The Kansas State Band Director Suspension Is Absurd


The Little Mermaid is the first thing that comes to my mind amid the Kansas State band director’s suspension, as announced Tuesday by the university.

Some time in the ’90s, I can still vividly remember seeing a local TV news piece, spotlighting some morality organization, that had Disney in its sights over The Little Mermaid‘s VHS box cover. The report tiptoed around the word, but I got the gist: This organization was incensed over an apparently phallic tower hidden within Neptune’s palace.

Because anything involving body parts is the pinnacle of comedy for school-aged boys, I immediately had to see it for myself. A few things stuck with me:

1. I mean, I guess? I can see where someone might say so, but to me, it looked more like a melting candle. It still does.

2. How did someone first spot this? Seemed to me like someone would have to be looking for a penis to find a penis.

Regardless, Disney acquiesced to the outrage and discontinued this cover art. The Kansas State band director’s suspension is K-State’s Little Mermaid cover, though the university is motivated more by content farms echoing the same, embarrassing headline than by a self-appointed morality policing group. The sentiment is the same, though.

Not only is the band director suspended, but K-State is paying a $5,000 fine. $5,000! The fine is less for urinating in public in some areas, which involves exposing an ACTUAL…well, you know.

And what exactly will that $5,000 fund? Therapy for the delicate sensibilities of those exposed to a four-second formation that maybe-looked-like-a-penis-if-you-wanted-it-to? Maybe if the Big 12 distributed that $5,000 among the members of the Kansas State football team, they could use the few extra bucks to see a movie this week.

Then again, they might see something R-rated. Wouldn’t want that.

Kansas State’s original response was perfect, putting the onus for any phallus-viewing squarely on the viewer. The release of the schematics for a Starship Enterprise formation should have been checkmate, the proverbial finger-wag for others to get their minds out of the gutter.

And who know the Starship Enterprise more intimately than Captain Kirk?

Is Bob Bowlsby contending to know more about Star Trek than William Shatner? Because that’s highly dubious.

When I first saw the formation in a video clip — not in a freeze-frame — I didn’t see the Starship Enterprise. I also didn’t see a penis. It looked like a Civil War era cannon aimed squarely at the Jayhawk. Much like The Little Mermaid, I’d have never seen anything else without a thorough examination, or having it pointed out to me.

Maybe it’s for the best around the same time folks were morally outraged by The Little Mermaid, I couldn’t ever see the images within the popular Magic Eye posters. I was probably missing out on a lot of body parts.