“I truly and deeply apologize for the comments attributed to me on Twitter”, is what CeeLo Green tweeted days before he was dropped from the lineup of the 2014 Gretna Heritage Festival. The 40 year old Atlanta native, real name Thomas DeCarlo Callaway, was cut amid controversial tweets he made about sexual assault.
Green’s comments on Twitter included “when someone brakes on a home there is broken glass where is your plausible proof anyone was raped” and “if someone is passes out they’re not even with you consciously! So with implies consent”
The Gretna Heritage Festival removed Green from the lineup, and subsequently replaced him with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, after his tweets became public. According to a press release sent out by the Gretna Heritage Festival, “Our community does not condone these disparaging remarks delivered by CeeLo Green and we feel this entertainer does not represent what our festival is about and has achieved over the past twenty years.”
The Gretna Heritage Festival Board also states in the press release that Green’s comments are not in keeping with the “wholesome family environment” that the Gretna Heritage Festival Board and the Gretna Economic Development pride themselves on, due to their close relationships with local businesses, organizations, and state and national charitable organizations.
Some New Orleans residents are very pleased with the removal of CeeLo Green from the lineup. For instance, Aaren Gordon said about Green’s removal, “The festival is about good clean fun with your family and close friends. I think it would have looked bad on the organizers if they would have kept him in the lineup.”
Brittany Hunt, a Tulane Social Work student, who called Green’s Twitter comments “detrimental to our culture”, created a change.org petition before Green was cut from the festival, and was extremely glad to hear of his dismissal. Hunt said she created the petition because “nobody seemed to care that this person who there was a huge media uproar about his comments and his behavior and then he was coming to our town. It didn’t feel like that conversation was going far enough to actually hold him accountable.”
After Green was removed from the Gretna Heritage Festival lineup, Hunt said “I felt really good, I was happy that people had a swift response and it kind of showed that everyone was on the same page [that] what he did wasn’t OK.”
She says that if Green had been allowed to perform she “would have felt really disappointed. I think that would have said that sexual assault is no big deal and that you can get away with that.”
Hunt also believes that this cancellation will have a greater impact than just removing an artist from a performance. “I think that by cancelling this performance it is sending a message that we support survivors and we validate their truths. I think it is particularly powerful too because I know New Orleans doesn’t have a great reputation as far as the response to sexual assaults. There aren’t that many supports for survivors in the area, so I think it’s great that we’re kind of taking a stand. The more people who are thinking about these issues and thinking about them seriously the more likely we are to validate people’s stories and help each other out,” she said.
Wisconsin resident Enrique Galvan, who has travelled to attend the Gretna Heritage Festival for the past three years and will do so again this year for in his words the “good vibes, good food, good people, and good music”, agrees with the Gretna Heritage Festival’s decision to remove CeeLo Green based on his Twitter comments.
He said, “I think Gretna Fest has every right to cut CeeLo Green over what he chose to post onto Twitter.”
Galvan likewise agrees with the assertion that the Gretna Heritage Festival is a family environment and an artist who has made such controversial comments should not be allowed to perform. “From my experience there, Gretna Fest is very much a family environment. I’ve seen more children at that festival than Jazz and Heritage Fest because Gretna Fest caters to the children they know will be attending. CeeLo Green’s comments should not be taken lightly and I think Gretna Fest did the right thing for their festival by cutting him based on his comments,” said Galvan.
Galvan is additionally excited that Green was cut because Joan Jett and the Blackhearts are his replacement. “I feel like Joan Jett and the Blackhearts are a much better fit for the Gretna Fest ‘vibe’. I feel as if they should have been in the line-up from the beginning because their classic rock sound is what one would typically find in Gretna Fest, at least from the times that I have gone there. I think families will feel better off taking their children to see them rather than hearing CeeLo Green perform,” he said.
Others, however, are not as pleased with Green not being allowed to perform. Louisiana resident Michael Pollard felt that the decision to cut Green may have been racially motivated. He cites the fact that other artists have been allowed to perform that he felt are just as controversial.
He said, “I think there’s been other artists in the past who have been just as un-family friendly, so racially motivated could be a factor.” Pollard specifically references country musician David Allan Coe, whose lyrics include references to the n-word. “I think it’s unfair. I see why they’re doing it but at the same time to be consistent with other un-family friendly acts would make it seem less racially driven,” Pollard said.
Green has similarly been dropped from other festivals, such as the United States Navy-sponsored Freedom LIVE event in Washington DC on September 20 and the BayFest Music Festival in Mobile, Alabama on October 5, and his TBS reality show “The Good Life” has also been cancelled.