Line Between Pun and Punishable Getting Thinner at the Bandroom
Last November at the Harvard-Yale game, a voice came over the public address system: "James Walker, will you please report to the press box." Walker, then conductor of the Harvard Band, soon found that the Band's half time show had been censored.
With only minutes remaining before the half, the Band was forced to perform a watered-down version of its script, and then sit in the stands and watch Yale produce the filthiest show Harvard fans had seen all year.
Baaron Pittenger, assistant director of Athletics, has the responsibility of "advising" the Band on its halftime formations. Pittenger has emphasized that there are two distinct types of censorship.
"We haven't ever made a change in a show that makes a political attack on the administration," Pittenger said. "The only changes we've made are in the areas of sex."
Just Plain Crude
"If the idea is clever and well-presented, we approve," Pittenger said. "But when the formation is just plain crude and not disguised, we have to step in."
John Olsen '70, who is almost solely responsible for the Band script, generally agrees with Pittenger. Last season the Band received criticism for one formation: changing CORP, to COPS. But although there was criticism, the Band still was not prevented from presenting the show.
"The administration has become less tolerant because of other events on campus," Olsen said. "But our criticisms of them are all part of our even-handed policy of insulting everyone, including ourselves,"
On the question of pornography, Olsen took a different attitude. "Our shows have to aim at the undergraduates in the stands," he said. "We keep within the bounds of good taste, but now the administration is looking for sexual humor in everything we say."
One good example arose in the Northeastern show. The Band wanted to say that the addition of girls to the all-male band would bring new life to the Band. On the field, a limp, lifeless male sex symbol would march into a normal, rigid position.
The Band thought the formation was clever; the administration thought it was filth.
In the Rutgers show the Band wanted to announce a course, "Women in Social Uplift: a course designed for a bunch of boobs." The Band thought it was a clever pun; the administration decided it was crude.
So the Band may have to stick to political satire in its halftime shows and leave the smut for the stands and the ranch bus.
"Halftime isn't a stag party," Pittenger said.