Rock group’s anti-Bush statement allegedly censored
After Pearl Jam’s live show on 5 August 2007, the band was informed by fans that parts of the webcast of their concert had been left out by the main sponsor AT&T. There was an interruption of the webcast when the lead singer made a statement against the American president Bush.
By Kristina Funkeson, Freemuse
Webcast watchers could hear lead singer Eddie Vedder sing “George Bush, leave this world alone” and then the webcast was abruptly interrupted, followed by a long silence. The lyrics left out in the webcast contained Vedder repeating the phrase again, and then singing “George Bush find yourself another home”.
The anti-Bush segment was sung to the melody of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ during the performance of Pearl Jam’s song ‘Daughter’.
The members of Pearl Jam commented what happened on their homepage: “This, of course, troubles us as artists but also as citizens concerned with the issues of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media.”
According to MTV News, AT&T claimed that the incident was not a censorship issue but merely an “unintended error” made by one of the webcast vendors subcontracted by the AT&T. However, it was not further explained why the editing happened during the anti-Bush statements though nothing else was cut out of the broadcast.
At first, AT&T claimed that the ‘mistake’ during the Pearl Jam webcast was a solitary incident. But after fans quickly reported about other incidents earlier this summer, AT&T released a statement admitting that similar ‘mistakes’ has indeed happened in the past in a “handful of cases”. In the statement, cited by MTV News, AT&T also says that it’s not their intent to “edit political comments in webcasts”.
According to information provided by fans, cited by MTV News, the other sets affected by AT&T’s ‘unintended censorship’ were concerts by Flaming Lips and John Butler Trio as well as Nightwatchman, also known as Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine. It seems like the parts left out of these concerts, as well as the Pearl Jam set, was characterised by a political theme.
Freedom of speech
Judging from all the publicity in newspapers as well as web forums and blogs on the Internet, Americans are very upset by the incidents that clearly threaten their First Amendment – the freedom of speech.
“What happened this weekend was a wake up call, and it’s about something much bigger than the censorship of a rock band”, Pearl Jam stated on their website. The band underlined their worries about corporations having the power to determine what people hear and see in the media.
Ironically – thanks to the attention attracted by the AT&T editing – Pearl Jam’s statement could hardly have reached more people. The signature ‘tubegem74’ commented on Youtube: “Rather than having Ed’s msg heard only by those of us there, the whole world gets to hear it :)”