Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Music to (in) our ears

Maybe I'm getting old, or am just becoming more aware of what my daughter hears, but I've really started paying attention to the lyrics of songs lately as Emma and I listen to the radio in the car. It really started a few years ago with that horribly annoying song about "Superman" but not the superhero - the really gross, disgusting thing apparently young men like to do to their partners in bed. Remember that song? Soulja Boy was the artist. It was everywhere, even played at Emma's school at an outdoor PTO event. Here are the lyrics. Yeah, my daughter's elementary school was playing this for the kids.

Recently, I've seen a lot of criticism of Lady Gaga's work. I know we live in the Bible Belt, and am myself a practicing Christian, albeit a more liberal one. I'm more of the "live and let live and let's all love each other and get along" mindset than the "my way is the only way, change your way or you're going to Hell" mindset. I know many people of the second persuasion, though. A couple weeks ago someone on my Facebook friends list whom I went to school with posted a rant about her music, mainly her videos. Granted, they are out there. These aren't your standard pre-reality show MTV 3-minute bubblegum videos. Her videos tend to follow the Thriller-esque, mini-movie productions, but more avant garde. This person's complaints were that the videos were available online and his kids could find them and watch them and be exposed to a naked female body (I'm sure his daughter knows what girl parts look like) and that Lady Gaga has admitted that she likes both girls and boys. You know what? Elton John is gay, too, and no one criticizes his music. But that's another topic all together...

I have Lady Gaga's first CD, and most of the songs from the second. I love them. Emma loves them. And you know what? She can listen to them all she wants! I've listened to them, I've read the lyrics in the CD liner. Nothing is objectionable. Lady Gaga has said that some songs have different meanings, but there is no way to get that from the songs themselves. And as for the online availability? Someone apparently needs to teach his children rules for the computer and know how to check out where they visit while in Internetland. And does he really think that's the worst thing out there?? Then he really needs to get out more.

On the other hand, there is Rihanna. I like her music, too. It's catchy, it's fun to sing along with, and she's just adorable. And after the Chris Brown incident last year, the whole country is in love with her. Sunday her song "Rude Boy" came on the radio as Emma and I were going to my parents' house for Easter dinner. Here is what we heard: Come here rude boy, can you get it up? Come here rude boy, are you big enough?

Like that's subtle. I'm sure most parents really don't want to hear "What is she talking about?" and have to answer that.

My point isn't even that these songs are out there, really. Like I said, I'm pretty liberal about a lot of things. And I like Rihanna, that's not the point either. It's the perception, I guess, that gets to me. People are shocked by the performance and assume the music is just as provocative, or remember the vulnerability of last year and assume the music is innocent. It's the judgments that get to me, I guess.

Just pay a bit more attention to what is put in our kids' heads. And if you don't agree with something they listen to, talk to them about why. But PLEASE have a better reason than "I don't like the video" or "that person is homosexual." Be a bigger person than that.

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