Bruce Springsteen Takes a Stand

Two months back, I railed against the cost of The River tour and thought Springsteen needed to rethink who his audience was and the message he was sending to them. This month, I’m here to praise Springsteen and a number of other companies and individuals who have shown North Carolina’s legislators the price that will be paid since passing HB2.

Springsteen receiving congratulations from President Obama during Kennedy Center Honors

HB2, known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, ostensibly discriminates against the LGBTQ community, most especially those who are transgender. Known colloquially as “the bathroom bill,” it was approved by North Carolina’s General Assembly and signed into law by NC Governor Pat McCrory in one single day.

Springsteen and the E Street Band made the decision to pull out of their Greensboro, NC date in lieu of this new legislation. Springsteen’s most important point, I think, about HB2 is his declaration: “Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.” He’s right. Taking a stand against prejudice and civil rights discrimination is of paramount importance. Waiting is not an option. Other states have bills lined up that will be at least as discriminatory as HB2.

Springsteen isn’t the only who has shown North Carolina and other state legislators who are putting together similar bills that this bill is nothing more than blatant discrimination. In addition to Springsteen’s cancellation, four conferences have pulled out of North Carolina as a site venue, Lionsgate has moved its Hulu series Crushed from Charlotte to British Columbia (yes, Canada), and PayPal has withdrawn its plans for creating an expansion in Charlotte.Springsteen and these companies are showing consistency in their responses to hate speech and legislation. Economics may force North Carolina to do the right thing, but that won’t change the bigoted attitudes of people like Governor McCrory. For that, we need education.

In my literature courses at University of Rhode Island, I often show Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Tedtalk: “The Danger of the Single Story.” I teach multiethnic literature and I want students to know how the dominant lens is not the “best” or “only” interpretation of a piece of writing, film, art, music, or community. Adichie’s talk opens them to the possibility of observing their own biases and also discussing the ways in which they have been (or have seen others) marginalized. It’s a good beginning before we tackle texts like Adichie’s Americanah, Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows, or Daisy Hernandez’s A Cup of Water Under My Bed, global narratives challenging their view of the United States on macro and micro levels. I am not trying to change my students; I only want to offer them a more inclusive, expansive way of looking at and being part of community. Springsteen wasn’t trying to change anyone with his decision; he simply understands how his choice has the power to affect others to look deeper at the implications of their prejudice and ignorance.

Here is Bruce’s full statement.


Where I give my predication for the season finale of The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is my crack cocaine—I know it’s bad for me, but I keep watching anyway. That makes me a reluctant fan of the show. And by reluctant, I mean, I watch it every week, ignore phone calls, and refuse to make plans that interfere with my viewing not only of the episode, but also The Talking Dead that follows. I also say reluctant since I have the-walking-dead-episode-615-carol-mcbride-800x600issues with how it portrays gender and race, but that is for another post. This season has bugged me for the way in which the plots have been driven by Neegan’s entrance and the need to fool fans familiar with the graphic novel (or at least have read the plot points). Think about the switch in the episode “Thank You” and how the show took Steven Yuen’s name off the credits for a few episodes. In the last half of this season, Ric and his crew are behaving in ways they never would have, especially after everything they have been through together. And Carol? In the last few episodes her behavior makes absolutely no sense, especially since she’s the one who was training children how to kill the walkers (“Infected”), put a bullet in Lizzie’s brain in Of Mice and Men-style (“The Grove), and murdered Karen and David because she was afraid they would infect the entire prison (“Isolation”). These are Season 4 references, but in this season, she has it out with Morgan in more than one episode regarding his inability to serve the community the way it needs—by killing anyone who threatens their existence. Someone who has done that amount of close, personal killing in the name of survival and community doesn’t suddenly lose it the way she has in the last half of the season. Unless, you want her gone from the mass murder that is about to happen. This reason for leaving is the only one that makes sense. Neegan is going to KILL THEM ALL. I realize this move would upset some folks, but the series could survive a reset like this one. Carol and perhaps Morgan as well as Tara and Heath survive because they left—Carol and Morgan for parts unknown and Tara and Heath are on a two-week run. Neegan may allow Judith to live, a kind of walker-world janissary. She won’t ever know where she came from and Neegan can mold her in his image. The only way the behaviors of these characters can be redeemed is if Neegan kills them all. Anything less is a copout. The only winner I see here is Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who makes appearances in both the season finale of The Walking Dead and The Good Wife. I’ll be watching The Walking Dead on Sunday at 9pm and viewing The Good Wife on DVR days later. I may be a reluctant fan, but I’m a steady one too.

Where I Diss Bruce Springsteen…

Over at AmericanStudies this week, Ben Railton let loose with “those things of which [he is] not as big a fan” regarding all things having to do with American Studies.  The last post of the series includes those who rail against him for his choices and those who add their two cents bruce-springsteen-1worth to the discussion of least favorite American Studier thing from the past or present. The crowd-sourcing is eclectic, but for anyone who knows me, you might be surprised at my mini-rant against the Boss and his The River tour. Happy Reading and Happy Weekend, everyone!


Apropos of the Italian American Forum CFP for the 2017 MLA: The Streets of Philadelphia: From Rocky to Creed.

sylvester-stallone-muhammad-ali-1977I’m gathering submissions for a possible panel on “The Streets of Philadelphia: From Rocky to Creed” at the MLA 2017 conference. Here is the CFP for those interested in submitting:

The MLA Italian American Forum seeks paper proposals for a possible session at the MLA Annual Convention in Philadelphia, PA January 5-8, 2017. Taking a cue from the presidential conference theme “Boundary Conditions,” this panel seeks submissions that explore the boundaries of racism and ethnocentrism in the Rocky series. We are most interested in papers engaging with: Italian American and African American masculinities; South Philly as a multi-ethnic/racialized community; Boxing rhetoric in the Rocky series; and Gender stereotypes related to ethnic and racial constructions. One-page CV and 250-word abstract to by 3/15/16.

And for a bit of inspiration!

My article on Anne Bancroft’s Fatso

A few years ago, the Italian American Review published my article on Fatso, Anne Bancroft’s film about growing up Italian American and starring Dom DeLuise. It’s an under-celebrated and often misunderstood film. Eventually, I’d like to write more about Bancroft’s work in film and theater, but for now, this article, available through open access, will have to do. You can find it here.