The Controversy Concerning Musical Lyrics

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16 April 1999In todays society, adolescents are feeling theincreasing controversial tension within the aspect ofmusical lyrics. Whether we ponder the ethical framework ofgansta rap or metal music each instill a viewpoint thathave advocates against this freedom of expression at witsend. As a result, a tug-of-war as to whos right andwhos not continues to be a quagmire in the sea ofsociety. In a country bent upon political correctness it isanybodys guess as to the right one has to their freedom of speech. So whos right?Presently, the answer is blockaded by a barrage ofprotests and arguments, and therefore one must establishtheir own mindset towards this controversy. In order toassist in this process, an overview of both sides of theargument must be examined. In addition, I plan to supply myown opinion on the subject. Lastly, I will apply thereligious point of view so that one might be able to shapetheir opinions from a moral stand point as opposed to apolitical one.

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2All over the world, youths are listening to musicalgroups such as 2 Live Crew, Nine Inch Nails, and SnoopDoggy Dogg. The fact is that parents and numerouspoliticians are speaking out against the lyrical content oftheir work. They consistently refer to their artistry as gross, violent, offensive, and misogynistic…(p.1028 TheCQ Researcher). All in all, they believe that todaysadolescents are being corrupted. Basically, young minds arebeing manipulated to think in a way that completelycontradicts what many see as morally right. Furthermore,anti-gantsta rap and metal music advocates intently stand byand concentrate on how easily adolescent minds areinfluenced. So, in the minds of individuals like U.S. Newsand World Report columnist John Leo, the first amendmentconcerns about controlling offensive lyrics areoutweighed…(p.28 Bender & Leone). Freedom of speech mustbe pushed aside in this instance, so that we might ensure ahealthy development for generations to come.

As the battle continues, gansta rap and metal musicopposition consistently cites examples of the negligence andabuses in this aspect of the music industry. To begin with, there is a tremendous outpouring of rage directed towardsthe frequent degradation of women. Many are forced to askthe question, Why should our daughters have to grow up in a culture in which musical advice on the domination and abuseof women is accepted as entertainment(p.28 Bender & Leone)? 3As a result, rap opposition has targeted specificgroups for this injustice. One in particular is rap group 2Live Crew. They have sold hundreds of thousands of recordswhich contain lyrics condoning sexual injustices againstwomen. For instance, there are songs which involve suchacts as forcing anal sex on a girl then forcing her to lickthe excrement(p.28 Bender & Leone). Despite the vulgarityof such examples, rap opposition believe that such extremesmust be taken to prove the damage lyrics of this caliber areinflicting. In turn, rap opposition deeply consider theirrequest for the censoring of obscene music as justified.

One might possibly ask what the opposition is doingbesides complaining about controversial lyrics. It turnsout that citizens such as Delores C. Tucker and William J.

Bennett are taking matters into their own hands. Tucker, aliberal Democrat and head of the National Political Congressof Black Women, and Bennett, a conservative Republican andformer Education Secretary, joined forces to attack the rapand metal industry. They spared all aggravation and headedstraight for the top. Tucker and Bennett comprised anattack against one of the leading distributors, Time Warner. Numerous meetings, and a vast amount of press coveragefinally convinced Time Warner to dissolve their relationswith such successful rap acts as Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. In addition, the metal group Nine Inch Nails was also releasedfrom the company. As far as the anti-rap and metal 4advocates were concerned, this was a significant victory toput under their belt. They were on their way to alteringsociety in the ways for which they saw as morally correct.

With a slight understanding of the opposition movement,the stage is set for the presentation of the mindsetsurrounding pro rap and metal affiliates. After all, theirideals have seemed to maintain their position in themainstream. The music produced by this industry is in high demand, and presently, it doesnt seemlike this trend will die off. All this in mind, we will nowexamine the ideals revolving around the rap and metalindustry and its consumers.

Since the formation of the Constitution, Americancitizens have been seeking refuge behind its words. In thecase of musical lyrics, the record industry couples themwith freedom of speech. As stated in the constitution, itis an Americans right to say what he/she may feel. If thisprivilege were eliminated, we would find ourselves in anextremely censored society. Individuals would be unable toknow the whole truth, and would therefore be in the dark onmany issues that directly affect them. In the eyes ofChicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page, censorship ofmusical lyrics would lead to somewhat of a domino effect;Today Hustler, tomorrow Playboy. Today Mapplethorpe, tomorrow Time magazine. Today flag burning, tomorrow anessay that advocates flag burning(p.33 Bender & Leone). 5All in all, Page and people much like him, in views,believe that if we dont abide by the Constitution once, itwill, in effect, open the door to numerous abuses.

The record industry also defends itself through theusage of one mans worst enemies, the past. Theycontinuously argue the fact that before there was ganstarap, there were gangsters…(p.8 Billboard). In actualitythis statement is completely true. The fact is that theopposition realizes that gangsters and crime have beenaround since the beginning of time, but they believe thisform of musical expression serves as a catalyst. Thisbasically means that rap and metal music contribute to theproblem. As a reaction, the record industry believes thatcrime will exist for as long as there is man. Furthermore,they believe it will not matter if music is censored or not. The existence of crime will always be present and thereforea nuisance to the environment for which we live in.

The record industry also plays the defensive byexpressing that they believe lyrics of such a filthy natureare intentional. They strongly feel that lyrics of thisnature give society a look into a world for which one should veer awayfrom; a world of death, a world of criminality, and a worldof corruption. The lyrics that one would find on these records are derived from an individual who experienced whatwe shouldnt. He is therefore, expressing his experiences 6by a means for which he finds suitable. As a result,musicians believe that there is some kind of bias goingtowards what they believe is art.

At this point in time, the tragedy at Columbine HighSchool ties in perfectly with the flow of this argument. Asfar as we know, two students walked into their public schooland proceeded to pummel down classmates in a flurry ofgunshots. Fifteen students were killed and numerous injured. Families were broken, and dreams distinguished.

As a result, the media needed someone or something to blameas a cause for these boys to create the largest schoolmassacre to date. They found an easy target in the musicthe boys listened to. They blamed various artists,including the well known and controversial Marylyn Manson. As far as the media sees it, it couldnt completely be thefault of the two boys, but rather the influences ofdistasteful lyrics. As usual, the media has attacked therecording industry further engulfing the already powerfulfire within the controversy of anti-lyrical affiliation.

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