Also overly sensitive analysis of Lou Reed lyrics. They hate that, too.
It pains us to report that the dumb shockwaves of outrage against “political correctness” triggered by the glib suggestion of an “Appropriation Award” for white writers commandeering the voice of someone from another culture is still providing fuel for hot takes in our city’s right-wing media circles, with two fine new jeremiads on the subject turning up over the weekend.
Fans of the Velvet Underground and lead singer Lou Reed’s 1972 solo album, Transformer, will be thrilled that Sun columnist Anthony Furey may himself possess a pair of shiny boots of leather, as he displays an easy familiarity with Reed’s work (and the whole Andy Warhol art scene in 60s New York) in his piece “Political correctness used to be a joke, now it’s downright scary“:
Speaking of rough-around-the-edges New York City sounds, Lou Reed is the latest artist to be deemed off limits. In Canada no less! For being transphobic!
The University of Guelph’s student association took to Facebook the other day to apologize for a “hurtful” incident that happened while they were selling bus passes to students.
They had music playing in the background and one of the songs—horror of horrors—was Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side.
Furey is very upset that the student association apologized for including the song in a playlist meant to evoke a 70s road trip feeling on site and quotes from the student association’s apology:
“We now know the lyrics to this song are hurtful to our friends in the trans community and we’d like to unreservedly apologize for this error in judgement.”
Huh? What lyrics? Well, presumably these lines from Reed’s iconic 1972 album Transformer:
Holly came from Miami, FLA
Hitch-hiked her way across the USA
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
She says, “Hey, babe,
Take a walk on the wild side”
However, Furey reveals that he is not as familiar with Lou Reed’s music as he may want you to believe, crediting the lyric about transgender Warhol scenester Holly Woodlawn as the controversial part, but he forgets all about a second trans character based on Factory superstar Candy Darling (who also inspired the Velvet Underground song, “Candy Says“: Candy’s section is the actual controversial part of the song. In fact, Reed’s American label, RCA, censored the reference to oral sex when it was released as a single:
Candy came from out on the island,
In the backroom she was everybody’s darling,
But she never lost her head
Even when she was giving head
Furey continues the unlikely use of Lou Reed’s music as a coat rack to hang his dire cultural warnings on:
If you voice a mild opinion on certain subjects these days that violates rules that you didn’t even know about in the first place, you can find yourself public enemy number one in no time.
The most tragicomic part of it all is that everyone who jumped on the bandwagon is clearly oblivious to the fact that their number could come up when they least expect it.
Another great song on Transformer is A Perfect Day. It’s got simple and upbeat (sic) lyrics:
Just a perfect day
Feed animals in the zoo
Then later a movie, too
And then home
But it’s got a haunting, sinister tone to it that tells us there are cracks underlying all of these niceties. At any moment, things could fall apart.
That’s the song students at Guelph should be playing on their loudspeakers next.
I did a Google search to see if rock scholar Furey had ever weighed in on Reed’s most contentious and challenging project, his 1975 double LP Metal Machine Music, an hour of structureless modulated guitar feedback noise which divided music critics at the time. Some wrote it off as an unlistenable prank Reed put out as a contractual obligation and others hailing it as a vanguard work of musical free expression, as influential to a niche of musicians as the Velvet Underground had been in the 60s, but sadly Furey has had little to say about Reed’s music in general outside of this weekend’s column.
Over at the National Post, Christie “Hold My Beer” Blatchford is similarly still upset about SJWs ruining everything for everyone and tries to keep the controversy alive in her weekend column, “In defense of the CBC’s Steve Ladurantaye from a fellow sinner.” Ladurantaye, who immediately retracted his Twitter support of the “Appropriation Award” after realizing he was in the company of right-wing cranks instead of free speech champions, was swiftly demoted from his prestigious position at CBC’s The National in the wake of the controversy, and Blatchford laments the breaking of another butterfly on the wheel of Political Correctness:
In the fall, CBC will “reassess his connection to The National going forward,” […] and in the interim, CBC News has created an “emerging leaders program” to develop a more diverse leadership team and is conducting “training about unconscious bias” across the country.
Oh good: Ladurantaye, having been through a “struggle session” straight out of Mao’s China, is now off to re-education camp.
It’s Canada, 2017, and journalists are in peril of losing their jobs or being pressured to quit for expressing controversial ideas.
But that is not the mind-blowing hot take in her column..it is this paragraph:
All in all, I think I’d rather face government repression or even a couple of terrorists with guns, as they did at Charlie Hebdo magazine not so long ago, than this insidious erosion of the freedom to think and write.
Most columnists in Toronto might pause after typing that they would be okay with a terrorist attack in their workplace if the alternative is a writer getting in trouble for being smug and insensitive, but Blatchford is no ordinary columnist: she turned this article in and her editors (and presumably Postmedia’s HR department) seemed to have no major issues with it. Of course, this flippant column seems even grimmer this morning in the wake of last night’s terrible terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester that killed and injured dozens, and which will sadly inspire a fresh round of hot takes from conservative columnists in the next few days.