‘Shine your light by taking a stand, not by taking part. It’s not too late’
US supergroup Switchfoot will be performing and signing posters at City Beach Queen Street store in Brisbane this afternoon.
While band members are at it with the pen and the posters, we’d like them to sign our Change.org petition calling on their special hosts, youth surf store City Beach, to remove porn-themed merchandise from sale.
It is a mystery to us why such a respected band would want to lend its good name to a company which trades in hyper-sexualised images of women and conditions and socialises young men to think of women only in terms of sexual gratification, as always available and ready for sex.
We don’t understand why a band known for its ethics in the industry would want to associate itself with a store selling a t.shirt with the image of a woman with a black eye, crying, under the wording “…It’s only illegal if you get caught”. Or the Hustler t.shirt “Talk Shit Get Hit”.
Why doesn’t Switchfoot come out and condemn these?
And is the band accepting money from the sale of porn and violence-themed t.shirts to do their gig today?
In a response to women who have protested Switchfoot lending their good name to City Beach in this cross promotion, the band says it has asked City Beach to remove porn themed products from the store while they are performing.
I wonder if there will be anything much left after that?
And sticking a pile of pornified tees behind the counter for an hour – what difference will that make? City Beach will be back pimping the same merchandise within seconds of the amps being unplugged.
Remember, this is a store which flogs ‘Two In The Shirt’, TITS brand, which uses famous porn stars on its clothing designs. TITS was also nominated for ‘Best apparel’ award in the pornography industry’s annual awards ceremony, the 2012 AVN Awards (alongside ‘Best double penetration’ and ‘Best young girl scene’, in case you didn’t know).
If you enter the URL on TITS t.shirts you find a series of blog posts of images of women, including one in underwear with a bag over her head with hole in it and ‘free blow job’ written on the bag.
Meanwhile back at City Beach HR, Anita Dorwald appears blissfully unaware of any connection with porn images or brands. (City Beach defends sale of porn themed clothing )
Last year Collective Shout published an open letter urging retailers to stop selling pornographic menswear. Signatories included Child Advocate Noni Hazlehurst, The White Ribbon Foundation and authors Steve Biddulph and Maggie Hamilton.
Here is Switchfoot’s response to our complaints
We received your email regarding the objectionable merchandise sold at City Beach. We appreciate you bringing your concerns to our attention.
Although we are not responsible for what a retailer promotes or sells to its customers, we are responsible for creating an enjoyable atmosphere for our fans. With this in mind, we have asked City Beach to remove these items during our performance.
We’ve always tried to bring our songs of hope across the globe to everyone- regardless of nationality, race, religious belief, or any other categorization. With this in mind, there are a wide variety of people with a wide variety of lifestyles represented at our concerts. That is our goal. And of course, not everyone who attends will agree with every other person there. Even the venues we play are dramatically different from night to night. If you are offended by an aspect of the venue or the crowd, we respect your decision if you choose not to attend; we hold you and your convictions in high regard.
However, we believe that these songs of light were meant to shine everywhere, including the dark. Thank you again for your concern. We hope that we’ll see you the next time we pass through Australia.
They’ve missed the point.
Here’s a reply from activist Nicole. She nails it.
Thanks for your reply.
Your response, however, is incredibly disappointing.
It is not the concert venue which is offensive. It is not even the presence of explicit and degrading material which is offensive. What is offensive, is the notion of a rock band with a youth following, promoting a company which unapologetically and deliberately sells p*rnographic material to Australian teenagers. What is even more offensive, is the notion that this band is doing so in the name of Jesus.
By playing this gig with the merchandise removed, you are creating an enjoyable atmosphere for your fans for one hour. But in doing so, you are losing the opportunity to create an enjoyable and safe atmosphere for them to live and grow in beyond that moment.
Please, look at the links which I have sent you. Consider the message you are sending about the acceptability of the way City Beach make their mark on the minds and bodies of young Australians. Shine your light by taking a stand, not by taking part. It’s not too late.
As Professor of Law at Flinders University and Vice-President of the Australian Council on Children and the Media, Elizabeth Handsley commented yesterday:
Nobody said they were responsible for what a retailer promotes or sells, but they ARE responsible for the retailers they choose to support and promote.
Nor is anybody suggesting it’s about people in the audience disagreeing with each other – like some people are going to be offended by the ABSENCE of porn?
And if you don’t mind me saying so, all this ‘songs of light’ business only clouds the issue.
We’re all into shining light into dark places.
But shining light doesn’t mean a co-branding exercise where lots of young people who come to see you perform are brought into a store trading in porno-inspired images of women and encouraged to see it as worthy of their custom because Switchfoot performed there.
Switchfoot needs to switch feet and back out.
UPDATE:Protests at City Beach, Sydney, Brisbane
Switchfoot meets with Collective Shout activists outside City Beach in Brisbane. Read more at Collective Shout.
Picture: Jon Foreman from Switchfoot meets with Melinda Liszewski during our City Beach Brisbane protest.
Read about Collective Shout’s recent protests in Sydney and Brisbane here.
And don’t forget to sign the petition calling on City Beach to stop selling porn-themed products to young people.