Forums > Queen - Serious Discussion > Do you approve of Queen playing in South Africa during the apartheid?

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bigV user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 07 Mar 07, 07:53 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

This is from another topic:

Brimon wrote:

None, my reason for putting it as my worst tour is because I believe they should never have played there.


What are your thoughts, folks? Do you think that it was a mistake for Queen to go there?

My personal view (it should be noted that I've been a Queen fan since I was 12 and I have lived in South Africa) is the same as the band's. They didn't go there to be political - they went there to entertain people. More importantly, they played to mixed audiences, which in 1984 in South Africa was unheard of. I believe that their concerts in Sun City did more good than harm to the struggle in South Africa and more harm than good to the band itself.

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Posted: 07 Mar 07, 08:05 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Mistake? Yes. Wrong? No.

Different countries have their own particular struggles at times. I don't believe it's up to bands to determine where they should and shouldn't play, for politcal reasons. I don't believe in punishing the people of a country for their governmental policies.. if that were the case, the U.S. could be boycotted by foreign bands for the crap that Bush has pulled.. sending young people off to die for no good reason.

Since it was the 'in' thing to boycott South Africa at the time, it was a mistake for their image, yeah. But I admire them in a way for it too.

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Posted: 07 Mar 07, 09:14 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I agree with both of you.


It's always nice when someone else explains yourself for you. ;)


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Posted: 07 Mar 07, 09:37 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I think they were very ill advised to play there. Not only did they violate an UN boycott and the regulations of the British Music Union - they actually supported the Apartheid system - a fact that was fiercely criticized by ANC representatives. Sun City was an all-white place, it was expensive and black people could not afford to go there. It was in the middle of an incredibly poor environment and it was cynical to claim that music crosses all borders - the Apartheid borders could not be crossed, they had to be torn down. Things did not look much nicer when Freddie Mercury said in public that they did it for the money.

On the other hand it's very debatable if artists should be forced to boycott a country. It's hypocritical to hold artists responsible for the lack of determination of the UN when economical interests were still valued higher than Human Rights. It was also right when Brian May said that they could not play in many countries if they only played in countries whose government they approved of.

To sum it up - it was not the smartest move and it alienated many fans but it was not really fair to create such a dilemma for the group, either. Both Brian and Roger later said in hindsight they would not do it again and apparently Nelson Mandela has no problem with them, so it's time to bury the issue.


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Posted: 07 Mar 07, 09:41 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

For the record: At the time Sun City was technically OUTSIDE South Africa. So Queen did not in effect violate the embargo.

But that's just splitting hairs, innit?

V.



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Posted: 07 Mar 07, 10:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It was even worse! Let me quote a UN press release:


"Performances in bantustans - which are recognized by no country and which are the mechanisms to disposses the African people of their rights - is a particularly serious affront to the black people and their liberation movement."

Read the whole press release here
http://www.anc.org.za/un/reddy/cultural_boycott.html

It was issued before Queen went there


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Posted: 07 Mar 07, 18:49 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I don't care that they played in South Africa, it's no big deal for me. They played in communistic Hungary too. Music shouldn't be mixed with politics. Nowadays bands play in China or Cuba and nobody cares anymore.

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Posted: 07 Mar 07, 19:14 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I don't find that fact particularly encouraging.

And I wish they hadn't played Sun City.

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Posted: 08 Mar 07, 06:21 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Mr. Scully wrote:

I don't care that they played in South Africa, it's no big deal for me. They played in communistic Hungary too. Music shouldn't be mixed with politics. Nowadays bands play in China or Cuba and nobody cares anymore.


Here, here!

Music in the 80's and early 90's became WAY too political. You had Pink Floyd writing songs about the Falklands War and Leonid Brezhnev, U2 were writing about atomic boms and Metallica wrote "One" about the consequences of modern warfare.

Music is a form of art and art should be enjoyed by everyone. I said it before and I'll say it again: Queen did not go to South Africa to oppose or side with the apartheid government. They went there to entertain people. And from what I've been told by people who attended the show, it was very entertaining indeed.

V.



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Posted: 08 Mar 07, 06:55 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"I said it before and I'll say it again: Queen did not go to South Africa to oppose or side with the apartheid government."

This is absolutely true. Nobody says Queen wanted to promote the apartheid system intentionally. However, we all have to consider the consequences of what we do and a huge band like Queen should have taken the environment of that place into consideration. The Sun City concerts were very harmful for the image of the band- they looked like uncaring, money grabbing cynics at the time. It was a very bad career decision, no matter what the intention of the band members was. Up to this very day every Queen critic brings up Sun City - they made themselves an easy target for any hypocritical closet racist who could point at Queen and blame them for their cooperation with the system.


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Posted: 08 Mar 07, 07:59 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

YourValentine wrote:

"I said it before and I'll say it again: Queen did not go to South Africa to oppose or side with the apartheid government."

This is absolutely true. Nobody says Queen wanted to promote the apartheid system intentionally. However, we all have to consider the consequences of what we do and a huge band like Queen should have taken the environment of that place into consideration. The Sun City concerts were very harmful for the image of the band- they looked like uncaring, money grabbing cynics at the time. It was a very bad career decision, no matter what the intention of the band members was. Up to this very day every Queen critic brings up Sun City - they made themselves an easy target for any hypocritical closet racist who could point at Queen and blame them for their cooperation with the system.


A lot of famous artists played at Sun city. Of course it's a bad career decision but we don't need to OVER estimate it.

Queen made a lot more bad careeer decisions:

-Break Free video
-Hot Space
-Queen Dance tracks
-Musical
-Pepsi commercial
-Under pressure RAH mix
-stone cold classics
-Rocks
-GH 3
-DORO twins
-bites the dust remixes (wyclef jean and the new one)
-John Farnhem
-shall I continu?



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Posted: 08 Mar 07, 08:02 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Maybe because I'm so old and was 20 when this all went down, but those who are comparing what happens today to what was happening in South Africa 20 to 25 years ago are missing the point. The U.N. was trying to put political pressure on S. Africa to end apartheid and one of the ways to that was the "cultural boycott". Queen obviously wasn't supporting the racist policies of the South African government, but it defeated the whole purpose of isolating them by going there. Think of it this way; if in 1965 the US government told all musical groups not to play in Mississippi as long as the state continued to have segregration in schools. Then one day the Beatles accepted an offer to play there at a premier, very expensive venue, when EVERY other important band at the time refused. Even if their intentions were good, it would still make them look bad in the eyes of the casual observer, much less those who are very passionate about their politics (i.e. Bono/Little Steven etc.). Freddie's statement, "there's a lot of money to be made", though done in typical Freddie style of having his tongue-in-cheek, didn't help either. As someone stated earlier, Brian & Roger both regret it and have said that in retrospect, they shouldn't have done it-lesson learned.


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Posted: 08 Mar 07, 08:35 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

radio_what's_new wrote:

Queen made a lot more bad careeer decisions:

-Break Free video
-Hot Space
-Queen Dance tracks
-Musical
-Pepsi commercial
-Under pressure RAH mix
-stone cold classics
-Rocks
-GH 3
-DORO twins
-bites the dust remixes (wyclef jean and the new one)
-John Farnhem
-shall I continu?



Not even close to being the same as playing Sun City.

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Posted: 08 Mar 07, 11:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"You had Pink Floyd writing songs about the Falklands War and Leonid Brezhnev, U2 were writing about atomic boms and Metallica wrote "One" about the consequences of modern warfare. "

Well hang on.... part of being an artist is commenting on things that worry us!! If the atom bomb isn't worth singing about, I don't know what is...

But I get what you mean. Once it becomes overly political, I think it's time to just put the guitar down and go write a letter or something.


"Your not funny, your not a good musician, theres a difference between being funny and being an idiot, you obviously being the latter" - Dave R Fuller
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Posted: 08 Mar 07, 15:11 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

PieterMC wrote:

radio_what's_new wrote:

Queen made a lot more bad careeer decisions:

-Break Free video
-Hot Space
-Queen Dance tracks
-Musical
-Pepsi commercial
-Under pressure RAH mix
-stone cold classics
-Rocks
-GH 3
-DORO twins
-bites the dust remixes (wyclef jean and the new one)
-John Farnhem
-shall I continu?



Not even close to being the same as playing Sun City.


Break free meant the end of success on the biggest market on the planet, the USA. Queen 'repaired' sun city with the gain of a whole new young european audience at live aid. The USA was lost forever.

Who gives a flying shit about Sun City? Queen didn't contribute to the apartheid regime because of playing there.
Same can be said about for example: The Stones weren't contributing to the violation of Human rights in China and Billy Joel wasn't contributing to the communistic regime in former USSR.

Rock 'n roll isn't about politics unless you are a wanker named Bono.

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Posted: 08 Mar 07, 15:35 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It was an heroic decision to play there. Nobody approves apartheid, but to say that artists who play there are suporting apartheid sound as an hypocrisy. I think Queen were just making a statement that they would play for the people, and UN had no right to make the rules.

As it was proved by their South America tour, if the black community (in case they could) had hired Queen, they would certainly played there too!

And before Queen other artists have played there with appartheid. The difference was the UN script making the rule.

And these types of rules didn´t weacked the regime at all.

Take care

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Posted: 08 Mar 07, 18:39 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Dan Corson II: The Revenge! wrote:

I agree with both of you.


It's always nice when someone else explains yourself for you. ;)

LOL, I know the feeling!


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Posted: 08 Mar 07, 20:20 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Zebonka12 wrote:

Well hang on.... part of being an artist is commenting on things that worry us!! If the atom bomb isn't worth singing about, I don't know what is...

But I get what you mean. Once it becomes overly political, I think it's time to just put the guitar down and go write a letter or something.


Or go rant on your soapbox. Think there'll be any anti-fox hunting songs on the new album?




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Posted: 09 Mar 07, 04:32 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

"Who gives a flying shit about Sun City?"

Perhaps you would have given a "flying shit" if you had lived in South Africa as a black person at the time. And if you lived in a poor 3rd world country today maybe you would thank God for a "wanker" like Bono whose debt relief efforts gives hundreds of thousands of people hope for a better future. It's easy to bad mouth people who care when you are privileged enough to live in a safe country and your basic human rights are not violated.

"I think Queen were just making a statement that they would play for the people, and UN had no right to make the rules."

Wrong. Even Queen had to obey the decisions made by the British Musicians Union. They were lucky that they were not excluded and got away with paying a fine. There was nothing "heroic" in playing Sun City, it was a very unwise decision.


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Posted: 09 Mar 07, 07:27 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Zebonka12 wrote:

"You had Pink Floyd writing songs about the Falklands War and Leonid Brezhnev, U2 were writing about atomic boms and Metallica wrote "One" about the consequences of modern warfare. "

Well hang on.... part of being an artist is commenting on things that worry us!! If the atom bomb isn't worth singing about, I don't know what is...

But I get what you mean. Once it becomes overly political, I think it's time to just put the guitar down and go write a letter or something.


That's what I meant. Politics is for politicians. It's fine and dandy to write songs about world peace (John Lennon's "Imagine" springs to mind), but once an artist starts naming names in his songs or in interviews then his credibility AS AN ARTIST is compromised.

YourValentine wrote:

"Who gives a flying shit about Sun City?"

Perhaps you would have given a "flying shit" if you had lived in South Africa as a black person at the time. And if you lived in a poor 3rd world country today maybe you would thank God for a "wanker" like Bono whose debt relief efforts gives hundreds of thousands of people hope for a better future. It's easy to bad mouth people who care when you are privileged enough to live in a safe country and your basic human rights are not violated.

"I think Queen were just making a statement that they would play for the people, and UN had no right to make the rules."

Wrong. Even Queen had to obey the decisions made by the British Musicians Union. They were lucky that they were not excluded and got away with paying a fine. There was nothing "heroic" in playing Sun City, it was a very unwise decision.


Did it hurt their career? Yes, it did.

Did they weigh the pros and cons before they went to play there? I'm sure they did.

Did they regret it? I think they regreted the fact that the whole ordeal hurt the band's image, but they never regreted playing to 9 consecutive sold-out nights to a total of 54 000 South Africans. And I KNOW FOR A FACT that the audiences were mixed.

Of course you could argue that many black South Africans could not afford to go to these shows, because Sun City was a very expensive, upper class resort, but by the same token I could argue that I couldn't go to more than one concert on the 2005 European tour.

I think I've trailed off, but I hope that I've made some kind of sensible remark.

V.



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