The Say Whatever the Hell You Want Club: Meeting Two
So here's the deal: tonight we're booing the recent announcement by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons that he's seeking the ban of three words in the clean/radio versions of rap albums: the N-word, bitch, and ho.
The words are bad, sure. But a ban will not fix anything. And to the pundits who applaud Simmons for being brave, you guys are gullible, and I'd like to sell you a bridge....and a swamp....I mean a hot tub.
This move, if it happens will not clean up rap lyrics. It will give consumers and radio stations the option to buy/play so-called radio edits that don't contain those three words. Correct me if I'm wrong though, but those three words have been self-censored by radio stations for years now. As far back as the early '90s I recall hearing the N-word and all manner of swears bleeped out during radio play. Nobody wants to be hassled by the FCC. So few stations are stupid enough to let those words slip onto the air. Again, it's been that way for years. This new proposed ban is helpful how?
Asking that three words get banned isn't brave. Sorta brave would be asking the artists to stop using the words in their lyrics. But that's a hollow request. It's like asking Saddam to show us his weapon(s) of mass destruction. Sounds great in a speech, but if he'd had the weapon(s) he would never have shown 'em voluntarily.
Besides, if these guys insist that they're simply telling the story of the streets on which they were raised, then maybe they really did see lots of hos and drug dealing and death and destruction. If that's the fact-based fiction you want to listen to, knock yourself out. Even Ann Coulter suggested that a rapper's use of "ho" probably really is in reference to the woman shopping her wares on the corner opposite the drug dealer, not, say, the college basketball player. But I digress.
Brave would be raising kids to have self respect so they wouldn't want to use certain words to describe themselves and their peers.
Brave would also be asking the parents of the kids buying this music and attending the concerts to grow a set and tell their kids "no!" No, you're not buying that album. No, you can't listen to it in your room. No, you're not going to that concert. No!
I was a teenager. I realize that just saying no can be futile. It damned sure didn't work to curb drug use in the '80s (and neither did those this-fried-egg-is-your-brain-on-drugs commercials). But let's see a little effort, and let's put the burden for these words where it squarely belongs: on the consumers who eat it up.
Yeah, yeah, artists/performers/celebrities all have responsibility, roll models, yadda yadda, to whom much is given, etc., etc.
But the truth is in this country the market takes what the market can bear. For example, we all gripe about the obscene salaries pro athletes make, but then we pack out arenas and stadiums and pay big bucks for tickets and pinkie-sized hotdogs and $6 thimble-sized beers. When we all get tired of it and stop paying, sporting event prices will fall, and athlete salaries will drop....and we'll still be miserable with our daily routines. But that's another story.
As for music with naughty words, when we figure out a way to convince young'ns that it isn't cool they'll stop listening. When they stop listening record labels will stop paying top dollar for it. Advertisers will stop sponsoring concert tours.
But I got news for ya: that'll never happen! Your great great grandparents couldn't stop your great grandparents from listening to whatever was bad in their day. Your great grandparents couldn't stop your grandparents from listening to whatever was bad in their day. Your grandparents couldn't stop your parents from listening to rock'n'roll, and so on and so forth.
Best you can do is teach your kids some good sense, some good manners, some good morals, and some taste. And if a couple of those things stick, they'll probably find profane music distasteful all on their own. I listened to it in spite of my parents' best efforts. I thought stupid songs about the lore of the streets were cool. I mostly bobbed my head to the beats. And then I grew up. Occasionally I still bob my head to those beats. But I'm grown now. That music means nothing.
Banning words in rap is a very, very bad idea.
If you like that idea, don't be smug. Any of you into porn? That's rhetorical. I don't really want to know. But if you are, how would you like to find out that a small group of anti-porn activists will now limit you to viewing "clean" versions of your favorite skin flick?
Do not support word bans!
Now, let's bring this meeting to a close. Please excuse me, while I go pour some gin and juice and ponder why big pimpin' requires spendin' cheese.