Help me decipher this poster
August 20, 2007 5:18 PM   Subscribe

OK, my 16 yo kid bought a Bad Religion poster by Stainboy at the House of Blues in Orlando and I have a question about it.

He likes it, and the whole dayglo thing is very cool and reminds me of my misspent youth, but his Mom is concerned about the images on it. Why would Bad Religion select something that very closely resembles Palestinian fighters (Fatah or Hamas is my guess) which many people may find incredibly offensive. Also, what does the Arabic script on their headbands mean?

So can I convince the wife that it is just a poster for a punk rock band and is not meant to glorify terrorism in general and mid-East violence in particular, or is it actually meant do just that? Help me fulfill an usual role in our house and be the peacemaker.
posted by 543DoublePlay to Media & Arts (18 answers total)
"Bad Religion." Religion doing bad things.

It's no more glorifying Hamas (does anyone really think that's the hot new thing among American youth?!?) than a picture of an SS thug in a history book is.

My $.02, anyway.
posted by ibmcginty at 5:23 PM on August 20, 2007

Possible options

1 -- many people respect Palestinians as freedom fighters in the vein of the American revolutionaries. That some within the movement are clearly violent extremists does not detract from the end goal of their struggle. Punk rock is often aimed at railing "against the system" -- certainly the Palestenian struggle could be viewed by some in that lgiht.

2 -- the band's name is "Bad Religion". Perhaps the armed fighters are representing the "bad" aspects of religious extremism. I don't know what the band writes about though, so that's a haphazard guess. Maybe you could ask your son.
posted by modernnomad at 5:28 PM on August 20, 2007

If your son doesn't get the meaning of the poster then for him the poster has no meaning, and he just thinks it looks cool. You should ask your kid what he thinks the message behind the art is, and take your cue from his answer. It might be a good starting point for an interesting discussion.
posted by iconomy at 5:30 PM on August 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

i don't know what the script says (or even if it's really arabic), but i wouldn't worry about the poster. like iconomy says, use it as a discussion topic. let him formulate his own thoughts. he may unintentionally offend some people, but everyone does that at some point and this would be a good time for him to learn how to handle it.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:35 PM on August 20, 2007

Show her their wikipedia entry or read the blurb on their myspace. Bad Religion is not in the business of glorifying hamas or fundamentalism, quite the reverse. That's why their band name uses the word 'BAD' instead of 'GOOD'. These are the guys who had the crossbuster logo for years. What's on the poster is a provocative image of what they're against.

Tell your wife not to worry. This is normal healthy punk for a teen to be into and definitely on the smart end of the punk pool, and her reaction is likely a significant part of why he bought the poster. Any censure will send him searching for something far worse.... and it could be SO much worse.
posted by ulotrichous at 5:36 PM on August 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Well I guess my question is...clearly you are allowing him to listen to the music (as in he was at the live show), so whats the big deal with the poster? Most parents are more concerned with the lyrical content of the artist in question. As a big Bad Religion fan (thus, I'm biased), I would say that you should listen to some choice songs and you and your wife will clearly see that BR does not advocate war, and thus the images on the poster are more symbolic of their voice speaking of protest.
posted by Asherah at 5:36 PM on August 20, 2007

And on a truly silly note...if shes that worried about them as a band, let her know that the lead singer (Greg Graffin) had a doctorate from Cornell University in Zoology and thus they're not just a group of horrid misfits. That should lend some normal credibility that I think a mother would probably enjoy.
posted by Asherah at 5:38 PM on August 20, 2007

Bad Religion, as a band, is not a big fan of religion (duh). If you're not down with that particular message, you might not be down with Bad Religion. Or, maybe you are. I, for one, am very religious, and I am also very down with Bad Religion. That's just how punk rock I am.

Lots of punk rock bands have a socio-political agenda. Especially the older ones. Be aware of them, know what the message is, and help your kid to be aware of it, too. He doesn't have to join the army of whatever band he happens to be listening to, but it's a good idea to know just what the music "means."
posted by The World Famous at 5:48 PM on August 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Asherah is assuming a lot as the poster is actually from a show that took place in 2005. All he did was buy the poster because he likes punk rock bands in general (not BR in particular). The poster doesn't bother me particularly, but it does bother my wife (for whatever reason).

Anyway, I like the idea of using it as a springboard for more discussion, mainly between him and his mother.

ulotrichous gets my vote as best answer so far.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 5:52 PM on August 20, 2007

This is a band that promotes political awareness and critical thinking. Don't be the parents the band sings about! (overstatement)

Getting into music with some intellectual content is really a leg up for a teenager.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:54 PM on August 20, 2007

I think the meaning of the poster is that the presumably anti-American terrorist figures are each holding an M16 rifle (or some variant), a weapon closely associated with the US military. Based on what I've seen in the media, terrorists prefer AK-47s, although the Gang of Four song "Armalite Rifle" does suggest an IRA preference for AR-15s.

It wouldn't surprise me if the headbands also say something trenchant.
posted by backupjesus at 6:01 PM on August 20, 2007

Why would Bad Religion select something that very closely resembles Palestinian fighters (Fatah or Hamas is my guess) which many people may find incredibly offensive.

Uh, are you at all familiar with Bad Religion?
posted by xmutex at 6:13 PM on August 20, 2007

Given that about half of Bad Religion's members are Jewish, I wouldn't be too worried.
posted by huskerdont at 6:16 PM on August 20, 2007

Think of it this way: What would you think the poster was saying if you didn't know it was for a band?
posted by rhizome at 6:19 PM on August 20, 2007

Trying to compare that script to the Arabic alphabet left me confused, as some of the letters seem to correspond, but others do not.

Backupjesus, from wikipedia's armalite entry:
The AR-18 is an excellent rifle, but it did not gain any military support. It is most famous for being adopted by the Provisional IRA in Northern Ireland, who dubbed the rifle "The Widowmaker".
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:30 PM on August 20, 2007

Christ. The most offensive thing on that poster is the text "HOUSE OF BLUES PRESENTS". That's like the least punk place in the world. Like seeing a show in a TGI Fridays....
posted by mr_roboto at 10:05 PM on August 20, 2007 [6 favorites]

Oh; and it could be worse. (NSFW).
posted by mr_roboto at 10:12 PM on August 20, 2007

Bad Religion probably didn't approve this poster, it's not licensed by them or their record company. Silk screened posters are kind of a gray area in rock merchandise, I don't think they usually have to go through any process of approval and revisions. Sometimes the artist does have a relationship with the band, but in this case, Stainboy probably just has a relationship with local promoters and can do whatever he wants without the band ever having any say in it.

That said, it's a pretty cool poster, and he could be obsessed with My Chemical Romance or something a whole lot stupider than Bad Religion.
posted by andrewzipp at 6:37 AM on August 21, 2007

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