Tuesday, 24 July 2007

The dark side of rap

When I get the chance to put some thoughts together, I'll try to explain why I'm more troubled lately about the Church's failure to concentrate on the specifics of what is needful to address the problems of human society. Meanwhile, from the City Journal comes this hard-hitting article:

[...] rap’s language: the “hos” Imus mentioned, along with the “bitches” and the “niggas,” are also outward expressions of a destructive and self-destructive worldview. Christopher Hitchens thinks that African-Americans use “nigga” the way suffragettes adopted their detractors’ dismissive name for them as a way of disarming its hurtful power. Perhaps. But I read it as a kind of provocation and reproach: a contradictory combination of WE can use this word, but we dare whites to try, and Whites think they are doing us a big favor by not calling us this, but see how little their puny gesture means to us. Trouble is, rap music has won many white fans, too, some of whom think it’s funny to use the word “nigga.”

But calling women “bitches” and “hos” (dialect for “whores”)—and rap has almost no other word for woman—is an even more destructive development. Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson explains black Americans’ low marriage rate and high illegitimacy rate by saying that too many unskilled black men are “unmarriageable,” since the disappearance of well-paid manual labor has deprived them of the means to support wives. He’s right that they are unmarriageable, but the reason is not economic but cultural: they are unmarriageable because they have odious attitudes, and therefore odious behavior, toward women, which rap expresses ad nauseam.

Popular music has had risqué lyrics at least since the Victorians sang about “the most immoral lady” who “lay between the lily-white sheets with nothing on at all.” Some lyrics are sophisticated, like “Birds do it, bees do it, / Even educated fleas do it.” Some are wittily raunchy, like Bessie Smith singing in 1931:

I wished I had some good man, to tell my troubles to;
Seem like the whole world’s wrong, since my man’s been gone.
I need a little sugar in my bowl,
I need a little hot dog on my roll,
I can stand a bit of lovin’, oh so bad. . . .

And certainly the straitlaced have long claimed that lyrics like “Why don’t we do it in the road” will subvert the whole framework of society.

But in rap you’ll find no witty double entendres, no playful seductiveness, no risqué flirting. It is hard-core porn—and please be warned that the bad language so far is as nothing compared with what follows. I apologize, but I have to show you the coarseness of the language to convey the coarseness of feeling that is so troubling. Read more (extreme caution)

No comments:

Post a Comment