When Does a Band or Corps Become a Corporate Cult?

There are so many people in band and corp communities who say I’m crazy for calling out DCI and BOA as a corporate cult; the truth is that it’s not the people who perform who are the problem it’s the people who run these groups that are the problem. However many of these people do not use Steven Hassan’s BITE model when they come to troll me because they been taught all their lives that the group is always right and the complainer is always wrong by directors and section leaders which invades their ability to think critically which is fundamentally what cult leaders do to create people who worship and respect them like in the case of the Cadet director Gorge Hopkins whose Hop Talks were a way of making followers feel powerful even though they had no power to speak out or help the thirteen and more women he groomed and assaulted.

This is a form of Behavior Control in the BITE model where he dictates members to be dependent and obedience to him; others include financial exploitation which happens when corp members are in debt and cannot afford college because of tour fees and audition that they and their parents pay for from pocket. Then there is the regulation of what you wear, eat, or drink, and where you live is not safe because it’s a gym floor or out in a tent where you sleep with not people who will help you but the people they want you to be with. Also in many cases corp members are deprived of nine or more hours of sleep without water or bathroom breaks in between practices which in other countries and in some states is a human right violation along with restricting leisure or group building activities that are positive to the well being of members.

Thought and Information Control is another aspect that makes it hard for people who were part of the corps to be apart of local groups like a marching band or any public school program and this is why. When a person is told that people in marching bands are weak and corps is stronger than their school band it’s a very black and white way of thinking that does not allow members to think critically, emphatically, or even learn new knowledge of other kinds of music or theater in the performing arts because corps is a sport and your sport is religion. There is a dangerous thing that happens when art becomes a sport; it becomes exclusive rather than inclusive, no one is accommodated for fear of missing the show or defaming the corps, and more competing is done than teaching students how to be tolerant, empathetic, and develop perseverance musicians with a hunger for knowledge and willingness to make the world better.

All competitions do is Emotionally Control students into thinking that what matters in life is their bodies, wealth, and fame and not about friendship, compassion, respect of others, and unity despite our differences. If they ever question the real motives of their directors or other important members of the group they are called weak and a wimp for being a person who stands up to abuse and hazing; and even if they contact an authority figure they are afraid to do so because of the fear of not being heard or believed like in the case of many victims of abuse, hazing, harassment, and discrimination.

I created FCO because when I was a victim of discrimination and had to quit music because I felt so unhappy I felt so alone but through posting on Google+ and then Reddit I knew that I’m not the only one. There are many people who feel that art should not be a sport, that music education should not be owned by a corporation, that there is a difference between a director and a teacher, and that we can rebuild marching bands and corps into an inclusive group that accommodates, does not judge, that teaches people the skills they need to pursue music education or the performing arts and honors a person's strengths and weaknesses and the little daily triumphs that lead to a better life as an artist and a person. Here trophies are worth nothing because being who you are as a person and standing up to others is the most rewarding thing a person can do and that reward is not just given to others but inside yourself. Doing something good is powerful enough to make any trophy, award, or idol worthless in the future of bands and corps.

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Christina Bishop

Christina Bishop

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Tuba player, creator of Struwwelkinder and The Flying Circus Orchestra