Just in time for the holidays, activists Gloria Steinem and C. DeLores
Tucker, along with singer and actress Melba-Moore, visited the offices of
Time Warner, Inc. in New York on Thursday to deliver proverbial lumps of
In protest of the Prodigy song "Smack My Bitch Up," the women sang a
re-written version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" as they
unsuccessfully attempted to meet with Time Warner Chairman Gerald Levin.
"We're making a list, checking it twice / Beating up woman is big vice /
Time Warner better beware," sang the protesters, who billed themselves as
"The Coalition Chorus."
The activists were upset about the song's single lyric, a line sampled from
the Ultramagnetic MCs' 1988 song "Give the Drummer Some" that reads,
"Change my pitch up / Smack my bitch up."
Warner Bros. Records, which released the double platinum The Fat Of The
Land album containing the song issued a
statement reading, "While the lyric in question was never intended to be
harmful or disrespectful to women or any other group and we sincerely
regret that it may have been misinterpreted, the possibility that some will
be offended or disturbed by any creative work is a risk inherent in any
Steinem, Tucker and Moore -- along with fellow protesters Anita Perez
Ferguson of the National Women's Political Caucus and Eleanor Smeal of the
Feminist Majority Foundation -- were turned away from Levin's office, but
delivered a letter to the chairman that read in part "No woman can listen
to this song and not know that it depicts abuse and torture of women."
a follow-up statement, they said "Women and girls must no longer be subject
to the slander and humiliation that would not be directed at an ethnic
group such as Jews, Italians, or any other group that includes men."
In an interview with Addicted To Noise earlier this year, Prodigy leader
Liam Howlett said the song was meant to serve as a tribute to hip-hop
music. "I was into hip-hop and I was into the fact that MCs could rap
about anything, they could rap about smacking women up and it'd just be
more comical than anything else," he said. "You wouldn't actually take it
serious. You wouldn't think the Prodigy are about beating their girlfriends
up and shit like that. It has a certain amount of b-boy style in the actual
song. It's just basically bringing that through. To be honest, people, if
they think that song is about smacking girlfriends up, then they're pretty
The Fat Of The Land was recently taken off the shelves of
more than 5,000 Kmart and Wal-Mart stores across the U.S. because of the
song. The Target retail chain reached an agreement with Maverick to keep
the album in stores as long as long as the label providing parental warning
stickers to affix to it. [Fri., Dec. 19, 1997, 9:00 a.m. PST]