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Commentary and opinion on current civic, political, and religious events and issues.

Past Issue
12 February 2001

Northern City Journal
(ISSN 1528-9575)
Vol. 2, No. 7

Minneapolis, Minnesota

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When Evil Is Celebrated and Encouraged

The lyrics of some musicians are unremittingly crass and astonishingly evil, yet they are nominated for awards and recognized as leaders. The consequences of such topsy-turvy standards are horrific.

by Jerome F. Winzig

Not so long ago, no radio or television station anywhere on the planet would have aired the lyrics now used casually by "musicians" like Dr. Dre, Eminem, and Guns N'Roses. Nor would any publication except the most trashy have published the words they use. Under today's topsy-turvy standards, however, Dr. Dre has five Grammy nominations and Eminem has four (including album of the year!) for the upcoming February 21 awards ceremony.

By any standard except that of today's entertainment industry, the words and ideas of these performers are horrific, revolting, and unbelievably sick. The titles of some of their songs cannot be printed in a daily newspaper, yet they sell millions of CDs, their shameless slime is promoted by MTV, VH1, and BET, and they receive the music industry's most prestigious awards.

The content of these lyrics is often ignored, or excused as youthful rebellion. Hip-hop star Missy Elliot brushes off concern about Eminem's lyrics, suggesting he is "just making a song funny." Perhaps that explains the almost complete lack of outrage when Eminem receives four Grammy nominations while writing songs with titles that are embarrassing to spell out even with asterisks, titles like "Just Don't Give A F**k" and "Still Don't Give a F**k." Perhaps it also explains Dr. Dre's fame and five Grammy nominations while writing songs with titles like "F**k Wit Dre Day," "S**tting on the World,", "Lyrical Gangbang," "Pause 4 Porno," and "Ho's a Housewife."

However, ignoring these lyrics is risky business. While the titles of the songs of these so-called "artists" may be shocking, their lyrics are unremittingly crass and astonishingly evil. In Eminem's song, "Just the Two of Us," he tells his young child to ignore his mother's slit throat and the stench of her dead body in the truck of the car while they go to the beach. In "As the World Turns," he calls women "bitches," drags them by their hair, rapes them, throws them off of high diving boards, slashes them, and shoots them -- all described in the foulest language.

Dr. Dre's song are equally ugly. His song, "Bitches Ain't S**t," seems to be an entry in a contest so see how many obscene words can be packed into a single piece of music. In "F**k Wit Dr. Dre," he refers to women as "dogs" and "little ho" while cursing constantly.

Rappers are not the only entertainers whose sick music has somehow become culturally acceptable. The lyrics to Def Leppard's "From the Inside" are dismal: "I'll mess up your life, I'll beat up your wife, I'll lose all your friends, And I'll win in the end." In "Perfect Crime," Guns N'Roses is fond of using the word "f**k" and "motherf**ker" repeatedly, and in "Back Off Bitch," they repeat the phrase, "down in the gutter, dyin' in the ditch." Marilyn Manson's album, sacrilegiously titled "Antichrist Superstar," shares thoughts like "dinner whore," cutting off "all your fingers," and "if I can't have you then no one will."

All of these lyrics are freely available to children at thousands of Internet sites. Search for "Eminem" on Excite and you'll find 23,000 sites. Search for "Marilyn Manson" on Yahoo! and you'll find 69 sites, three Yahoo categories, photo sites, and 267 Yahoo clubs. Search for "Dr. Dre" on MSN and you'll find 60 sites.

Clearly, there has been an enormous sea change over the last 30 or 40 years in terms of what is acceptable in our culture. Musicians write lyrics that should make us throw up in disgust, and their personal lives are often as messed up as their lyrics. But they are no longer regarded as disreputable villains or outcasts.

Instead, they are nominated for multiple awards. The entertainment industry promotes their trash and music stores everywhere sell it, especially to young people. Cable television networks air their so-called music and then augment it with their own trash programs, until the highlights of late-night television are semi-pornographic, sleazy shows like "Undressed," "Jerry Springer," "Strip Poker," "Wild on," and "Howard Stern."

Where does this end? What happens to a society that hands leadership over to those who celebrate evil? What happens to our children and our children's children when we give awards to people whose conduct and ideas are shameful, ugly, and vicious? What, especially, happens to those on the edges of our society, who are already struggling with parenting and with determining what is right and wrong? The answers should terrify us.

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