Friday, December 2, 2005

The Globe And Mail's Comment Section: Single-Handedly Keeping This Blog In Business
In the interests of getting things back to normal the next post will be about Feist, promise. But, first, in keeping with this week's theme...

Here (Google loophole) is The Globe's Margaret Wente joining the 50 Cent debate. You have to read the whole thing, but in part:

"But for black kids who grow up without family discipline, a sense of law and order, or alternative role models, gangsta rap 'has an absolutely catastrophic effect.'

"Call it the Murphy Brown mistake -- the belief by large segments of the educated overclass that underclass culture is really very cool. And it is -- for the overclass. After all, when an affluent thirtysomething white career woman has a baby out of wedlock, chances are things will be okay. When a poor black 17-year-old does the same thing, chances are things won't be okay at all...

"Mr. McWhorter argues that the attitude and style expressed in the hip-hop 'identity' keep blacks down. 'Almost all hip hop, gangsta or not, is delivered with a cocky, confrontational cadence that is fast becoming a common speech style among young black males... The problem with such speech and mannerisms is that they make potential employers wary of young black men and can impede a young black's ability to interact comfortably with co-workers and customers. The black community has gone through too much to sacrifice upward mobility to the passing kick of an adversarial hip-hop 'identity.'"

(By the way, did she actually attend the Canadian Urban Music Awards? Not to suggest that would be odd or anything, but...)

Meanwhile, over at Now, Osgoode law professor Alan Young goes with the Salem witch trial analogy:

"... using the law to go after artists and entertainers for causing anti-social behaviour is just a modern variation on the primitive theme of scapegoating. It is conceptually no different than the medieval response to famine, disease and other hardships: blame the imaginery witches. When experts cannot pinpoint the cause of a societal problem, there is an instinctual need to blame something or someone."

So far as Wente's piece, there are a couple bits that are crying out for rebuttal - Wary employers? Why not just say 'white people?' And doesn't the whole 'no snitching' thing have less to with street cred and more to do with distrust of police? But Wente probably doesn't quite deserve the knee-jerk, 'how dare you blame hip-hop' shrieking that she's probably going to get. Even if she is quoting a guy who when he first heard rap, "assumed it was a harmless craze, certain to run out of steam soon, hates Kanye and was loving Bush way before it was cool.

(It would be reasonable to say McWhorter is a big fan of personal responsibility, that great Conservative ideal.)

Having re-read bits and pieces of Wente's column a half dozen times in these early morning hours, I think I think it actually poses a reasonably fair question - that being, why is 50 Cent the dominant influence in anyone's life?

Now, if it wasn't 3:42 in the a.m., I might try and argue that 50 Cent probably isn't the dominant influence in anyone's life. That, if anything, 50 Cent might only confirm, or seem to confirm, various perceptions and realities. And that, perhaps, it's a sort of chicken-or-egg argument: did 50 Cent create the rage or did the rage create 50 Cent?

I won't pretend to know the answer to that question. I'll just cleverly touch upon all these subjects and then go to bed without attempting to explain.

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