CHICAGO, IL – MARCH 21: Dean Bernardini, bassist for the band Chevelle, shoots the puck in between periods of the NHL game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Chicago Blackhawks on March 21, 2014 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
If you were among the many of us bemoaning the long, slow, and tortuous wait until hockey season, you might have been somewhat relieved that something newsworthy finally came along related to the Blackhawks. No, I’m not talking about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (although that has been great to follow as well). And no, I’m not referring to the departure of Kevin Hayes, disappointing though predictable as that was.
I’m talking about the furor over a song – one that I honestly had no idea was played during home games until the news broke about the online movement demanding its demise.
“The Stripper” is a pretty well-known instrumental tune associated with striptease. Not that I would know from personal experience, but I imagine that it is seldom (if ever) used during actual stripteases. Instead, it is usually invoked for comedic effect. Exhibit A: the scene from the movie “Slap Shot.”
And yet, the recent online movement – including a petition and a #BanTheStripper hashtag – called for an end to its use during Shoot the Puck. It was ultimately successful in that regard.
This article is not intended to be any kind of dissertation on gender issues or political correctness. But it is a fair question to stop and think about, rather than just giving a knee-jerk reaction one way or the other. Should the Blackhawks have cut the song from Shoot the Puck? As a female fan, here are my thoughts on the issue.
Is the song really all that offensive? I never thought it was all that bad. Then again, I’m always out of my seat during intermission at games anyway. And when I watch games on TV, I can’t really hear the music playing in the background. I also realize there’s a tongue-in-cheek, comedic quality about it.
Do I think it’s a bit tacky? Sure. However, that’s part of the song. You have blaring horns and syncopation that make the song a bit jarring. It’s not a romantic melody by any means. It’s meant to be campy and over the top.
On one hand, the petitioners don’t appear to see the logical disconnect behind calling out “The Stripper” for its sexual and allegedly misogynistic overtones while saying nothing about “Chelsea Dagger” (in case you didn’t know, that song is actually about a prostitute). On the other hand, if the Blackhawks are doing something that tends to alienate or marginalize a substantial portion of their fan base, then by all means they should abandon that practice.
I have read some comments on Facebook and elsewhere that were pretty extreme on both sides of the issue. Some speculated that this was a “slippery slope” that will lead to banning a whole host of other things. Indeed, the same online movement and petition is calling for other changes, from the way in which Shoot the Puck participants are selected to Ice Girls uniforms.
But dropping “The Stripper” is unlikely to cause such an apocalyptic ripple effect. And it hardly seems to be a song so integral to Blackhawks fan culture that anyone will really miss it all that much. It’s not the same as cheering at the top of your lungs while Jim Cornelison belts out the National Anthem as only he can do. It’s not the same as chanting a bunch of nonsensical syllables with over 20,000 of your closest friends after the Hawks have scored yet another goal.
Changes happen, in sports as in life generally. Those that benefit at least some, while hurting none, should be embraced.
What do you think, Hawks fans? Was it a good idea to get rid of “The Stripper Song”?