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Impact Of Music

Fifteen people died on April 20th 1999. Two misunderstood teens went to school and killed 12 people and then themselves(Manson). On October 6th, 1998 a man was beaten, robbed and left tied to a fence. He died 6 days later(Boston). Both of these cases are a focus for something that no one would ever think could cause such harm. Music. Both of these have a focus of music and the negative impact that it has on the youth.

Music is a way to express your self, an outlet for emotions and personal issues. It is also a place to force ideas and opinions on a mass of thousands. People can relate to it on many different levels. But who should be responsible for the actions it provokes? Should the artist or the parents? What can we as average citizens do?
Some say that music should be rated and in some cases banned. One such person would be Tipper Gore. Back in 1985 she was listening to her daughters Prince album Purple Rain. The album contained a song  Darling Nikki about a woman who was masturbating with a magazine. The song continued with a sexual tone. She felt this was not proper for her, or any other child to listen to. She and other concerned parents founded the PMRC  Parent Music Resource Center.

They wanted a standard rating system for all albums to alert parents of the content. Such ratings as V for violence and X for sex related (Holland). Many musicians fought against the PMRC. Artists like Dee Snider (of Twisted Sister) and John Denver fought for the case of artists free speech. The result was not a standard set of ratings but one black and white sticker with the words, Parental Advisory Explicit Content. This was to be on all albums containing content not suitable for minors. The record companies would decide which album was to be stickered.
Fifteen years later we are still arguing over free speech and what should be available to children and teens. The youth of America have many different forms of music to choose from. A large portion of youths listen to rap or alternative music and most has an advisory sticker on them. But is this sticker doing anything? Youth are still being influenced by the themes and not so much the words that are being said. Many feel that the music has a great influence on youth. Most teenagers spend a lot of time listening to music. Studies have also found that music affects behavior.

Was this what happened at the Columbine High School? Did the two boys listen to something and it told them to go and shoot someone? Maybe not directly but in some ways music has affected everything around them. It was said that at the time Marilyn Manson was a major cause of the problems. The boys dressed like him and listened to his dark music. Such music has a hate base to it, often telling of revenge and killing. He says in one song how he will make everyone pay(Jipping). This has a parallel with what the two boys were feeling, always being picked on by the other students. So the two do have some connection. Not saying that if Manson hadnt wrote what he wrote then the killings wouldnt have happened. In fact the two boys didnt even like Mansons music. This still does not excuse Manson for writing these lyrics. In his words he asks the question of whose fault it is.  Throw a rock and youll hit someone whos guilty,  he said in a response to the killings in Rolling Stone Magazine. He also states We live in a free country, but with that freedom, there is a burden of personal responsibility.(Manson) Where is his responsibility when it comes to hate music?

Music has been found to directly relate to people and their behavior. Those who listen to negative themed music are more apt to behave in antisocial attitudes.
Matthew Shepard died a horrible death that fall day. We know who killed him and we know why, it was a hate crime. Ignorance killed Matthew; did music play a part here? Fast-forward a couple of years to now. Anti-gay and hate filled lyrics is the number one seller in America, Eminems The Marshal Mathers Lp. has been at the top of the charts for 8 weeks. Saturated with offensive lyrics against gays and women, he portrays images to listeners. You faggots keep egging me on/Till I have you at knifepoint/Then you beg me to stop. He also states in one song Hate fags? The answers yes. He goes on to say Relax, guy, I like gay men. He may like them but he doesnt speak it thru his music. The GLAAD-Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, group says that this is the worst case of offensive lyrics the group has ever seen.

While hate crimes against gay people are on the rise, these epithets create even more bias and intolerance toward an entire community. The real danger comes from the artists fan base of easily influenced adolescents, who emulate Eminems dress, mannerisms, words and beliefs(DeCurtis).

Gay youth are four times as much to be victims of hate crimes then straight youth. Eminems remarks are fuel for Americas hate fire. Someone that the youth looks up to and wants to be like, saying such remarks must make it ok? Right? Dr. Joyce Hunter from the Columbia University Medical Center had this to say  Those kind of lyrics incite violence. She also included that  People say they can sing these lyrics and it doesnt mean a thing. It means something(DeCurtis).

Eminem doesnt believe that his lyrics are harmful. He believes that the youth that listen to his music know its a joke.  Has anybody went out and bashed a gay person when they listened to my record? Has there been a case? He replied to a reporter when asked about his lyrics. He goes on to say that faggot is a term everyone uses and it doesnt mean gay. But when asked if he would say nigger, he replied;  That word is not in my vocabularythose are two completely different thingsand I do black music. So out of respect, why would I put that word in my vocabulary?(Eminem) Exactly Mr. Matthers, so out of respect for human beings why use the word faggot? Or is it because you sell in an urban-based market that you wont say nigger because you would piss off the very people a) producing you and b) buying your album? Thus making you a no one with no career.

Doing this essay I realized I dont have a clear-cut opinion on censorship. I believe that you should have freedom to say what you want, but like Manson said, you need to take responsibility. Not only for yourself but others. These artists have to be true to themselves and the fans but also need to realize that they are admired and are emulated. Parents of youth should monitor the music that their children listen to and take a more active approach in watching that inappropriate material doesnt get in the wrong hands. Also talking about issues that they are listening to, so that kids better understand exactly what is being said. Parents should also try to get better role models for younger children and not false idols that will influence them. Showing the distinction between right and wrong. Stores need to take the advisory more seriously and not sell to minors without a parent present. When the parent inquires about an album, be honest and tell what and why it has an advisory.

We need to make people aware that while the music doesnt directly kill people, it does have an effect on every day life. As a graphic artist, I would start a media ad for helping people better understand the effects of music. It would be hard because while I am for free speech, I cannot side with Eminems views. His music is based at a certain group with one message attached. Hate. So for this side I would design an ad for self-thinking. I would convey the message that, hey, he is just one guy with his view. Dont make it yours and think things for yourself. Be a leader not a follower. This kind of print, like in Billboard and other music/lifestyle magazines would give a reader something to think about, depending if they read it. Also included could be billboards and media such as radio and television. Even the use of celebrities may make a better impact.

This would also work for the anti-censorship side. Be a leader and support free expression. It is important not to restrict someone for his or her thoughts, as long as no harm comes from it. The only difference between the two would be the issues that go along with it.
One solution would be to eradicate hate from the entire world. That would throw off the balance of life, but hey, its my wish. This would leave us with a pureness in our hearts. We would love another an.. yuck. Nevermind. Ok so maybe getting rid of hate would be good, just the feeling of hate.
I think Marilyn Manson should become president. That would be cool. He would open up peoples minds and the world might not be so *censored*ed up and morally straight. Now thats what the world needs.
Works Cited
Boston, Matt. Matthew Shepard International. 30 July 2000. http://homepages.go.com/mattboston/index.html
DeCurtis, Anthony. Eminems Hate Rhymes. Rolling Stone 846. 3 Aug. 2000: 17+.
Eminem Responds. Rolling Stone 846. 3 Aug 2000: 18.
Holland, Bill. PMRC Steps Up To Ring Again For Lyrics Fray. Billboard 107. 17 Jun. 1995:10.
Jipping, Thomas L. Diagnosing the Cultural Virus. World & I 14. 7 Jul. 1999:80+.
Manson, Marilyn. Columbine. Whose Fault Is It? Rolling Stone 815. 24 Jun. 1999:23+.

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