*Update: Is Dylan's Promoter Lying? (See Below)
At 68, Bob Dylan doesn't quite cut the figure of a young radical like he did in the 1960s. Unless, that is, you're talking to the Chinese government. The nasally
singer-songwriter has canceled his East Asia tour after Chinese
him from performing in the
country, his promoters said. While fans in Beijing and Shanghai rue their luck, blogs are trying to divine why China banned him, and whether this "bad news" will revive Dylan's radical reputation.
- Did China Just Do Dylan a Favor? wonders The Guardian Staff: "Don't the Chinese know that these days the 68-year-old
former protest singer is a respectable golfer who released a Christmas album last year and has even allowed Blowin' in
the Wind to be used as the soundtrack of a TV commercial? But maybe the Chinese ban will do him some good. Could it help to
restore his credibility as the prophet from Desolation Row?"
The Ministry of Culture was likely... influenced by Björk’s
controversial actions during a performance in Shanghai in 2008, where
she chanted 'Tibet! Tibet!” during “Declare Independence.” Since the
Björk concert, the Ministry of Culture has become more cautious when
considering Western acts, ruling in the aftermath, “Those who used to
take part in activities that harm our nation’s sovereignty are firmly
not allowed to perform in China.” “What Björk did definitely made life
very difficult for other performers. They are very wary of what will be
said by performers on stage now,” promoter Jeffrey Wu, whose company set
up Dylan’s China dates, told the South China Morning Post.
- What a Bizarre Decision, writes PopEater: "It seems China has mistaken
today's essentially harmless Bob Dylan with the counterculture hero of
the 1960s." Chris at America Blog sighs, "Do they
realize how silly they appear to the rest of the world when they make
decisions like this?"
*Censorship Has Nothing to Do with This
The Atlantic's James Fallows
hears from Zachary Mexico
, a musician and author of a
book on China. He says the tour was actually canceled because of Taiwanese promoters involved in the East Asian leg of the tour:
I have it on good authority that the Chinese government
did not deny Bob Dylan permission to play in China. It was the Taiwanese
promoter's outlandish financial requests that made the tour
the claim, if true, would show the predicament of the Chinese
government: "Once you get a bad reputation, you get blamed even for
things you didn't do."
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