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If you like RATM, or want to find out more about their music, may I suggest buying their CDs through Amazon.com? Your purchase will give the Flag Burning Page a small commission which will help me afford to keep this page going.
This is taken from the Rage Against the Machine FAQ:
This is more than you ever wanted to know about the incident, from Rock Out Censorship's official statement, by Kenny Moore:
Many of you were left wondering why Rage Against The Machine performed only one song when they appeared on Saturday Night Live on April 13th. We hope that many of you, once you know about what went down behind the scene, will join us and never watch the show again, and to express your opinions in writing or by phone to Saturday Night Live and NBC executives.
As many of you know, the show was hosted that night by ex-Republican presidential candidate, and billionaire Steve Forbes. According to RATM guitarist Tom Morello, "RATM wanted to stand in sharp juxtaposition to a billionaire telling jokes and promoting his flat tax...by making our own statement."
To make that statement, RATM hung two upside-down American flags from their amps. Seconds before they took the stage to perform "Bulls on Parade", SNL and NBC sent stagehands in to pull the flags down. The inverted flags, says Morello, represented "our contention that American democracy is inverted when what passes for democracy is an electoral choice between two representatives of the privileged class. America's freedom of expression is inverted when you're free to say anything you want to say until it upsets a corporate sponsor. Finally, this was our way of expressing our opinion of the show's host, Steve Forbes."
RATM first attempted to hang the flags during a pre-telecast rehearsal on Thursday, SNL's producers "demanded that we take the flags down," says Morello. "They said the sponsors would be upset, and that because Steve Forbes was on, they had to run a 'tighter' show." SNL also told the band it would mute objectionable lyrics in "Bullet In The Head" (which was supposed to be RATM's second song). SNL even insisted that the song be bleeped in the studio because Forbes had friends and family there.
On show night, following the first performance, and the flags being torn down, RATM were approached by SNL and NBC officials and ordered to immediately leave the building. Upon hearing this, RATM bassist Tim Bob reportedly stormed Forbes' dressing room, throwing shreds from one of the torn down flags.
"SNL censored Rage, period. They could not have sucked up to the billionaire more," said Morello. "The thing that's ironic is SNL is supposedly this cutting edge show, but they proved they're bootlickers to their corporate masters when it comes down to it. They're cowards. It should come to no surprise that GE, which owns NBC, would find 'Bullet' particularly offensive. GE is a major manufacturer of US planes used to commit war crimes in the Gulf War, and bombs from those jets destroyed hydroelectric dams which killed thousands of civilians in Iraq." Morello noted that members of the Saturday Night Live cast and crew, whom he declined to name, "expressed solidarity with our actions, and a sense of shame that their show had censored the performance."
Because NBC is not a department of the U.S. Government, they were within their rights to run their show as they see fit by censoring Rage Against The Machine's performance. However, we as intelligent viewers and citizens have the right to choose what shows we watch and make our opinions known about how shows are being run. When SNL made the decision to censor RATM, they did so because they were worried what the sponsors of the show would think. They did not take into consideration what the progressive minded fans of RATM would think of their decision, or even what fans of their supposedly irreverent brand of comedy would think of their decision. This is a slap in the face to all of us. If it were not for the fans and viewers of the show, there would not be a show there for the corporations to sponsor. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to send a strong message to the suits at NBC that we as viewers will not tolerate programming decisions such as these. It is the nature of the television industry that if the viewers are there, the corporate advertisers will come. If some of the corporate suits get their feathers ruffled over some controversy, but the ratings are still there, other sponsors will be lining up to advertise with a popular show. However, if a show takes a noticeable nose-dive in the ratings, ALL the sponsors will be abandoning ship. To assist in sending the message to NBC that we will not tolerate their decisions to censor artist's free expression, we urge everyone to write or call NBC Viewer Services and express your "RAGE" at this blatant act of censorship.
Send your message to: NBC-TV, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, ATTN: Viewer Services, New York, NY 10020. Phone: (212) 644-2333.
Back to the Flag Burning PageWarren S. Apel