The currently omnipresent Green Day can now stand proudly shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Jon Stewart, John Mellancamp, and George Carlin: WalMart has refused to carry their #1-selling album "21st Century Breakdown" unless they remix a separate version without -- ahem -- "questionable lyrics."
Wal-Mart has a long-standing policy of not stocking CDs that come with a parental advisory sticker (as Breakdown does), instead offering "clean" versions of the albums with profanity and questionable material removed.
"As with all music, it is up to the artist or label to decide if they want to market different variations of an album to sell, including a version that would remove a PA rating," the AP quotes Wal-Mart spokeswoman Melissa O'Brien as saying. "The label and artist in this case have decided not to do so, so we unfortunately cannot offer the CD."
Most of the time, the artists relent. In 1993, Nirvana famously changed the title of their song "Rape Me" to "Waif Me" on the packaging of their In Utero album to satisfy the demands of retailers like Wal-Mart and Kmart. But Green Day refused to change one note or lyric on Breakdown — which, while not as overtly political as 2004's American Idiot, still takes an unflinching look at issues like religion and war (and uses some dirty words too) — and that means their CD won't be on Wal-Mart shelves anytime soon. That's something they're more than OK with.
"The label and artist in this case have decided not to do so," said WalMart, and shed a bitter tear. Given the chunk of the market that WalMart controls, that's a little like saying, "The parents in this case decided not to meet our ransom demand their child." Extortion sounds so much cleaner when you can blame it on the victim.
Good for Green Day, for not putting up with it. If "parental warning stickers" aren't enough for WalMart, too bad. Makes you wonder what Rhett says to Scarlett at the end of those "Gone With the Wind" DVDs in WalMart's bins.
Here's Green Day performing a John Lennon standard--and for those of you who like your irony applied with a fire hose, notice that FOX has neatly clipped out the "questionable parts:"
So exactly how crazy do you have to get until you can't follow their rules anymore?
Say it with me.
UPDATE July 2015: The embed of the edited Fox version, above, hasn't worked for some time now. So here is the genuine article.