Litkicks Message Board Archive

The Poet's Eye--Skylark (first draft)

Posted to Poetry and Politics

Item: Dixie Chicks banned from the airwaves in many
markets because of anti-war statements.

When lead singer Natalie Maines, told a London
audience that she was ashamed to come from President
Bush's home state of Texas, the group was banned from
airplay on many American radio stations. One radio
chain, Cumulus Media, even arranged for a tractor to
crush Dixie Chicks CDs, tapes and videos.

Item: CBS faces fines after Janet Jackson's titty
escapes at the Super Bowl.

CBS has said it will fight a possible $550,000 fine
against its television stations after Janet Jackson
exposed her nipple to 90 million people during her
Super Bowl performance in February. CBS, which owns 20
TV stations, could face a Federal Communications
Commission fine of $550,000 , or $27,500 for each of
its channels.

Item: Howard Stern is removed from radio markets for
criticizing Bush.

The ribald radio host has repeatedly accused Clear
Channel of strong ties to the Bush administration,
saying the company previously defended him against
past indecency allegations until he became critical of
President Bush. Ten million dollar lawsuits are in the
works. Somebody wants Howard to keep his big mouth

Item: Whoopi Goldburg is canned by Unilever
(Slim-Fast) for remarks at the recent New York Demo rally comparing Bush to, well....her

"I only wish that the Republican re-election committee
would spend as much time working on the economy as
they seem to be spending trying to harm my
pocketbook," said Whoopi.

Item: Linda Ronstadt is evicted from the Aladdin Hotel
for dedicating the Eagles song "Desperados" to
filmaker Micheal Moore..

Ms Ronstadt, 58, a 10-time Grammy Award-winner and an
icon of the politically-agitated 1970s, praised Mr
Moore as a "great American patriot" who "is spreading
the truth."

After some of the paying customers at the Aladdin
tipped over their glasses, hotel president Bill
Timmins ordered security guards to escort Ms Ronstadt
off the premises.

The connection between commercial products and famous
personalities is not new. And the history of
celebrities falling from grace with their sponsors
goes from Anita Bryant to Kobe Bryant. You can include
O.J. Simpson Martha Stewart and even Tonya Harding.
But the current wave of censure is on a different
level. It's one thing for a commercial personality to
be dumped by a sponsor for indiscreet homophobic
remarks or little breeches like insider trading, assault
murder or rape, but it's quite another thing when
performers are financially penalized for stating their
political beliefs.

Sir Elton John said recently that stars are scared to
speak out against war in Iraq because of "bullying
tactics" used by the US government to hinder free

"There's an atmosphere of fear in America right now
that is deadly. Everyone is too career-conscious," he
told New York magazine, Interview.

Edmund White, headof Princeton University creative writing program says,"I do think Bush is against all social progress, the
sanctity of the environment, the arts, education, and
culture in general -- so it's no surprise that
thinking people are against him."

I suppose it's not surprising either that fanatic Republicans
would try to exert financial and professional pressure
to achieve their political ends. Hit em where they
live--in the pocketbook. We can be thankful that
Whoopi or Linda or Howard were not spirited away in
the middle of the night in black shiny FBI cars with
whip antennae. At least not yet. But this kind of
economic intimidation of prominent figures sends a
distinctly chilling message. It was the same message
that was read by the Congress and other public figures
after 9/11--that if you spoke out against the policies
of this government you would be labeled as

To get in the mood for writing this edition of The
Poet's Eye, I downloaded (at absolutely no cost) Linda
Ronstadt's version of Skylark arranged by the great
Nelson Riddle. This woman is a national treasure.
Tears are tears streaming from The Poet's Eye at the thought
of her being removed from any stage. But she was
removed from the stage at the Aladdin for dedicating a
song to Michael Moore.

As the plot thickens we find that the Aladdin Hotel is
owned by Planet Hollywood. This is the same Planet
Hollywood that was promoted and endorsed and partly
owned by Governor Arnold of California and, strangely
enough, also by Whoopi Goldburg. But that was several
bankruptcies ago.

Planet Hollywood's capital was provided by Robert
Earl (Hard Rock Cafe), and by Singapore billionaire
Ong Beng Seng. It is a company that was based on the
concept that celebs generated free publicity. By
giving Arnold and Sylvester and Whoopi stock in
exchange for their appearances and endorsements, the
company garnered the kind of advertising that money
can't buy. When Arnold and Demi and Whoopi show up at
an opening, Planet Hollywood gets free ads on Access
Hollywood, Inside Edition and all the other tabloid
entertainment shows. A company like this is very
conscious of what "unpatriotic" public speech can do.
So, the Aladdin management gave Linda Ronstadt the
hook and never listened to her voice which is the
clarion call of conscience.

The Poet's Eye has never seen such a shoulder to
shoulder rank of opinion makers lining up against a
sitting government, even during the Vietnam War. This
government, like Planet Hollywood, knows that image
ranks above substance, and since their substance is
rank their image better be slick. Whether it is
orchestrated or impromtu, the message that is being
broadcast is that if you talk bad about Big Brother,
then Big Brother will talk bad about you and Big
Brother has powerful friends (and they may pay your salary.)