Tribe 8, a lesbian punk band that played the 'Sco Oct. 28, stirred up controversy among the Oberlin faculty, administration and students. The content of the show raised questions about what constitutes appropriate behavior at an Oberlin performance and concerns about whether the content of the show was inappropriate or offensive.
Such concerns were voiced by faculty, members of the administration and students to President Nancy Dye. None of those who voiced concern attended the concert.
The Nov. 1 issue of the Review printed a review of the concert and a photo of the lead singer, Lynn Breedlove, shot while she was topless during the band's performance. About 40 minutes into Tribe 8's 60-minute set, Breedlove took off her shirt and pulled a rubber dildo out of her pants. One of her roadies performed simulated fellatio on Breedlove while she sang. After performing for about 15 minutes, the singer put her shirt back on and tucked the dildo back in her pants. Breedlove sang one more song, and then the show ended.
Assistant Director of the Student Union Chris Baymiller, who booked the show, said he knew that the content of Tribe 8's show is politically vocal, but said that what did happen "threw us a little."
Associate Professor of Physics John Scofield was one faculty member that spoke out against the show. He said he was offended by the possibility of illegal acts occurring on College property, and hoped that in the future "the College doesn't sponsor offensive, illegal acts."
The Oberlin Police Department reported that, according to the Public Indecency Law, "No person shall expose his or her private parts or engage in masturbation" in public. While fellatio in public is illegal, simulated fellation is not.
Scofield also felt that the coverage of the event was important to inform the community of the event, but said he did not like the tone of the article. He thought it was celebratory of the group's behavior.
"I was more disturbed by the story and what it outlined [than the picture]," Dye said. She said she was not disturbed that the story was written.
Sources voiced concern that Baymiller's job is now in jeopardy because he was responsible for booking Tribe 8 - speculation Dye dismissed as "totally ridiculous."
"[The concert was] absolutely contradictory to the values of this community," Dye said. "It was way over the line, wherever you want to put it." She said she felt the concert was disrespectful, exploitive, degrading to both men and women and encouraging of sexual violence.
Sources say there will not be new measures taken to ensure that future events at Oberlin, such as Safer Sex Night, be assessed for content before they take place.
"We don't need rules and regulations other than the rules and regulations that we have," Dye said.
Students had been requesting that Tribe 8 play at the 'Sco for two years, and Baymiller said he was finally able to book the band for their November date.
"We feel that our job here at the Union is to program for all communities," Baymiller said, of his decision to host the concert.
Dye thinks that the show should have been stopped as soon as the offensive acts began. "One o'clock in the morning is not the appropriate time to discuss what is and is not an art form," Baymiller said. "I did not want to get into an art controversy for the last 10 minutes of the show. [We could] find a better time and better form for it."
Dye said that there is a line between what is art and what is offensive, and that "this did not deserve that protection."
Baymiller and everyone on the concert board review each band's performance after the show is over. Baymiller said that if he had known what the band planned on doing in their performance, he would have discussed it with the band before the show took place.
"People saw that and think that's all that goes on [in the 'Sco]," said concert lighting intern Sean McFaul. "Nudity in the disco is not an issue. What it is, is that there are some disgruntled people who are jumping ahead of the facts."
Many of the students who were present at the concert were not offended by the band's display, and were prepared for it.
"The nudity was great," McFaul said. "It was part of their performance, their message."
Sophomore Lindsay Stowe-Berns, who worked lighting for the show, felt that material posted near the 'Sco made it clear what the content of the show would be.
"Half of the allure of Tribe 8 is that people knew that they're going to be radical, in your face, naked. People went to see the spectacle if nothing else."
"Turn this particular event around," Dye said. "If this kind of exploitive and violent act had been directed against female genitals, this campus would be justifiable outraged."
Tribe 8 headlines a spicy show at the 'Sco
- November 1, 1996
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 125, Number 8; November 8, 1996
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