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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Rallying Against Rap? Tough.

When I was growing up, there was a word repeated over and over from my parents. "Tough." Perhaps it was an abbreviated version on a phrase "Tough _____" and my parents were sparing me the obscenity or softening the blow. Which I guess would make it a contradictory statement. But anyway, when things weren't going right, when I wasn't happy with a situation, when I had a problem that I wasn't able to solve by myself:


It's a motto that, while it didn't seem to affect me physically, and although I'm still a bit of a non-confrontational person at heart, I still live by. Or at least try to spread to others. Whether it's about "toughening up" or "toughing it out" - society could learn a lot from that brand of parenting and that brand of giving into a situation and making yourself more tough by ACCEPTING it rather than by bitching about it with a stupid rally or protest.

Which is where this topic turns, towards the rallies being held across the nation, but especially here in Chicago. Rallies to debate the controversial lyrics in rap music. Some are here to piss and moan that rap music degrades women and glorifies violence and other naughty things that parents shouldn't want their children to grow up thinking, doing or being in general. Some are here to cry "censorship" for trying to remove words from a language, and more specifically from a music genre. Some are here just because some newly-famous jackass is here and they flock to stupid ideas and anyone spouting them because they have no minds of their own. To all these people, and any others coming to rally for one reason or another:


The system is damned fine the way it is, for the most part. Deal with it.

Rap is riddled with "bad words" and what many call "bad ideas" and "bad beliefs". So? Music has always contained questionable material, and it perseveres. Way back when, don't you think there was some argument going on about women being referred to as "hound dogs" and lying about being "high-class"? That's right, even the King was a bit "misogynistic" - if you want to fall for exaggerations. And what about the racist undertones of "Play that funky music, white boy"? Face it, it's always going to be there. That's the crazy thing about freedom of speech and freedom of thought - it literally takes all kinds.

So after we accept that music can always contain questionable material, it comes down to how it's handled, and by whom. If it's on the radio, it's handled by the FCC. As much as it shouldn't be, that's who it's currently handled by. For decent radio, like this XM satellite radio stuff, which I believe ISN'T under FCC rule - it's handled by the person listening to the radio. George Carlin said it best, "A radio has two knobs, you know. One to turn it off, and one to change the station!" If you don't like it, don't listen to it.

And if you're a parent, claiming you don't have the power to change the station when your child is listening to it without you - you still have the power to instill decency in your child no matter what the radio provides for them. If a song on the radio has more effect on your child's attitude towards women than YOU as a PARENT do - what does that say about your parenting skills? After all, that's what this boils down to. Parents at these rallies want everyone to parent their children EXCEPT THEMSELVES, so they can complain about how crappy their children are behaving and acting. Well guess what, parents?


YOU'VE got to be in charge of your kid, not some rapper. And don't even try to play the "but they look up to them" card - just because I looked up to Superman as a kid doesn't mean I jumped off of buildings trying to fly. My PARENTS sat me down and reminded me that while it all looks cool and Superman's a great guy - I have to obey the laws of gravity. And just because your kid looks up to someone who talks about "shooting bitches" - you have to remind them that they have to obey the laws of the city/state/federal government. Oh, and that they have to obey the laws of decency, too. YOU instill their values and their morals, so THEY can decide to follow it when confronted with rappers and how they treat their bitches.

The music industry does half the battle for you, parents. The radio stations have to censor the cussing themselves, or pick up Radio-Edit versions of the songs. Does that eliminate the potty-talk? Mostly. Does it alter the messages of demeaning women and glorifying violence? Nope. But again, that's where parenting comes in - before the police wind up coming in later on in life.

So where does all of this violence and women-bashing come from? Why is rap music being blamed for trends in society? Because these researchers (and especially pompous douchebags with holier-than-thou attitudes) still can't get it through their skulls that CORRELATION DOES NOT MEAN CAUSATION! Rap music is more offensive to people than ever. Society is more offensive to people than ever. Does that mean rap is to blame for society's ills? Couldn't it also mean that rap's ills are due to society? That since it's cooler and "in" to be shocking and promote violence and sex (sex sells, and it always will) - that's what leads music companies to hire/produce artists with songs portraying just that? I think that's the most likely story. The MARKET and the DOLLAR is what drives the trends, and vice-versa. Society wants more violent video games and is willing to pay - the market makes it happen. Kids would rather shell out money for Parental-Advisory-stickered CDs instead of cleaner rap music that the whole family can enjoy? Then that's what's going to get produced.

Don't get mad at the rappers, get mad at the recording studios willing to produce it to make a profit off your children's skewed value system (I mean AFTER getting mad at yourself for allowing your child to have a skewed value system and the cashflow to affect the marketplace accordingly).

Or as I once heard, "Don't hate the player, hate the game."

Or as my mom used to say:


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