Sunday, March 7, 2010

Controversy with Offbeat MNIJM Cover

Taking a moment out of our Foburg hysteria, we wanted to report on a pretty sad/silly/needless story that developed over the past week. Offbeat Magazine, a good friend of NOIR, ran a cover story this past week that featured the members of MyNameIsJohnMichael dangling playfully from a jungle gym. That would have been all well and good, except someone who obviously forgot their civil rights history for a minute decided to go with the cover headline of "Strange Fruit," with a bi-line saying that the band was ready to be picked.

"Strange Fruit" was the title of a poem and then a song famously recorded by Billie Holliday that condemned the lynching of African Americans in the Jim Crow South. The phrase "strange fruit" was used in reference to African Americans hanging from Southern trees. Whether someone at Offbeat heard the phrase in a jazz history class and then forgot what it was referring to, or this was just a complete and utter, albeit sad, coincidence, is not known. What is known is that both the band and the magazine were very sad and embarrassed by the whole thing.

Offbeat issued a extensive apology, which can be found here, to both their readers and the band MyNameIsJohnMichael. They've removed the cover picture from their website and gone with a new title of "What's In a Name" for their article.

MyNameIsJohnMichael reacted via the Twittersphere and their blog, where they issued a heartfelt statement about how torn up over the whole thing they were here, and how support from their fans got them through it. You can read their blog post here.

Basically, despite the initial uproar, this whole episode seems like a really silly and avoidable thing that was the result of a headline writer at Offbeat who forgot their cup of coffee that morning. We're glad MNIJM are feeling better about it, because it's pretty clear no one thinks they were responsible in any way.

For more info on the band, check out