Tuesday, March 31, 2009

music artists I don't want to Hear From Again

I've been trying to figure out for some time how I wanted to address the Chris Brown situation, but in light of something separate that happened yesterday, I couldn't resist writing about him and another artist I have no desire to hear on the radio- or ever-again.

I've had it with Chris Brown. Shortly after the Rihanna incident, I was pleased with some of the celebrities who stepped forward and stated that his behavior was unacceptable, but in true Hollywood style they all backed off from their original reactions. Judge Judy was recently on Larry King arguing that Chris Brown has an "anger management" problem. Has he ever attacked his manager? Picked a fight in a bar with another guy? Lost it with his publicist? No- but he had problems controlling his anger around a female. This is not an "anger management" problem. This is an abuse problem- and it will happen again. An anger management problem is decidedly different from beating your girlfriend to a pulp and then claiming "self-defense." (By the way, the handling of the situation was TRULY manly, Chris. Can you sense my sarcasm?) Stand up for what you really did, and that fact that it's wrong. What disgusts me about this situation is that I know there's something going on behind the scenes-someone who has encouraged them to get back together, record a duet together, and try to make things work. And perhaps some of that decision has been Rihanna's. This will not be the last time.

Let's take a little trip back to 2004. You know what this reminds me of?

Bobby Brown will have to go on trial on charges of slapping Whitney Houston, a judge ruled Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. No trial date was set, and a court clerk said it could be as long as a year before it takes place, a court clerk told AP. The singer, who was warned on Wednesday not to have ''violent contact'' with Houston, will have to turn himself in for fingerprinting in July, and submit $2,000 in bail.

Brown and Houston smiled at each other in court, and left the hearing together, according to AP. Brown's charges stem from Dec. 7, when Houston claimed that Brown ''struck the left side of her face with an open right hand,'' a police report said. Brown has denied the charges, telling Dateline NBC that if he had really hit Houston, ''It would be more than just a little cut on the lip."

Abuse, deny, justify

Can anyone tell me why it's "okay" when this happens to female public figures? Both men here are using the strategy I listed above- abuse, deny, justify. And the incidents will happen again. By letting them off the hook in the public, it is just as bad as judges not taking violence seriously. After all, apparently a "little cut on the lip" just shouldn't qualify!

In the interim, I also turn off the radio anytime I hear Chris Brown. I have deleted him from my Ipod and don't want to hear any of his new songs. There will be many people who say "one person can't make a difference", but for the short term, I just don't want to hear his music.

On to my second artist I don't want to hear from.

On Mondays you'll find me in Blacksburg Middle School volunteering with the AWARE program. We're a group of girls from VT that go in and talk to 7th grade girls about self-esteem, alcohol, drugs, self-destructive behavior, and other issues affecting young teens. Time and again we have been surprised by how young these women are facing challenges that we either never encountered or didn't see until high school. Another Miss Virginia contestant is also part of this program as well as several girls from the VT community.

Yesterday we were talking about the dangers of alcohol and we each shared a story about someone we knew who got into trouble, passed away, or took the life of someone else because of the effects of alcohol. The girls all had a story, too, and it was obvious that while many teens choose to drink, many teens are also negatively impacted by alcoholism and drunk driving.

Towards the end of our session, one of the girls asked Stephanie and I if we had heard the Asher Roth song "I love College". I'm generally a big fan of my local radio station, but I will either call the station to complain or turn off my radio when this song comes on. I have never heard a song so full of stereotypes and so unlike my college experience.

Here's an excerpt from some of the lyrics from Mr. Roth's song:

That party last night was awfully crazy I wish we taped it
I danced my a** off and had this one girl completely naked
Drink my beer and smoke my weed but my good friends is all I need

Don't even bounce, not in my house
Better hope you make it otherwise you naked
Time isn't wasted when you're getting wasted

I can't tell you what I learned from school but
I could tell you a story or two, um
Yeah, of course I learned some rules
Like don't pass out with your shoes on
(Get the Sharpie!)

And don't leave the house 'til the booze gone

In this short song I'm sure the band thinks is a funny joke, they've referenced drugs, passing out, getting wasted, making a goal to "get people naked", and the fact that they learned nothing in college. As someone who put herself through four years of a grueling liberal arts education, it frustrates me that this song makes college seem like a joke. And maybe there are some people out there who think it's funny- maybe there are some people who feel like this DOES describe their college experience, and that's unfortunate. I am sure Mr. Roth is excited that his song is being played every once in a while on the top radio stations and even requested by people.

But I wonder, did he ever consider that a 13 year old girl who has just shared that her family has a history of alcoholism and she's scared of killing someone like her uncle did would ask two college girls "Is college really like that?" with a big smile on her face? Did he ever consider that younger people who aren't interested in Hannah Montana might be tuning into the local station and hear that song and think that's what they have to look forward to? In a nation full of peer pressure, is it really fair to categorize the college experience as one you'll never remember because you were some combination of high, naked, or drunk? That wasn't my college experience and I don't think it should have to be anyone's. I love college, too, Mr. Roth, but if you ever earned a degree it makes mine a little less meaningful.

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