Many apologies to my friend Rich who works for Walmart, but I’m going to go on a bit of a rant right now. Once again, the bix box retailer has asked someone to “edit” their work in order for them to carry it. The artist in question is Green Day, and the album in particular is the #1 seller “21st Century Breakdown”. Walmart asked them to excise certain words and content. In other words, they want Green Day to compromise their work in order for Walmart to carry their CD.
Green Day appropriately enough said to fuck off. Okay, I’m paraphrasing their more articulate answer, but it amounts to the same thing. Yes, Walmart has done this for years, and many artists have bowed down to their censorial whims, but at what price, and to what reason?
Walmart carries far more objectionable work on their DVD shelves, book shelves and video game shelves. None of those artists were asked to “tone down” their work (in point of fact, they just refuse to carry certain titles), it only seems to be the musicians. Movies have ratings, video games have ratings, and music does have appropriate warning labels for adult material. The only group to not have any type of rating system are books. Most people who pick up a Steve King novel at Walmart know there’s probably going to be some strong language, violence and adult material. Anyone who picks up Grand Theft Auto knows what to expect in the gameplay; and anyone who buys GoodFellas knows the movie is going to have some language issues.
Yet music seems to be the one area that continues to get the least respect. Green Day certainly doesn’t need them to sell their work. Indeed, they sold 217,000 copies the first week of its release; yet I wonder if Walmart someday won’t need groups like Green Day to up their sales. All the music I buy anymore is digital. Whether through itunes or a band’s own website, more and more music is being bought this way.
Walmart is the nation’s largest music seller, but it seems to me, they’re not looking at the whole picture and content to cowtow to middle America and it’s narrow minded value system.
In the meantime I’ll support Green Day and any band who flips the bird to Walmart.