March 29, 2012
It appears to be something that took Doug Ratner completely by surprise. And who could blame him? Ratner and his band had just performed “Bomb in the Backseat” on a popular local television show called “Mass Appeal.” The show is aired on WWLP in Springfield, MA and although I’m not personally familiar with the program, it looks to be a sort of local Today or Good Morning America kind of show.
By all appearances, Doug Ratner and The Watchmen are an up-and-coming group of rockers who are starting to get some well-deserved attention. The song that has generated so much controversy at WWLP and apparently has the execs in charge of that station hiding under their beds recently made its way to the #2 position on Amazon’s “Hottest New Release in Classic Rock” list and the group is getting some positive press from local newspapers and other media outlets.
Although a song entitled “Bomb in the Backseat” might give someone the wrong impression without the benefit of actually listening to the song and paying attention to the message, the truth of the matter is that Ratner’s lyrics reveal that the song is about a troubled individual who decides to build a bomb with help of information he was able to obtain easily on the internet.
The underlying message, as Ratner himself reveals, is that we have become too reliant on technology and that makes it easy for people like the main character in “Bomb in the Backseat” to access the information he seeks in order to help facilitate his misguided mission.
As far as Ratner and his band mates could tell, things were going quite well following their performance on “Mass Appeal.” They were scheduled to perform for a second time when they were suddenly informed by the show’s host that they had run out of time and the group would not be able to perform again.
Eventually, the truth came out and they learned that it was the simple act of abusing a laptop computer during their performance of “Bomb in the Backseat” that was just a bit too much for the decision-makers at WWLP. Apparently hey had decided that the act coupled with a song with the word “bomb” in it might cross the line over into “condoning violence.”
Ironically, the destruction of the laptop was not intended to convey an act of violence but was intended to be a statement against our reliance on the pervasive technology that makes it too easy for just about anyone to find a recipe for bomb-making with a few keystrokes and mouse clicks. I don’t think that Ratner wants to shut down the internet or put draconian regulations in place to control it, especially when one considers that it’s a form of censorship that gave rise to this whole issue that has him, his band mates and their fans feeling that they’re misunderstood and have been treated unfairly.
Not only did WWLP decide to send the group home before allowing them to follow through with their second performance, they also erased any trace of the group’s appearance on the show from their website. It looks like WWLP wants to distance itself from a song that their poor judgment has branded as something that condones violence.
From where I sit, it’s just another symptom of what’s wrong with our society. We’ve become a nation of hand-wringing worrywarts. It appears that too many people are buying into the stories being spoon-fed to them by the mainstream media and our political “leaders” who want us to think there’s a terrorist hiding around every corner. “See something, say something.” You know the drill.
Well, as a matter-of-fact I do see something and what I want to say about it is that it saddens me to see the direction we’re headed in. What I’m seeing is a TV station doing all it can to distance itself from something that they think might be offensive to some viewers in the name of political correctness. Maybe some of us have we forgotten that it is no longer acceptable to say “bomb” in public. We certainly don’t want to cause any panic, and lord knows, the TSA needs their excuses to stick their hands down people’s pants!
Regarding the destruction of the laptop, that’s certainly the first time we’ve ever heard of a rocker beating up an inanimate object on stage now isn’t it? I’m guessing it was probably an obsolete model that didn’t work, but no matter even if that was the case. Those evil rockers probably didn’t care that laptops have feelings too!
In another bit of irony, WWLP has proudly emblazoned their website home page with their motto, “Working For You.” They’re certainly not the only television station to run that one up the flagpole and I have little doubt that they’re about as full of it as all the rest of them. Perhaps “Working For Big Brother” or “Working For Big Government” would be more appropriate because I ‘m sure not buying the one they’re using.