Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thrown To The Lions' Den

On May 17, Vancouver pop-punk band Living With Lions released their second full-length record, Holy Sh*t (read Backstage Press' review). And in the eight days the album has been on shelves, it's managed to upset a whole lot of people and even prompt a recall of hard copies from retailers.

Why, you ask? Well, it's not because of the music, but rather the album's artwork and a tiny little stamp on it that reads, "Canada."

That's right, the artwork has been deemed religiously offensive by some. This is in part to the record's resemblance to a Bible - complete with the words "Holy Sh*t" on the cover, a subtitle The Poo Testament, yellowed pages, a cracked binding and a depiction of Jesus as fecal matter ascending to Heaven.

All in good fun? An artistic, yet silly, form of expression? The Canadian government didn't think so. Remember that little "Canada" stamp we mentioned before? That wasn't the band trying to show some love for their home country, but rather Canada's official seal that appears on any federally backed recording.

The recording of Holy Sh*t was partially funded by a government grant of $13,248. The money came from a private, yet federally funded, non-profit organization called FACTOR (The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings).

So naturally, when some people objected to the controversial artwork, they blamed the government for funding the album. The band's label, Black Box Recordings, has since pulled the record from retail shelves in Canada, and are urging international sellers to do the same. The band released a statement regarding the matter:

"The content of our artwork for our new recording was created out of our passion for satire and absurdist humor. The lyrical and musical content of this record does not contain any commentary on religion, nor does it use a pejorative or malicious voice against any particular group of people (excluding possibly some of our ex-girlfriends)."

The band have also decided to entirely return the funding so that they may re-release the album without the government stamp, thus allowing the record to, "forever remain true to the original format."

This raises an interesting question for the art and music worlds. When is art art? Can it go too far, and when? And also, can government have a say in what a piece of art, album cover or not, can depict if it is federally funded?

We want to know what you think. Did Living With Lions cross a line? Should the Canadian government have the right to censor the artwork they personally deemed, "offensive"? What would you do in this situation? Hit us up with your comments, and follow us on Twitter for any updates to this story.

1 comment:

  1. This raises an interesting question for the art and music worlds.


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