No new thing under the sun
So when I was a kid and was compelled by well-intentioned parents to read my bible on a regular basis, though I'd rather have spent that time pulling my toe nails out by the roots, one of my favorite scriptures was Ecclesiastes Chapter 1, verse 9: "The thing that hath been is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun."
I thought of that now 'cause I just finished reading The Hot Kid, a novel by Elmore Leonard.
In a nut shell, the book is about a brash, young U.S. Marshal, who rises to fame in Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri in the 1920s and '30s. It's also about the bad guys he pursues. The marshal is the hot kid, the up-and-comer in his federal agency. And in a way, he's competing for headlines with big name bank robbers like Clyde Barrow and Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd. And what the hot kid notices with each arrest he makes and each bad guy he shoots is that they become bigger legends in the news. Reporters trip over themselves to write about these crooks. L.A. Confidential-esque magazines offer flattering cover stories about the crooks and their "gun molls" AKA groupie girlfriends. They describe the hot outfits the girlfriends wear, the hot suits the crooks wear, and the hot cars they drive. "Fans" of the crooks and the molls dote on them and lavish them with praise and admiration.
I know this book is not off base in terms of how things really went down back in the day. I'm a news nerd. I've read old newspaper and magazine clips that were essentially press releases for the robbers. I've read quotes in those stories from "fans" of the robbers and their dames talking admiringly about them and their murderous exploits. I watched Bonnie and Clyde. I watched Little Caesar. Those movies were made in 1967 and 1931 respectively. There are more.
I loved all that stuff. It was and still is great entertainment. From the perspective of the crooks, those films explored their character flaws and inadvertently examined the attraction to the criminal lifestyle. A prude might even say that these films and others like them glorified the bank robber/gun moll lifestyle.
One question though: Does anyone reading this still want to give a pass to any public figure who suggests "rap music (a roughly 33-year-old genre) made me do it?"
That being said, I keep telling you guys that I am rap's biggest critic. I love parts of the genre but hate even more parts, because of how vile they've become. But the glorification of violence and crime in this country did not start with a handful of rappers. That sort of glorification predates these idiots by many decades. Gangsta rappers just happen to be "hosting" the latest episode, the latest manifestation of our love affair with the naughty.
And I still don't believe in censorship. Let all fools speak up, so we can identify them better and keep an eye on them. But if you really can't tolerate what you hear or see from a politician, a musician/actor, or an all-purpose media personality (like a talk show host), the fix is simple: vote them out of office, or stop watching/listening to them and stop buying the products of businesses who sponsor them. If you don't want to see yet another cycle of the glorification of bad behavior come along after rap, then break the cycle now. Or don't. Your choice.
Coming tomorrow: The fine line between challenging religious beliefs and being a bigot toward someone with a particular set of beliefs.
Labels: what goes around comes around