So last night, I’m chatting with daughter #1 in the car on the way home from music lessons. There had been an ironic moment when the radio had played an old Blondie hit, followed immediately by Bowling For Soup’s “1985” that led us to talking about music. We ended up talking about her middle school canteen last Friday, and about how most of the kids left when Green Day was being played, but the cafeteria was filled with dancing during the hip-hop tracks, most of the kids singing along as well.
Now, my musical tastes are fairly eclectic, and I do own some rap and some hip-hop cds, but I have to say that if an artist’s lyrics are offensive, I just don’t like it. The stuff these kids are singing along with and dancing to has horrible lyrics. Say what you will about it being a reflection of the society the artists grew up in, there’s no excuse, in my mind, for glorifying this stuff. I recall being on a bus, chaperoning a field trip, and listening to the girls singing along with 50 cent’s “Candy Shop”. I was appalled, and told the girls so. “Don’t you know what this is about? Don’t you have enough pride in yourselves to find this offensive?” They just laughed, and said they thought it was a fun song. Between the lyrics and the videos, you’d think that women were put on earth for no reason but to gratify men physically. It’s never been all that good, but this style of objectifying women puts us back to caveman days. Add in the themes of taking offense, taking revenge, carrying and using firearms. . .it all seems to promote values that go directly against peaceful co-existence.
I don’t believe in censorship, but I also feel that adults are doing children a disservice by not telling them why they should be angry. When I listen to music with mine, we talk about the lyrics, the artist, the cultural context of some of the older songs – not to the point where we don’t enjoy the music, but enough so they know what they’re listening to. If fewer people just passively allowed themselves to be entertained, and actually paid attention to the vitriol spewing from the radio, we wouldn’t need censorship – people would get turned off, angry, and stop putting money into the pockets of people who are promoting these negative values.