Posted in NYC | music on February 14, 2007

VoiceThe comments here on BV hardly touched the subject, but there were a few:

"Does anyone else find that picture kind of...um...er...bothersome?"

"That really should have been Dave Sitek."

"i honestly thought it was michael richards running over a random black man on that rascal. really confused. you gotta draw bobby with a hat and in a suit these days."

People were talking offline about the somewhat racy nature of last week's Village Voice cover too. As you can see, it featured a caricature of Bob Dylan running over a caricature of TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone. I considered "it" - not just because of where Kyp was drawn - but because the Dylan drawing wasn't exactly defying any stereotypes either.

I still decided to give the Voice the benefit of the doubt - well for one reason because (historically at least) they are THE VOICE. Bob Dylan beat TV on the Radio in the Pazz and Jop. An artist drew Bob Dylan running over arguably the most recognizable member of TV on the Radio. Poor choice? Probably - but I wrote it off as "silly". Then I dealt with it a little by Photoshopping up my own "silly" response. Based mainly on the results of the merged JackinPopPazzJop, I titled it "Kyp's Revenge".

Martin PernaMartín Perna of TV On The Radio and Antibalas took a more focused stance. The Voice published his letter in this week's (today's) issue:

Looking at this week's cover of the Voice, I see a caricature of Bob Dylan in an electric mobility scooter, running over Kyp Malone, guitarist/vocalist of the band TV on the Radio. The drawing, I imagine, was supposed to comically illustrate Dylan's new record edging out TVOTR's "Return to Cookie Mountain," in the paper's 34th Annual Pazz & Jop poll [February 7–13]. This drawing is racist, unfunny, mean-spirited, and inaccurate.

Even in the post-Chappelle era of it being hip and edgy to discuss and portray ideas about race, there are still wrong, tasteless ways and this was one of them. Nowhere in the consciousness of Voice editors or illustrator David O'Keefe can we find memories of James Byrd, a black man who was dragged behind a truck to his death by white racists in Jasper, Texas, in 1998, or Arthur "J.R." Warren, who was run over four times and killed for being black and gay in West Virginia in 2000, and all the other lynchings that happened in the U.S. before and since. These events are still fresh in the minds of black people, as well as in the hearts and minds of the rest of us who may not be directly victimized by these particular lynchings but who are nonetheless endangered by racism and committed to social justice and healing America of its sick racist condition.

O'Keefe and his colleagues may not have meant to intentionally be racist. They probably meant to be funny, like the University of Texas law students, Clemson University undergrads, or white college students nationwide who plan and publicize their blackface or "ghetto parties," then act surprised that people find their actions offensive and unacceptable. That this picture could be drawn and not questioned or vetoed by any of the people who saw it prior to publication shows the level of ignorance and racism that persists in leftist institutions like the Voice that continue to posture as hip and progressive. It reveals that among decision-makers at the paper there is not one single person with any sort of racial consciousness or sensitivity who had the power or courage to send that picture back to the drawing board.

Racism aside, the drawing is snarky and simpleminded. Where is the love? Why such a nasty way to portray two fantastic musical entities who made award-winning records last year? Why only portray Kyp, when TV on the Radio is composed of four other equally talented core members plus a small army of extended family (including myself) who have contributed to the indescribably ecstatic sound of TVOTR onstage and on record. We struggle defiantly to collaborate and work in non-hierarchical, positive environments and this portrayal of one of our people strikes a blow against our collective dignity.

Every time our likenesses are used outside of our control—especially in stupid ways like this—it fosters false perceptions of who we are. We struggle on a daily basis (those of us with high media exposure much more than others) to be our true selves and not what the media creates of us. Inevitably, Kyp will have to respond to an endless stream of questions about this cover from scores of journalists over the next week when he'd probably rather be doing something else.

Intentionally or not, this cover sends the all-too-familiar message to people of color: Make something too unique, make something outside of your assigned place-role, and get run over by a white man. I could go on about it, about how wrong it is to create false competition between musicians; the headline "Blood on the Tracks!" gives the very false impression that there is serious beef with Dylan and TVOTR. I could complain about how you drew Kyp outfitted like the Nutty Professor rather than his true fly stylish self. All other criticism, however, would draw attention away from the more serious and sinister latent racism present that makes this cover possible to begin with. I pray that you will wise up and check yourself and get some people with some sense and sensitivity among your editorial staff.

Martín Perna
Baritone saxophone, flutes
Antibalas/TV on the Radio
Austin, Texas, and Brooklyn

Ouch. Extreme? What do you think? I'm too tired to even be writing this right now, let alone come up with a conclusion. I will disagree with Martín on at least one point though - the one about the headline giving "the very false impression that there is serious beef with Dylan and TVOTR". I'm sure we can at least all agree that nobody thought THAT. Well...then again....

In somewhat related news, Chris Ott's piece on whether we even still need a critics' poll is a good read. What's most interesting about it is that it appeared IN the Pazz & Jop issue of the Voice.

Oh, and Rob Harvilla coins the term "blopists".

Previously
Kyp's revenge - 2006 Jackin' Pop / Pazz & Jop merged results
Blipster = a black hipster? NY Times on black + indie

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Comments (96)

Hmmmmmm

I'm gonna choose my words carefully on this one.
I think it's pretty interesting that no one's commented that Bob Dylan looks like an illustration straight out of "The Merchant of Venice." If you can't get the Voice on the racism charge, you could certainly accuse them of anti-Semitism.

A lot of people will complain "Oh aren't you reading into this a bit much." I would say "No." The thought that this Village Voice cover MIGHT offend someone came to me almost instantly, and in these United States, that means someone will be really offended by it. Race remains a prickly subject in this country. With regards to TVOTR, I think that Perna summed it up pretty nicely with this comment:

"Intentionally or not, this cover sends the all-too-familiar message to people of color: Make something too unique, make something outside of your assigned place-role, and get run over by a white man. "

Think about it. Take a second.

Posted by Colonel K | February 14, 2007 5:05 AM

They say racism starts when people distinguish black from white. Arguably then Perna's response would be racist, because he actually sees a significant difference between Dylan and Malone!?
I think there's a great Southpark episode on this one: http://www.tv.com/south-park/chef-goes-nanners/episode/2471/recap.html

I can't see any racism in the illustration.

Posted by Janosch | February 14, 2007 5:27 AM

My impression was a racist image at first glance

...but by second glance, you realize that the message is about the pop charts...

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 5:51 AM

does perna actually think it would have been better if the voice depicted bob running over all of tvotr? sure, an old geezer in a motorized scooter running over 4 african-americans is better than running over one...THAT is racist.

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 7:37 AM

Sorry I didn't know there was a race. Bob Dylan won?

Posted by steve | February 14, 2007 7:39 AM

Um- ill advised maybe.
But can't we say that it was intended as a humorous image- if it had been dylan versus lilly allen then would there have been a big thing about it being a sexist issue? No.
The drawing is a Caricature-it isnt a racial issue, or anti semetic. they aren't particularly good caricature but that is a different issue.

jumping on this as a race issue just shows peoples inherent problems with race. I saw it and thought 'dylan running over kyp'...i didnt think 'white jew runs over black man'. If you just treat people as people then you dont have a problem. we all have blood, we all try to get by the best way we can. We all love and die.

I dont find it funny, or good, and i don't think it wise but come on....if you treat this as a race issue then we will never solve this.

Posted by ro | February 14, 2007 7:50 AM

calm down that was not their intention

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 8:21 AM

I agree with ro.

What we're looking at here is not a pickaninny eating watermelon while a jew, money gushing out of the pockets, waves the flys away from his dirty jew head.

I might add that in this caricature Kyp, (or THE BLACK MAN) is unhurt. This is cartoon violence. Only a paranoid delusional would take away from this cartoon that Bob Dylan has, will, or wants to run over Kyp or ANY black man.

There is no way to legitimately or rationally eke out racism or white supremacy from this illustration. We have crossed in to the land of paranoid delusion.

"Make something too unique, make something outside of your assigned place-role, and get run over by a white man."

This is like saying that Star Wars is a parable advocating white supremacy (after all, Dath Vader's helmet is black!) or that Tom and Jerry cartoons insinuate that the black man (Tom, of darker coat) is on a violent rampage to end the life and joy of the white man (Jerry, a pale tan color, clearly represents caucasians in this struggle).

What if PJ Harvey had beat out Bob Dylan and their cover illustration depicted PJ Harvey, in plainclothes and apron, serving a turkey dinner to a seated Bob Dylan with the caption 'DYLAN GETS SERVED!'? It would be a lame cover, embarassing even, making a visual pun out of a decade-old bit of American slang that wasn't funny or interesting in the first place. One thing it would not be, however, is a graphic illustrating or endorsing gender roles or heirarchy.

Martin Perna is jumping at ghosts. Oop! Is that too racist?

Posted by Stephen | February 14, 2007 8:25 AM

P.S. Did Perna miss out somehow on the inherent irony of his letter?

i.e. The white man coming to the aid and rescue of the black man, who is too dumb and childlike in nature to defend or support himself?

Hey, that rationale worked for some slave masters!

Posted by Stephen | February 14, 2007 8:44 AM

of course some minority thinks it's racist

gotta justify your lifestyle

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 9:00 AM

This is bullshit... if that was a picture of Dylan running over a member of the Artic Monkeys or some other white band no one would give a shit, they would be raving on how witty it was. so what the fuck is the difference that he is running over Kyp? The caption is cleaver, and people should lighten up "ITS A FUCKIN JOKE". I would be more offended over the Blipster remark in the paper in weeks past.

Posted by d | February 14, 2007 9:08 AM

Only a Rascist would find that Rascist!

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 9:15 AM

"hey say racism starts when people distinguish black from white."

I agree. Only a racist would find something racist in that picture. I love the concept of the art, notsomuch the illustration itself. Great cover for the VV.

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 9:17 AM

That is the most absurd thing I've read since Sitek's ramblings.

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 9:21 AM

It was an ugly cover by any means. The cumulative effect of the crooked nose shape-shifter running over the clumsy negro just, yeah, doesn't sit that well. If anything it further signals the shift (death) of the Voice. It used to be their content that was truely edgy and worthwhile. Now, this is probably the most controversy they can drum up. I can read Savage Love elsewhere.

Posted by bbbb | February 14, 2007 9:23 AM

I don't care for TVOTR, but I love Antibalas. I lost respect for Martín Perna. There is no racism in the drawing. He is trying to antagonize others.

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 9:26 AM

The irony of it all is too delicious. Hopefully that progressive publication will think twice the next time before it tosses out its own careless (and too-often baseless) accusations of racism.

Posted by Sven | February 14, 2007 9:30 AM

"they say racism starts when people distinguish black from white."

Who is "they?" Don't hide behind hypothetical masses. Caricatures are certainly not race-blind (see: Dylan's nose). Racism can also occur when people deny historical oppression occured (see: holocaust deniers). Again, I am mostly troubled by this completed image, not necessarily by any picture of Dylan running over Kyp. This is just off-putting.

Posted by bbbb | February 14, 2007 9:31 AM

Antibalas is the most white-bread bullshit tribute to Fela I've ever seen. I'm embarassed for them when i see them.

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 9:31 AM

Sven: do you know what you are talking about? Please give an example. Not many progressives I know would call the Voice a "progressive publication."

Posted by bbbb | February 14, 2007 9:34 AM

Anyone offended by that cover needs an enema. What a load of silly stupid people!!! It's embarrassing.

Posted by eggshells | February 14, 2007 9:48 AM

I have just lost respect for TVOTR. Does anybody have a sense of humor anymore??? That is not racist at all...end of story.

Posted by Dave | February 14, 2007 9:50 AM

sounds like someone's just being a whiny bitch because the album he played on lost.

get over it loser.

Posted by FrixFrixFrix | February 14, 2007 9:51 AM

The Voice is quickly racing towards irrelavancy, thanks to the New Times folks.

Posted by fortyver | February 14, 2007 9:56 AM

"if that was a picture of Dylan running over a member of the Artic Monkeys or some other white band no one would give a shit, they would be raving on how witty it was. so what the fuck is the difference that he is running over Kyp?"

The difference is that Kyp is a black guy and any member of "some other white band" would be... uh... white? So, yeah. If this was a white guy running over another white guy, no one WOULD give a shit.

It might not be deliberately or overtly racist, but you don't have to portray a black guy as a fried chicken, watermelon-eating Mr. Bojangles for it to be racist. You also don't have to portray a Jewish man with devil horns and money flowing out of his pockets for it to be racist, but I think here the main problem is the apparent image of a black guy being run over by a white guy-- which, as Martin noted in his letter, there is a well-documented and terrible history of in the US.

I just think it's weird that the illustrator and/or the Voice editors didn't catch that before they stuck this on the cover.

Latent racism is a far more destructive and troublesome problem, because people don't/can't recognize it and totally dismiss anyone that tries to talk about it as overreacting (ie, most of the comments in response to this post).

Posted by rachael m. | February 14, 2007 9:58 AM

honstly i find more offenive that people find this racist

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 10:05 AM

I have to agree, this is pretty ridiculous.

The cover is basically a rip-off of MTV's "Celebrity Deathmatch" and I'm pretty sure there wasn't a huge uproar from people pissed off at that show for the years it ran.

If people want to get pissed because they feel the actual caricatures are offensive (i.e. perpetuating stereotypes) that's one thing.

But looking at this illustration as containing some sort of of racial symbolism and writing a huge diatribe scolding the Voice for running it comes off as unbelievably arrogant, out-of-touch, and makes me lose even more respect for TVOTR.

Seriously, does anyone involved with that band not have a stick up the ass?

That Tom and Jerry metaphor above by Stephen was pretty ace by the way.

Posted by Fred | February 14, 2007 10:11 AM

MOST importantly... that doesn't even look like Bob Dylan.

Posted by Amy | February 14, 2007 10:14 AM

i think dude has a point, but is taking it a bit too far. we do have to be careful in a world that is still dealing with race issues in all aspects of society - the pain is still very real as he pointed out. however, i think Mr. Perna's overreaction could be just as problematic as the controversial Voice cover.

maybe this is ignorance talking, but isn't the dream to live in a society where different color skin is like different color hair - a more or less irrelvant attribute about a person that is maybe noticed in passing but little more? just eliminate the whole idea of black or white people, and just have a whole bunch of 'people' who may or may not have varying pigment levels?

idunno, i almost feel bad for thinking it, but i sometimes feel like in addition to putting a stop to discrimination, hatred and bias we need to stop with the opposite movements of black history month or affirmative action or power to the people etc etc... let's just go about our fucking lives and forget about the whole dumb idea of race. isn't that the definition of 'equal'?

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 10:19 AM

Someone had to call them on it. The worst kind of racism is the institutionalized kind that we're blind to. Props for the well articulated article.

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 10:19 AM

You people are talking out of your asses and are being more reactionary than M. Perna. At the least, his response had some degree of context and coherency (even if some of his charges are overblown).
Many of you might make good Voice writers someday, keep at it kids.

Posted by bbbb | February 14, 2007 10:28 AM

Fucking nimrods, all of you. make, say, do anything remotely suggestive of racist attitudes, overt or unconscious, and bullshit debates like this spread all over the net like fucking ass-rash.

Everyone's racist, everyone, you, me, everyone. Start with that fact, digest it, absorb it, and you'll then see that the next logical step is to think twice before expending useless energy in piddling debates like the above.

Is there a race problem in this country? hell yes, of course. Not saying there isn't. but it's not being addressed by this kind of hair-splitting bullshit. Look first to schooling & housing inequities, the con-ed power failure in queens, etc.

Don't get me wrong, there's obviously value in addressing the latent, underlying causes of racism re: learned attitudes and beliefs that aren't always overtly displayed, which come out in michael richards-esque outbursts, which lead to unconscious discrimination.

The Voice cover, however, is not one such example. It's a fucking cartoon cover of one musician running over another, symbolic of some stupid poll victory, both musicians ending up looking equally goofy, & both of whom happen to be minorities.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Retards.

Posted by c | February 14, 2007 10:29 AM

Sitek's freakout and now this?!?

TVOTR is officially the most dramatic band of all time. They really need to get over themselves.

By pointing out that it's a white man running over a black man...HE has made it a race issue. There is nothing racist about this cover; give me a break!

Posted by DJ Dave | February 14, 2007 10:30 AM

waiiiiiit a member of TVOTR has overreacted?!?!?! INCONCEIVABLE!

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 10:31 AM

I see it more as a parody of the music industry than the individuals portrayed. Dylan represents the old guard--a legend because of his works from the 60s/70s, now coasting on 40 years of bloated, music industry hype (both conventional and alt-media). It is an unflattering portrait of him (and I don't recall him ever using a scooter in real life...) The voice is basically mocking the fact that his album (and albums like his...) constantly outsell/gain broader recognition than artistic, unique, fresh records such as TVOTR (whatever you may think of their music). Anyway, this was my interpretation.

Posted by Greg | February 14, 2007 10:32 AM

>Why only portray Kyp, when TV on the Radio is composed of four >other equally talented core members plus a small army of >extended family (including myself) who have contributed to the >indescribably ecstatic sound of TVOTR onstage and on record.

because noone knows WHAT THE FUCK THEY LOOK LIKE... it's all about 'the dood with the 'fro and beard'

i should note that people ESPECIALLY don't know what the fuck martin looks like. (or cares)

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 10:38 AM

i knew what TV On The Radio looked like before i ever heard them. but i doubt people would realize that the man getting run over was the dude from TVOTR. nor would anyone know it was dave sitek.

while we're at it, has anyone remarked at how they made bobby look like the classic money grubbing evil jew from all those nazi cartoons? yeah! i took it there! bob doesn't look anything like that.

Posted by Micah Welner | February 14, 2007 11:16 AM

This guy is full of crap. Completely and totally. And worst than that he is BORING.

Posted by camille | February 14, 2007 11:17 AM

this has to be a joke?
please...

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 11:21 AM

Bob Dylan hasnt done anything worth noticing since long before I was born

TVOTR is the most overated band I can think of.


its a cartoon

shut up get over yourselves..

Posted by Bangum' smurf | February 14, 2007 11:39 AM

These TVOTR guys are a sensitive bunch.

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 11:40 AM

everything, eveywhere all the time is racist.

last night i had to wait twenty minutes for chinese food
to be delivered
probably would have come here faster if i was
asian
i thought about that.

Posted by soup monster | February 14, 2007 11:41 AM

Racism never crossed my mind. I thought the picture was kind of funny. Maybe people just don't have a sense of humor anymore.

It's people like Perna that keep racism alive. I would have never noticed the whole "white man running over a black man" thing had he not written that boringness.

I saw it for what it was, Bob Dylan running over another annoying indie rocker.

Posted by Erin | February 14, 2007 11:42 AM

Total overreaction. I guess if you look for something to be "racist" all the time, you'll find it somehow.

Posted by Bianca | February 14, 2007 12:06 PM

come on, its the fucking voice

i cant believe this is an issue

these guys dont have senses of humor at all..


read kyps take on vice, sorta starts foaming

http://www.mp3.com/news/stories/6811.html


merchant of venice? seriously?

how bout he over exaggerates his "jewishness"

voice hates jews, pass it on

Posted by cnnlive | February 14, 2007 12:51 PM

come on, its the fucking voice

i cant believe this is an issue

these guys dont have senses of humor at all..


read kyps take on vice, sorta starts foaming

http://www.mp3.com/news/stories/6811.html


merchant of venice? seriously?

how bout he over exaggerates his "jewishness"

voice hates jews, pass it on

Posted by cnnlive | February 14, 2007 12:58 PM

Im glad I read what he said about Vice magazine-he cussed a little too much for my taste, but that magazine really is a racist, shallow, smug piece of trash. Wait a minute, why I am writing about Vice-it's not really even relevant anymore, right?

Posted by Charles | February 14, 2007 1:05 PM

Erin, Bianca, and the rest

I believe that you lot are missing the point.

Disregarding Martin Perna's letter, the issue at hand is the context of the photo. The layout editors chose to put an image of a white man running over a black. In a country such as the United States, in a city as diverse as the United States,an image like that is bound to cause controversy, and neither you nor I can change that at this moment in time.

And to the comment "I guess if you look for something racist all the time, you'll find it somehow" is pretty ignorant. You're disregarding socializtation, learning, upbringing etc. The human mind is wired to establish patterns; it's how order is created from seemingly random stimuli.

Racism didn't just up and go away with the Civil Rights Act or the Immigration Reform Act. It's still very alive and well, and it's not always gonna come in the form of "Hey nigger, get over here." While the more overt discrimination has subsided in most parts of the country, racist undertones and institutions still exist.

Common question:
"Why should I pay for the sins of my father."
Appropriate response (taken from a real conversation):
"Because your father raised you with what he reaped from those very sins.The least you could do was acknowledge that what he did was wrong"

Posted by Colonel K | February 14, 2007 1:05 PM

This is just institutionalized stereotyping, we all have them. Just like "soup monster" thinking about his Chinese food, we all judge and stereotype people every day based on race, sex, body type, religion, clothes, and whatever else. Not to sound like a prick, but I live in the deep south, and if you don't think institutional racism exists just take a look at our prison system.

This cover is just stupid, and he had a valid point to be upset. But I'm just going to take it as is.

Posted by Liz | February 14, 2007 1:11 PM

What about the Geriatric Stereotypes?

Large nose. Check.
Electric mobility scooter. Check.
Scowl. Check.

Posted by anonymous | February 14, 2007 1:15 PM

I agree with all these people saying that if you're looking for it, it's there.
TVOTR are way overrated and I'll even throw this thought out there: I think part of their success I because they are African-American

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 1:20 PM

Its just a joke, maybe if he were being lynched...than I would say there would be a problem.

Posted by D | February 14, 2007 1:23 PM

I agree with all these people saying that if you're looking for it, it's there.
I'll even throw this thought out there: I think part of their success IS because they are African-Americans breaking musical boundries. Is that a fair to listen to music?
I'm white anf I'll tell you, we don't sit around and think of how to screw over minorities. There is no conspiracy and if anything it's the white-guilted whites I hate most because they don't have the balls to stand up to accusations like this.

Posted by A.L. | February 14, 2007 1:28 PM

While I think Perna's point on picking one band member as opposed to the whole band is ridiculous, I'm appalled at how many of you guys are quick to call TVOTR over dramatic when this is a serious issue. You don't get to decide if it's racist or not. IF A PERSON OF COLOR IS OFFENDED ON THE BASIS OF THEIR RACE, IT'S RACISM. PERIOD. END OF DISCUSSION.

When someone of color looks at this photo, they see race the same way they see it when they look in the mirror. To ask them not to is to ask them to give up A PART OF their identity. It may be easy for you guys to see only music but I see music and race. It may be easy for privileged white kids to brush this off as humorous but you guys see through a different set of eyes than we do. Rather than laughing at people of color who are offended, you should be able to see at least A LITTLE BIT why this may be offensive and leave it at that.

i mean, what the fuck

Posted by H-Man | February 14, 2007 1:29 PM

lol.

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 1:36 PM

Martín Perna is being a troublemaker. He is probably to generate publicity for the upcoming Antibalas album. There is nothing wrong with the cover (well, except for calling Dylan old with that scooter). He is trying to drum up sales by calling people racist.

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 1:51 PM

Thanks for ENDING THE DISCUSSION, but no, if one person of race finds it offesive they do not have the power to declare something as racist for everyone.

I was watching the Chris Rock Show the other day and he says, "There's nothing my dad liked more than watching boxing: a black man beating up a white guy." That's on fucking TV and yeah, that's more racist than any of this crap. Turn the tables and think.

Like Wyclef Jean said in "Block Party", stop blaming white people.

"END Of DISCUSSION"... lol, whatever.

Posted by Jim | February 14, 2007 1:54 PM

"IF A PERSON OF COLOR IS OFFENDED ON THE BASIS OF THEIR RACE, IT'S RACISM. PERIOD. END OF DISCUSSION."

This is one of the most stupid things I've ever heard. In fact, I just decided it offends me on the basis of my race. Racist!

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 2:07 PM

Racist or not it's still a cartoon coming from one of the most left publications around. I think we can all agree that the intention was not to be racist but when seen by a hyper-sensitive musician whos connected to the artist depicted things can maybe be taken out of context. Martin, there are much bigger fish to fry in this world. As a musician you should know that a free weekly publication focused on the arts does not dictate what the world thinks on race relations or should influence what a musician should be creating. Keep doing what you are doing and focus on more important stuff because you have spent to much time trying to vilify a publication that has done more good then harm for artists like yourself. Isn't there a danish newspaper you should be protesting or something?

Posted by Jon G | February 14, 2007 2:27 PM

Well, Dylan is depicted riding a motorized scooter---so where is the AARP bitching about how it depicts older people? Look racism is bad, period. But the picture/caption is clearly a joke about TV on the Radio losing to Dylan. Manufacturing racial tension does nothing to help.

From now on, we can only have a stick fighure running over the same size and same color stick figure, because if we make any difference in characters, someone can always bith about how the "losing" character is depicted. Oh, wait ...forget it. If we use stick figures I guess that a slam against anorexic people.

Damn! Just can't win.

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 2:31 PM

If you condense "Blood on the tracks" with the first 2 letters and the last 3 letters you get "Blacks".

There is no inner meaning to the cartoon, it's all in the OUTER meaning! Racism!

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 2:34 PM

"[T]he drawing is snarky and simpleminded. Where is the love?" Oh, Martin. Would you rather have a serious, complex artwork representing the thoughtful, academic nature of Pazz and Jop?

I found the drawing slightly offensive on behalf of Kip - his hairline isn't that receding at all.

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 3:05 PM

"This drawing is racist, unfunny, mean-spirited, and inaccurate." Wrong on all acounts!

Posted by jjazznola | February 14, 2007 3:12 PM

I think he's justified, and especially agree with the point he makes about TVOR being comprised of more than just one member... I'm sure that the artist could have created an image that included the whole band, not just one member against a solo artist.

Posted by anoymus | February 14, 2007 3:15 PM

lighten up people

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 3:22 PM

what a stupid letter. but why is it in brooklynvegan.com?

before anyone shits all over the illustrator and the voice for being "institutionally racist" or the "institutional racism" of a cartoon, we should all take a step back and see how all media, blogs included, are in collaboration with scandals such as this. they publish stupid ranting letters like this, amplifying what is one saxophonist's grudge into a full blown controversy. his argument has so many holes, and almost everybody posting comments here sees it.

it's time to get savvy, people, and see the forest instead of the trees, and realize not to get worked up over individual cases like this.

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 3:59 PM

This flautist has opened my eyes to the perniciousness of cartoon racism.

Posted by Eppy | February 14, 2007 5:01 PM

Thank God he mentioned the horrible outfit that they put Kyp into. I mean, like, not to be a diva or anything, but if they put me in that drab get-up I'd hurl my cell phone at someone.

Posted by Patrik | February 14, 2007 5:13 PM

The job of the caricaturist is to observe the more outstanding physical characteristics of an individual and exaggerate them for comic effect. To that end, the illustrator succeeded. That he did so in a politically-correct, 8th-Place-trophy world of creatively bankrupt and unimaginative dullards is where he failed.

Just like Denmark: a bunch of touchy fascists owned by a cartoon.

Posted by Crosseyed Sniper | February 14, 2007 6:50 PM

I'm officially submitting my Petition to the world of music lovers that all white people be kicked out, or respectfully removed, from the Tv On the Radio music franchise - based on the numerous occasions that have publicly proven to the world that they are whack. Keeping it Real, Tv On the Radio Style, has yielded some of the most asinine, self-righteous, somewhat creepy and ultimately disappointing words seen from the shit -fits of Dave Sitek and now by a woodwind player named Martin. When will it end!? Tv On the Radio should be the black band that everyone wants them to be and do away with the superfluous caucasian element that seems to plague their otherwise good image. Free Tunde, Gerard, Kyp and Jaleel!

Posted by james | February 14, 2007 6:53 PM

My first thought when I saw this cover was that it didn't make any sense. Then it struck me as looking pretty racist. It's got the simple-looking black person on the ground, run over by a wicked jew. Is it really that surprising that it rubs a lot of people the wrong way?

I'm amazed that people are so quick to diss Martin for calling the Voice out. Can white people not point out racism when they see it? Are we not allowed? It's supposed to be better if I pretend that black people and white people were exactly the same, including the way they are treated by society?

We won't solve racism by ignoring it. In fact we CAN'T solve it, because people will be judged by their appearance as long as they can be seen by other people. What we CAN do is make racism socially unacceptable, and if that means telling the Voice they are stupid for making a racist caricatures without meaning to, then fuck it, I'm all for it.

Posted by Anonymous | February 14, 2007 10:38 PM

Martín Perna and his supporters in this matter can eat shit. If anyone is offended by my implying that coprophagia is a bad thing, I'm glad.

Posted by piss off | February 14, 2007 10:43 PM

Worst. Argument. Ever.

Get over yourselves.

Posted by Anonymous | February 15, 2007 12:11 AM

one of the worst "debates" on this site ever. im indifferent to the whole fucking thing, and the cover didn't strike me racist at all until now. i viewed at as a cultural dinosaur vs. critically adored newcomer. I love TVOTR but this kind of shit (coupled with DAS anger management issues) isn't exactly helping their image at the moment. nor are blogs like this that perpetuate these kinds of stupid arguments and blow shit entirely out of a proportion.

Posted by jason | February 15, 2007 1:08 AM

completely funny to me that bloggers are wiping their powdered cheese fingers on their collective pants in heated anticipation of judging people. awesome.

Posted by anonymous | February 15, 2007 3:43 AM

what a bunch of pussies. if TVOTR are upset about the cover, they should've made a record that was better than 'modern times'. then none of this shit would've happened.

Posted by Anonymous | February 15, 2007 9:08 AM

wow! people are really lame. this wasnt racist and anyone who thought so clearly has issues all unto their own.

Posted by Ashley | February 15, 2007 11:00 AM

"IF A PERSON OF COLOR IS OFFENDED ON THE BASIS OF THEIR RACE, IT'S RACISM. PERIOD. END OF DISCUSSION."

Well, not exactly. It's perceived racism, rather than intended racism. I think the guy who said this was about new bands taking second to the old guard was right. That said, the Village Voice should have seen this coming, and one thing that I don't think has been brought up are people who may not recognize the caricatures and might just think it's some white guy running over a black man. That's the dangerous part, because people who don't ordinarily read hip leftist weeklies might not understand the context while passing by on the street. Not everybody listens to enough music to realize that, and thus might even seem more racist to outsiders. It's not really in good taste and even though I doubt any intended racism, they shouldn't have run it. Moving on...

Posted by Jeff | February 15, 2007 11:43 AM

It's too bad that people are so quick to dismiss Martin's comments. This might not be the most serious, horrible example of racism in the world but I definitely agree with him that it's racist and that isn't disconnected from more serious, horrible forms of racism. Also, it's kind of classic how quick people are to dismiss what he's saying, especially when he's calling out the ways that hip culture is particularly post-political in that it can do racist things in the name of "good fun" or humor, and do them under the guise that it's coming from a place that isn't oppressive, when in fact it's still racist.

Posted by branny | February 15, 2007 1:22 PM

in the uk last year NME printed a photo of Bloc Party with an article about Test Icicles. and with the captions as test icicles names.

that worries me more...that some sub editor has just gone. White band black singer- that must be them....

Posted by ro | February 15, 2007 1:42 PM

Tv on the Radio is very lame...or maybe it is just the white dude freak outs that are ruining the otherwise interesting ensemble. I agree with whoever is petitioning to rid of the white folk. Sitek is whack and Martin is also guilty.

Posted by anon | February 15, 2007 2:01 PM

I LOVE LISTENING TO MY WHITE FRIENDS TALK ABOUT RACE. THEY KNOW SO MUCH!!!

Posted by H-MAN | February 15, 2007 3:22 PM

"I LOVE LISTENING TO MY WHITE FRIENDS TALK ABOUT RACE. THEY KNOW SO MUCH!!!"

white people can't know anytihng about race? only a nigger could say something that stupid

Posted by moth | February 15, 2007 6:19 PM

you "people" in jew york are stupid.

Posted by nword | February 15, 2007 6:21 PM

Regarding the "beef" between Bob Dylan and TVotR...that really was my first thought, walking past the issue a hundred times before realizing a new issue was coming out the next day and [this] was my last chance. I thought this was some dispute about intellectual property; maybe they had stolen some elements of one of his (millions) of songs. Like "standard chord progressions", or maybe they too had written a song about Alicia Keys. I think it is a terrible cartoon. It does look like the stereotypical "crooked Jew" rolling over a blackface Wario(c). I agree with bandmember's input that the characateur (sp) doesn't do him much justice. But who really cares? The Voice is floundering; this is just another example of their poor editorial decisions.

Posted by Anonymous | February 15, 2007 10:13 PM

okay. so im black and i'm friends with the siblings of kyp malone.
and when i saw the cover of the voice, i thought it was hilarious. i almost thought to send it to them in email, because they have a sense of humour.
it's bad enough that tv on the radio are thought of as this revolutionary act by virtue of the race of their members, and not the quality of their music. i saw them once, opening for the fall, and seriously wanted to shoot myself they're so boring.
bob dylan is an old-timer who beat the hype machine in one miserable poll. martin whatever his name is needs to get over himself. so he took a cultural studies class in college--totally doesn't make him an authority on race relations in this country. it just makes him look paranoid. and paranoia is essential to racialism. seems to me we're looking at two sides of the same damn coin.

Posted by jammer | February 15, 2007 10:46 PM

what a completely inane argument. aren't there better things to get upset about, like our country going to hell in a handbasket?
get a sense of humor, brooklyn dorks. i thought irony was "hip" among your factions.

Posted by taffy davenport | February 15, 2007 10:53 PM

What amazes-- and, to be honest, depresses-- me about this discussion is how intensely defensive "progressive" white folks can get on the topic of racism. The quantity & intensity of negative comment is something else.

Personally, Martín Perna's comments rang a bell-- I think he's right. But for the sake of the argument, let's say he's wrong. Why do those who disagree get so angry? I think the way Shakespeare put it was, "he doth protest too much." (White) people get so upset, it's no surprise that people of color rarely bring up the topic in a mixed group. And that's a big obstacle to honest discussion.

By the way, hit-&-run by racists goes back way farther than James Byrd. Read George Pelecanos's novel _Hard_Revolution_ for an example, taken from headlines of the day in the 1960s. Ignoring this history is like drawing a picture of a black man in a noose and then trying to tell people it was "just a joke."

Posted by Peter H. | February 16, 2007 1:56 AM

Meaningless labels like "progressive" and "reactionary" aside, perhaps some White people get so defensive about racism because it is often used as some sort of almighty trump card in situations where it really has no application. Come on, now...if, say, Hillary Clinton trounces Barack Obama in the Democratic primary, winning by tens of thousands of votes (heaven forbid), and the press describes the lopsided victory as a "slaughter" or somesuch, should the Black community (or some self-appointed windbag "representatives") raise the alarm of racism because of the fact that, in the past, Black people have died violent deaths? As if there is some sort of monopoly on that, in this country or any other.

Such is the case in this instance. Dylan "slaughtered" TVOTR in the poll (I guess, I stopped reading the Voice years ago), and because of a stupid drawing to encapsulate the (non) issue of the competition and its results, the sensitivity police is up in arms enough to create an issue where there is none, thereby fanning flames -- even creating them -- where previously there was no fire.

Perhaps the worst part of this is that it gives the Voice attention that it doesn't deserve, since it long ago stopped being either an outlet for worthwhile journalsim or any sort of cultural arbiter.

In closing, let me add:
1) It's a stinging indictment of the state of the NYC "community"/"underground"/hipster nation that EITHER Dylan or TVOTR made it onto the poll at all; Dylan stopped being relevant long before the hippies came down off the brown acid at Woodstock, and he was never entertaining or listenable (unless you're over the age of 57 -- if not, why not just make the transition to John Tesh compositions?); TVOTR are spotlight darlings because, while quite competent writers and players, they are a novelty just like Living Colour of Body Count were -- Bad Brains/Whipping Boy/Swiz they're not

and

2)Dylan really DOES look like that.

Posted by Ralph Goldenmouth | February 16, 2007 4:40 PM

Chiming in late, but after reading these posts, this is scary. Scary in that my thoughts over the past few years that racism will become even more acceptable within coming years is looking like more of a reality. True, racism has always existed. But this whole "I'm tired of being accused of racism" or "just get over it" blather just reinforces it. Just as a lot of white people may very well be tired of being accused of racism, hasn't it occured to anyone that black people may be tired of being offended and having to be apologized to? I know I am.

Posted by Eliza | February 19, 2007 10:18 AM

NOTE: This is a letter from Martin Perna, the original author of the letter to Village Voice regarding the cover with Bob Dylan and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio.


The question should not be why do I see this cover as racist, but why most of you do not.

I felt the need to respond to the cover, and also to all the responses for several reasons, listed below:

My peoples (Italians/Mexicans/Sicilians/Irish) have all been lynched in American and have a long history of portrayed by white media as less-than white, less than human. Whites lynched Sicilians and Italians by the dozens (check the documentary “Linciati”) in the early part of this century, and were subject to cartoons as ugly as this worse. Mexicans, more visible than ever, bear much of brunt of such hateful imagery and treatment today.

I count myself among handful of Italian-Americans in post-WWII America who have held on to our full heritage and resist the temptation to step into the reprehensible comfort of white privilege. Have I ever received privilege on the lightness of my skin? Of course. Have I confronted this and recognized that this privilege is unjustified? Yes. This letter is just one tiny part of my daily process to recognize this and dismantle white supremacy.

I can confidently say that neither Dylan nor TVOTR--give a damn about winning or losing, This discussion is hardly about that. It's about the horror of being represented in a seemingly innocent but stupid and hurtful manner by people who think they are being clever, then seeing an entire mass of ignorant people jump to their defense rather than taking this as an opportunity to look into themselves, to learn, heal, study and evolve.

Racism exists whether it is intentional or not. My letter was not calling the Voice racist in the same way that the Ku Klux Klan is racist. That would be truly ridiculous. This however, is how many of the readers interpreted it. Most white folks don't believe themselves to be racist because they don't actively or intentionally do racist things, like lynch people, burn crosses, or become members of explicitly racist institutions. However, these same people who call themselves colorblind do nothing to address the systemic and historical racism that is very much alive in the present.

When latent racism is identified in something whites say, do, (or something they are a part of) they will immediately go on the defensive. There are plenty of examples of this on this blog and dozens of others on the Internet a la “I’m very race conscious, but I saw nothing wrong with this…”

Racism is about power, visible and invisible. Therefore, people of color can be prejudiced, but not racist, because there are not systems of power (banks, police, governments, media) at their disposal to give real world power to these prejudices. White people are not routinely and indiscriminately beaten and shot crossing the border from Mexico. Police do not routinely and indiscriminately mistake a candy bar or wallet for a gun in the hand of a white person and gun them down.

Do some people of color say stupid ignorant things about whites and other people of color? All the time. Is it right or justified? No. But it is not and will never be the same because it does not have the same material effect in the world. It is the other side of the sickness of racism and illustrates how everyone suffers. White people, however have never (except in isolated incidents) been victims of the same racial terror that people of color continue to be subjected to as I write this post.

For all the "can't we all be color-blind?" folks: Equality is not about sameness. We are all different, all unique. Equality is about justice. It is about recognizing that from day one in this former British colony that it was set up so that white people would eternally run the show, and because of attitudes like many of yours, not a damn thing has changed.

The same people who saw no racism at all and got uptight and defensive are the same people who refuse to confront white privilege. Until they learn how to acknowledge this and commit themselves to dismantling it, this country (and world) will never reach its potential and will never have peace.

You don't have to like me. You don't have to like any of the music that I am involved in. But you must take these words to heart, because it is much much deeper than indie-rock, a music poll, a cartoon, or a downtown NYC weekly newspaper. Please have the courage to look deeper into yourselves.

You are all in my prayers.

c/s

Martín Perna

PS: A highly relevant book for all people (white and of color) to read: The Possessive Investment in Whiteness, by George Lipsitz.

PPS: Also note that in the full text of my letter, I noted that Dylan was also portrayed in a nasty way, but since I don't know him personally, and because my letter was already long enough (the Voice cut it down some), I didn't go into details about the ugliness of the rendition of Dylan’s age or Jewishness, with the hook-nose, old folks scooter, etc.


PPPS: Other points of correction regarding my musical affilations with TVOTR:
1) Satellite EP: flute on Satellite
2) Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes: flutes and saxophones on 4 songs
3) Return to Cookie Mountain: Flutes and saxophones, percussion on 5 songs
4) Dry Drunk Emperor: flutes

Live:
Many old Bklyn shows (Stinger, Trash) circa 2003, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Prospect Park, Hollywood Bowl, Hammerstein Ballroom, Rio de Janeiro + São Paulo, Buenos Aires festivals.

Posted by Martin Perna | February 26, 2007 1:45 AM

has anyone mentioned the fact that the cover could also be an instance of ageism?

Posted by tyler | February 27, 2007 2:02 PM

Bobs going to win hes on a "Lil Rascal"

Posted by Anonymous | February 27, 2007 5:06 PM

too many college degrees and not enough common sense. get over yourselves, it's a magazine cover.

Posted by Anonymous | May 8, 2009 3:29 PM

Does anybody else here think the new record absolutely sucks? I WAS a huge fan of their ep's and silent alarm, but the new record is unlistenable to me.

Posted by شات كتابي | September 26, 2010 8:17 AM

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