Education Social Justice Marching 110 scraps controversial song; activists call for more action By The New Political Posted on September 23, 2013 11 min read 9 0 1,305 Activists cleared the lines last weekend after the controversial pop song “Blurred Lines” was removed from the Ohio University Marching 110’s halftime performance, a move that created a spark to ban the song from the university entirely. The song’s popularity snowballed into nationwide discussion about its lyrics perpetuating rape culture and blurring the lines of sexual consent, but the discussions reached a tipping point at OU in the wake of the unpopular tweet posted by Student Senate President Nick Southall just weeks ago that contained what opponents considered a similar message. Amid the controversy, women’s rights activists and supporters collectively called for the Marching 110 to pull “Blurred Lines” from the Saturday OU game against Austin Peay and much to their surprise, their wishes were granted. “I had no idea the song was going to get pulled. I know Dr. Suk cited things like censorship, and I do understand how hard (the band) worked to put the song together,” Allie Erwin, co-founder of a newly formed campus group called F*ck Rape Culture, said. “…But we’re trying to change the culture on this campus and better address the needs of people who have gone through sexual assault.” Marching 110 Director Richard Suk was asked by OU administrative officials to remove the song the day before the Saturday afternoon game, and he obliged. “Socially, I didn’t agree that the lyrics implied anything. But I’m not in Women’s Studies, and I don’t always know what goes on, and maybe those are the types of things people hear when they are victims of sexual assault,” Suk said. “I just didn’t see anything offensive. Most pop music is either about that, or disobeying authority or drugs.” Erwin, who had just previously written a letter to The Post asking the 110 to scrap the song, said she supports the 110 but wishes it would have thought twice about playing the song in the first place. “I think Blurred Lines is the first song of its kind to cause this because it’s so popular and so blatantly wrong about things like consent and sexual activity,” she said. “Honestly, I was surprised the 110 picked it in the first place after all the controversy on campus…even in the news. I want them to be successful but I want them to still be conscientious about these issues too.” Suk stressed that he felt the removal of the song this time could set a troubling precedence for the future. “What about next year? Are we always going to get to Friday and someone is going to ask not to play certain songs?” he said. “We’re not vocalists. We play the music because it’s a catchy tune. The choice by no means was a social statement. We’re here to entertain a crowd, and that’s it.” Erwin and the F*ck Rape Culture group chose to take the victory from Saturday’s halftime performance further. Monday, a small group tabled outside of Baker Center to petition the school to ban the playing of “Blurred Lines” in university cafes and anywhere else that music is played. In addition, the group is asking the university to make consent education mandatory for athletics and Greek life, guaranteeing underage sexual assault victims that they won’t be punished if alcohol was involved, and to mandate sexual harassment training in university workplaces. The group is holding a march and rally on Oct. 11 in the hopes of getting people comfortable with talking about the rape culture on campus. “It’s important to me as a woman because the media perpetuating the idea that consent is not necessary for sexual contact is harmful to all ages,” Marika Bresler, who was speaking to people about the petition, said. “This is something that you hear on the radio as a young girl and all the way up to college age that is perpetuating that idea…that’s not what we should be teaching women in society.” Members of the 110 as well as non-affiliated students think the song has been blown out of proportion, citing both the hard work the band does as a group and the support it gleans, as well as the potential for future First Amendment censorship on campus. “When we were told Friday night after a long night of learning a complicated dance routine that the piece was being cut, you could hear a sigh of disappointment across the band,” a female 110 member who wished not to be identified, said. “All we wanted to do was put on a great and entertaining show at OU and we were ripped of that opportunity.” Brendan Hunstad, a sophomore studying sociology, understood the disappointment band members felt. “Not everybody is going to like something. But where do we start drawing the line where because some people don’t like a song, it gets ruined for everyone. Then it just starts to get political. It’s all about the band’s ability to perform well in a short amount of time and entertain people during a football game,” he said. Both Suk and band members stressed that the 110 does not condone any actions or behavior that the song connotes. “We didn’t mean any offense by choosing that song, we weren’t trying to send any offensive message and I hope the school understands that,” the female 110 member said. Suk agreed that the song came at a time when the issue was a particular hot button on campus, but noted that university bands like Notre Dame performed “Blurred Lines” without issue. “I just don’t want the university to get a black eye for violating the First Amendment,” Suk said. To fill in the halftime performance, the Marching 110 repeated the previous week’s performance of “The Fox,” along with Katy Perry’s “Roar” and Lady Gaga’s “Applause,” as well as “Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities. Correction: An earlier edition of this article incorrectly identified the new campus group advocating for the elimination of campus rape culture as Stop Rape Culture.