Activists offer their Pitchfork postmortem

July 21, 2011

Consciousness-raising by Between Friends at Pitchfork. Photo by Andrew Gill.

In addition to the attention of the local media, Chicago domestic violence groups attracted considerable attention nationwide through their presence at the Pitchfork Music Festival last weekend, making their attempt to provide a counterpoint to the misogynistic and homophobic lyrics of Odd Future pretty much the story of the seventh annual festival.

Here is the coverage in Rolling Stone, the New York Times, and the L.A. Weekly, to cite just a few of more than 100 links on the Google news search.

Yesterday, Between Friends, which spearheaded the action with Rape Victim Advocates and other groups, released its summation of what it accomplished in Union Park via the following statement:

 

CREATING THE DIALOGUE FOR A SAFE FUTURE NOT AN ODD FUTURE

CHICAGO (7/20/11) - The odd choice of Pitchfork Music Festival organizers to include Odd Future, known for their misogynistic lyrics, provided the perfect platform for creating a dialogue that was heard around the world about violence against women and the LGBTQ community. Colleen Norton, Prevention & Education Manager at Between Friends, where we focus on building a community free from violence against women, enlisted the help of several other organizations – Rape Victim Advocates, the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago, Center on Halsted, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation and others, and created a successful campaign to raise awareness about how such violence is often glorified, minimized or ignored.

This campaign generated a huge response from the local, national and international community. One woman wrote:  “I'm from Australia and I've been very concerned about Odd Future's lyrics and performances. Even if they're meant to be 'ironic or protesting in some way against all the toxic rubbish in the media, I absolutely oppose their approach...so I just wanted to send a message of support to you for your awareness-raising campaign at Pitchfork. If I was in Chicago that day I would definitely join you!”  Back in Chicago, as we ran out of the 7,000 fans passed out to concertgoers. A young woman, who took one, came back after reading it and told us, “It really means a lot. Thank you for being here.”   More telling are the numbers of concertgoers that came to us after Odd Future’s performance, voicing their discomfort with the lyrics and asking for the fans we used to decorate our booth! 

Others completely missed the objective of the campaign by questioning the “lack of protest”.  Maybe we are watching too much reality TV to understand the art of generating real conversations that lead to a shared understanding?  Media regarding Odd Future being booked at Pitchfork was indeed a catalyst for us to seek a presence at the festival.  However, picketing Odd Future’s performance would have been shortsighted and distracting from our real goals. Instead, our fans were in the hands of 7,000 supporters waving the message:  Cool it!  Don’t be a fan of violence. 

So what did we accomplish?  We mobilized others to:  1) Think critically about how violence against women and the LGBTQ community is portrayed in their community through music, art, and the media, 2) Talk about ways to end such violence, and 3) Seek help from the resources provided.   The conversation spread quickly with every online article, blog, picture, and comment posted engaging everyone in the dialogue both locally and around the world!

Between Friends and our partners thank the thousands of you who supported this campaign and helped us achieve our goals!  Now we encourage you to continue the dialogue - wherever that takes you! Hear more online at our Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/BetweenFriendsChicago.

 

The group didn't say, however, whether any of its members ate the cupcakes that Odd Future and its publicist brought by in an especially pathetic attempt to assert that, "Hey, we may say some of the most vile crap imaginable, and we're happy to be making money doing that, but you know, we're really nice guys."

Photo from Tyler the Creator via yfrog.