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The Continuing Saga of Asher Roth

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Though Asher Roth's opening set for the St. Michael's spring concert was canceled over a week ago now, the controversy over his invitation-and-subsequent-uninvitation rages on.

First of all, the S.A programming folks announced Roth's replacement. Local hip-hop group The Aztext will be opening for Lupe Fiasco tomorrow night.

However, a sizable and vocal group of St. Michael's students won't be seeing either act, as they're planning to boycott the concert in protest of Roth's absence. One St. Michael's student, Kate Reynolds, emailed Roth to tell him that students were disappointed in his cancellation, and that it was just "a few administrators and a few 'gender studies' students" that wanted the show canceled. (Quotes around "gender studies" were hers, not mine.) An associate of Roth's posted Reynolds's letter to Asher Roth's blog, along with a video of Roth calling Reynolds. There's also a Facebook event rallying Roth's supporters.

A few of those zany feminists posted their thoughts on the blog and the Facebook event wall, and received a few "fuck you bra-burner"s in response. Classy. Unfortunately the pro-Asher people have yet to really present a convincing argument:

  • The views of a small group are ruining it for the majority. If the civil rights struggle (or even the more recent gay marriage debates around the country) have taught us anything, it's the majority cannot be allowed to decide the rights of the minority. When a group of students at SMC feels uncomfortable, offended, and hurt, it's pathetic to expect their concerns to be ignored so that everyone else can get their party on as usual. Besides, it's not just "gender studies" students, or the Center for Women and Gender that were upset. Hell, I'm a straight male journalism major and I was opposed to Roth's concert from the start. Pretending that six people conspired to ruin the fun for the other 1,994 students here is absurd and grossly inaccurate.

  • Roth is just depicting college life as it is. Too bad not all of us can afford (or want) to treat college like it's a teen movie. And yes, girls get objectified at college parties — why is that okay to glorify? Just because that's what happens? It might be too close to reality but that doesn't make it alright. Unfortunately, too many people enjoy the college culture of female objectification to think about changing it.
  • Roth has songs with positive messages, too. Uh, that's great, but having a positive song and having a song called "Rub On Your Titties" do not cancel each other out. Not how it works.
  • Roth is the victim of censorship. I don't think anyone is denying his constitutional right to say what he does. But Roth does not have the constitutional right to get paid by our tuition money to play a concert at our school. Canceling his concert is not censorship, it's deciding who you want performing for (and representing) your campus.

  • If you don't like Asher Roth, you just shouldn't go to the show. I haven't liked the last two spring concert acts, so I didn't go. This is beyond a sense of dislike. St. Michael's is like home to me and everyone else here, and any performance on-campus means someone is coming into our home. Plus, it sends a message about the school to the greater community — and I'm not okay with Burlington associating me with the college that wants Asher Roth. Maybe that doesn't matter to the people whose social life doesn't extend beyond the 300s townhouses, though.

  • Everyone in hip-hop talks about stuff like this. Yes, so Wyclef Jean, who came to SMC last year, also has questionable lyrics. That doesn't set a precedent. I'm glad our campus has become more conscious in the past year. So you hear songs with similar content on the radio — they shouldn't come to our campus, either.

I don't understand how so many people now think next year's spring concert will now be Raffi, Celine Dion, or the Jonas Brothers, as if there's nothing in between these acts and Asher Roth. UVM's Springfest is headlined by Ratatat — apparently a good choice, since the show is already sold out. St. Anselm booked Third Eye Blind for their spring concert this year. Just a few years ago, St. Mike's had The Roots — a hip-hop group with socially aware lyrics. All of these acts would make for a successful spring concert, likely without sparking controversy and hurting feelings. (They're also all way more artistically relevant, but that's a different argument entirely.)

So, Asher Roth fans, stop blaming hippies, feminists, or evil administrators for ruining your Friday night. Grow up.

For those who aren't boycotting the show, it's Friday night at the Ross Sports Center at St. Mike's.  Doors open at 7:00, show starts at 8:00, and tickets are $20 for SMC students and $30 for everyone else.

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