Opinions

Polaris prizewinners release hypocritical statement after acceptance

Photo courtesy of Flickr (cc)

Every year the Polaris Music Prize is awarded to the best Canadian album based on musical integrity and creativity, regardless of record sales, genre, or professional affiliation. The prize allows unrecognized bands a chance to have their music exposed to a national audience and awards a $30,000 cash prize.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor won this year’s Polaris Prize and decided to be less than thankful in a statement titled, “A few words regarding this Polaris Prize thing,” released after they accepted the prize.

The disrespectful title only scratches the surface of the foul words used by the band in regards to the prize and the celebration around it. Profanities were slung around casually and the band took jabs at the prize and its ceremony, funded by Toyota.

“HOLY SHIT AND HOLY COW—we’ve been plowing our field on the margins of weird culture for almost 20 years now, and ‘this scene is pretty cool but what it really fucking needs is an awards show’ is not a thought that’s ever crossed our minds.”

The band refers to the underground music scene, full of bands that play for the sake of playing and don’t need or want record sales to prove their worth as musicians.

Though this sentiment is admirable, Godspeed You! Black Emperor didn’t make their case stronger by attacking a prize they decided to claim. The band knew about their nomination, as the nominees are announced long before the prize is awarded, yet they choose to express their displeasure only after they had won.

Instead, they claimed the award, the cash, and the publicity and decided to use their new platform to snub the people and community that gave them a voice.

Not the noblest act, to say the least.

Godspeed You! meant to say that there are more important causes in the world than simply deciding which band is best. As they said in their statement, “The melting northern ice caps are live streaming on the Internet,” but instead, many people concern themselves with celebrity culture, rich musicians, and fancy award ceremonies.

The money used to sponsor the event could have been spent saving orphans or ending global warming, but the band could have also supported such causes with the money spent making their album, purchasing their instruments, and playing shows.

Spreading the word about public issues is important, so why didn’t Godspeed You! use their new-found platform to teach their listeners how to change the problems they claim to be so upset about?

“Selling out” by allowing Apple to use your music in a commercial or by accepting a popular award isn’t a negative thing at all. In fact, it allows musicians to reach more people with their words and their lessons.

Though Godspeed You! put the Prize money where their mouths are—they donated the $30,000—they should consider doing the same with their future nominations and voice their displeasure before they win.