A couple days have passed since I came home and pounded on the keys to release the frustration I was feeling about the plight of a segment of today's youth. The rage has gone, but now, a honest and genuine sadness lingers.
I've gotten a couple comments on the piece courtesy of my fellow Bugs Patrick Smith and David Chalk and I feel the need to maybe elaborate a little further on the actual core of this issue that troubles me, since their comments lead me to believe that I am being somewhat misunderstood.
This is not a case of me nearing 30 and falling out of touch with Pop Culture. For starters, I still look like I'm 25, 21 when I shave the sad excuse of a beard that I grow over a two week period of not shaving. More importantly, there are aspects of Pop Culture that I am still insanely fond of and ridiculously in touch with. These are not the ramblings of a guy who doesn't understand why kids these days don't know Grand Funk Railroad...
Here is my problem, hopefully, more eloquently than before:
There doesn't seem to be the prevelance of people - parents, family & friends, educators, the artists and media themselves - that make sure that the people who are taking in all the media that is available these days are getting the right message. By no means do I think that Biggie, Scarface and Pulp Fiction should be collected and burned in the center of the town. What I do think is that someone needs to be on the other end, explaining the negative consequences of the actions and lifestyles displayed and discussed in these works.
I have to disagree with Patrick Smith, in that I don't see the people putting out today's bullshit hip hop getting marginalized. They are cashing in. Artists drop one hot song and style like they've been doin' this for years. Then they disappear of the face of the Earth but the message that you can get rich quick by (fill in generic pre-hip hop career) is all that is left for the unintelligent masses.
In his comment, David Chalk expanded on what 2Pac's THUG LIFE tattoo across his abdomen stood for: The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone. While the message is noble, it is also one that is not readily available to those who do not seek out the meaning and instead is construed as and plead of allegence to the streets and advocacy of the hustler lifestyle, and therein lies the problem.
While I strongly agree with Chalk that it is more about opening minds, I also think what "na" says is accurate as well - some form of censoring isn't a bad thing. He and I sound like we came from similar upbringings and I'd like to think I turned out alright. Hip Hop still permiated my soul, but I also was conscious enough and educated enough to see the shiny beats and empty lyrics as that while taking in message laden albums like Things Fall Apart.
A friend of mine back home is a teacher and has expressed similar sentiments to me. She did it on Facebook of course because adding to the discussions here appears to be a totally foreign concept for some. Anyway, she sees the numbers growing within her school and her classrooms and agrees that it is a troubling trend.
There is far more media for these kids to take in today and the weight of the content has ramped up exponentially over the last ten years:
- 2 Live Crew was censored for singing Me So Horny, but now we have 4000 G-Unit songs about selling drugs and violent crime. Sure artists and labels are forced to put out Radio Friendly versions sans cussing, but the message that is relayed is far worse than hearing someone say fuck.
- I used to shoot little cartoonish bad guys or an attacking alien race on my Atari. Go grab Manhunt 2 for your system of choice and try to tell me their isn't anything disturbing about the violence and imagery in that game
- And don't get me started on the bullshit ideals and ideas that shows like The Hills and Laguana Beach and the tabloid rags spread to young girls.
I'm not saying that we need to revert back to the days of Little House on the Prairie and Road to Avonlea, but since everything else is being excelerated, so too should the education that we're providing for these kids about what they are seeing, hearing, watching and doing. And that education doesn't come only from a classroom.
You know what else could really help? Sitting all these kids down to watch the Dave Chappelle sketch of "When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong"...