Monday, February 19, 2007

Banning Barry Manilow

The gun crime crackdown is well under way. I confidently predict that it will be ineffectual. The government's recipe is to lower the age that criminals who carry guns can be jailed for the mandatory five years from 21 to 17.

Has anyone in the government remembered that there are no prison places? Apparently not.

Sixteen year-olds will only receive a smack on the bum and be told to go home.

Magic. Absolute magic!

Gangsta Rap is inexorably intertwined with young, mostly black, men and their penchant for joining gangs and shooting people. This U.S. based music phenomenon glorifies gang culture and violence.

My favourite paper, The Sunday Times says,

The notion that young people carry guns as a fashion accessory has by far exceeded its sell-by date. But what is increasingly true is that turf wars built on a gang culture are fast becoming the basis for retribution in the inner city. The existence of “street role models” and gangsta rap artists and the role of the media in glamorising crime have also been a growing negative influence on young people. “

So, young people mimic their music and movie heroes. Right. So what's new? Not a lot.

In the 1950's parents were outraged at the antics of one Elvis (The Pelvis) Presley. Establishment media figures queued up to heap outrage on Elvis. Parents were savagely opposed to Elvis' brand of music becoming mainstream and acceptable. In some respectable areas of society he was seen as The Anti-Christ and an instrument of the Devil – hell-bent on corrupting young people. His live performance on the Ed Sullivan show is legendary, not because of the music, but because the network famously refused to show his movements from the waist down.

This was only the start. Elvis could not be banned, he just cloned himself into a semi-respectable figure by moving via the Army and the movies into mainstream popular. His “pop-clones”, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Rolling Stones, Guns and Roses, Sid Vicious, Gary Glitter, et. al. simply invented new ways to offend parents and become massively popular.

So, perhaps parents, the media, and the establishment should get together and “ban” Gangsta Rap? Not a good plan! Banning Gangsta Rapping would simply create a massive demand for it and promote the very thing we ought to be trying to overcome.

What's wrong with Gangsta Rap is nothing to do with its musicality. The Rappers are making a tidy sum from their efforts. Good for them. At least they are not out in the community shooting people. What matters it if their lyrics seem to glorify violence and anti-social behaviour? It's the wrong message for young black men to aspire to – that's what's wrong with it. How do we convince them that Gangsta Rap is bad? Here's a radical solution. Ban Barry Manilow.

By banning Barry we could instantly make his particular brand of insipid, middle-of-the-road mish-mash “anti-establishment” and extremely popular. Barry could put the rappers out of business overnight. Young black men could return to those halcyon days of hanging around street corners practising their harmonies – instead of shooting each other.

This could work.

At least it's worth a try. It's got more chance of success than the government's daft plan to lock them all up.

I say – let's go for it. After all, Barry has had a good career and would probably sink quietly into oblivion with his new-found notoriety clutched firmly between his cheeks.

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