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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

'You like me? You just met me!'
50 Cent (and Kardinal) politely disagree with Dan McTeague

Rayner: "You wanna know the problem with 50 Cent? Forget the bullet wounds, the bling, the bitches. Forget the NRA-worthy fetishization of firearms. Forget the dubious influence on our Impressionable Youth. Forget the man's unfortunate decision to conquer Hollywood. The problem with 50 Cent is this: He's freakin' huge without being much of a rapper."

Police: Nothing to see here, please move along.

***

Cute personal anecdote: When I was 3 or 4, I used to watch a lot of Polka-dot-door. It was like my pre-school O.C., complete with the gripping saga of the Polkaroos' crippling social phobia and all. But my favourite program was also the lead-in to one of the single most terrifying experiences of any young child's life - the theme music to Dr. Who.

If vague memory serves, the opening notes were good enough to send me screaming from the living room, desperately demanding that my parents turn off the offending music (let's not waste time trying to figure out why I couldn't yet turn off the TV myself). I don't think I've heard the theme song in about 20 years. But I think I can still sort of remember what it sounded like. Or at least the paralyzing fear it initiated in my three-year-old mind. In fact, I am, just thinking about it, starting to feel sort of nervous.

Anyway. This is almost entirely irrelevant. Except that it's about the only time I can ever recall being genuinely scared by popular music. And that defies everything you have ever heard about rock n' roll. Which explains why I kind of enjoy the fact that 50 Cent is now being talked about, at least in Canada, as a genuine threat to our safety.

Rock n roll, by its basic premise, is supposed to be dangerous. Or at least scarier than Lawrence Welk. But, so long as you discount that which only the local PTA and Lynne Cheney see as undermining our moral fabric, it is almost never actually even remotely dangerous.

Consider rock's great villains of recent memory: heavy metal, punk rock, gangsta rap, Madonna... All sort of scary. If, say, you're a three-year-old stumbling upon them while trying to enjoy an afternoon of Polka-dot-door. But, otherwise? Let's be serious, punk rock might drive you to pierce something unfortunate or ignore proper grooming habits, but it probably isn't going to get you killed or even permanently injured. Madonna? Worst case scenario, her time with Dennis Rodman might have resulted in the Antichrist. But, so far as I know, disaster was averted.

There was moshing. But even then, you had to be dumb enough (sorry, "angry enough with the relative inequalities and unfairness thrust upon the emotionally burdened, suburban adolescent") to throw yourself in the middle of that nonsense. The innocent bystander trying to enjoy Spoon Man was relatively safe. At least physically.

There are the singular incidents - Altamont, the Great White fire, the Woodstock riots. But those don't generally have much to do with the music. Even, say, Woodstock. Sure, Limp Bizkit didn't help matters. But looking at the big picture, matters went much deeper than Fred Durst (Deeper than Fred Durst? Is that even possible?).

Rock star suicides? Perhaps, if you buy the notion that, say, Cobain inspired copycats. But, to be heartless, the mosh pit analogy probably works here too. You have to be in a certain place, mentally in this case, to get yourself hurt as a result. Same likely goes for the Judas Priest subliminal message stuff.

Norwegian Black Metal? Genuinely bad stuff. But less so if you live, say, anywhere other than Norway.

The East Coast-West Coast rap war? Real or manufactured, that was probably pretty dangerous. But how much so if your friends weren't taken to calling you 2pac or B.I.G. on a regular basis?

In 50's case, the explicit fear is this: If you go to his concert (or even see his movie in public), you might get shot. This is, of course, a flimsy premise built largely on circumstantial evidence. Odds are, you're not going to get even a flesh wound for your efforts. And even if you do, it probably doesn't really have anything to do with 50. Unless your last name is Rule.

But, ignoring all that, getting shot is legitimately something to fear. Or at least strongly dislike.

Of course, Dr. Who wasn't ever really going to jump out of the television and eat me. It just really seemed that way at the time. And that's probably more important. And that's why I've come to wholly endorse the 50 Cent scare-mongering.

Rock n roll needs its evil. And save for 50, who have the kids got these days to seem even remotely hazardous and troublesome? Lindsay Lohan? The lead singer of My Chemical Romance? Ed the Sock? Right now, somewhere, some poorly adjusted 13-year-old is listening to Avril Lavigne, convinced that they are pushing the boundaries of acceptable society. Do you want that for your children?

Of course not. Because the kids need their Dr. Who. Otherwise, it's all Polka-dot-door.

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