Yet another reason I refuse to step foot in a Wal-Mart. It’s policy of demanding that CDs that might otherwise require a parental warning sticker be edited or cleaned up for sale in their stores. Wal-Mart is the 800 pound gorilla of retailing and I suppose if they could outsource music and video production to third-world sweat shops like the rest of their goods – they would. However, since this seems to be one of the last areas of American commerce they can’t outsource, they merely settle for censorship. Green Day claims the bits weren’t even that bad, but I suppose it’s totally up to Wal-Mart to decide what creative content their buyers should have access to.
It’s an old argument. If buyers don’t like the cleaned up version they can go down to another record store to buy the real thing. They apparently have, since even without Wal-Mart, Green Day’s newest “21-st Century Breakdown” is now the most popular CD in the country. However, just consider the power that is Wal-Mart. In many small communities where Wal-Mart has closed any and all competitors, they may actually be the only source for CDs. The mom-and-pop that appreciates creativity and artist’s rights, has probably long gone out of business.
Plus think of the chilling effect on the music industry, if faced with the expensive task of creating two versions of a CD, one that the artist wants and one that can sell at Wal-Mart; how many record execs will just push for the one version that can sell at Wal-Mart? In some ways it’s irrelevant, most music fans will download the music right to their players. However, it’s another troubling aspect of what we’ve allowed Wal-Mart to become in this country.
If you’re all about “guaranteed lowest prices” above any and all other considerations – then by all means continue to shop at Wal-Mart. If you care about small businesses, competition, free markets, American jobs, living wage jobs, quality products, and in this case artistic expression — please take a cue from Green Day and tell Wal-Mart where they can stick it.