Thursday, March 02, 2006

May I get a what, what Please

Had an interesting experience last night that causes a couple of long standing beliefs that I hold come into question.
I was at Super America getting gas and was listening to my music while I was pumping. (Not too loud, mind you, because I hate that) Nevertheless, it must have been loud enough because the person at the pump across from me asked me how I could listen to that "Ignorant Country Shit." I had to explain to him that this was actually a Snoop Doggy Dog song being covered by the Gourds (a bluegrass group) on a mix cd I was listening too. He called over a couple of friends to listen and even jotted down the artist name before we parted ways laughing. He even started bumping the Snoop Doggy Dog Version as he peeled out in his escalade.
This set of a wave of thought that is still unsettling in my mind and for that, matter may flow out here rather incoherently. The song is Gin and Juice by the Gourds and in the contrast of the song in both versions; I started to see the clarity of the message that was being delivered. I mean it is word for word the same song the only thing that is different is the lyricist and the beat.
Then I noticed that I listen to it because it sounds stupid, why do I think it sounds stupid on this version but not on Snoops?
Is it the beat?
Do I allow good beats to be Trojan horses that imprint poor messages into my brain?
On the other hand, is my thought pattern more sinister?...Do I expect less in the form of morals and standards from African Americans making it some how more acceptable to hear from Snoop?
Did I learn this?
How do I learn things not just this but everything in my life as an over context of ideas?
How do I learn how to do something? It is a relevant thought after all I am in school. I learn by studying. Just like I have learned everything in my life I learn by watching others, listening to others, doing, repetition and self exploration.
What do I watch and listen too? What is this teaching me?
Then I started to think about how many messages or images do I need to see before I think that way? How many times did I have to be told or shown how to tie my shoes before I began to do it every day without a second thought? Now do not get me wrong at first I was shaken on the idea of censorship. First, let me say that I am against censorship and all of its forms, but it started to play on my mind. While I can defend individual pieces what happeneds when all those pieces that I defend become a lifestyle of repetition. Of Instruction. When they become the only source of entertainment and stimulation that I seek?
If what I have seen, heard and done forms the basis of how I think and view the world what does that mean? Can I ever really think independently?
If it is truly my choice, why do I choice feed so much negativity into my mind?
Puzzled I brought the topic up at book club later that night kicking around much of what is above and philosophy emerged at the table almost seemingly along racial lines as the topic went to rap music and videos. With people weighing in on two sides one defending the idea of "keeping it real" portraying reality as it is with a little buffer as possible the other as an inspiration of change the so called "carrot and the stick" of showing people what is possible to aspire to. The role model philosophy if you will.
After threw the topic out the group I largely abstained from the conversation.
This topic caused me to question another long standing believe that role models are not important. I would have always thought of the question in the context of your parents should be your role model not some outside force, but what if your parents are not that great? What if I want more? It might have been easy for me to say that role models are not important because as I look back the popular culture that I was exposed to, it gave me an ideal that I could live up to even if I was not aware of it. I saw examples of educated white people who were successful all of the time I saw ideals that I can emulate. Silver Spoons, Family Ties, Different Strokes, Richie Rich, Duck Tales etc. Although I admit I largely abstain from watching TV, I still see these Ideals in the few shows that I do watch. The West Wing, Desperate Housewives, Greys Anatomy, (Also watch family guy and all American dad but rather they are the anomaly)but there is also a move in the Nielsen ratings to more realistic shows War At Home, King of Queens, Raymond etc.
Does this increased move towards keeping it real limit our dreams and create a stagnate complacency? Is popular culture creating a willing lower-class?

Sorry I don't really know where I am going here, just some thoughts playing on my mind? Anyone have any thoughts on the subjects of censorship, role models, learning to internalize what we see?

21 comments:

Megsta said...

You think too much!!!! - hehehehahaha, kidding Bri.... good post, I only hope I can be a good role model for my lil Calvin and that he doesn't find him self poisoned beyond beleif from pop culture! I must say that censorship has become a more important issue for me after having become a mother.... I listen to songs now and think "Damn why are they playing this on B96, pretty soon my son will be listening to it on his bus ride to school...WTF!" I guess I turned out okay after listening to alot of EazyE and NWA in my youth (never heard it on the radio though!) - but you do have to wonder what kind of an effect that sort of stuff really has on someone and where we as a culture should draw the line on what filters into our society... especially when the ears and minds of young ones are considered. Does this filth make us stronger and more equiped for the hellish world we face, or bring us down further into the depths of the dark and dirty? I don't know, I guess it all depends upon what kind of role models you have in your life...

Rocketstar said...

Role models, are mainly our parents and they do mold who we are.

I see it already. Sydney is only 2 and she already mimicks our behavior, watches our every word and every move. Humans learn to behave by watching others behave.

They learn how to argue (either yelling or quietly conversing) by watching others argue, they learn how to react to spiders by watching how others react to spiders.

A scary example is in how our parents OCD (obsessive compulsive behavior) are easily obtained by our offspring. They watch everything we do, good and bad.

Parents are kids role models more than popular culture. Hopefully parents are limiting popular culture's affects, but I doubt it.

Brian in Mpls said...

Really even with the average child in america watching 6 hours of TV a day?

Brian in Mpls said...

Megsta I hear you an interesting aside is to read the billboard hot 100 for each year we were growing up and see the progression toards laffy taffy being in the top 100. I understand an artists need to push boundries, but should we shock people just to hock goods? I don't know....

dawnmarie said...

Bri - I'm going to zero in on one point, because this was long and I'm ADDish.

Our parents as role models: no matter what are parents are like, they are models for us. For instance, my mother is an amazingly strong woman, and a fantastic member of society. I can only hope to be near her level of greatness someday. My "father" is a wsate of space and I'm pretty sure the only reason he was born was so that I would be. But, he's still a model for me. I'm going to do everything in my power to not be anything like him.

Megsta said...

tru tru... shock value is what they want, but the scary part is what's going to be shocking when we've heard and seen it all - maybe hopefully that's when we as a culture can start looking within ourselves and see what's really there beyond the shits and giggles we get from "Laffy Taffy" etc etc - it will be really interesting to see how the next generations view all of this... we old folks (yes us, but mostly our parents and grandparents) still seem shocked to see an hear certain things that were once thought to be taboo, but maybe putting it all out there on the line will lead the next generations to be more open and comfortable with certain aspects of life and move on to bigger and better things??? Who the hell knows really....

Brian in Mpls said...

I agree parents are role models but who do we really emulate? Study after study I have seen shows a stronger correlation to a persons peers than to their parents. Kids speak in the language of their social circle, dress in accordance with the people in there social circle and act according to the norms set by their social circle of peers. How is this circle influenced? I would say in a large part by popular culture. I am not saying that parents are not important indeed they are I am just saying that there is more to this equation than I once thought.

Say Rah! said...

my parents were pretty freakin' strict about stuff when i was growing up. like i couldn't watch PG13 movies until i was nearly 15, i couldn't buy music my parents were unfamiliar with, i couldn't watch MTV. it's sounds horrifying, but i didn't care all that much. i never felt deprived of anything. i didn't have a curfew because i really wasn't allowed to freely roam the city, it was more like, ok, where are you going? what are you doing? come home when you're done. my parents were totally engaged and i only hope i can be half as good as they were. my mom's sisters used to laugh at her for being so strict, but now that all us cousins are adults, my siblings and i are the ONLY ones that aren't first class fuck-ups. seriously.

anyway, my point is that it's ultimately the parent's responsibility to filter out the inappropriate stuff. sadly, there's more and more of it out there every day.

i'm not trying to say that strict parents 100% of the time produce great kids. nor do i know the solution for crappy parents & i'm not saying those kids are doomed to a life of hell. all i know is my life and i think it worked out pretty okay and i would like to provide the same guidance to my kids someday.

lauren said...

Okay, first of all: The Gin N Juice cover by the Gourds is AWESOME! I thought I was the only person in America who has heard it...

Secondly: My little public relations/advertising brain is jumping with glee over the prospect that you are internalizing and believing in the messages that you see around you! (Rubbing hands together and cackling)

Thirdly: Along the lines of the aside that you and Megsta started, my friend Jorge recently posted a really interesting article on hip hop and its effects on American society and stuff like that: http://thecurious1.blogspot.com, Feb. 11 posting (I don't know how to link in comment boxes cuz I'm HTML-impaired).

Finally: You do think too much.

FACE said...

Why does snoop sound right saying it and the gourds funny? Delivery. I could be wrong but I highly doubt it's because of your moral view of blacks. Did snoop gangbang? yes. Did the gourds? most likely not. The source plays a role in what is cool and whats stupid. Hurt, by n.i.n. then done by johnny cash, both performed well and with good delivery even though the sources are different. I grew up listening to weird al, reading cracked and mad magazine, all parodies. To do a tribute or parodize a song is a big difference. Enjoying both is not.

Role models. " It takes a village to raise a child". I beleive this very strongly. Falling into cencorship, which I to am against, doesn't mean you can't explain what is being heard or said. Would I let my 6 year old nephew listen to the music I make? no. Because I make it for adults not kids. Can it fall into there hands? yes. Surrounding yourself with people you trust is a good start and explaining why this is this or why it is like that. Most importantly a good role model/parent/friend allways has to take time, time is the key for understanding and awareness.

T.V. was my babysitter many a day. Wrong as it is, I just wasn't given time. Who's to blame for the views projected on screen that scew our views of soceity? Producers, writers, television stations, etc.. Well viewers do control ratings. As humans we must distinguish right from wrong. If someone puts a turd on my plate and everyone around tells me that right there is a really great turd, does that mean I have to eat it?

Now I'm not sure where i'm going, well done B! Over and never out, Face

Brian in Mpls said...

Lauren ..you should know we be getting it on up here in the land of 10,000 lakes..lol
And yes propaganda works...have you seen the new KFC commercial that do the subliminal message to combat the TiVo DVR revolution? You play them in slow motion and words appears that allow you to get free items...kind of a cool idea. You a Noam C. Fan?

Face
I think you are on to something with the parody that I hadn't thought of before. Your example of Cash and N.I.N sent it home because in that case you can the song being relative to both groups..nice connection

Say Rah.
Your story brings up an interesting contrast for me about censorship. Your parents obviously censored you but it sounds like they also taught the why and I think this is the critical component that I was searching for in this post.

How do we learn to censor material for ourselves? And still be exposed to the variety that life has to offer?

Brian in Mpls said...

Seriously I think I drink a lot to get myself out of my head...lol

I need to find a more constructive hobby...any suggestions?

theresa said...

My parents were definitely my role models growing up. Not only did I learn what to do from them, I also learned some things I didn't want to do.

They never were strict on censorship but if we got our hands on something they didn't approve of they told us why we should give it some thought. I think it was a
"put the boat into water and see if it floats or sinks" test. Sometimes the hull cracked and water got in, but they were right there to patch it up. [/lame analogy]

I think we turned out ok. Granted, for the most part we were never the rebellious type. Maybe they knew that. Parents have infinite wisdom I don't understand.

As for a constructive hobby: origami

Rachel said...

My parents and grandmother were definitely role models when my sister and I were growing up. Granted my sister was on a much shorter leash than I was, but I was generally a pretty good kid. Mom and Dad let us do what we wanted (within reason) for the most part, and I turned out pretty well. I don't know what happened to my sister (kidding-she isn't as bad as I make her sound).

Hobby suggestion: knitting.

Brian in Mpls said...

Can you see me knitting?....wait don't answer that

dawnmarie said...

Dude, if you learned to knot you could make unlimited scarves. Think of the fashion to be gained here. It's now considered to be very fashionable for young men to be knitting.

Rocketstar said...

I can see you naked knitting.

Megsta said...

Hmmm I thought you had a pretty good hobby started the other day - checking how level the streets were..... or maybe crossword puzzles would work? Good luck... and keep thinking - I really don't think it's such a bad hobby for you!

Rachel said...

*pictures Brian knitting*
*falls off chair laughing*

I think you should learn to knit.

lauren said...

Minnesotans must be cooler than I thought. Kidding!

Never heard of Noam C....what am I missing?

You could always take up yoga if knitting doesn't work out :)

Rachel said...

sudoku?