Many University of Miami students expressed outrage and disappointment as unexpected political discussion and support for Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama crept into a supposedly nonpartisan Homecoming 2008 concert, which featured hip-hop band N*E*R*D and hip-hop duo Kidz in the Hall, Friday night.
Both N*E*R*D and Kidz in the Hall have publicly endorsed Obama and showed support for him at the concert by displaying an “O” hand symbol, encouraging youth to vote for Obama, wearing Obama t-shirts and criticizing President George W. Bush.
A group of students reacted to the artists’ political messages by chanting, “More rockin’ and less talking,” while others later spoke of their concerns.
“I think it’s inappropriate to impose your political views on vulnerable kids who are still indecisive about their political views,” said junior Gabriella Bevilacqua, who added that she was surpised to hear N*E*R*D frontman Pharrell Williams comment about the U.S. economy in the midst of the concert.
Jerry DiChiara, a junior, said that he and his friends left the show “as soon as [the perfomers] started talking about Obama.”
“I went to homecoming last night to have fun and not to worry about problems like the economy and the election,” DiChiara said. “There was no need for politics at a school spirit event.”
DiChiara added that if the event “had been advertised as a political rally,” such as rapper Jay-Z’s rally for Obama earlier this month, then “it would have been okay.” Homecoming, however, was not advertised as such.
“With the election less than two weeks away, I think it’s only natural that a band with a large platform would mention their political views. It is also no secret that Kidz in the Hall have been vocal supporters of Sen. Obama throughout his entire campaign, going so far as to record a song, ‘Work To Do,’ that the campaign supported,” said Matt Marcus, the president & CEO of Kidz in the Hall’s management company Major League Entertainment.
Some concertgoers, such as junior James Patrick, chose not to pay attention to the political talk whatsoever.
“It was still a great show,” Patrick said. “I feel like if you let [the politics] get to you, you’re being overly negative.”
Austin Gilbert, a junior, agreed that the show “was a blast,” but still disagreed with the political nature of the performance.
“I thought it was the wrong time and place,” Gilbert said. “[To hear about politics] was just not why people came to the show.”