Thursday, April 12

Tweaking The "Coolest" Of Cultural Influences To Be Less Hurtful

This morning I had the opportunity to talk to a man who--bless his heart--repeatedly pushed the idea that powerful executives behind the hiring of misogynist rappers (whom misogynist non-rappers use as an excuse for putting their misogyny into identical words) are the people we need to focus on, rather than on those misogynist rappers (because that hasn't done all that much good).1

My new hero, Eric Deggans (the man on the radio show I called into) named names at the top of corporations, which I'll list here as soon as a copy of the broadcast goes online. I haven't heard Bill Cosby or Jesse Jackson name corporate names like that.

So, well, if they won't, and if the mass media won't (because, thanks to consolidation, they get their paychecks from the same bosses), let's get a grassroots effort to boot out the hurtful-mouthed musicians in favor of more airplay & album production for non-hurtful-mouthed musicians.

Readers of blogs and traditional media succeeded at it when it came to giving the Imus show the boot (though they may have failed when it came to giving Bernard McGuirk's career the boot)--do feminists and feminist allies have the will to get such an effort going against the advertisers for corporations that hire hurtful-mouthed musicians of popular genres?

(By the way, one advantage to media consolidation is that we can focus on many musical genres and many insulted non-dominant social groups at once--note that I've shifted from "misogynist rappers"2 to "hurtful-mouthed [popular] musicians"3

Oh, and if this does get momentum in the feminist community, and thus the "hurtful" thing most frequently being targeted in the letter-writing & boycotting campaign is misogyny, we do need to make sure that when we target it in non-white music, we let non-white people decide what is hurtful & what isn't.

For example, It wouldn't be fair to get black rappers who say hurtful things about white women kicked off the air because we don't want that kind of hurtful stuff said about women (a non-dominant group) in our culture's most popular/influential music. After all, they might've been saying it because white women are white (a dominant group), and who are white people to decide whether or not the insult was justified?

In the case of fighting misogyny by black rappers, it'd be important to make sure that black women feel hurt by that rapper before taking any action against his bosses and his bosses' advertisers.

I'll wait patiently to see if I can get this into a carnival--hopefully then discussion of the idea will find some momentum. Feel free to comment whenever you find this.5

1 After all, advertisers don't pay the musicians directly--they pay the corporations, and then the corporations decide who get contracts & who don't. So Bill Cosby, Jesse Jackson...nice try, but not doing as much as you could.

2 Because that's what Don Imus started with, and therefore the musical genre and the insulted non-dominant social group everyone's talking about

3 That is, insulting their own races & other races, etc. as well as women

4 After all, some rappers who get a lot of airplay & albums have been criticized for hurting a lot more groups than women.

And I don't want to imply to music executives that there's something innate about rap & hip hop that cause it to include hurtful stuff. Heaven forbid they use that as an excuse to ditch all non-white music--particularly the harshly critical stuff that nevertheless isn't hurtful to non-dominant social groups!

I do, however, think that "popular" is an important criterion for genres to target because high perceived "coolness" allows such music to influence the slang of and provide "excused" vocabulary for non-[genre]-performing parts of the population.

5 Whoops! Looks like Pam Spaulding beat me to the call, and I'm guilty of some "Somebody oughtta-ing" when, as Hugo Schwyzer puts it, "plenty of things are already being done."

Still, there's a lot of momentum among people of many classes & races right now--people ready to write more letters after feeling a "win" with MSNBC's advertisers--can we somehow tie what people are already doing to widespread letter-writing & boycotting strategies?

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