Caribana-linked event dumps singer after outcry over homophobic lyrics
Saira Peesker, cp24.com
Published Tuesday, July 28, 2009 10:26PM EDT
Controversial dancehall artist Elephant Man has been dropped from a headlining spot at a Caribana-linked event following complaints about homophobic lyrics in his music.
Circa Nightclub announced it had removed the performer from the Celebrity Ball lineup Tuesday evening, just hours after sending out a Facebook invitation listing him among the event's performers.
"Circa stands for peace, love and equality," a representative from Circa wrote on the club's Twitter account. "Elephant Man has been removed from the Celebrity Ball. Have a safe Caribana!"
The Jamaican musician, whose real name is O'Neal Bryan, has been the subject of much controversy in Canada, including an attempt to have him blocked from entering the country in 2007 on the grounds of hate speech.
At issue are several songs featuring violent lyrics directed at homosexuals, including "A Nuh Fi Wi Fault," in which he sings, "When yuh hear a Sodomite get raped/but a fi wi fault/it's wrong/two women gonna hock up inna bed/that's two Sodomites dat fi dead."
("When you hear a lesbian getting raped/ It's not our fault ... Two women in bed/ That's two Sodomites who should be dead.")
However, the singer's MySpace profile states that it is "blatantly evident that (Elephant Man's) mission is to create energy-infused music that everyone can enjoy."
A woman named Donna answered a call to Elephant Man's management, Solid Agency, and said the artist was never booked to play at the Toronto event in the first place.
When asked why he was featured prominently on the poster, she excused herself from the conversation and hung up, failing to answer further calls.
Calls to the nightclub on Tuesday were not returned.
Fab Magazine Associate Editor Matt Thomas was among those who received the Facebook invitation on Tuesday afternoon.
Recalling past attempts to draw attention to the artist's views, he immediately launched into an online campaign to try to put a stop to the concert.
"Within a few hours, I had a couple hundred responses... all these people asking what to do and who to contact," he told CP24.com in a phone interview.
"I was expecting this to take at least a couple of days, but a few hours later the person who I was in contact with at Circa said 'Listen -- there was a meeting and he's gone.'"
Digital Strategist Justin Stayshyn was one of the callers who voiced his displeasure to the club's management. He says he spoke with an extremely harried promoter who seemed not to realize she had booked such a controversial musician.
"She came on really angry with me right away, when I said I was calling... to express concerns about someone who promotes violent murder of homosexuals," said Stayshyn, a former member of queer-positive rock band The Hidden Cameras.
"I think she was taking it personally because she actually found it abhorrent and didn't know how to respond."
Both Stayshyn and Thomas credited the fast action of social networking sites Facebook and Twitter for bringing the issue to its conclusion in just a few hours.
"I think a lot of activists are so used to having it take so long to get anything done," said Thomas, revelling in victory after a busy day at the computer.
"It didn't take any largely-funded people to make this happen. I just put it on Facebook. I have never, ever seen anything like that.
"I am still in a spacey mode, like 'what the Hell just happened?'"
The Caribana-closing Celebrity Ball, which drew 4,000 people last year, will be held at Circa Nightclub on Sunday, Aug. 2. Performers include Fabolous and Trey Songz.