That is the name of the band that will be performing Oct. 16 at Neumos in Seattle.
The art-rock /post-punk band’s name refers to the military force that fought the south Vietnamese government and the US during the Vietnam war, infamous for atrocities against both Vietnamese and Americans.
It is a name that can be deeply offensive and hurtful to the Vietnamese American community.
Where does a name, a band name, cross the line? Music, artistic expression, is one of the outlets for free speech.
Shouldn’t we be allowed this?
However, we should consider:
The band is from Calgary, Canada.
No one in the band is Vietnamese.
The band members are four Caucasian men.
None have direct experience with anything Vietnamese-related.
There is no statement or purpose behind the choice of the band’s name.
The controversy erupted when Viet Cong gave a Guardian interview which revealed the naivete that went into their name. During rehearsal, the bassist was bouncing around while playing, and “kind of shooting his bass like a gun. Band member Mike Wallace said: ‘All you need is a rice paddy hat and it would be so Viet Cong.’ We stopped on that sentence and thought it was a good idea…”
Neumos, the venue, has responded:
“Since originally booking this tour, the band has announced that they are changing the name. This Seattle show is one of the last shows that the band will play while using this name as they finish their tour.
We recognize the musicians performing under the name Viet Cong as artists. As artists they have clearly chosen a controversial name. We recognize all correspondence we have received in response to this as sincere and legitimate; we have forwarded all emails of concern and/or protest directly to the band’s agent and manager. We hope the artist will speak directly to those of you who wrote to express your concerns.”
But more than a morality judgment or free speech issue, it is perhaps an issue of ignorance.
The band stated:
“While we don’t take any concerns about the name lightly, we feel it is important to let you know that we never meant to trivialise the atrocities or violence that occurred on both sides of the Vietnam war. We never intended for our name to be provocative or hurtful.”
There will be a peaceful protest at Neumos at Friday, Oct 16, 6:00 PM, 925 E Pike. Gei Chan, community activist encourages support to stand with the Asian community against racism in any form. (end)