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Do the Right Thing: Pitchfork Adds Anti-Violence Advocates To Festival

By Kim Bellware in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 12, 2011 3:00PM

2010_07_pitchforklogo.jpg Well, look how the worm has turned: last week Pitchfork announced that the festival would be "partnering" (dubious quotations ours) with Chicago-based advocacy groups like Rape Victim Advocates and Between Friends to raise awareness about violence against women and LGBT people.

Absent from the announcement is any mention of the obvious catalyst--the controversial headline performers, Odd Future--or the veritable avalanche of criticism that emerged after WBEZ's Jim DeRogatis posed the provocative question of whether the fest was "endorsing rape or showcasing art."

It's certainly a positive development that the anti-violence groups will have space at the festival; groups doing work like RVA should have a presence regardless of whether or not it's for the purposes of balancing out a performer's controversial content. Still, we have to echo former Chicagoist-o Scott Smith's sentiment about the festival's attempt to pass off this development as a decision they arrived at of their own accord.

Pitchfork head honchos Ryan Schreiber and Chris Kaskie came off as vaguely dismissive of DeRo's suggestion in his original article that an abrasive act such as Odd Future requires some counter balance. What's more, Pitchfork had originally rejected a request by RVA to set up inside the festival grounds, with DeRo reporting that there was no room for them as all of the booths for NPOs had already assigned.

After RVA's request was turned down, Between Friends announced they would organize on the streets surrounding the festival site of Union Park to get their message out. The group had planned to spread their message by handing out 5,000 cardboard fans to help festival goers cool off, in the meantime soliciting donations to help cover the cost of the fans.

At the festival this weekend, both groups will be co-hosting a booth on the festival grounds, and Pitchfork is even chipping in for some of those fans. DeRogatis nabbed a response from Mike Reed, local indie promoter, co-owner of the fest (and Odd Future contrarian) who said "as additional support, the festival contributed funds to the production of more hand fans that will be distributed on site.”

Pitchfork is doing the right thing by extending a hand to RVA, Between Friends and others, even if that hand was ultimately forced. And while we're still resolutely against Odd Future's cheap and lazy glorification of violence, misogyny and homophobia, it remains to be seen what they'll actually do live in concert--and how it will be received.

For now, here's hoping for an exciting--and harmonious--festival weekend.