LOS ANGELES --- In a full page ad in today’s special Grammy-edition of Variety, more than 20 progressive organizations, lead by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, have called on the head of The Recording Academy to use Sunday night’s Grammy telecast to denounce music that promotes or celebrates violence against any group of people and the artists who perform such music.
The ad, in the form of an open letter to The Recording Academy’s President Neil Portnow, is in response to anti-gay reggae singer Buju Banton’s nomination for a Grammy Award in the Best Reggae Album category. Throughout his career Banton has performed music that glorifies the violent murder of LGBT people, and as recently as three months ago he refused to stop performing such music. Last October he was quoted in news reports saying, “This is a fight, and as I said in one of my songs, ‘There is no end to the war between me and fa**ots.’”
In his most notorious song “Boom, Bye Bye” he sings that “batty men (slur equivalent to ‘fa**ot’) get up and run” when he comes, that “they have to die,” and that he will “shoot batty men in the head” or “burn them up bad.” His music has helped foster such an anti-gay culture in Jamaica—where violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is common and sometimes celebrated—that Time magazine recently asked, “Is Jamaica the most homophobic place on Earth?”
“It’s outrageous that The Recording Academy has chosen to honor, with a Grammy nomination, someone who proudly and unabashedly performs music that glorifies the violent murder of gay and transgender people,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. “We need to send a strong message to let the Recording Academy and music industry know that promoting artists who advocate such acts feeds a climate of intolerance that can put members of our community at risk for violence."
In a letter to GLAAD, the Academy claims that the Grammy Awards honor musical achievement “regardless of politics” and that “artists of a variety of political or cultural perspectives have been nominated or featured on the telecast.”
“Music that promotes the violent murder of LGBT people, or any other group, doesn’t reflect a political or cultural perspective,” said L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Chief Executive Officer Lorri L. Jean. “It reflects hatred and fosters a culture of violence. Portnow needs to use the Grammy telecast to denounce such music, in no uncertain terms, and those who perform it.”