Destinations pulls Elephant Man tickets

Service offers refund, citing offensive lyric content

Retail Services Director Alvin Tedjo decided to pull the tickets.
Retail Services Director Alvin Tedjo decided to pull the tickets.
Credit: 
John Xu

Destinations has cancelled ticket sales for tonight’s Elephant Man concert following complaints about the dancehall musician.

Last week, AMS Social Issues Commissioner Jeff Brown received several complaints from students about sales of Elephant Man tickets.

“A few complaints were brought to my office about the content of some of Elephant Man’s songs, many of which were produced and written a few years ago,” he said. “Essentially, the content of the songs are very violent and homophobic, and that was the tipping point.”

Brown brought his concerns to Retail Services Director Alvin Tedjo, who stopped ticket sales immediately.

“Destinations was amazing with their response time,” Brown said. “They realized that profiting off of such language was wrong for the AMS, because we represent all our constituents, which includes the LGBT community. It seemed like the only answer was to pull the ticket sales.”

Elephant Man has come under criticism for his explicitly homophobic lyrics.

Brown said tickets to the show are still being sold at other outlets, but it wouldn’t be appropriate to sell tickets to a concert for an artist whose lyrics contradict the core values of the AMS.

“Tickets are still available in Kingston if people choose to want to go to that event,” he said. “It was just not conducive to the purpose and the mission statement of the AMS to continue profiting, even if it was just a dollar, off these tickets.”

Tedjo said he pulled the tickets immediately so he could investigate the matter further.

“I didn’t want a misunderstanding. We pulled down the posters Elixir had given us,” he said. “I started looking into Elephant Man a little bit more, and along with the managers we decided it was inappropriate for us to be condoning this artist.”

Jeff Howard, Destinations head manager, said when Destinations announced that they were pulling the tickets, Elixir told them Elephant Man wouldn’t perform offensive material and asked if they would continue to sell tickets.

Howard said because Elephant Man has offended so many people, his promise not to perform offensive lyrics does not affect the decision to stop selling the tickets. “We’re against the principle,” he said.

Destinations has removed the event from their website and is offering full refunds to students who purchased tickets.

Tedjdo said AMS retail services don’t have a policy that requires them to screen the lyrical content of an artist’s music before agreeing to sell tickets to their concert.

“We normally don’t check the content of any of the artists we sell tickets for,” he said. “We have dozens of concerts and events on any given day, so it’s not something we normally do. If someone raised a concern, we look into it.”

Tedjo said some students pointed out that not selling the tickets went against the principles of freedom of speech.

“There were counter-arguments presented from students hearing us talk about the issue saying that it’s reggae music and that’s just the way it is,” he said. “I decided since we represent students and our mission is to represent the diversity of students at Queen’s, this wasn’t in spirit of that.”

Regardless of the AMS’s position, Tedjo said they aren’t discouraging students from attending the concert.

“We’re not telling students they shouldn’t go to the Elephant Man concert,” he said. “We’re saying that as a student government that is open to all types of people we don’t support this particular artist because he is calling for something that is inappropriate for us to support. This is incredibly inappropriate because it’s a hate crime.”

Tedjo said there’s no way to contact people who buy tickets, but refunds will be given to anyone who wants one.

Destinations will tell students who come into the store that refunds are available, and a memo was sent to the Assembly.

“We don’t take information from people so there was no way to contact them directly,” he said.

So far no one has come in asking for a refund.

Sarah Shallwani, ArtSci ’09, was unaware that Destinations was offering refunds.

“I had no idea,” she said. “No one told me that.”

Shallwani said she previously hadn’t paid attention to Elephant Man’s lyrics.

“I can’t understand half of them, so it’s never really occurred to me they were anti-gay,” she said. “I just listen to it for the music and the beat.”

She said she was surprised when she looked up Elephant Man’s lyrics on the internet.

“It does give me a different perspective, because I read some of the things that he said about shooting homosexuals,” she said. “I’m against ignorance of all forms, and after reading his lyrics I was taken aback.”

Shallwani said she agreed with the AMS’s decision to stop selling tickets at Destinations.

“If this is Queen’s way of trying to prevent and end to ignorance, more power to them. I totally support their decision.”

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