September 23, 2007

Congress Joins the Afrosphere in Battle Against Degrading Images

Villagers, have you heard about the strong case that Black bloggers made against BET programming and Gangsta Crap music? The main targets are Black Entertainment Television (BET), who they call ‘Black Exploitation Television’, and gangsta rappers such as 50cent, Snoop Dog, The Game, and Cam’ron. These artists produce music bloggers brand ‘gangsta crap’.

Gangsta rap regularly glorifies sexism, the n-word, profanities, violence, drug use and dealing, sexism, and the dehumanization of Black men and women. Gangsta rap videos and stereotype-filled shows are the programming staples of BET. "BET and hip hop have gone down hill. They were once inspirations. Now they purvey some of the most harmful anti-Black sentiments you will ever see or hear, and this has become a representation of mainstream Black culture," says Bronze Trinity of the Afrosphere Bloggers Association (ABA).

Congress plans to follow the lead of Black bloggers with a subcommittee hearing on the media "stereotypes and degradation" of Black woman. The hearing is entitled: From Imus to Industry: The Business of Stereotypes and Degrading Images.

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, said "I want to engage not just the music industry but the entertainment industry at large to be part of a solution ... I want to talk to executives at these conglomerates who've never taken a public position on what they produce."

The hearing will be broadcast via the Committee website.

Witnesses include Philippe Dauman of Viacom, Doug Morris of Universal Music Group and Edgar Bronfman Jr. of Warner Music Group. Witnesses will discuss the impact of racist and sexist language and images transmitted via interstate commerce and telecommunications modes, the perpetuation of damaging stereotypes, and how best to protect consumers from the increasingly coarse and vulgar language and images that have the effect of undermining important moral values in our society. This hearing will explore these issues in the context of commercial hip hop music and video games, and their impact on popular culture and young people.

Click here for full list of witnesses.

Rush stressed that this is "not an anti-artist hearing, or antimusic or anti-youth hearing." He said he's hoping for voluntary -- not regulatory -- solutions. "I respect the First Amendment, but rights without responsibility is anarchy, and that's much of what we have now. It's time for responsible people to stand up and accept responsibility."

Well, villagers, what are your thoughts on these issues?


Anonymous said...

Don't stop at hip hop music, but look at the entertainment industry as a whole. Not every hip hop artist is rapping about shooting and killing people...

Believer said...

"...rights without responsibility..."

How the world needs to get a handle on that!

Unknown said...

Enigmatik - First, welcome to the Electronic Village. I hope you find reason to visit often. Second, I agree with you. Not all hip hoppers are the problem. Only a few. We hope that rappers such as Common continue to get more love and radio play over the coming weeks and months. I don't have a problem with the x-rated lyrics and x-rated videos that many rappers rely on for profits ... if they were targeted to adults. Unfortunately, the marketing is geared to minors most of the time.

Rosemarie - Amen!

Foofa said...

I feel that what was originally called gangsta rap that I grew up with doesn't even exist anymore. A new label is needed for the style of rap that people seem to be coming down on. Yes NWA, Ice-T, Public Eemy, etc. were called gangsta rap and it was a fitting title but the music that is being put out now is nothing remotely like what that was. They had something to say.

I happen to like 50cent, snoop, and many other artists who are being attacked and labeled as bad for society. They are entertainers. They are here to entertain. Their music makes me want to get up and dance and that is what music should do. The problem is when people think they are what Black America is all about.

Personally I feel that congress taking on the rap industry is incredibly dangerous and that we are mere inches away from stripping people of their right to both create and listen to what they enjoy. If you don't want your kids listening to it then don't let them. It isn't the place of the government.

Unknown said...

Natalie - Your insights are appreciated. It would be could if our entertainers would show self-restraint and censor themselves. Anyhow, it is interesting that congress took the issue up this week.

James Seay said...

Great post! The bloggers have every right to protest B.E.T. These bloggers, however, fail to realize that the artists enjoy the same liberty that bloggers do, the freedom of speech. We must respect their right to be heard!

By the same token, bloggers are pushing the same envelope. We can/will blog about just about anything. Why shouldn't these rappers do the same?

We should respect and appreciate all African Americans that are successful. The village can't be divided because of our differences in the "American Dream"

Thanks again for the update (-: