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Green Day, Walmart and Artistic Integrity

Art for art’s sake, money for Gods sake”

Walmart insisted Green Day bleep any profane words on their album “21st Century Breakdown”. Green Day refused. Walmart refused to stock the album losing a huge amount of sales for the band.

At first glance this is a story of artistic integrity but let’s look closer.

Why are Walmart asking for this request -surely a parental warning label would suffice? Perhaps, but they sure weren’t picking on Green Day. This is store policy. Walmart is middle American, red state, Christian Bible belt in redux. It is what they sell: heavily discounted consumer goods to the conservative heart of the country. We might find the censoring Green Day ridiculous but Walmarts shoppers would not like it at all. Walmart were not being irrational in their actions. They weren’t asking Green Day to cut songs from this often vicious attack on organized religion.

Only four of the nineteen songs on “Breakdown” uses profane language. Do Green Day believe for a moment bleeping some of the language would have destroyed the essense of the album? Changed it in in any fundamental way? Surely their product has less integirty as a unified piece of work when they change the albums song listing dependent upon how much money you’re spending and where you’re spending it? If “Breakdown” can withstand the addition and subtraction of songs and remain of a piece, why can’t it withstand some minor bleeping.?

If the album was “Dookie” or even “American Idiot” I would assume Green Day would’ve bleeped away. Integrity and sales are going hand in hand -their artistic control is based solely on prior album sales. Won’t they let radio play those songs if they bleep em?

Finally, and worst, who is hurt? Walmart not at all. Green Day will lose sales for no reason. East Coast, West Coast, middle class fans not at all -is their a Walmart in NYC? I don’t think so. It’ll effect the very people, and the very minds, they most want to reach. It’ll effect the kids who have no other way of buying the album and, if you agree with GD’s message, have the most reason to hear it.

Yeah, that’s very brave of Green Day. They must be proud of themselves.

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