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17 September 2015

Not Yours to Play With: Why Viet Cong's Name Offends I shared this on FB recently, and thought it might be a good read here, too. I've been a little bummed out listening to people discuss this issue at times. My thoughts are... [More:]

Mainly I think that there are a LOT of words. I can't, for the life of me, imagine why anyone would knowingly choose a band name that would be upsetting to a wide swath of people.

As I've been learning more to listen to the voices of people other than ME, I've been adjusting my use of language, and accepting that yeah, sometimes I'll have to retire a word or two. Luckily, there's lots of 'em.
Could've been worse, they could've named the band Khmer Rouge.

(Personally, I always thought Yu Tang Clan was intentionally a little too close to Ku Klux Klan for comfort)
posted by oneswellfoop 17 September | 14:05
Offensive names ahead.

Dead Kennedys, Cats on Fire, Dayglo Abortions, Japanese Torture Comedy Hour, Three 6 Mafia, Tokyo Ghetto Pussy, Venom Spewing Cunt, Jon Cougar Concentration Camp, Rape Man, Accidental Rape, Nunfuckers, Balls Deep in the Dead, Elvis Hitler, Creaming Jesus. Music has a long history of offensive band names.

"But Not Yours to Play With"? Please. Of course the name is the band's to play with just as any any story told is the story belongs to the teller. Still if you are going to take a name or tell a story then be prepared to respond to people who take issue with it.
posted by arse_hat 17 September | 14:48
I forget when exactly I learned what Spandau Ballet referred to but I remember being shocked at how offensive it seemed because of how flippantly it seemed compared to some hardcore kid calling himself Johnny Gestapo, and also there is a context to all this of Holocaust resurgence of the 80s--

--there's really too many angles and contexts to go into to explain why one thing might have more genuine grounds for offense than another, but I'm going to allude to a story about this guy who wanted tickets for Liberace and was told it was General Public, then did not understand what he was looking at when he showed up. The chance survivors were going to basement hardcore shows is staggeringly low. The Dead Kennedys is a surgical strike of a name.

The problem with Viet Cong (far more than Khmer Rouge) is there are far more survivors well within earshot that are not any intended target as far as I know. Saying it's not an issue is pretty much saying people who would have an issue don't matter.

Now, I haven't heard them so I have no opinion on them other than as a name. It doesn't seem like it would be pointed commentary or a conscious provocation with any reasoning. It seems more like when there are Nazi bars or Hilter cafes that pop up in Asia where they really have no context or connection to what it means and they like the clothes, but maybe it's not.

I'm rather deeply offended at how little thought goes into naming things. Names have power. Words have power. Instead of making words for unnamed things, the vernacular ends up with stupid phrases to obfuscate any clear meaning, like "a minute" or "feeling some kind of way."

But I digress.
posted by ethylene 17 September | 21:46
Please. When you are young it's easy to toss irreverence about as if you truly understand what sort of resonance you are generating. You just want to watch the mainstream quiver at your bold acts. When I was a puppy dead baby jokes were a real scream. I'm not so enamored of them nowadays.

Viet Cong resonates among a lot of people. The words, not the band. They are not out of line to have chills about it. Ignore the band, because they obviously don't understand what flavor of resonance applies to you when those sounds vibrate around in your world. Clearly your referent doesn't apply to them. Nor would I expect your referent to apply to me. For example I distinguish between Viet Cong and PAVN, and I guarantee you that my imagery is specific enough to generate night sweats. It's not appropriate to try to make them change their name, but it is appropriate to write well-considered essays regarding the demons that come crawling out from under that particular rock.
posted by mule 17 September | 23:10
I gotta say, I think Elvis Hitler is a pretty funny band name.
posted by JanetLand 18 September | 08:15
Part of what bothers me the most about the Viet Cong (the band) story is that there's nothing shocking about them. They are 4 calgary dudes. So, no, they aren't using words to shock people into thought. Lots of bands might be able to make that claim, and honestly, for me, I'm still thinking that one through.

But the idea that these guys have had it explained to them, AND they really have zero reason to hold onto this shitty imagery, and are just shrugging and moving on? That's the shitty, and frankly, racist part. Viet Cong won't ever have a fan in me. And I look sideways at people who defend them at this point.

There are LOTS of words.
posted by richat 18 September | 09:43
If this evening's Republican Debate wasn't ENOUGH bat$#!+ insanity for you, || Bicycle Morning, by Billy Sans