What does it take to be brave in the 21st century? It’s a subjective concept, but those deemed courageous typically exhibit similar traits (a resistance to the status quo, putting the needs of others before your own, risking your safety for a greater good). Brave is Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning. Brave are the members of the Kansas State marching band who hollered, “Damn the torpedoes!” and performed an impressive penis-shaped formation on the field during a highly anticipated (and broadcasted) football game against South Dakota State. But sadly, like all heroes, the Kansas State marching band must—and will—pay dearly.

The theme of the performance was “space,” said band director Frank Tracz in a statement on Sunday. Space. Space. Space for what? Self-expression? A phallic commentary on sports culture’s role in the toxic and patriarchal environment in which we are forced to exist? Space for students to gather in the shape of a cock in any and all public spaces because that’s what it means to be alive and free? Space for what?


Tracz continued his bold ejaculation, going onto explain the marching band’s intentions and—always avant garde—even using a slang term for “penis” that I have never heard before: “the Starship Enterprise.”

“There was absolutely no intent to display anything other than the Enterprise and the Jayhawk in battle,” he said, once again reiterating the highly provocative “space” theme. The Jayhawk penetrated by the “Enterprise.” Wow. So moving. So daring. It once again brings up the question: Does art mirror life? Or does life mirror art?

But because this is America and we are a culture of LIARS and HYPOCRITES, the Kansas State marching band are not allowed to display their throbbing, turgid Starship Enterprise without a slap on the wrist from the oppressive and censorious people in power. For their transgression—for their ART—Kansas State has been fined $5,000.

Stay strong. Stay erect.

Contact the author at madeleine@jezebel.com.