The four-piece maintain their name has “zero political connotations”.
Canadian post-punk outfit Viet Cong have had a US college gig axed over their “deeply offensive” band name.
The band, which includes two former members of Women, were due to perform at Dionysus Disco at Ohio’s Oberlin College on March 14, but the show was cancelled when the promoter became troubled by the band’s “awareness of their name inflicting offence, coupled with a seeming indifference to its effects.”
In a statement to students, Ivan Krasnov wrote: “The fact that the band openly acknowledges their problematic name, yet fails to change it or do anything about it, highlights this blatantly appropriative move, reinforcing a tradition of American (and Western) orientalism and appropriation.”
The band, who say they get “hate mail at every single show”, recently explained to the Guardian that the name Viet Cong came from drummer Mike Wallace’s description of frontman Matt Flegel bouncing around while playing and “kind of shooting his bass like a gun. I said: ‘All you need is a rice paddy hat and it would be so Viet Cong.’ We stopped on that sentence and thought it was a good idea.”
Wallace added: “The thing is, there are zero political connotations. We just honestly thought it sounded good and that it gives some imagery that matches our music in terms of it being explosive and dark and kind of going all over the place.”
The promoter also noted Oberlin College’s “important legacy of social justice” in his statement, in particular the student protests that took place on campus during the Vietnam War.
“In the spring of 1970, in response to the Kent State shootings and President Nixon’s decision to send troops into Cambodia as part of the war against North Vietnam, Oberlin College ended the semester two weeks early,” explained Krasnov. “Time reported: ‘Oberlin College President Robert Carr simply canceled final exams, gave all his students credits for their courses and turned over the campus to antiwar planning.’
“Students today commonly and falsely believe that Oberlin does not require its graduating students to don traditional commencement regalia simply because Oberlin is ‘quirky’; the truth is that the cap and gown was first rejected by students in protest of the Vietnam War and the United States’ involvement in it.”