Don’t bet on the races

B-52s: Enemies of the state, according to MTV

Dig this: MTV has temporarily stopped playing any videos by the B-52s, as part of its response to the war. From the New York Times:

The day after the war in Iraq started, a memo was distributed through the offices of MTV Europe by its broadcast standards department.

In the memo, Mark Sunderland, one of the department’s managers, recommends that music videos depicting “war, soldiers, war planes, bombs, missiles, riots and social unrest, executions” and “other obviously sensitive material” not be shown on MTV in Britain and elsewhere in Europe until further notice. …

Taking further cautionary measures, the memo goes on to advise against showing videos in which lyrics, song titles or even band names allude to war, bombs or other “sensitive words.” It mentions the songs “B.O.B (Bombs Over Baghdad)” by Outkast; “You, Me and World War Three” by Gavin Friday; and anything by the B-52’s.

The B-52s? They’re banning the B-52s??? Is there any more apolitical band on the surface of the planet? As the band members noted, in response to MTV’s actions:

“From Day 1 we’ve said in interviews that our name is a slang term for the bouffant hairdo Kate and Cindy used to wear — nothing to do with bombers, ” said Fred Schneider of the B-52’s, referring to fellow band members.

MTV clearly isn’t even reading its own write-up of the band on the MTV web site, which notes:

The first band to glorify pop culture with an almost Warholian sense of purpose, the B-52’s purveyed their absurd B-movie style and off-kilter sound celebrating the weirdness lurking just beneath the surface of Americana.”

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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