A few weeks ago, a local venue came under fire for booking a show by the Mentors, a veteran punk band with a history of blatantly misogynist lyrics and which has long described its music as "rape-rock."
Although the band has played Portland many times since its founding in the '70s, its scheduled Sept. 8 gig at Rock Hard PDX, as part of its Anti-Antifa Tour, caused a stir online, with feminist collective In Other Words threatening a protest if the concert is not cancelled.
The controversy is of particular interest to April Jones. A Portland-based artist, musician and filmmaker, Jones recently completed a documentary on the Mentors called Kings of Sleaze. She contacted Willamette Week offering to give her insights.
Here is her statement:
"During a time of musical evolution, three unconventional musicians from Seattle used their outrageous stage persona and explicit lyrics to shock, offend, and inspire masses worldwide. They are identified as one of the most offensive bands to emerge from the 1970's and played an identifiable role in pushing the boundaries of freedom of speech. Historically, exercising that right is the band's theme. Television exposure such as Jerry Springer, Comedy Central, Kurt and Courtney, and the PMRC courtroom hearings augmented their fame and notoriety.
The Mentors have a long history of false rumors and outrageous myths associated with them. This, as a documentary subject, intrigued me. Before hitting the road with the band, I was warned about getting involved with the project, due to the supposed dangers.
Film production started with a U.S. tour with the most notorious self-proclaimed 'rape rock' band, the Mentors. The experience was like being in a van with Beavis and Butthead. We'd be listening to classic rock songs on the radio, they would change the lyrics to 'poop and pee' and laugh at themselves, fart, eat chips and make fun of trending celebrities. It was quite hilarious! Being a skateboarder, this was like the typical skate road-trip with the guys. And like one of the guys, I'd heckle back. That's what you do when you go to a Mentors show, you heckle the band, shouting, 'Put your shirt back on!' The shows are interactive. After 40 years their obscene, comical act continues through the use of catchy tunes and an infamous live show.
While the internet is full of incredible resources, it can also be very dangerous place when people convey opinion as fact. Being a journalist and filmmaker, my goal is to gather the necessary facts to find and tell a story, despite the subject matter. I am a fan of the Mentors' music, but also enjoy healthy debates based on unbiased facts and informed opinions. As a storyteller wanting to capture various perspectives, I sought out the feminist bookstore called In Other Words to hear their opinion of 'rape rock' and the Mentors. In Other Words chose to ignore my request, which was presented very professionally and unbiased.
Now, they speak up, behind their computers, spreading false claims as the truth. Perhaps their most dangerous claim is that the band promotes racism. So, I attempted to inform them that the Mentors are a racially integrated band. Additionally, race isn't a topic they touch on in their music whatsoever. Anyone that does the research would see this. Once again I was ignored and even banned from their social media accounts.
The Mentors have created a culture that expands upon the shock rock genre. Some of the most influential forms of art have stirred controversy throughout history and this artist's content is no exception. The right to protest is essential to this country's foundation. However, doing so while equipped with proper and accurate information is crucial to the outcome for all parties."
About April Jones: For the past 17 years in Portland, Oregon, I've been a part of the art community having art shows and painting murals, I'm a skateboarder, representing Burnside skatepark, as well as being a skateboard teacher for Portland Parks and Recreation (for the past 5 years). I work in the film industry for Portlandia, Little People Big World, Red Bull, Kleenex, Cake, and more. For the past 6 years, I also produced a heavy metal public access TV series called Slayed in Oregon. I've been an advocate and public speaker for Women in Film and PCMTV events and also been a special guest and public speaker at the US Embassy for my filmmaking. In addition to all that, I also front an all-female thrash metal band called Hectic Shock, who's shows with The Mentors has also been protested.