by Dan Bolles
Ah, the rites of spring! April showers. May flowers. Birds. Bees. Date rape.
On April 17, St. Michael's College will celebrate its annual spring concert with performances by Grammy-nominated rapper Lupe Fiasco, up-and-coming opening act Asher Roth and, apparently, a little controversy.
For the uninitiated, Roth is the proud owner of the current #12 Billboard single for his pandering, sophomoric anthem "I Love College," which espouses the many-splendored virtues of higher education, such as drinking, boozing, gettin' wasted and . . . um, more drinking. There are also numerous references to that most time-honored of ivy-walled traditions, the drunken hookup. Though to his his credit, Roth does caution, "But not if she's too far gone." And they say chivalry is dead.
That Roth has been invited to perform at the college has, perhaps predictably, invited a veritable shit storm of criticism upon the event's organizers, the Student Association Executive Board. In a scathing editorial published in the school's online Arts & Culture journal The Naked Opinion, editor and 7D What's Good blogger, Tyler Machado offers this succinct summation, "I'm disappointed that the S.A. thought that this was the best act to bring to campus. Roth's persona confirms all the worst stereotypes about college students and their childish obsession with partying."
He goes on to state that, "I don't despise Roth's hit song because of some moral objection to drinking, smoking marijuana or partying. I despise the song because it's incredibly stupid." Point, Machado. Roth's single is a classic example of pop music pandering to the lowest common denominator. Not to mention that it's the most blatant stylistic ripoff of Eminem since . . . well, maybe ever.
In a campus-wide letter from the S.A., they attempt to deflect blame, inferring that the decision to book Roth as the opening act rested with Fiasco's agent, whose "first recommendation" was the PA-based emcee. They correctly note that opening act preference is often deferred to the headliner in rider negotiations. But doesn't the word "first" imply there may be a "second" choice? The organization goes on to essentially plead the fifth, writing that they "had no idea this would become such a controversial issue."
Really? In the age of PCU — and at a Catholic school, no less — SA really expects us to believe that they didn't realize Roth's misogynistic portrayal of student life just might rile up the natives?
If that's the case, SA may be guiltier of something far beyond poor decision making. Based on the Billboard chart statistics they cite in the opening paragraph of their letter, SA is clearly aware of who Roth is. But if they really didn't believe students would object to his performance, then they either didn't take the time to investigate his music or worse, they did investigate, and simply didn't care.
So, SA, in case you haven't seen the video for "I Love College" yet, check it out here.