Glastonbury Festival Respond To Kanye West Backlash

Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis, daughter of the festival’s founder Michael Eavis, has defended the festival’s decision to book Kanye West as one if its 2015 headliners, responding to an online petition appealing to remove him from the lineup.

“Ultimately, there is no question in my mind that we have got one of the greatest artists of his generation headlining, and we have no regrets at all about booking him,” writes Eavis in an editorial for The Guardian.

She added that given complaining about the Glastonbury lineup has become a “national pastime” over the years, she normally wouldn’t respond to the criticism, but given the widespread attention the reaction to the festival’s choice has gotten this time, she decided to speak out.

“I have such faith in humanity, but believe me, some of the vitriol being thrown around this week has made me question the dark underbelly of the web,” writes Eavis. “Who are those people silently shouting in disgust, throwing out threats from behind their screens?”

The widespread attention was no doubt the result of an online petition asking Glastonbury to “Cancel Kanye West’s headline slot and get a rock band” which at the time of writing has 94,838 signatures.

“To say that our headliners should be ‘rock’ is, I think, a bit silly,” adds Eavis. “Those acts never have been limited to rock, and they never will be. Stevie Wonder, the Prodigy, Curtis Mayfield, the Chemical Brothers, Jay Z, Gorillaz, Beyoncé and plenty of others prove that.”

She also dismisses arguments about Kanye West not being fit for the headline slot because “he’s not a positive role model or because they think he’s too self-assured”.

“We book our acts by choosing the best and most challenging musicians on the planet,” she writes, “not by applying some kind of arbitrary morality test.”

Eavis also questioned the validity of such a petition, the creator of which admitted to the BBC this week that he started it as a joke reaction to the announcement. “I stand by my feelings about it, I don’t think he would be the ideal headliner,” said the petition’s creator Neil Lonsdale. “But I know that he’s going to play there regardless and in a way I’d be disappointed if the Eavis family did change it.”

Eavis says 135,000 tickets have been sold to this year’s festival and there were “only four more requests for ticket refunds on the day after we announced Kanye’s performance than there had been the previous Tuesday.”

“We think the story this year should not be: Why is Kanye coming? but: ‘How amazing is it that Kanye is coming?’,” she adds. “One of the world’s biggest superstars and a music legend, always interesting, never boring. He has agreed to play a festival where headliners get paid a fraction of their normal rate in support of Oxfam, Water Aid and Greenpeace as well as thousands of other worthy causes. We think that’s pretty great.”

The rapper will top the bill on the festival’s Saturday night, following a headline set the night before by rock ‘n’ roll avengers Foo Fighters. The Glastonbury Sunday headline act is still yet to be announced as is the full festival lineup.

Photos: Kanye West – Sydney, Qantas Credit Union Arena 12/09/14. Photographed by Ashley Mar

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