At the risk of entering an infinite regress here, I feel it necessary to respond to Tim Slagle's response
to my "Rap is Crap
Let me start by stating that I don't hate all rap. This is quality:
[youtube _s_7dfaPua4 nolink]
But seriously, as much as I admire Tim, rap is total garbage. I'm a member of the younger generation - I just turned 25 - and I still think it sucks.
That's an artistic critique. That's my personal opinion. But what's unchallengeable is that the rap culture, which is granted enormous deference by the higher-ups of both political parties, does tremendous harm to this country.
It's geared toward people who buy into a particular worldview - that's most of the draw. Even the upper class white kids who listen to this stuff think Snoop Dogg's drug use somehow makes him cool. I went to a Jewish high school, and the kids who listened to rap were driving Mercedes their parents bought them - but that didn't stop them from slinging their pants low, saying "fo'shizzle" a lot, and defending Tupac's honor. These are all harmless idiocies on their own, but when combined with rap culture's respect for more egregious activities, they signify a societal tolerance for violence and misogyny that is utterly inappropriate.
Tim's right that people once criticized rock and roll for "lack of melody and harmony, overemphasis on rhythm, vulgar, overly sexual lyrics." And he's right that it was called a "corrupter of youth." So what? It's difficult to argue that those who opposed rock and roll were entirely off base in their criticisms, what with the pervasive over-sexualization of the culture and massively increased drug use. And rap goes much, much further than rock has in the promotion of the degraded.
I agree with Tim that pop stars have never been a good influence on children and that "Most of them are drug addicts with dysfunctional relationships, regardless of what kinds of music they play." But let's just say that classical musicians don't have a long history of busting caps in the asses of others.
Tim's big question isn't really about rap's quality as music, but whether it's good strategy to attack it from the right. "Do we really want this stigma attached to Republicans any longer?" Tim asks. "Are we tired of being the punchline yet?"
I would ask Tim but a single question. What's more of a punchline: Republicans arguing that the rap culture is detrimental to society, or Michael Steele ridiculously arguing in favor of "hip-hop Republicanism?"
Here's Tim's own punchline: "Instead of becoming this generation's uptight pantywaists, we should be looking for common ground between rap culture and ourselves. Isn't that kind of what Big Hollywood originally set out to do: find common ground between conservatives and pop culture? Because, I think there is
a lot of common ground. After all, we both have a fascination with guns and a distrust of government. And we both get a big kick out of making politically incorrect jokes."
Let's start at the beginning of this ode to conciliation. It's fine to want to avoid being called an "uptight pantywaist" - being castigated is uncomfortable and annoying. But being labeled an "uptight pantywaist" by the media doesn't mean you're not actually helping society. Every pro-life figure has been called an "uptight pantywaist" at some point or another. Southern papers labeled Abraham Lincoln a "Yankee nutmeg dealer," and somehow he dealt with it. Insults happen. If you're doing the right thing, you deal with the slurs.
More to the point, I would argue that there is no common ground between the rap culture and us. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Tim's arguments in favor of such a common ground are based on fundamental misconceptions about political coincidence of interest. Tim says both conservatives and rappers have a fascination with guns and a distrust of government. This is true in the broadest sense. There's only one problem: conservatives are fascinated with guns so that they can defend their liberties and property from the 50 Cents of the world (multiple arrests for drug dealing; the name 50 Cent was derived from Kelvin Martin, a Brooklyn robber aka 50 Cent). Rappers are fascinated with guns so they can rob people and shoot cops and rival gang members.
Tim argues that we both have a distrust of government. Yes, that's true. We distrust government because government takes our money without cause and redistributes it, and creates insanely complex bureaucracies to encroach upon our basic freedoms. Rappers distrust government only insofar as they distrust cops, who they think are racist. You don't hear many rap songs complaining about the injustices of welfare or the lack of school choice promoted by the education system.
Tim says we both get a kick out of making politically incorrect jokes, and urges us to compare rap with South Park
. I'll leave that comparison to someone more well-versed in South Park
than I, but I'll comment on the politically incorrect jokes comparison. Tim says that "For the most part, rap lyrics are intended to be funny. And when you become incensed, you're letting on that you didn't get the joke."
Okay, I'll admit that I don't get the jokes about raping and murdering one's mother (Eminem), engaging in raunchy sex with multiple partners (too many rappers to count), and murdering cops (Ice-T). That's politically incorrect, but so is a KKK cross burning. Neither is funny, neither should be shrugged off, and neither should be excused. Not everything politically incorrect is funny, and not everything politically incorrect is equally conservative.
Here's the bottom line. I think rap is crappy art. Others may disagree. But more importantly, the rap culture is a disgusting culture. We can argue against the culture, or we can pretend there is common ground, ignore it, and watch it fester. There are other avenues of culture to infiltrate - movies, TV, rock music, fiction - but rap is not fertile ground for conservatives. We're better off salting this ground than watering it with our apathy or endorsement.