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Sounding my horn on the Indian Creek High School band controversy

October 1, 2009 - Betsy Bethel
The Indian Creek High School band show controversy is a tempest in a teacup.

If you haven't heard about it, the IC superintendent pulled two songs from the ICHS band half-time show last week after two board members complained they were inappropriate. The songs in question are "If You Seek Amy" by Britney Spears and "Don't Trust Me" by 3oh!3.

Do I think the songs are inappropriate? Yes and no. For me personally and my 3 year old daughter, yes, the lyrics are inappropriate. The lyrics certainly are in bad taste, if not sexually explicit and offensive. Feel free to seek and find the lyrics for yourself.

But let's back up. The band doesn't sing the lyrics, they play the music, as arranged by their band director. And they play it well. The ICHS band has 140 members and is one of the best performing bands in the entire tri-state region. They and their community, from the superintendent on down, have a lot to be proud of.

In the case of "Don't Trust Me," the band members did chant lyrics during the show: "Shush girl, shut your lips. Do the Helen Keller and talk with your hips." Definitely not a PC line. Helen Keller was an inspirational and remarkable figure in American history who, despite being deaf and blind, never tired of fighting for the rights of women, the disabled and others marginalized by society.

It sickens me to think the members of 3oh!3 thought it a fresh and snappy reference for a suggestive dance move (or, most likely, something more horizontal in nature).

If anything, the band should have been asked to refrain from the chant.

But overall, I feel the members of ICHS band have been robbed. They each spent a week (and $300) for band camp to learn the music in questions. They have a right to play music for their half-time shows that is relevant to them and their peers.* Last time I checked, there aren't a whole lot of sterile tunes out there.

Listen: Our local band programs, we all know, are suffering as it is. Did you catch that this band has 140 members? That's three times some of the OVAC bands' memberships! Let them play what they want. At least they're playing SOMETHING, having fun, and learning while they're at it.

All they've learned from the past two weeks is that they put in a lot of hard work into something they enjoyed doing, and a few adults stripped it away from them in a matter of minutes.

Now, if you want to get serious, let's talk about the appropriateness of those dancers' and cheerleaders' routines ...

* Many bands have taken to playing "classic" rock tunes by the Rolling Stones, Kansas, Aerosmith and others, for their half-time shows. Those don't seem to draw ire from the powers-that-be — of course, they listened to that music in high school. The same band, if I'm not mistaken, played "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC in the recent past. And THAT'S appropriate?


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