Taking a Stand: Goo Goo Dolls Fans Working For More Than Rock & Roll

February 24, 2003 - Published on the Independent Media Network, Volunteers of America: Teens, and Downhill Battle.

Peace. To some, it’s just a glib closing of the daily Tour Diary on googoodolls.com. But a growing number of fans is taking this word a lot more seriously.

A group called Goo Goo Dolls Fans For Peace sees the Tour Diary’s signature as a nod of approval from the band. Fans For Peace was formed last November after some audience members at a Connecticut show booed the Goo Goo Dolls for their anti-war opinions.

Most people know the Goos for their hit ballads such as 1995’s Name and 1998’s Iris, but many lyrics on their lesser-known tracks show a disdain for conservative thought, mass-media, and greed. Flat Top, from 1995’s A Boy Named Goo, proclaims that “conscience keeps us quiet while the crooked love to speak.” What a Scene, from 2002’s Gutterflower, attacks excessive consumerism: “when it’s all about money and the things that you need… I just find that somehow obscene.” Up, Up, Up, a more optimistic track on Gutterflower, suggests “it only takes a second to make a change that’s gonna last.” Fans For Peace has adopted this lyric as a mission statement of sorts.

Through a website and e-mail list, Fans For Peace provides resources to learn about the issues, as well as a network of like-minded fans. The site’s home page says, “we hope that by rallying the fans, we’ll encourage the Goo Goo Dolls to keep speaking out.”

It seems to be working. Lately, there have been a number of encouraging statements on googoodolls.com. In the week prior to February 15th’s global anti-war demonstrations, the Tour Diary provided links to United For Peace, a major organizing collective. In the Diary, fans were implored to “please, please, please, express your opinion, whatever it may be… you have a voice, we have a voice, let’s use ‘em.” Subtler, but no less encouraging, have been statements such as “pray someone’s gonna keep this world sane” and “question the things that seem odd and pray for peace.”

What is fans’ reaction to these statements? While a few criticize the band for overstepping their role as entertainers -- “I thought they were a band not politicians” -- most fans are enthusiastic about hearing the Goos’ opinions. One wrote, “it’s great that they aren’t afraid to speak out and bring awareness to the HUGE bunch of Goo fans out there. I’m 100% behind them.” Another simply said, “I love these guys. Their heads are screwed on properly, that’s for sure.” Many fans didn’t think much about politics until they heard their favorite band speaking out. Fans For Peace has connected them with resources to form educated opinions. Some fans have been anti-war for a long time, and the Goo Goo Dolls’ words have given them a catalyst to raise their own voices.

The Goo Goo Dolls are no strangers to politics, themselves. In the summer of 2000, they played three concerts for the Democratic National Convention, and have voiced strong disapproval of Bush again and again. Lead singer John Rzeznik was a guest reporter for MTV’s Choose or Lose, accompanying Senator Ted Kennedy on the job for a day, and examining political apathy among young people. Bassist Robby Takac does not shy away from voicing political opinions during interviews. The band has supported campaigns such as Rock the Vote and PAX anti-violence initiative, and plans to team up with Michael Moore for a youth empowerment project in the future.

Fans For Peace is all about empowerment -- encouraging fans to learn about the issues from a variety of perspectives, form their own opinions, and stand up for those opinions. The website is an interesting combination of support network, fan club, and political debate forum. Initially, it gave links to various information sources and kept a running tab of the band’s anti-war statements. Interactive elements were soon added for fans to voice their opinions and share their ideas.

In January, Fans For Peace launched a campaign to “hit the streets” on the International Day for Peace. After two weeks of promoting the global events on fan message boards and e-mail lists (rebutting several arguments from advocates of war) at least ten different groups of fans lent their presence to protests coast to coast. In New York City, the bright pink “Goo Goo Dolls Fans For Peace” banner made it into a number of articles, and was even spotted on the evening news. A group of fans who went to a march in Hollywood remarked, “it was such a beautiful feeling, everyone there for the same purpose.” Of a small rally in Texas, one fan wrote, “a camera crew from the news came... And to my surprise I actually opened my mouth to say something to them. I'm glad I went... I just hope the world is listening and thinking on their own as well.”

With February 15th’s momentum, Fans For Peace is gearing up for the next big protest. At least a dozen fans will be traveling to Washington, DC on March 8th for the International Women’s Day Convergence to Stop the War. On the same day, other fans will be raising their voices in cities across the country -- many for the first time. Fans For Peace also has several other projects in the works. When there aren’t massive nationwide protests happening, fans are attending small-scale local events, talking to people in their communities, and generally keeping informed. They share their ideas and experiences through an e-mail list of over 70 people who cover a wide range of ages and backgrounds, united with the common goal of making a change that’s gonna last.

For more information about Goo Goo Dolls Fans For Peace, please visit fansforpeace.org or e-mail DreamTooLoud @ aol . com.

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