September 30, 2005


Jamaican tourism commercials feature beach walks and tropical cocktails set to a hypnotic, sun-drenched reggae beat. You may experience a different kind of beat if you're gay. Like getting your ass beat a gang of gay-bashers who are thoughtful enough to make house calls. (I guess "Try Jah Love" doesn't extend to the gay community, but try Jah fist does.) Buju Banton, the popular Jamaican reggae artist whose lyrics advocate killiing gays, will be sentenced today for joining just such a gang of thugs. Well-organized protests in forward-thinking countries have lead to the cancellation of many of his concerts, so perhaps he was taking revenge. Yeah, right. So please explain the rest of the bashers' motives. I wish him only the worst in his trial today.

I have mixed feelings about censorship in music. On one hand, I don't think anyone's expression should be muted by what society thinks. We would have lost out on a lot of great songs that way. (I remember radio stations banning Donna Summer's LOVE TO LOVE YOU BABY because it had orgasmic groans in it.) If I write a song which some people find objectionable--and trust me I have--I want the freedom to perform/promote it even though it doesn't jive with public opinion. Particularly in this country, where the born again crackpots seem to be shifting public opinion back to the days of the Puritans. But the issue gets gets a lot stickier when you are attacking/recommending murder, particularly of an already beleaguered group like gays, jews, blacks, women, felchers, etc. And it gets even stickier when the group is well-organized. Dammit, I've just GOT to mobilize us felchers a little bit better!

I guess it's just a fine line. I was on the opposite side of that line regarding the Elton John/Eminem duet on the Grammys a few years back. I was surprised that Elton would team up with a homophobic rapper, but it was Em who suggested the pairing, so maybe he's not as hateful as he tries to seem. But I'm glad they did team up. Elton sang the haunting, Dido-penned chorus in STAN, a grim tale about a crazed fan who slits his pregnant girlfriend's throat and stuffs the corpse into his trunk. And Eminem's rap is amazing story-telling. Sick, yes. But intelligent, creative and very moving. You could even argue that STAN has a message: if you're completely living for the attention of your favorite recording artist, this may point to a possibly dangerous imbalance. Eminem knows about mental instability and has probably received some very disturbing fan mail in his time, so he was writing from experience and I prefer a real expression like this to some sugar-coated "lets-make-a-formulaic-hit" approach to song-writing. And he wasn't advocating killing your girlfriend. I guess that's where I draw the line. Cuz I would never want anyone to kill MY girlfriend. What's the point in torturing her if she's not even alive to feel it?

But my mind isn't made up and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am also a musican and writer bunny and have done my share of shock music. the only difference is, people didn't listen to me! ha! you can say whatever you want to express yourself, but when it extends to KILLING other people, i do draw that line (which i'm sure you'll quickly snort!)

i can't wait for the KKK and George Bush to put their albums out so that people can say their messages of hate are excusable because there's a good beat behind it. i wonder if they'll do some collaborations?

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Songs that defy social mores and songs that advocate violence, ideally, should not fall under the same protection of freedom of speech, especially since the latter are often targeted to a "young, impressionable audience".

However, above all else, I refuse to settle for using the tail to wag the dog, which is why I put 'young, impressionable audience' in quotes; people act like these little kids (and some of them not-so-little) just sprung up out the ground and exist independantly. They have PARENTS. Those parents have a responsibility to not just give their kids money to buy junk food, and plop them in front of a tv for 18 years; they need to provide kids with mental tools to distinguish entertainment from crucial life lessons and/or discourage them from equating mass media with education (and not just trust the schools to do it).

All we hear all the time is "music is raising kids to be this" and "television is raising kids to be that" and not enough of parents raising their kids to be productive, resposible adults. I'm not saying it's an easy street for parents, but then again, it never was; anything or anyone worth loving is worth fighting for (and the fight doesn't necessarily need to be a violent one either, i.e., to engage in a 'war' against illiteracy).

But neither can we let entertainment entirely off the hook. Entertainment, at it's best, should be a happy medium. On onehand, I myself don't care for it to become as safe as a kindergarden sandbox; however, it also need not become quicksand, in which all common sense and morality sinks below recognition. However, it should always (hopefully) be art (despite it being saturated [and somewhat castrated] these days by commercialism). I think it's fine when an artist uses their art for political expression/debate, but hatemongering and propaganda is neither artful or appropriate (or has the open-mindedness) for debate/acceptance.

Anywayz, that's my take on it honey bunny. Love you, love your blog (and your music is a pleasant surprise---mistress of many talents, failure at none!). I've indoctrinated several people on the 'redneck' post of yours (especially that twinkie/Suzy Q/cupcake wedding cake pic!-ha ha).


6:18 PM  
Blogger Lady Bunny said...

I still can't make my mind up on this. It seems hypocritical for me to say "I'm against censorship" until I hear something which I want to be censored.

And corypolo--glad you like the tunes and some new ones on the way! --B

2:01 AM  
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9:32 PM  
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9:32 PM  

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