About damn time. After protests, petitions, canceled shows and many, many angry conversations, the band of four Canadian white dudes who make music as "Viet Cong" have announced they are changing their name.
Viet Cong Are Changing Their Name
The Calgary-based post-punk band has operating for several years under the shitty band name Viet Cong. Despite hearing from members of the Vietnamese community over the painful historical connotations of the name, and getting several shows canceled over the controversy, the band had refused to change the name.
"It's just a band name. It's just what we called ourselves," frontman Matt Flegel said in an interview.
At some point, I guess they realized it wasn't "just a band name." Over the weekend, the band released a statement explaining that after many "valuable conversations with the members of the Vietnamese community" they have decided to change the name of the band.
Our band lives to play music. We don't particularly like doing press, most of us are fairly private people and we have social media for the band only reluctantly. Most of us generally don't follow online criticism. Over the last year we have essentially lived our lives in a tour van and in music venues, playing over 130 shows. In that time we've met many amazing people and had many great conversations with people in person.
Over this time we've been listening, talking and having lots of valuable conversations with the members of the Vietnamese community about the name. Through this dialogue and hearing about what the name means to so many people, we have decided we will be changing the name of our band.
Art and music are about creative expression. However, our band name is not our cause, and we are not going to fight for it. This is not what our band is about.
There are many individuals more eloquent than us who have recently had a lot to say about the topic of the name and our appropriation of the name Viet Cong. For more insights into the arguments we encourage you to read some of these. We are a band who want to make music and play our music for our fans. We are not here to cause pain or remind people of atrocities of the past.
I commend this decision. It sure took them long enough. How about changing it right now?
The band has previously said that the name "Viet Cong" was originally inspired by watching movies as teenagers. "The Viet Cong were always the bad asses in movies," Flegel explained. As I've said before, this is the dumbest reason behind a band name ever. Too many teenage viewings of Full Metal Jacket.
Let's hope their new name, whatever the hell it is, is more carefully considered. Until then, this announcement just feels like a hasty move to get critics off their backs.
More here: Viet Cong Finally Changes Their Name: 'We Are Not Here to Cause Pain'
UPDATE: Intent is not action. Community members are still calling on Viet Cong to change their name immediately, and are staging a peaceful protest of the band's upcoming show in Minneapolis:
VSAM's "Viet Cong" Band Minnesota Protest #solongvietcong
Thursday, September 24
at 5:00pm - 9:00pm
Hennepin County Library - Minneapolis Central
300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401
WHAT: A peaceful protest against the band "Viet Cong" starting at the Central Library (300 Nicollet Ave, Mpls) and ending at First Avenue & 7th Street Entry (701 N 1st Ave, Mpls)
WHY: This protest is a call for First Ave/7th Street Entry to CANCEL the show and for Viet Cong to change their name NOW!
Read our latest letter to First Ave and the Viet Cong band following the band's announcement of INTENT to change their culturally appropriated name. We know INTENT is not ACTION. This means First Ave/7th Street Entry and Viet Cong continue to make MONEY off community TRAUMA and WAR.
5PM: Meet at Central Library to make signs and distribute fliers re: messaging and safety.
6PM: Call to Action. Community members will speak about the importance of this protest.
6:15PM: Moment of Story. No more moments of silence. There is already too much silence in our community about too many important things. Attendees are welcome to share stories about how the Vietnam War impacted them and their loved ones to build solidarity and encourage community healing.
6:30PM: March from Central Library to First Avenue & 7th Street Entry
6:45PM to TBD: Protest march and hand deliver letters and signatures to First Avenue & 7th Street Entry
PROTEST ROUTE: http://tinyurl.com/protestroute
Invite your friends to the protest: https://www.facebook.com/events/1505099993114314/1523385254619121/
Sign the letter to First Ave to cancel the show (300+ individuals, 14 organizations, and counting): http://goo.gl/forms/MK2GHLJ2tO
Sign the petition to change the Viet Cong band name (so close to 2,500 we are almost there): https://www.change.org/p/band-viet-cong-change-your-band-s-name-now
Promote this event on your social media using #solongvietcong
Make your own signs for the event that say things like, "So Long 'Viet Cong'" and "Change Your Band Name NOW!"
For further information, head over to Facebook.