Getting a Bad Rap

More than 100 local women tore themselves away from Deseret Book and the Quilted Bear long enough to sign a petition protesting Saturday’s 2 Live Crew concert at Atchafalaya. They feel 2 Live Crew’s lyrics violate Provo’s obscenity ordinances. They are probably also still angry because Atchafalaya used to be LeMar’s, which had topless dancing. (“Atchafalaya” is the Cajun word for “Hooters.”)

I figured I should write a column about this, since I don’t have any funny restaurant stories to tell and the phone company hasn’t ticked me off lately. So on my lunch hour, I went to Camelot Music at Provo Towne Centre to pick up a 2 Live Crew CD, for research purposes.

I figured I was wasting my time. If 2 Live Crew’s lyrics are too obscene to be permitted when performed live, surely recorded versions would be just as obscene, and surely those 100 local women would have already stamped them out, especially given Camelot Music’s close proximity to Victoria’s Secret, which is ground zero for offensive material.

But what should I find at Camelot Music, but eight different 2 Live Crew albums! Sink me!

Since I was out and about already, and since my “lunch hour” was now more figurative than literal, I stopped at the video store. I wanted to rent “Clerks,” which initially received an NC-17 rating solely for language, but was finally released with an R after the director whined and moaned and threatened legal action. I was also considering renting “Requiem for a Dream” (which was released unrated to avoid the NC-17 category) or the uncut, unrated version of “American Pie.” I allotted extra time, figuring there would be a lot of protesters outside the store, what with all the filthy movies being sold and rented inside. Turns out all the movies I was considering were in stock, and I was able to rent them without incident, except for a minor snit I had when I discovered some of them were not available on DVD. (What is this, the DARK AGES?)

Having some spare time now, and having already decided to make this a three-hour lunch, I thought, “Why not take in a flick?” I needed a good laugh, so I poked my head into “Original Sin,” the new unintentionally funny trainwreck starring one-time celebrity Antonio Banderas and current no-talent freak show Angelina Jolie. I was just in time for the extremely graphic and over-long sex scene between the two stars. The movie’s rated R, but there were some young folks in the theater. This surprised me, frankly. I didn’t think ANYONE would be in the theater. Even the protesters didn’t bother to show up.

I was fully perplexed now, and I’d given up on the idea of returning to the office. Why would people make such a big deal over a one-time 2 Live Crew show — taking place in a bar that most of Provo ignores anyway — when there’s so much in our community 365 days a year that is just as filthy?

I’m not saying 2 Live Crew’s music isn’t raunchy, because I think it is, and I’ve even been desensitized by R-rated movies and Victoria’s Secret catalogs, as you know. But I fail to see how allowing the band to perform for one night in Provo is going to do any more damage to the community than is done by allowing the band’s CDs to exist the rest of the time, or by stocking dirty movies in video stores, or by putting Angelina Jolie’s overpublicized naked bosoms on the big screen.

What’s that? Maybe those things ARE doing damage? Fine. Then where are the protesters? This one-time, ad hoc, situational activism is more annoying than anything. I can respect the dedication and zeal of people who make it an ongoing effort to ensure everyone else agrees with them. But I have no regard for people who only do it occasionally, when it’s trendy, and in so doing overlook a lot of better battles.

I’m told tickets to the show are $20 at the door. Twenty bucks to be crammed into a sweaty bar and listen to a has-been rap group? Now THAT’S obscene.

It's all pretty self-explanatory, isn't it? Local bar Atchafalaya booked 2 Live Crew to perform, word got out beforehand, people got angry.

You may recall a similar column on Victoria's Secret. In that column, I was arguing that the offending poster wasn't obscene. This time, I have no quibble with the idea of 2 Live Crew being obscene. It's the random, pick-and-choose system of protesting that irks me. Why protest the live concert when the band's CDs are readily available in Provo every day of the year?