Recently we have been hearing a lot about the need for censorship of television and recording industries. Whether it is the cartoon Beavis and Butthead, the controversial television drama NYPD Blue or rap recording artists, someone always s eems to arguing about their negative effects on society and the need for government regulation. Being a fan of rap, I am particularly interested in issues effecting regulation of the recording industry and rap artists.
Popular “gangsta rappers” include Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dog, Tupac Shakur, Ice Cube, and Ice Tea. Many are outraged at the explicit lyrics of the songs and the lifestyles of these artists. Snoop Doggy Dog and Tupac Shakur are two of the most publicized “gansta rappers” whose songs contain explicit lyrics and who have been indicted for criminal activities.
Snoop Doggy dog is a native of Long Beach, California. His mother named him Snoopy because of his long face and droopy ears. Growing up, Snoop was a member of the Golgotha Trinity Baptist youth choir and an excellent basketball player. However , shortly after his graduation from high school, he landed in jail for possession of cocaine.
Recently Snoop was arrested for murder. On August twenty- fifth Snoop was driving his late model Jeep in Palms, California. He met up with Philip Woldemar iam, who according to Snoop’s attorney, had a long history of threatening Snoop. Snoop’s bodyguard shot Woldermariam twice in the back, killing him.
On December eighth, Snoop was arraigned for murder, but later found innocent. Many of the lyrics i n Snoop’s songs degrade women, encourage the use of marijuana and glorify violence against authority. Another publicized case involves rapper Tupac Shakur. Many know him for his starring role in the movie “Poetic Justice” with Janet Jackson.
Tupac Shakur’s song “Keep Ya Head Up” contains such lyrics as “I wonder why we take from our women Why we rape our women Do we hate our women? I think it’s time we care for our women Time to heal our women.” Despite the lyrics encouraging men to respect women, Shakur was recently arrested for sexually abusing a woman in a midtown hotel. This arrest came two weeks after Shakur was arrested for allegedly shooting two off duty police officers after a traff ic dispute in Atlanta. Proponents of rap feel that all rappers are protected under the first amendment.
They also feel that rap is a cultural art form, reflecting ghetto life and that criticism of rap is another form of racism. One of the men who has been influential in speaking out against “gangsta rap”, its explicit lyrics and unworthy role models is the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Jackson states,” Anyone, white or black, who makes money calling our women bitches and our people niggers will have to face the wrath of our indignation.” The Reverend Calvin Butts, the minister of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, has also mounted a crusade against explicit music.
Last summer he held a rally at which he ran over offending tapes and CDs with a steamrolle r. The vice- president of the United States wife, Tipper Gore, has launched her own crusade. In her book, Raising PG Kids in an X-rated Society , she takes the music industry to task for glamorizing sex and violence in material targeted to kids. She has encouraged record companies to label all albums and tapes that have sexually explicit lyrics.
Also, radio stations such a KACE-FM in Los Angeles are adopting policies to ban all songs that degrade women or promote drugs and violence. To determine the views of students here on the need for censorship of the recording industry, I conducted a survey which posed the following questions: 1. Do you listen to Rap music? Seventy percent of the respondents indicated that they listened to Rap music on a regular basis. 2.
Do you own any Rap CDs or tapes with explicit lyrics? Forty percent of those surveyed indicated that thy did. 3. Do you think Rap lyrics are a bad influence on society? Seventy-five percent believed that the lyrics had a negative influence on society. 4.
Do you think that the government should censor Rap recordings? Only five percent of the respondents believed it was the government’s responsibity to censor Rap. One thing is clear and that is that there are strong opinions on both sides of the issue. In my opinion, the worst solution would be to allow the government to legislate what can be written, what TV shows can be aired and what music can be produced. I believe the consumers and producers should be charged with the ultimate responsibility of censorship.
Consumers are free to boycott literature, records and programs that they deem unacceptable and producers will be quick to respond when profits are diminished.