Censorship: Kids, Hip Hop, Video Game Violence
By Kylie on March 10, 2008
One of the most interesting discussions on WomenCo lately has been about media censorship. JeepGirl89 started things off:
I was just listening to The Rhyme on XM and they were having what they call a Town Hall Meeting where they talk about hip hop news and controversy. Today they brought up the subject of censorship. Artists like Immortal Technique, Talib Kweli, and Nas are being asked to clean up their act and stop referencing sex, violence, and drugs in their music.
Should hip hop artists be forced to change their lyrics to be comforting and soothing and not expose the listener to true life stories and tales of violence and drugs?
Rasika responded to this:
If hip hop is strictly considered as a form of music then I think there [should] be a restrictions on the lyrics...it should’nt sound disturbing. Things can always be written in a subtle manner to convey the same meaning effectively. Dont we get our dose of true life stories and stories of violence and hurt from the news papers and new channels…isn't that enough?
I agree with Rasika there is a limit that needs to be placed on the use of language used in music. Also, at some time or another books have been banned in parts of the US for sexual and language content. Just to name a few:
Catcher in the Rye, Everybook by Henry Miller, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, To Kill a Mockingbird, Almost every Stephen King book, Harry Potter books, Some of Shakespeare work, etc.
Only the above I can remember from the top of my head, but some are current writings and were at some point highly successful in film. Now available for reading because times have changed.
Yes, in hip hop some artist need to clean up their work. When I go to listen to music of any genre I do not want to hear a woman being called a name that is something they would not call their mother, sister or daughter. I certainly do not want my children, nieces and nephews to hear it either. Nor read it, see it on tv, play in a game, etc.
My Own Thoughts
I think this discussion runs parallel to the discussion about violence in video games which keeps coming back again and again; nobody has been able to prove any real relationship between violence in video games and violence in the real world.
However, ideals and beliefscanbe shaped by video games, just as they can be shaped by any media. This is where it really gets interesting. We can’t prove or assume that a kid playing a violent shoot-em-up is likely to perform physical violence on any kids in school – but if a child is consistently exposed to lyrics which dehumanize women, he will pick up that specific language more easily.
For me, the biggest danger isn’t actually the words themselves, but the context of how they are used. There is a real difference between a rapper saying “F* everybody who hates black people” and “I will F* you up, B**”.
And sometimes, the most dangerous ideas don’t even need swear words to be conveyed. Is anybody familiar with the band “Screwdriver”? G.G. Allen? Way, way more dangerous than these rappers.
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