I refuse to shop at Wal-Mart. Mostly it is because I have read an awful lot about the way the corporation treats employees and I do not approve. I also learned – in school – about the Wal-Mart model of vendor relationships, which are designed to keep the prices low. I remember thinking that Wal-Mart sounded to me like a big corporate bully.
(She says as she types in MS Word for publication in her Google blog).
However. I have always supported Wal-Mart’s decision not to carry certain types of entertainment that it finds graphic or offensive (or whatever). Not because I believe in censorship, but because I believe in capitalism. If Wal-Mart thinks something is dirty, and doesn’t want to sell something dirty, then Wal-Mart can choose not to sell it: just as I can choose not to shop at Wal-Mart.
What has happened, though, is that Wal-Mart will say, “OK, Eminem, we’ll sell your CD if you clean it up to our standards.” Is that ok?
Hm. I still think it’s acceptable. Lame, perhaps, but not evil. No one is making an artist change his or her work. Just saying that if you want to do business with this company, you must play by its rules. Again, it is Wal-Mart’s prerogative to distribute or not and the artist’s choice whether to comply or walk away cashless.
Green Day just told Wal-Mart where to stick it. According to the AP:
“Green Day has the most popular CD in the country, but you won’t be able to find it at your local Wal-Mart.
The band says the giant superstore chain refused to stock its latest CD, “21st Century Breakdown,” because Wal-Mart wanted the album edited for language and content, and they refused.”
Excellent. That is how it is supposed to work. Green Day can find other businesses to sell its album.
Billy Armstrong gave a “what about the little guy” quote. I considered it, but don’t agree:
“If you think about bands that are struggling or smaller than Green Day … to think that to get your record out in places like that, but they won’t carry it because of the content and you have to censor yourself,” he said. “I mean, what does that say to a young kid whose trying to speak his mind making a record for the first time? It’s like a game that you have to play. You have to refuse to play it.”
What does it say to a kid? It says this is a business. Art versus profit is a conflict older than Green Day and older than Wal-Mart. “A young kid trying to speak his mind” can speak his mind. A young kid wanting to make money and become a rock star can play by the rules.
The great thing is that no one in this conversation is talking about bans or boycotts. No one is calling names. And anyway, I thought the kids were all downloading from iTunes these days.