For the three years I’ve been posting here on my little blog I’ve made a conscious effort to avoid talking about political issues or current events except perhaps as they relate to the music industry. Well, time to vent.
The events in Connecticut last Friday are horrible beyond human understanding. I have strong and increasingly radical feelings about gun control but that’s not what I want to write about. There are myriad reasons why we have come to this point in American history. But I absolutely believe the media in general and the music industry in particular is a big part of the culture of violence.
I’ll say this up front. I despise hip-hop, rap, whatever you want to call that so-called music. Machine generated beats with sing-song, bad poetry laid on top may be a form of entertainment, but please don’t tell me it’s music because it is not. Yes, I know that at times there are positive messages conveyed but all too often in the “gangsta” style the message is about violence, misogyny, and lust for “bling,” which is attained with a Glock and an attitude.
I have heard the rationale that it is just a reflection of a culture and does not encourage those attitudes but I don’t buy that for a minute. Urban youth listen to this dreck and hear about this rap star being shot, that one wrecking his quarter million dollar sports car and proudly posting a picture of it on social media sites, and what are they supposed to think? Yo, mutha fu*cka, I be a bad @ss nigga, got to slap my bitch ‘cause she disrespected me!
OK, look. I am a white guy who grew up in a stable, loving family and environment so no, I cannot relate to that world. But the monster who perpetrated the event of last Friday was closer to my world than the inner city. I would lay odds that the police will find examples of “death metal” and gangsta rap on his Ipod or computer. Did those things make him do what he did? No, of course not. But when you combine that with gory video games, movies where we lose count of dead and dismembered bodies, daily reports of horrific shootings and much more, it may make someone who is as unhinged as that young man feel that his actions are normal, or at least logical.
My point is this. In its purest sense, art in all its forms should endeavor to elevate social structure, not glorify the basest human tendencies. I hope the music industry takes a long, hard look at their amplification of the culture of violence in this country and begins to show some restraint. They probably won’t because there is too much money in being shocking.
My heart aches for everyone affected by the massacre of innocents in Connecticut. If there is any way, positive music should – and can! – help us heal.
Peace & good music,