Nine Inch Nails will not be performing at the MTV Movie Awards being taped on June 4 and aired June 9 (incidentally, why do they have bands playing at a movie awards show anyway?), because the network was, in their words, “uncomfortable with their performance being built around a partisan political statement”: that statement being a a performance backdrop with a picture of President Bush emblazoned upon it.
On the NIN site, leader Trent Reznor wrote, “We were set to perform ‘The Hand That Feeds’ with an unmolested straightforward picture of George W. Bush as the backdrop. Apparently the image of our president is as offensive to MTV as it is to me.”
That’s one way to look at it. “The Hand That Feeds” (Quicktime video here) feaures anti-war lyrics:
“What if this whole crusade’s a charade
And behind it all there’s a price to be paid
For the blood on which we dine
Justified in the name of the holy and the divine.”
Pretty great tune, pretty trite lyrics: of course there’s a price to be paid and that price is in the news almost everyday, and was on most of our minds yesterday, Memorial Day. But anyway, political sophistication from rock stars is so rare as to be a trace element.
NIN insisted on doing their thing their way — a somewhat more subtle image might have been more effective — and MTV clearly just didn’t want the hassle of so blatant a political message, so Foo Fighters will take NIN’s place in the show.
It’s a weird time for Reznor: on the one hand he’s in the middle of a lawsuit with his former manager and best friend, but on the other hand NIN’s recent album With Teeth, from which “The Hand That Feeds” is taken, debuted at #1.