As I am sure you have all heard, this past weekend, Bruce Springsteen cancelled his show in Greensboro, North Carolina, in protest of House Bill 2. HB2 is the infamous "bathroom bill", which critics have said discriminates among those in the LGBT community. As far as I know, this is the first Springsteen show cancelled for political reasons, and it is a move that has generated the most debate about Springsteen since he played "American Skin (41 Shots)" at Madison Square Garden.
It's a tough subject for me to fully discuss, as I do not wish to make this blog too political (and expose my own lack of knowledge on the subject). I'd just like to express my thoughts as a Springsteen fan. From what I'm feeling right now, I'm about 85% certain Springsteen made the right move, so I'd just like to start by addressing some of the general criticism he has received:
Issue 1: Other states have laws that can be seen as discriminatory, yet Springsteen still plays there.
Critics of Springsteen's move will be quick to point out that in 28 states, you can still be fired for being gay. Therefore, shouldn't Bruce cancel touring in these states?
I absolutely hate this type of arguing. It is a slippery-slope argument that is basically saying "If one thing is broken, it isn't worth it to fix something else." This argument is purposefully designed to kill the conversation and stop progress. House Bill 2 is a hot topic that is in the news, so it makes sense that Bruce would focus on that issue first and foremost.
Issue 2: Bruce should have said something at his show.
Another reason critics will say that Springsteen should have done the show is that his message would reach more people by performing. He would have a major platform, and could make political statements throughout the show.
In theory, this makes sense.....to someone who hasn't seen a Springsteen show. In nearly every show he has performed, he has made a political speech. None of them have gotten the news coverage that his cancellation has received. It isn't a stretch to say that much of mainstream America had no idea Bruce even had a show planned for Greenboro. This grand gesture worked better at spreading his message than a few words before "The River" would have.
Issue 3: It hurts the fans.
This is the argument that I have a hard time resolving. Bruce's fans come from far and wide to see his shows. It wasn't just a show for the North Carolina legislature, but for people across the world. Cancelling a show deprives fans who have been looking forward to this show for months, who have saved up money to see him, who have taken their time to travel to the show, who may be seeing Bruce for the first time, and some who may never have an opportunity to see Bruce again.
I understand that having a weekend ruined is nothing compared to having a bill passed to discriminate against your personage, but what stuck with me was when Bruce said in his statement, "Some things are more important than a rock show". I get the sentiment, but I feel it undersells the power of music. After nearly every disaster in the world, there is a musical fundraiser for the victims (Bruce has participated in several of them). Music continually inspires people, changing their lives and the world at large.
The results of Bruce's protest remains to be seen. It seems that this move has inspired other fellow musicians - Bryan Adams just cancelled a show in Mississippi, and I expect more announcements to come. Perhaps the cancellation will create the change in the world Bruce is working towards, and I hope he'll be back in North Carolina again soon.