Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Interpreting Popular Music

The above video aired on July 15, 2011 on the Fox News show “The O’Reilly Factor.” In conjunction with promoting her book, host Laura Ingraham gives her opinion on some lyrics from today’s popular music artists, particularly zeroing in on singer Chris Brown. In the video you see a Fox News correspondent asking Chris Brown fans how they feel about what Chris Brown did to his then girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. Whether or not you choose to forgive Chris Brown for what he did to Rihanna is your own choice. I am not going to discuss that because it’s a subject matter that can be debated from now until forever…

Hearing Laura Ingraham try to interpret and then judge Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now” lyrics is what got my attention. A middle aged White woman trying to understand where a 22-year-old Black man is coming from is not going to happen. Chris Brown is a young adult, so his perceptions and opinions will change as he grows up. Laura Ingraham is an older woman that has lived longer and experienced and seen more than Chris Brown. So she sees and has an opinion on how his lyrics can have effect on children. But she’s taking the music too literal and in many cases that cannot be done. Often times we hear songs and think we know exactly what the music artist is talking about. Then later on we see an interview with that artist and their interpretation is totally different from ours. People are different, one message or statement will have a different affect on everyone.
Laura Ingraham needs to understand the culture of music that she is talking about. Today’s music, no matter the genre, is by far more vulgar and is constantly pushing limits. In the above video the three women discuss how Chris Brown is always talking about his "haters." These women have to understand that specifically in the Hip Hop culture the music is very braggadocios. The popular thing to do is brag about cars, women, and money that you have. This is prevalent in Black music because when many of the music artists were growing up they didn’t have a lot. So when they achieve a certain level of success, it is natural to brag. And with bragging comes “haters”/jealousy. In other words it’s “More Money, More Problems.”
Chris Brown has to understand that he will forever be under a microscope. People are going to pick at every song, statement, and action he makes. He has to be conscious of that and make better decisions. Regarding “Look at Me Now,” in my opinion it’s simply are party/feel good song. I understand where Laura Ingraham is coming from. She is saying that these young popular artists are influencing today’s youth. But just as with anything else kids see and hear, their parents need to be there to teach them how to respond to it.
While growing up my parent never censored music or television shows. But they taught me the difference between right and wrong. So because I listened to certain songs and watch certain things on television did not mean I was out and about following what I heard and saw. Since we live in a country that allows free speech, the responsibly is on the parents, not the music artists. Yes they are role models, but it is not their job to raise everyone’s kids. They too have to live their lives, grow, and change to become a better people. We all do it; the only difference is Chris Brown is doing it in the public eye.
The part of the video that really bothers me is when Laura Ingraham says Chris Brown gives “African Americans a bad rap.” I did not know one person could do that for an ENTIRE group of people, that’s interesting (my sarcasm). And to make matters worse the Back women, Jehmu Greene, let Laura Ingraham slide that comment in and did not even correct her or respond to it. It’s ok that they have the same opinion about Chris Brown, but for Laura Ingraham to generalize an entire group of people based on one person’s lyrics/actions is ridiculous and unnecessary. To me that statement took the focus away from the lyrics and made it racial.
I think Laura Ingraham brought this up to promote her book. She would not have even bothered with Chris Brown or pop singer Kesha if the topic of their lyrics did not relate to her book. Chris Brown’s lyrics in "Look at Me Now" are no better or worse than rapper Lil' Wayne's. Why didn't Laura Ingraham comment on Lil' Wayne's lyrics? If her issue is with Chris Brown because of what he did to Rihanna, then she should have focused on that alone. Why bring up the song lyrics at all? His actions in 2009 are definitely unacceptable, but as an artist people have to remember that he can sing/rap about whatever he wants to.
“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” – Noam Chomsky

1 comment :

  1. Commenting on the video clip...these ladies are lost & have no clue what's going on. First off Chris & Rihanna situation is Chris & Rihanna's situation. Anyone who's been in a relationship knows it can go either way, just because you're not beat up or bruised up doesn't mean you started or instigated it and vice versa. We don't all give or receive punishment the same. And what they do has no bearing on my life or my son's life because I have instilled in my son from young to not look up to them, just enjoy the train wreck. It's entertainment :)
    Second, Chris is a 22 year old kid...pick on someone grown. Like the people approving the tracks and airing the music. I don't see what the problem is it's not like he killed his daughter and got away with it(Casey Anthony). Why don't they focus on real issues like that one...why young white women get away with MURDER but young black men go to jail for dog fighting or suspicion of ANYTHING. Explain that !