Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Update: Banton show CANCELLED in Salt Lake, still scheduled in Aspen, Denver; my conversation with representatives from those venues

Lots of news about the Buju Banton controversy. Salt Lake's Urban Lounge has now cancelled the October 8 show. And I just finished having two very interesting conversations with the venues in Aspen and Denver regarding Banton's tour dates there.

At 1:27 PM, the Deseret News released the following information:
The Buju Banton concert scheduled at the Urban Lounge on Oct. 8 has been canceled. Urban Partners Inc., the company that books the shows for the Urban Lounge and Kilby Court, axed the show after it was brought to their attention that gay organizations consider Banton's lyrics homophobic. "When initially scheduling the Buju Banton event, we were unaware of his hateful anti-gay message," Urban Partners said in a statement. "Upon further review, Urban Lounge has decided to cancel the event."

Denver update: I called the Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom. The receptionist took a message for me, and confirmed that they had received several inquiries and complaints about booking Mr. Banton. When I asked whether these were local or national calls, she said they were local. At the time of my call, she said she could "not presently confirm" whether the show would go on as scheduled. She said she would have one of the owners call me back. And, to my pleasant surprise, I received a call a few minutes later from Jay Bianchi, co-owner of Carvantes. "We are not cancelling the show," he confirmed, and said he believed the truth is "somewhere in between." He also pointed out some other interesting insights: The Cervantes, he said, is "not in the financial position" to cancel the show. He said one Denver-area activist who complained was invited to attend the show for free to find out for himself what Mr. Banton is saying and singing presently. Mr. Bianchi also admitted that rumors that Banton has been videotaped singing "Boom Boom Bye" in more recent years did raise troubling questions.

One of Mr. Bianchi's more insightful comments was that most of the emails he has received from GLBT activists did little more than cut and paste already-used message points. Mr. Bianchi seemed to imply (reasonably, I think) that such emails were probably not as persuasive as ones that were unique and written personally by the senders.

My conversation with a promoter from Belly Up Aspen was equally productive. She told me that the owner, Michael Goldberg, was extremely concerned about the complaints he'd been receiving, and that the venue was connected with many progressive, pro-gay causes (which is true). She believed that those who were complaining about Banton were relying on outdated information, and that she believed Banton had apologized. In fact, however, she was referring to the same press release I posted in last night's blog post, which did not, in fact, contain a personal apology from Mr. Banton, and contained some other inconsistencies. I assured her that Shared Sacrifice Media was not on a witch hunt, that we believed the Aspen community and the Belly Up venue were respectable, progressive entities, and that we just wanted every side of the story. She promised to have Michael Goldberg get back to me. She said they had received some "uneducated" emails by protesters relying on the previously mentioned outdated information. She said "we support the gay community." No reason to doubt that, even though it's questionable whether Mr. Banton and his publicists have sincerely repudiated the hateful language of his past.

Here's a request--something that would be very helpful for us. It's been alleged that Mr. Banton recently said "the war between me and faggots will never end." If anyone has a citation or reliable link confirming or denying this allegation, PLEASE send it to me at stannard@sharedsacrifice.us.

Also, of course, we're going to be podcasting on this controversy again tonight, from 8-9 PM mountain time. You can find the podcast at blogtalkradio.com/shared_sacrifice.

UPDATE: Thanks to Jimbo Maritato, Shared Sacrifice's resident culture guru, we have an answer to the reference question above: The line is from the song "Fire Burn Batty." The video is here. Jimbo advises: "The line you are looking for is belted out at the 2:20 mark." He found the information from a comment on Robin Gorsline's blog.
The video contains other seemingly demeaning references to gays. See for yourself. I may have to email the venues in Denver and Aspen for follow-up commentary.


Jimbo said...

The line in question is from the song Fire Burn Batty.

Video is here:


The line you are looking for is belted out at the 2:20 mark.

Found it through here: http://robingorsline.wordpress.com/

matt said...

Thanks Jimbo--I will update my post.

itsasign said...

well, the Denver club is also hosting Beenie Man in a few days.

The same Beenie Man who sings:

"I'm dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays."
(from Damn)

Hang lesbians with a long piece of rope
(from Han Up Deh)

All batty man fi dead!, if you fuck ass, then you get copper and lead
No man must have another man in his bed
(from Batty Man Fi Dead)

Roll deep motherfucker, kill pussy-sucker, take a bazooka and kill bum-fuckers
(from Roll Deep)

I think their finances depend on their not understanding what the fuss is about.

matt said...

Thanks for the info, Itsasign. Looks like this is really turning into a call to examine why hate music is commercially acceptable. This really saddens me.

jamerican ooman said...

Apparently, Buju Banton led the charge (or was at least amongst the crowd) in Kingston 3-4 years ago when some gay men were beaten.
I believe that he was acquitted of that charge (but I am not sure of that). I read about this in the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper.

SamK said...

Buju Banton's infamous song "Boom Bye Bye" says "gays must be killed' and it calls for gays to be shot in the head, shot with an Uzi, have acid thrown on them and be burned like an old tire. This song has been controversial since it was released in 1992.

In all those years, Buju Banton has never distanced himself from this song.

For videos that show Buju Banton reiterating the anti gay statements in "Boom Bye Bye," see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46PASiOjdP4 "BUJU BANTON FIRE BURN BATTY" and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ8Z0biU_Zw "Elephant Man Buju Banton Shabba Ranks" In the latter video he refers to the churches and asks "What have I done wrong when I say that homosexuality is wrong?" With these words, Buju Banton is actually saying that he stands by the "kill gays" message of "Boom Bye Bye."

In Jamaica, there is tremendous violence and hatred directed at LGBT people. Buju Banton and some of his dancehall artiste friends must bear some responsibility for this. There are online reports by groups like Amnesty International and many other reports of this extreme violence in Jamaica. One very good account is in this Time Magazine article: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1182991,00.html "The Most Homophobic Place on Earth?" Britain and Canada have given asylum to a number of Jamaican gay men because of the extreme homophobia and violence in Jamaica.

For more information see http://cancelbujubanton.wetpaint.com/
and http://www.petertatchell.net/popmusic/buju-bantons-violations-of-the-reggae-compassionate-act.html

SamK said...

Buju Banton was arrested in the 2004 armed assault on six gay men in Kingston, Jamaica. The case never came to trial, so Buju was not acquitted of the crime.

One of the victims was left permanently without sight in one eye. He identifies Buju Banton as his assailant. See Time Magazine article http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1182991,00.html "The Most Homophobic Place on Earth?" For details.