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Celebrating A ‘Friends’ Couch In New Orleans Doesn’t Mean We’re Selling Ourselves Out [Opinion]

We’ve all heard those stereotypical sayings that tend to come up from time to time. They tend to go something like this: “It never use to be like this when we did it,” It’s basically the “Get off my lawn, you damn kids” argument.

Well in New Orleans, that same argument typically goes something like this: “It’s destroying the soul of New Orleans,” “They are appropriating New Orleans culture.” While gentrification is REAL and happening all over our city, we need to examine things on an individual basis, and not group every single event together.

Airbnb kicking residents out for short term rentals, that’s true Gentrification. Gene’s Po’ Boys selling their building for well over 3 million dollars? Not really. A hard-working middle-class American family selling their business after 50 years for more than 50x what they bought it for? Terrible. 

If you haven’t heard: the Friends couch from the iconic 1990’s sitcom is traveling around the country in support of the show’s 25-year anniversary. The couch has been placed in front of dozens of iconic places for some of the coolest photo opportunities.

This weekend, it has made its way to New Orleans. The couch is set up across the street from Jackson Square at the Washington Artillery Park. To kick-off the event, organizers held a second line ending at the couches location. While this seems pretty harmless, Gambit Magazine, which is officially owned by The Advocate seems to think this is a pretty hot issue. Their hot take: “A fake ‘Friends’ couch. A fake second line. Why does this city sell itself out like this?” 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Jackson Square with the #friendscouch and ALL of the touristy photos! #nola #neworleans #jacksonsquare #mississippi #just1morepic #pandausaholiday2019

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Their argument is basically the one I highlighted above: corporate overloads setting up fake props in celebration of a TV show. THE HORROR.

Here are some more hot takes from that article:

“Why does New Orleans so often not recognize its own worth and beauty?
“Wouldn’t any visitor be happy to get a photo of something more real, something lasting, something centuries-old, something quintessentially New Orleans?”

Most of all:

“Why do we play ourselves so cheap so often?”

Really? We’re selling ourselves cheap from three measly days of a temporary orange couch sitting in Jackson Square? Come on…

Listen: I am no Friends fan. I think sitcoms are the worst; but, can we stop with this counter-argument that anything we don’t consider truly New Orleans is appropriating our culture? People visit and move to New Orleans to celebrate our culture because it is so unique. One of the biggest TV shows in modern history wants NOLA residents to take photos in front of one the BIGGEST photo ops in the city, why is that so bad?

Does Gambit think New Orleans residents don’t like Friends? The comments on our Facebook and Instagram after we published this event highly disagree with this sentiment. 

Taking a photo with an iconic couch and visiting tons of “quintessentially New Orleans” places are not mutually exclusive. Everyone can head to the Fried Chicken Festival or NOLA on Tap directly after taking those photos. I know, it’s crazy, but you can have your cake and eat it too while in New Orleans. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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The One with Beignets #friendscouch

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We are a city built on tourism, hospitality, conventions, festivals, and entertainment. New Orleans would not be where it is today without this lifeblood. The Friends couch doesn’t sell us out, it builds us up even more. 

You know what: let’s just keep the second lines to only special events and they can only be run if the entire city agrees on it. Obviously Gambit has never been downtown during the weekend to see dozens of second lines that happen every weekend for weddings. Probably half of those are from out-of-town residents. How awful of those people coming to New Orleans to spend thousands of dollars to embrace our culture. 

We’ll rope off Jackson Square and the French Quarter for only TRUE New Orleans moments. No more Final Four events, no more Red Dress Run, no more new-age concerts, and you better stop filming all those movies and TV shows here, especially NCIS New Orleans.

Because if you think a couch cheapens New Orleans, then we better just kick everybody out…


Featured Image: River Beats New Orleans 

In March of 2017 River Beats held its very own second line in honor the BUKU Music & Arts Project. We were granted several permits from the city of New Orleans and hosted a makeshift “Parade” through the streets with the dubstep producer Borgore. The event featured dozens of out of town residents experiencing New Orleans culture for the first time. The event was produced and created by long term New Orleans residents. This is what our city is about. You can watch the recap from the event here! 

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