Thursday, April 27, 2000 * Volume 21, No. 35
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Year of the Dragon

‘Yellow Fever’ Lyrics Roil Students
Demand band’s removal from concert line-up
By Jason Ma

Students at the University of Maryland, College Park are fighting to prevent a band they say is racist, sexist and homophobic from performing at an annual campus concert, called Art Attack.

The Asian American Student Union (AASU) and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Alliance, among others, are planning a protest on the May 5 concert day if event organizers do not remove the Bloodhound Gang band from the line-up.

One song in particular, has drawn the most controversy, especially from Asian American students there.

“Yellow Fever,” released on a previous album, describes an infatuation with an Asian woman and repeatedly uses racial slurs:

    She said for all the tea in China, my vagina’s not free/

    But my love will linger longer than the Ming Dynasty/

    I said I needed her to do and her to do my laundry/

    … Chinky, chinky, bang, bang, I love you/

    Chinky, chinky, bang, bang, I know you love me too.

“It’s pretty offensive to a lot of people,” Cezar Lopez said, a member of the AASU, noting that the band also sings about gays and lesbians and the disabled. “It’s the whole message of the band—hating everybody that’s not like them.”

Students and event organizers from the school-funded and student-run group, Student Entertainment Events (SEE), met last week to try and work out a compromise agreement, including proposals to let the band play but prohibit them from playing “Yellow Fever” and to let the Bloodhound Gang play on a separate stage.

However, the AASU and its supporters have shown no signs of compromising and are preparing to demonstrate on concert day. In the meantime, they are passing out flyers of the group’s song lyrics and are contacting civil rights groups nationwide, including the NAACP, to increase awareness about the effort.

However, Lopez admitted that the rest of the student body does not seem to find the group offensive or hateful, saying that several opinion pieces in the campus newspaper have appeared that urge those who find the band offensive not to attend the concert or to “get a sense of humor” and see the lyrics as a satirical parody of racism.

The editorial board of the newspaper, though, has said the band should not perform, saying its lyrics are insulting to many groups.

For now, SEE officials have refused to remove the band, explaining that they will not make judgements on the band or their lyrics. They added that the popularity of the Bloodhound Gang’s latest album makes them a legitimate act to present at the concert festival. Hooray for Boobies debuted on the Billboard charts at 19 in March and is now in 17th place.

“SEE apologizes for the personal offense bringing this band has caused some of our fellow students,” SEE President Jen Greenhalgh said. “However, after re-evaluation, we stand by the same reasons we chose this band to perform in the first place. … SEE is committed to tolerance and diversity. We believe this is a campus where all ideas are allowed to be heard and people can formulate their opinions after hearing all sides of an issue.”

And, because SEE is funded by student fees, the school administration cannot act on behalf of the students’ demands, or else risk an action that “would amount to censorship,” according to university spokesperson George Cathcart.

“We regret that we will have a group on campus that is offensive to some students,” he added. “But this is a strongly diverse environment. You will inevitably have events that will offend some people.”

The school, Cathcart explained, hopes that the controversy will be a learning experience for those involved, especially in teaching students how to present opposing opinions to each another.

Art Attack features three other bands—Nerf Herder, A, and Outkast—who are scheduled to perform at the free, all-day event. The AASU has sent lyrics to all three of them and hopes that the African American hip-hop group Outkast will boycott the concert. Though Art Attack is a non-profit event, it is relatively high profile, with last year’s featuring popular acts like George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars and Sugar Ray. Portions of that concert were broadcast on the cable music video channel MTV.

Asian Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the school’s undergraduates, compared to 14.5 percent black, 5 percent Latino and over 60 percent white.

Though Greenhalgh said SEE held brainstorming sessions, sent mass e-mails and used a suggestion box before deciding on a line-up, the AASU said SEE should have been more careful in making their selection.

Noting that there are no Asian Americans on SEE’s governing board, Lopez said, “This all could have been avoided if [SEE] did their research and checked with student groups.”


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