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Bloodhound Gang in-the-news

Bloodhound Gang Draws Fans—and Protestors—to the Fillmore

June 1, 2000Tom Lee
AsianWeek

A huge sign hung outside the entrance to the Fillmore, reading: “Tonight’s show may contain graphic and offensive content. If this is not acceptable to you, please get a refund before entry.” In big bold letters, the warning relieved the San Francisco nightclub of any responsibility for presenting the Bloodhound Gang, a controversial and racist band, according to some API community leaders.

Despite the warning, hundreds of teenagers and twenty-somethings lined up outside the nightclub for the May 24 concert. Not everyone gathered was a fan of the Philadelphia-based band, however. Some 40 protestors, most of whom were affiliated with Together Against Racism (TAR), an organization comprised largely of a diverse group of students from De Anza College in Cupertino, waved giant homemade signs and chanted their message through bullhorns, charging that the band’s lyrics perpetuate racism, sexism and homophobia.

The protestors passed out fliers to ticket-holders, who were largely white, and to drivers in passing cars, detailing the lyrics of one particular song that they say is especially offensive. The song entitled “Yellow Fever” uses racial slurs and gross stereotypes to describe a masochistic fetish for Asian women:

She’s like an oriental rug cause I lay her where I please/ Then I blindfold her with dental floss and get down on my knees/ I’m a diving Kamikaze eating out Chinese/Chinky chinky bang bang I love you/ Sing chinky sing

News about the Bloodhound Gang’s lyrics has spread across the country by mass e-mails from college campuses and Asian American organizations. Even the San Francisco-based Asian Law Caucus issued a letter to the Fillmore pleading that it not host the band. Fillmore employees refused to comment.

While the Bloodhound Gang could not be reached for comment, according to TAR, band member Jimmy Pop made the following statement regarding “Yellow Fever”: “The whole song is about how I want to bang an Asian girl. It would probably be an Asian American that would hate a song about an Asian girl and me wanting to screw her. We really don’t care.”

While some concert-goers agreed with the protesters, not all saw the lyrics worthy of such uproar. “It’s about freedom of speech,” argued Jennifer Gelman. “This is America. People have the right to express themselves and of course some people would always be offended somehow. You can’t please everyone.”

Others at the concert said they saw the band’s lyrics as a joke or satire on race relations. “I think some of the people here are mature enough to take it as a light joke and some are not mature enough to handle it,” said Nick Block, a mental health worker. “It’s not going to affect me. I don’t take them seriously; they’re just a bunch of stupid hicks,” he said, referring to the band members.

But even bad jokes can have serious negative effects on people’s perceptions of race, some protestors said. “Any time one group reinforces stereotypes against another group, whether as a joke or not, it perpetuates those stereotypes longer,” warned Wes Culver, one of the protestors.

Moreover, Culver argued that the band is getting away with racist lyrics because they are targeting Asians and Asian Americans. “I know if a white band wrote racist lyrics directed at African American groups, people wouldn’t stand for it,” Culver said. “We want them to know that Asian Americans won’t stand for it either. We want to show them that we have a voice.”

Even with the disagreements, the protest organizers received more support than they expected from the band’s fans . “We’re having a great impact here, a much greater impact than we had thought,” said Richard Nguyen. “It’s been really positive. We’ve been getting a lot of support from lots of college students.”

Nguyen said TAR’s main objective was to make people more aware of the band’s lyrics and the underlying message behind those words. “I want the people here to rethink what they’re listening to, not to just be brainwashed by it without even thinking about what it really means.”

Added Culver: “We don’t expect anyone to turn away [from the concert]. We just want to educate because a lot of the people here were not even aware of the lyrics. Once we took the time to talk to them, most agreed with us.”

One of those who has listened more closely is Catherine Kuo. She was a fan of the band and liked their current hit single “The Bad Touch.”

“I thought the band was humorous and I didn’t think much about it,” she said. “But now after I looked into the lyrics [of “Yellow Fever”] I think there’s a much bigger underlying issue with this band.”