Jam The Phone Lines

Anastasia Goodstein
August 9, 2007

You gotta love Pearl Jam -- they tried to take a stand against the skyrocketing cost of concert tickets by giving Ticketmaster the finger back in the 90s and continue to be outspoken about the Iraq war and President Bush. It appears that AT&T (aka The New Cingular) censored a few anti-Bush statements the band made in its webcast of Lollapalooza. The band put out the following press release:

After concluding our Sunday night show at Lollapalooza, fans informed us that portions of that performance were missing and may have been censored by AT&T during the "Blue Room" Live Lollapalooza Webcast.

When asked about the missing performance, AT&T informed Lollapalooza that portions of the show were in fact missing from the webcast, and that their content monitor had made a mistake in cutting them.

During the performance of "Daughter" the following lyrics were sung to the tune of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" but were cut from the webcast:

"George Bush, leave this world alone." (the second time it was sung); and

"George Bush find yourself another home."

This, of course, troubles us as artists but also as citizens concerned with the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media.

If this wasn't indeed an innocent mistake, it was definitely a poor youth marketing move. What pisses off young people? Feeling like someone in authority is making decisions for them about what they can or can't do or what they can or can't hear, especially when it's a corporate entity. This is why the Truth campaign was so effective -- it plays on young people's sense that "The Man" is always trying to do something sneaky (like lie about what's actually in cigarettes or employ stealthy ways to cell smokes to kids).

I don't know what Pearl Jam's fan base is like these days or if there is a new generation of Pearl Jam fans who will rise up and punish AT&T for their alleged censorship. And while I think that this generation as whole tends to be more patriotic and willing to accept government intrusion in the name of "winning the War on Terror," I don't think they support censorship of speech. What I know is that this isn't good publicity for a brand trying to reach youth.