Sunday, August 2, 2009

2. The stronghold that the mainstream media has on our culture, and our desires to be socially accepted at almost any cost

I know. It's been a long time coming. A really, really looooooooong time coming. In my first post, I said that I would do one of these everyday for a week until I had finished the 7 reasons I had cited (while acknowledging that there are more that exist) for the downward spiral that we are seeing in Generation Y and in our society as a whole. Things came up, stuff got pushed back. I apologize. Sorry. But I'm back on it now, so here we go.

The first reason was the absence of fatherhood. It ties directly into this one, because one part of the reason that we are "raised" by televisions is because parents aren't doing their jobs anymore. Many fathers aren't there in the first place, and many mothers work extra hard to provide for their children - who are left in front of the television all day. Mainstream media (TV, radio, internet, movies, etc.) directly affects us and how we think. Don't we all have people that we know who say things like "I know such and such is true, I saw it on TV!" People hear songs on the radio and think that the topics mainly discussed (money, cars, clothes, drugs, sex, and violence) are what hip-hop is all about (more on that at a later date). As the saying goes, "seeing is believing." I, for one, find it hard to believe what's on TV and what I see in actual life. Wonder why our culture is oversexed? What do they use to sell everything from records to clothes to phones to food products? Sex! Sex, sex, and more sex. It desensitizes us to the immoral and perverse. Plus, in the Black community, we see the same images of Blacks over and over again. Negative images that I believe send subliminal messages that carry sizable consequences. What do we see? We see the "hustler" (or "hustla" for the suffix protesters) that gets money by trafficking drugs to the community. This life is glamorized on all types of movies, songs (and the subsequent music videos), and television shows to the point that we have young men walking around who think they want to be this guy. The part normally left out is how the guy ends up living his life looking over his shoulder all the time, unable to trust anyone or actually enjoy the fruits of his "labor" (think Frank Lucas - his wife bought him a mink and he sat with the bigwigs to watch the Muhammad Ali fight which led to suspicions about his identity and next, his empire came crashing down and he was headed to do hard time). If not, they end up in prison for the rest of their lives. Worse yet, someone gets jealous of the money and popularity our dopeboy has received, and kills him. If either of the last two happens to anyone, that person is not living. Either you die, or you go to prison. Prison is no way to live. They sell these lies to us in such a smooth way, we've even started to believe them. Similarly, sex is promoted all over the media. Once again, they neglect to tell the whole story. Hot partner, sexy. Hot encounter, sexy. What's not sexy? How about syphillis, gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia? Worse yet, what about HIV/AIDS? Teen pregnancy is not sexy, either. It's a really hard road - especially for someone who is still a child - to travel. No stable source of income, no education, and a young mouth to feed. Even more important, a child to raise without the benefit of life experience that provides the lessons and morals that we all should pass on to our children. Did I mention that it's not sexy? Ask any unmarried woman with a child who is trying to find a date. Not a booty call, mind you, but a date. Yeah. Thought so. You don't have to take my word for any of this. Ask Bristol Palin. Yes, the daughter of Sarah Palin who once said that she thought abstinence was 'unrealistic.' Now she's an advocate, speaker, and promoter, of abstinence. Having a baby is not fun because if you actually care about the life that you brought into the world, you have to put your life on hold. Very few friends stick by you during and after the pregnancy, either. Not fun. Not sexy. What of the fact that many women seem to be looking for "bad boys" these days that life is actually beginning to resemble the movies where the thug gets the girl? Criminals are glamorized and made to look incredibly "cool." Thugs, gangstas, drunks, weed-smokers - cool. Lack of discipline - cool. Lack of self-control - cool. Lack of integrity - cool. The negative effects of such images can be seen on the 10 o'clock news every night. Conversely, the smart and wholesome characters seen on mainstream media are usually shown to be uncool, unpopular, insecure, and lonely. It should soon begin to make sense that so many of us actually shun knowledge and learning - those girls never seem to get the guy or vice versa. Or if they do, it's because they "loosened up" and got drunk that night. Or they finally hit the blunt. Or some girl finally gave 'em some and now all of a sudden, their focus is completely on their social lives and any noble goals or focus goes out of the window. What do we expect from our generation, then? As is my custom, I have rap lyrics ready to prove my point. These particular lyrics are from Lupe Fiasco, on a song called "The Instrumental" which was featured on his first album, "Food and Liquor."

"He just sits, and listens to the people in the boxes
Everything he hears, he absorbs and adopts it
Anything not coming out the box, he blocks it
See he loves the box and hopes they never stop it
Anything the box tell him to do, he does it
Anything it tell him to get, he shops and he cops it..."

The point behind the title of this song is that those who control the images and messages transmitted in the "box" have taken away the voice of he who watches it, thus leaving only his instrumental. I've heard many Brothas from the Nation of Islam say about television, "They're telling lies to your vision." Farrakhan seems to have this one right, if you ask me. If acting and movies and music are all considered "art" and life is said to imitate art, then shouldn't producers, screenwriters, creators, actors, and others in the film and television industry as well as those in the music industry be more careful as to what they are willing to show? Better yet, who said that children should be raised by the media anyway? Isn't it time for parents to stand up and at least monitor and control what their kids can see? Here's the point. I wrote in an earlier post that the current trend of rap music that we hear on our radios relies on one constant: the continued oppression, stagnancy, and complacency of the Black community (the effects of which are beginning to spillover into society as a whole). If more women knew who they are, and that they aren't "hoes," they wouldn't dance to (or worse yet, buy and support) songs and artists that refer to them as such. If more young men really knew what it takes to empower and elevate one's self (knowledge, drive, education and integrity), less of us would fall privy to the dangers and allure of street life. More of us would be too busy investing, saving, or paying our bills to "make it rain". More of us would inhabit safe and prominent neighborhoods before, not after, driving a nice car. More of us would also father our children. Nearly everything that is depicted as cool or socially acceptable on television can and will lead to death and/or destruction. Crime, sex, greed, drugs, lack of intelligence/education, etc. They all lead to the prison yard or to the graveyard. Such is the point of the entire concept on which Lupe based his second album, "The Cool." The album follows Micheal Young History, a young guy who is seduced by The Streets and misled by The Game to be a drug dealer. He ends up poppin' tags and collars and whatnot, rides a nice whip, everybody knows who he is and he has a whole lot of money and women. Eventually, on a skit, a gunman runs up behind his driver's side window and shoots him while he is in his car. On the following song, "Put You On Game," Lupe embodies The Game, a personification of the allure of the glamorized lifestyles which in actuality lead to death or imprisonment, neither of which are glamorous.
"I am the safe haven for the rebel runaway and the resistor
The trusted mis-leader,
The number one defender,
And from a throne of their bones I rule,
These fools are my fuel

So I make them Cool
Baptize them in the water out of Scarface pool,
And feed 'em from the table that held Corleone's food,
If you die, tell them that you played my game
I hope your bullet holes become mouths that say my name,
'Cause I'm the... [gunshot]"
Can you see why I'm so excited that Lupe's gearing up to put out another album? If we ever plan to stand up and take our place as a respectable generation, we have to first reject what mainstream media tells us we should seek. We have to replace the destructive images with constructive ones. Replace ignorance, violence, drugs, alcohol, and sex with intelligence, peace, drive, discipline, and determination. Smart is the new gangsta. Articulate is the new sexy. I'll tell you what isn't sexy. That guy that wants to create children and not provide for them - not sexy. That girl who doesn't know her worth and flaunts her body as if she wishes to be passed around - not sexy. That guy or girl that does not realize who he/she is, what his/her talents are and what he/she wants to spend his/her life doing with them - not cool. The guy/girl that seeks validation from everyone and everywhere else except from within and above - not cool. We have to be the antithesis to what we see on television, to what we hear on the radio, and to much of what is seen on the internet. We cannot be living examples of it. In the Bible (John 10:10 to be exact), Satan's M.O. is described. "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy," it says. It would seem that the Devil is using television to do it. Unfortunately for Jesus, people don't read anymore. Only one word describes the message of the mainstream media - propaganda. We have to dismiss and reject the propaganda and create our own stories, define ourselves, and create our own futures and destinies instead of taking our cues from those in posh corporate offices who are more concerned with ratings and profits than they are about the social effects and by-products of their programming (take notice of the word -a very fitting one). Don't be programmed. Be the resistance.


Anonymous said...

so very well written of course.i'm looking to see more genious thought from you.

Chris J the Genius said...

Why thank you very much! I'll do my best.