Toronto is known as a place that welcomes everybody. It’s a city that prides itself on its diversity, and respect for different cultures and speech.
Unfortunately, it’s fast becoming a place where you can’t even open your mouth — especially if you happen to sing for a living.
The latest twist in the war against music violence and artistic expression has been provided by Ontario Attorney-General Jim Flaherty, who recently proposed the federal government prevent rapper Eminem from coming to Canada to perform a show at SkyDome Oct. 26. Eminem’s lyrics were the concern because, to some, they advocated violence against women.
What Flaherty did with this suggestion, knowingly or not, is crack open a door that should stay forever shut. Just behind it lies the controversy over violence in music, and the debate about whether certain types of media negatively influence people and society.
No doubt, television and radio need controls; responsibilities should be kept in mind by every media outlet. Performers, movie directors and television executives should constantly be aware of what they are putting out and how it might impact. Even still, censorship and prohibition are the ways of an oppressor, not the ways of a country said to be liberal and democratic.
Inside this debate, the consumer stands on one side, and the anti-violence advocates on the other. The consumer has the choice to listen, look, or buy, and the advocates try to take this choice away. They view certain music and movies as the catalyst for the rage we see in society -it’s the key reason for their madness – but to that I say, there has always been violence in society.
It’s been around a lot longer than commercial music and films.
Hate, death, murder and rage have been a staple of the industry for decades. Watch the end of the movie Taxi Driver and it’s taint-ed in red and gore. Where were the calls to end the bloodshed then? No where. We all think there is more violence in the world because it’s just reported and talked about more often than in the past.
The point is, domestic vio-lence, and hate in general, if that’s what their worried about, is the product of someone’s home environment and their own personal morals and values – not the product of someone’s CD player or VCR.
If we allow others to make decisions for us, what’s next? Are we going to let other groups stop beef from entering the country because there is a potential risk of me getting heart disease? Gimmie a break.
If certain groups are concerned about the content in songs and movies, and its potential to corrupt youth, let them put out messages to parents to guard what their kids are watching or listening to. Anybody is allowed to show concern; they can give advice, but they should not have the power to make choices for other people.
In a world full of anything and everything, we’re all bound to hear things we don’t like, stuff we don’t agree with and things that sound just plain stupid. Once a certain age is reached we all have the right to decide what to give our attention to. No one should make the choice for us, and other voices should never be silenced just because you don’t like what you hear.
We should all heed the words of Voltaire when he said: “I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death your right to say it.”
– The Courier
BY JAN BURTON
In our society, where political correctness has reached nauseating levels, ridiculous censorship is to be expected. However few cases have been so rife with hypocrisy and stupidity as that directed against rapper Eminem late last month.
Attorney-General Jim Flaherty and Toronto Liberal MPP Michael Bryant led the unsuccessful charge to have the rapper barred from Ontario when he performed at SkyDome. They claim his lyrics promote violence against women.
Are Eminem’s lyrics in poor taste? Certainly. But banning one artist who is deemed offensive sets us down a slippery slope. Do we ban all TV shows and movies that “advocate” violence? Do we ban books that do the same? Or better yet, what about other music?
Judging by the cries of outrage, you’d think every rapper before Eminem has sung about pick¬ing flowers and family picnics. Songs about murder and abuse are actually nothing new to rap music or music as a whole. Country music’s Dixie Chicks sing about gleefully killing “Earl,” an abusive husband. Bob Marley’s “I shot the Sheriff’ would probably be considered a vicious anti-police song today.
Not only are violent lyrics common but they are not meant to be taken seriously. I’m no Eminem fan, but I have heard his music numerous times and don’t find myself any more inclined to commit assault or murder because of it. Anyone who actually is influenced by such music is already unstable and shouldn’t be out in public unsupervised anyway.
What’s really strange about this whole situation is that Eminem played in Toronto last July without any problems. Even stranger is that the anti-Eminem charge is being led by members of the Conservative government, the same government that has for years been slashing funding to social programs, including women’s shelters. Some have even been forced to close as a result. Are we supposed to see this sudden sensitivity as anything more than pathetic? I don’t.
Ironically such complaining follows a counterproductive pattern previously seen in the case of Howard Stern. People love controversy. It draws an audience. For Stern it translated into high ratings, for Eminem high record sales. At the recent MTV Music Awards Eminem even gave thanks to his critics for “making my record as big as it was.”
If Flaherty and Bryant want to do something about violence against women, I suggest they start with the real violence that takes place in thousands of homes across the country instead of targeting rap music. Such an approach would certainly yield better results.
– The Courier