16, 2004

This so-called culture war is 90% inside peoples heads.

Where is the so-called culture located?
posted by crunchburger at 5:41 PM on November 16, 2004

Jonmc: The Constitution also exists only in our heads, as do all these other concepts, be it law, music, art, religion, or politics.

Being that the Constitution is a (usually) mutually-agreed upon fiction, when others begin attacking it - to even suggest that it must be changed to benefit one particular subset of society at the detriment of another (and equally valid!) subset, much less begin taking the stance or actually taking action to change or manipulate it - them's fighting words.

But, yeah. I'm laughing. For now. For now.
posted by loquacious at 5:44 PM on November 16, 2004

What part of dissent, exactly, do you feel is unpatriotic?

What part of having a differing opinion and expressing it is

I wait with bated breath for your reply.

We're all waiting.

I love how they print everyone's email address, to encourage people to flame the hell out of everyone, even the reasonable ones. I hate that angry mob justice mentality. Reminds me how Bill O'Reilly and many right wing movements do their business.
posted by mathowie at 5:49 PM on November 16, 2004

Culture and politics are two separate beasts, crunch. The spinmeisters on the right have framed everything as Mel Gibson vs. Barbara Steisand or something equally stupid to distract people from actually thinking about issues and how they affect their lives. And the left eats it up with a spoon (witness Fuck The South, Urban Archipelago and stuff like it), which is self defeating.

The reasons we buy into this are manifold. Culture is a large part of how we craft our identity. Plus reducing complex, pluralistic situations to simplistic us vs. them propositions sapres people having to think (especially about themselves and their part in things) and it makes for more inherent drama. Sadly it dosen't help things.

Look, you can listen to tp 40 country, eat tater tots and still vote democrat. I sure there's people who go to the symphony and eat sushi who voted for bush. Out of self-interest, convictions or whatever.

There's room for just about all flavors of culture as far as I'm concerned. Mashing it into politics like so much fly shit into pepper muddys waters that should be clear and turns deadly serious issues into a hipster bitch session or a high school clique war.

That's what I mean by it's all in our heads, loquacious.
posted by jonmc at 5:50 PM on November 16, 2004

Fuck PABAAH. I got all my Skinny Puppy listenin' in 15 years ago. They've already got to me.

These reactionary imbiciles are going to have to do a lot more than staging ineffective boycotts of bands, causes and products who have already had their effect on fans. You see, the counter-culture that is spawning around us can't sell-out, it isn't patriotic, it fits none of the reactionary theocratic right's pardigms. They literally want to control the number of possible thoughts a subject can legally have. This cannot be done without mass slaughter.

So what'll it be?

jonmc you are exactly right. 90% is all in our heads. I submit that we take 50% of that and take it away from the theocratic agitators. That way they'll only get 40% of the expected response.

I can't wait for the era of the big church property sell-off. You think you can get deals on eBay now?
posted by crasspastor at 5:53 PM on November 16, 2004

There was an angry reaction to the Ohgr (a Skinny Puppy spin-off) video Majik a while back.
posted by homunculus at 5:53 PM on November 16, 2004

This letter's pretty old, apparently.
posted by kenko at 5:55 PM on November 16, 2004

What the hell? Skinny Puppy got back together? They're touring again? I thought half the band died?
sigh... I'm getting so old.
posted by Blake at 5:56 PM on November 16, 2004

jonmc, I agree with you, up until the point a theocratic (or any) regime tries to tell me (or anyone) what culture I can or cannot partake of or participate in. And that's already happened to me personally, is currently happening, and it's increasing alarmingly. From both corporate media and the political arena.
posted by loquacious at 6:01 PM on November 16, 2004

How many "cultural conservatives" out there are listening to college radio stations that would play Skinny Puppy to begin with? I'm thinking that the proposed boycott won't have much of an impact.

Meanwhile, my boycott of radio stations that play Toby Keith continues...
posted by mr_roboto at 6:04 PM on November 16, 2004

shit. Skinny Puppy is still around? i listened to them when i was in college. hopefully this will kick up their shows' attendance a notch. (though it didn't work so well for Al J.)

the responses are likely filtered to remove the most rational and unique. however, the forums are comedy gold, if depressing shit makes you laugh.

here's an insightful look at how "the other side" thinks. remember, we gotta learn more so that we can reach out!

HOW can a Commander in Chief hold an Anti-War stance???

won't someone think of the children?!?!
posted by mrgrimm at 6:05 PM on November 16, 2004

jonmc, I agree with you, up until the point a theocratic (or any) regime tries to tell me (or anyone) what culture I can or cannot partake of or participate in.

Agreed, loquacious. But that's only half the battle. And not all the Bush voters (or the non-voters, more importantly, since they're the ones "withdrawing in disgust" from political involvement) are being swayed be theocratic stuff.

I'm anti-banning just about everything. We just gotta quit taking the bait and letting petty shit like this drown out the real debate.
posted by jonmc at 6:08 PM on November 16, 2004

This letter's pretty old, apparently.

nope. apparently Orge and Key patched things up. this was posted on the PABAAH site yesterday. i assume that Skinny Puppy is just picking up where Ohgr left off. shame that i don't listen to much industrial these days. maybe this is a sign.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:12 PM on November 16, 2004

"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism." - President Thomas Jefferson
posted by Stuart_R at 6:13 PM on November 16, 2004

ok. i'll bite. what's the "real debate" (preferably in 50 words or less)?
posted by mrgrimm at 6:13 PM on November 16, 2004

economics. civil liberties. the war. crime. stuff like that.

Not tv shows, rap music, what foods we eat, music we listen to, or what zip codes we chose to live in.

Religion is a thornier question because, as you say, people can use religion to push through laws that have a very real affect on peoples freedoms. But at the same time it's integral part of the fabric of many good people's (of all political stripes) lives, so pushing too hard on it can alienate people. But if I had the answer to how to handle that one, I'd be thanking the Nobel academy.

Maybe I'm hoping for a world like the back cover of War's Why Can't We Be Friends. But as Abbie Hoffman put it:

Ask someone what they want. If they say, "I wanna beat the shit out of people like you," build him a boxing ring.

Way over 50 words, but I wanted to articulate something that I think is important and germane to the topic.
posted by jonmc at 6:23 PM on November 16, 2004

jonmc: I hear and have heard what you're saying, and for the benefit of those that would (potentially, from what I've seen) simply react to the fact your handle is attached to your words:

This gets back into the whole linguistic framing problem that the left keeps getting trapped in. It's extremely difficult to not play ball on the court that the right has managed build, and even harder to win. They built the court, the ball, everything else. Even acknowledging that there is a linguistic framing problem is almost like conceding defeat. Somehow, they built it, you're on the court, and you've got some sort of suspiciously rigged ball in your hands, even though none of this validates either side at all. It only manipulates, tactically. (Simplistic, at hand, and well known example of framing: "You're either with us or against us." Expand and extrapolate that.)

I've actually said this before somewhere or other, and I agree with you. The solution would seem to be to stop playing on that court, keep on doing what you'd normally want to do, and try to make for a fast break to protect and expand on the hard won victories of Civil Rights and Free Speech, et al.

There's still more road ahead, and it's only going to get rougher as far as I can see. Privacy and others keep losing ground.

My fear is that the ideological doors to the proverbial ball court may be rapidly closing, and that may easily lead to extremists practicing direct action upon those they don't agree with, rather than law, civil or otherwise. (And this particular fear of violence isn't entirely limited to the right-wing extremists, but all extremists, especially as we seem to becoming even more polarized.)

So, yeah, I agree. But I'm not really mollified.

Culture is vastly important. Art is important, politically, philosophically, motivationally. Good art - in any and all forms, forms not even yet invented - either addresses issues or expresses some aspect of humanity, as honestly as possible.

When people start legislating art to be a certain way, society and culture can no longer express itself honestly through the communicative nature of art.

One of the reasons why any given art becomes 'popular' is because the artist is saying something or communicating something to the recipient that agrees with what the recipient has already thought themselves, or that the new idea is agreeable. It speaks to the audience about their normally private thoughts.

Limiting what art or culture someone would chose to partake of or in inherently makes thought a crime.

And that's the part that bothers me. A lot.

Err, sorry for the sports metaphors. I don't even follow those kinds of sports, which would probably be evident to any fan. And is 1984 the new Godwin's law? And didn't Nazi Germany seize control of the arts and media and purge the artists before it all got really, really awful? *shudder*)
posted by loquacious at 6:47 PM on November 16, 2004

The reason not to play the new Skinny Puppy is that is sounds like a bad Skinny Puppy wannabe band (Placebo Effect, XMarksthePedwalk, etc) with some 2004 production.

That said, Skinny Puppy has been doing stuff like this for 20 years now (you're not the only old one Blake). Their career got a definite jump start when they landed on a Tipper Gore list with Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse. I hope this helps the comeback tour a little bit. I also wish some of the responding programmers were more articulate than "get a life you right wing nutjob. I hope you get AIDS" and "Hey **** you, you ****ing nazis. Keep your nazi propaganda to yourself and **** off."
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 7:00 PM on November 16, 2004

Don't apologize for the sports metaphors. First lesson in linguistic framing. Knock it out the park, slugger.

And FWIW, I'm with you on declaring partaking of any art "thought-crime." Although to be fair both the left and the right do that just with different criteria. For the right it's anything remotely sexual or violent, for (some elements of) the left it's anything that could be remotely concieved as sexist or racist. I've had my choices in entertainment raked over the coals by both sides on occasion and it's wrong no matter where it comes from. But that's a whole other debate.

Simplistic, at hand, and well known example of framing: "You're either with us or against us."

By saying, "Jesus, your paranoid," to whoever says that. Americans have an aversion to that kind of thinking deep down if it's made blatant enough, I believe. Maybe we need to work on making the right get more blatant.

Culture is vastly important. Art is important, politically, philosophically, motivationally.

Absolutely. And we on the left are masters at using it in our favor politically when we have our head on straight; ie, embracing our populist side. There's a story in Joe Klien's biography of Woody Guthrie about the Communist Party* around the time of Woody's embrace of it. First Woody had problems with the party heirarchy since like any good Oklahoma country boy, he refused to renounce his faith. Then Klien mentions that at the time, the Party's idea of cultural outreach to the proletariat was recordings of choirs sing the Internationale. Naturally Woody set them straight pretty quick.

I believe a chapter in Orwells Road To Wigan Pier addresses this same subject.

*I'm not a Marxist by any strecth of the imagination but you see wher I'm going, I hope.
posted by jonmc at 7:02 PM on November 16, 2004

american patriot - the author of the letter in question - has been hounding puppy since the majik video mentioned above. Yes Ogre and Key are back together and they have a site here. The tour for the new record, The Greater Worng of the Right, is on it's second leg, and for those interested drop by Litany and check it out. Especially the forums where you will find all kinds of good info, especially on A.P. Blake and Mr. Grimm - get ye to a record shop now. And loquacious, the sly reference to "who's Lauging Now" was great, and sorry to not contribute to this thread other than to let them know they're baaaack. (With a remix album in the works as well as a DVD that they shot footage for in Toronto and Montreal recently.)

on preview - spartacusroosevelt, do you really think so. I'm a longtime fan, and i really like the new one.
posted by grimley at 7:09 PM on November 16, 2004

These PABAAH guys have a better shot at talking about Freud with a poodle than getting a high level of discourse on politics from your typical college radio DJ. I was one for quite some time (WUNH), and when you're deep in that scene your capacity for complex thought starts and ends at "fuck the majors!"

Present company excepted, of course.
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:17 PM on November 16, 2004

Grimley: hehe, I'll have to admit that reference "sly reference" was a total accident, though it might have been subconscious 'cause I have heard that album. Stranger stuff has happened.

And I'm not a huge fan of Skinny Puppy - even though (on my way to band camp) I apparently made out with some woman who was apparently a keyboardist for Too Dark Park when I was still stuck in Orange County in the early '90s. In a some seedy motel no less. Though, I wouldn't rush to turn 'em off if they came on the radio or something.

I dunno, I just really don't do angsty, angry music any more. Screechcore, y'know I can barely listen to NIN now, even though at one point I was at the least warm on them. I think the only track of theirs I play any more is "A Warm Dark Place". Nitzer Ebb is alright. I just don't need music that wallows in anger or is incoherent or rageful. I still occasionally play me some Ministry, or Pigface. Maybe some Einsterzende Neubauten, or Throbbing Gristle, or Psychic TV. Babyland. Or even better some Steel Pole Bathtub or Milk Cult, but I just can't be bothered to actually get angsty about it.

Truth be told, acid house, techno and ambient ran happily away with me a decade and a half ago. Jazz. Improv. Experimental. I listen to some dark stuff, but I also listen to some really fluffy, bleepy kinda happy and mellow stuff usually. I love the 8-bit stuff.

I'm not dissing the industrial dance noise, it literally just doesn't do much for me any more. Quite a few of my friends still enjoy the heck out of it though, no worries.
posted by loquacious at 7:38 PM on November 16, 2004


been reading through the responses to the emails and find the situation rather promising. many of the people he singled out are going to play them for the first time. On the Ebb front, you should check out Fixmer/McCarthy, the last Neubauten is excellent and not that noisy - and the best live show that I have seen , ever - and the two Damage Manual records are pretty great too. I don't listen to it all the time either. It's a mood thing, though not very much of an angst-y thing anymore, agreed. Again, not that realted to the post, it was a good one.
posted by grimley at 7:47 PM on November 16, 2004

Where were these rightwing freedom haters back in '88 when Skinny Puppy wrote these lyrics?

"at ground zero pro independence heavier than air fumes city of chemical alleged cyanide gas on to karbala what is the difference between israel's plight a belief in outside influence like scalding water a side effect of their faces and lungs burn a sudden harsh smell 2 weeks after still coughing and choking livid skin blisters burn often posters leaflets nightly radio and television programs dead instructions in the use of such basic devices as a damp towel lined with charcoal to be applied to the face and mouth when the beep beep beep gas attack warning signal sounds the dead were among porcelain face of cloud of frozen gas poison jagged fragment jew iranian iraqi bombs sun the first cyanide gas warning vx nerve gas"

They'd rather speak out against the messengers, rather than the senseless loss of human life... especially if our country might be part of the problem.
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:53 PM on November 16, 2004

theory goes, insomnia - and I don't have the link to back this up - that A.P. was a fan and then was born again. And they have updated VX Gas Attack on the new tour, with new lyrics and footage.
posted by grimley at 7:58 PM on November 16, 2004

How is this different than linking to any other freeper internet performance art? Isn't that regarded as a bad idea, as demonstrated by the shenanigans at the other filter today?
posted by mwhybark at 8:02 PM on November 16, 2004

Anyone notice that CJAM is listed? Now I'm no radiologist, but I'm pretty sure the "C" stands for "Canada."
posted by chachee at 8:06 PM on November 16, 2004

insomnia_lj: Whenever I hear about Saddam gassing kurds and the Iran/Iraq war, I mentally play the opening to VX Gas Attack in my head.

grimley: it just doesn't do it for me. I have been a fan since Cleanse and it just feels like a by the numbers SP record to me. The utter chaos of Last Rights is my favorite and I guess I wanted more of that. It feels too structured to me comparatively. I have listened to it more than my comment reflects though. Maybe I am still more than a little bitchy in the wake of Balance's death.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 8:13 PM on November 16, 2004

i declare war on all abstract wars
posted by muppetboy at 8:33 PM on November 16, 2004

Daily Show does PABAAH.
posted by punishinglemur at 8:38 PM on November 16, 2004

Anyone notice that CJAM is listed? Now I'm no radiologist, but I'm pretty sure the "C" stands for "Canada."

yep, it's canadian, broadcasting out of windsor (university), but the signal reaches detroit of course & they do cross border events.

it's just astounding how desperate some folks are to control how others think and live. they're sick, sick people.
posted by t r a c y at 9:34 PM on November 16, 2004

loquacious and jonmc have an interesting discussion that I'm surprised hasn't been joined by others.

And that's already happened to me personally, is currently happening, and it's increasing alarmingly. From both corporate media and the political arena.

It would seem that corporate media has an interest in a more broadly casted audience (such as super bowl viewers, etc.) but that there certainly is a place where money can be made gathering a collection of more "subversive" art/culture. I mean it's already been pointed out that this kind of publicity can be a benefit to bands like Skinny Puppy, and it is likely that these college dj's will play the album even more now that they've been provoked. Certainly PABAAH is using an economic (albeit non-functioning in this case) model to combat the evil of Skinny Puppy not only through boycotts but bringing to light the funding of these stations. I guess it seems that at a certain level creativity does need to be fostered, if nothing else to keep capitalism cranking out new ideas - I mean won't drug commercials in the future need some industrial music to ply their wares? Does corporate media really shut you down or does it merely force you to look elsewhere?

I fully agree with the political and religious pressure on the arts, and the looming "thought crime" problem - however, the basketball analogy is giving me problems. These ideological portals to the b-ball court don't seem to be closing that fast, and in fact I think people like Obama and J. Edwards are making strides to redefine these moral and cultural issues in a more progressive and palatable manner.
posted by Sellersburg/Speed at 10:27 PM on November 16, 2004

Yes insomnia. They are all hypocrites. Where the fuck were these johnny-come-lately Skinny Puppy detractors in 1988? That's when their "damage" to formative minds began for chrissake.

I've wondered whether an author like Kurt Vonnegut or E.L. Doctorow could be imprisoned these days for words they wrote fifty years ago. I've seriously begun to wonder whether we have reached that level of defacto, incurious security that would begin to jail and "disappear" those who point out uncomfortable inconsistencies.

The next move is the one taken by the incipient police state. From there, we as humans will do what we must next.
posted by crasspastor at 1:01 AM on November 17, 2004

I think it's strange that they're targeting Skinny Puppy and not all the other bands who introduce anti-Bush propaganda into their shows. For example, I saw Ministry about a month ago and they were laying it on pretty thick. KMFDM does it as well (what with their latest album being called "WWIII" and all).

I saw Puppy in Chicago earlier this year, on their first national tour (they're currently on a second one), and the only political content was them giving a different context to their (1988) song "VX Gas Attack". Apparently they've upped the ante with their second tour.

Skinny Puppy was never that much of a political band anyways (except for the whole animal-rights thing). I agree with the sentiments, but I think they should just leave it alone.
posted by neckro23 at 1:08 AM on November 17, 2004

I agree with the sentiments, but I think they should just leave it alone.

If artists always did what they "should have been doing" we wouldn't have any art in the first place. Therefore no mefi thread in which to discuss.
posted by crasspastor at 1:23 AM on November 17, 2004

All good people are asleep and dreaming.
posted by Otis at 5:07 AM on November 17, 2004

Thanks for the Daily Show clip. Clearly PABAAH is doing a great service to America by keeping people safe from the dangers of communist movies like "Elf".
posted by Stuart_R at 5:52 AM on November 17, 2004

One interesting point that seems to get lost in a lot of these debates: Hollywood would lose a lot of its global revenues if all it did wasn jingo for America. And the international revenues of the entertainment industry are kind of critical to our economy....
posted by lodurr at 5:57 AM on November 17, 2004

I love how they print everyone's email address, to encourage people to flame the hell out of everyone.

Indeed. But when I tried to send Daryl an email I realised I had to register first and I wasn't up to it. So, here is my email, for better or for worse: "Daryl, you're my man! Can you please send me a photo of yourself? I'm collecting assholes!"
posted by acrobat at 6:10 AM on November 17, 2004

I caught something on the news this a.m. about ABC apologizing for this incident. Still the heat on Puppy is interesting, and neckro, they were always a political band - it just depends on your definition of politics. Remember "this kind of pornography is a matter of artistic creativity."
posted by grimley at 6:43 AM on November 17, 2004

Per the Constitution, Kerry is illegible to run!!!
can someone PLEASE explain to me why the Bush campaign didn't sink their teeth into this

This = 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, Section. 3: No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, ...., who, having previously taken an oath, officer of the United States... to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.
Probably because he was never tried and convicted of those actions ( guess) or some other silly loophole his lawyers skated through

Damn that wily Kerry and his silly loopholes! How dare he sit in the Senate, much less run for president!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:56 AM on November 17, 2004

Ooops! Forgot to post that the above was taken from the PABAAH forum
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:00 AM on November 17, 2004

On the practical side, the mere idea of boycotting college radio is amusing for the simple reason that nobody* listens anyway. I say this as someone who has done a weekly show on a college radio station for the last 17 years or so.

*to a reasonable approximation
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 8:44 AM on November 17, 2004

Skinny Puppy was never that much of a political band anyways (except for the whole animal-rights thing).

...and the environmentalism thing, and the anti-war thing, and the AIDS awareness thing. But other than that they're not political at all, nosiree.

"We are centrist dissidents," Ogre said at the St. Louis show (couple weeks before the election) on this recent tour.
posted by Foosnark at 9:58 AM on November 17, 2004

I hadn't planned on buying the new CD until just now. Well, I guess I can pick it up while I'm out filling the gaps in my Coil collection. Amoeba Records will be loving me today.
posted by malocchio at 10:15 AM on November 17, 2004

This type of boycott is ineffective when the band has such low name recognition in the country as a whole. All it will do is raise their name recognition from a fraction of a percentage point to the single digits. If anything, it will probably increase sales among the teenage kids of the boycotters. "Wow, I never heard of this band, but if they piss off my parents that much, they must be badass."
posted by jonp72 at 4:57 PM on November 17, 2004

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