Feminist Steinem Protests Prodigy's 'Smack My Bitch Up'

Women's rights pioneer sang 'Time Warner better beware' at company headquarters.

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

coal.

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

artistic endeavor."

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."

In

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

brainless."

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]