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Preach it, mister mathers
December 11, 2004 6:16 AM   Subscribe

Eminem is Right If yesterday’s rock was the music of abandon, today’s is that of abandonment
posted by konolia (96 comments total)

 
Very interesting.

One point, the author seems to assume that at some time parents were more like Ozzie and Harriet. I am not so sure that is true. I think they were always a fictionalized ideal, like the Cleavers or the Huxtables. Real life is much messier, and it always has been.
posted by caddis at 7:15 AM on December 11, 2004


Yes, but I think the assumption is that, while it may never have been the ideal, life is much messier now than it used to be.
posted by Bugbread at 7:21 AM on December 11, 2004


If there is one subject on which the parents of America passionately agree, it is that contemporary adolescent popular music, especially the subgenres of heavy metal and hip-hop/rap, is uniquely degraded — and degrading — by the standards of previous generations.

Bullshit. Utter bullshit. Every generation claims that the one after it will wreck the world. I've seen 18th century passages about similar topics. As Hegel said "We learn from history that we never learn anything from history."
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:26 AM on December 11, 2004


Bullshit. Utter bullshit.

right on mayor curley.

Papa Roach, Everclear, Blink-182, Good Charlotte, Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam, Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Eminem — these and other singers and bands, all of them award-winning top-40 performers who either are or were among the most popular icons in America, have their own generational answer to what ails the modern teenager.

no, they do not.

but they are undeniably talented musicians (well not blink 182 and eddie vedder, but maybe that's just me.) eminem is full of shit and his misogyny is revolting, ditto snoop, but i listen to both of them because they are damned talented performers.

doggy style, despite the bitches and ho's, not because of it, is a brilliant recording.
posted by three blind mice at 7:32 AM on December 11, 2004


If yesterday’s rock was the music of abandon, today’s is that of abandonment

Perhaps this is why I find so much of it so small-minded and tedious.

Bullshit. Utter bullshit.

Actually, the claim, as stated, is inarguable. The key is "by the standards of previous generations." Just because Elvis scandalized parents in the 50s doesn't mean that the content of his music (or his behavior, even) was equivalent to today's. In fact, if you've heard any current music, that's a preposterous claim to make.
posted by rushmc at 7:33 AM on December 11, 2004


eminem is full of shit and his misogyny is revolting, ditto snoop, but i listen to both of them because they are damned talented performers

Which only demonstrates that your requirements for music are different than some of ours. Pretty hatred is still hatred. Seductive violence is still violence. Some of us won't be sold that which we don't wish to consume, no matter how effective the packaging.
posted by rushmc at 7:40 AM on December 11, 2004


I can tell you that my parents and grandparents generation had just as much trouble as my generation. My aunt ran away from home and got married at 16. My grandparents were terribly abusive to my mother and aunt. No Ozzie and Harriet household were they. In fact, when they were growing up, they didn't have Children's Services around to protect them either.

My SO's mother was one of 10 children. Between alcoholism and poverty, they had their share of unwed mothers and kidnapped children.

Now, my grandparent's generation I haven't heard many stories about, but I'm quite sure they had their tales.

Humans have never been perfect, far from it. Our societies and families have never been perfect either. Music has nothing to do with it. It seems to be a general human trait to want to idealize the past.
posted by PigAlien at 7:44 AM on December 11, 2004


from the article: Any teenager with a secular cd collection will likely own some of [Pink's] songs...

My CD collection was atheistic, but since it's mostly classic rock lately it's been starting to muse about intelligent design. I think it's hedging its bets.
posted by anthill at 7:55 AM on December 11, 2004


Just because Elvis scandalized parents in the 50s doesn't mean that the content of his music (or his behavior, even) was equivalent to today's

Yeah, but back in the Golden Age of American decency, it was scandalous to even sound like a Negro. Now that the world has gone to hell and we've lost all our moral bearings, people don't even blink an eye if you marry one. So naturally, it takes a lot more to scandalize parents these days.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:57 AM on December 11, 2004


Then there is the phenomenon known as Pink, whose album Missundaztood was one of the top-10 albums of 2002, selling more than 3 million copies.

Pink you say? Tell us more about this strange and scary phenomenon known as Pink. Does she play the rock and roll on the Mtv?
posted by meh at 8:01 AM on December 11, 2004


It's true, crappy parents have always existed. Top 40 Pop Music made by those crappy parents' pissed-off kids about being pissed off by their crappy parents is something relatively (no pun intended) new. Imagine Buddy Holly singing "But how dare you try to take what you didn’t help me to get? /  You selfish bitch, I hope you fuckin' burn in hell for this shit!” I'm sure abandoned/neglected kids had those feelings in the 50s, but those feelings sure weren't being broadcast on the airwaves. I think the article's central thesis (If yesterday’s rock was the music of abandon, today’s is that of abandonment) holds up.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:07 AM on December 11, 2004


Just because Elvis scandalized parents in the 50s doesn't mean that the content of his music (or his behavior, even) was equivalent to today's. In fact, if you've heard any current music, that's a preposterous claim to make.

I'm just saying that looking for real analysis in popular music is a wasted exercise. Baby boomers were going to save the world and their music was about starting some naive Love Train that never materialized. Punk was about "no future" and social upheaval, but pleanty of former punk devotees are now the Establishment. It turned out that the "slackers" listening to grunge music in the early 90's were a largely a media creation.

The Breakfast Club was made 20 years ago, and the kids in that didn't connect to their parents, either. This isn't a new theme, but levels of taste have declined to the point that you can sell crappy High School Girl Poetry (where parental abandonment has been a common theme since at least the 80's) from the mouths of grown men. That's all this means-- marketing trends have shifted from togetherness, to generational disenfranchisement, to whiny crap about personal lives. Marketing trends, that's it. Look for the kids to be all right, or at least largely indistinguishable from the people that came before them.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:22 AM on December 11, 2004


Standards have changed and today's musicians can be much more explicit than in the 50's. There is nothing interesting about this, jsut as the Mayor says.

More interesting is the changing themes discussed in the article and whether this really comes from a change in society rather than just a change in society's standards. Isolation from parents has been a long running theme in music (and other media) as the teen years are when kids must naturally separate from their parents. Some isolation is inherent in growing up, even in the most functional of families. So the fact that these themes resonate with youth makes sense.

I think the author makes a valid point about the appearance of abandonment themes. What drives this phenomena?
posted by caddis at 8:27 AM on December 11, 2004


Art imitates life... well, as long as the censors don't run the show.

This "Golden Age of American decency" existed about as much as the tooth fairy. If you listen to early American blues, for one, I'll wager you can pick out many subtle references to how oppressed an entire race veiwed their world at that time. I doubt they got much air-time though.

Personally, I feel somewhat blessed to have less and less censorship now. That will-somebody-think-of-the-children mentality doesn't change reality, but maybe an in-your-face, truth-like style could. Not that I feel that should be the driving force for these artists at all, just a bonus perhaps for them sharing what inspires them.
posted by LouReedsSon at 8:33 AM on December 11, 2004


I think this argument is way too broad and simplistic. Or maybe my parents are just a weird exception -- my dad's 53, my mom's 46, and I grew up with them listening to some really dark music from their youth. My mom played a lot of Led Zeppelin, The Doors and Alice Cooper, for example, and my dad is really into Leonard Cohen and John Lennon (especially in the Plastic Ono Band phase). So much of that music is about abandonment, loss, dysfunction, rage, disillusionment, drugs and sex sex sex. I mean, shit, John Lennon was writing his rage about his father abandoning him before anyone in Good Charlotte was even born.

And my parents, in turn, grew up with their parents playing tons of Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. Yet more darkness. For the author to claim that the music of my parents (I'm 22, so technically a part of Generation Y) was all about holding hands, sipping ice cream sodas with two straws, and boppin' at the sock hop is woefully misinformed. Shit, it isn't like the stuff my parents listened to was underground or obscure.

I also hate how so many people make the broad leap of "Parents didn't walk out on their kids as much back in the day, thus families were more cohesive and normal." No. I think they were still pretty fucked up -- they were just all living in the same house. And that's not always for the best.
posted by fricative at 8:51 AM on December 11, 2004


Get your kids into emo and indie rock. That'll cheer them up.
posted by mathowie at 9:04 AM on December 11, 2004


it was scandalous to even sound like a Negro.

what would it be to "sound like a negro"? Are you suggesting that hiphop is some necessary culmination of black culture?

Don't think it was ever "scandalous to sound like a negro" - it was scandalous to be a negro, but to be a white boy copying the negro sound? Not scandalous: the jackpot (greg tate on eminem talks about white men who "take black arts to the bank," and lists "Fred Astaire, Benny Goodman, Elvis, Eric Clapton, Larry Bird, take your pick"...)

But whether something arises from black or white culture, it can still be worth discussing how culture has evolved. It could have gone any number of ways, you know? I don't think misogyny and thugism were expected by frederick douglass or even martin luther king jr.

More interesting is the changing themes discussed in the article and whether this really comes from a change in society rather than just a change in society's standards.

that I think is the really interesting question. However, I feel like it's hard to deny that the expression of it creates something of a positive feedback loop - it makes it more okay because, hey, everyone does it...

on preview: fricative, re: john lennon & leonard cohen et al, rage and abandonment come in, but so do love, loss, joy, awe, and hope... I think the point isn't that the new generation has introduced some kind of brand new emotions, but just that the focus has shifted heavily into negative, angry, indifferent or generally contemptive attitudes.
posted by mdn at 9:09 AM on December 11, 2004


Imagine Buddy Holly singing "But how dare you try to take what you didn’t help me to get? / You selfish bitch, I hope you fuckin' burn in hell for this shit!” I'm sure abandoned/neglected kids had those feelings in the 50s, but those feelings sure weren't being broadcast on the airwaves.

I doubt you could even broadcast Buddy Holly saying "I didn't like my mother very much" in the 50s. It would have been blasphemous.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:16 AM on December 11, 2004


Misogyny, violence, suicide, sexual exploitation, child abuse — these and other themes, formerly rare and illicit, are now as common as the surfboards, drive-ins, and sock hops of yesteryear.

This is a rather filthy rhetorical trick, where songs about "drive-ins and sock hops" are assumed to all be positive, the writer doesn't imply that songs about child abuse aren't actually condoning it. (not in any of the music I've heard anyway.)

Fuzzy thinking leads to fuzzy writing leads to worthless conclusions.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:17 AM on December 11, 2004


i think a feeling of abandonment by society and even god plays a role in a lot of the recent music i've heard

mdn ... to some people, white people sounding black was very scandalous ... they saw it as a corruption of white youth
posted by pyramid termite at 9:18 AM on December 11, 2004


mathowie: Get your kids into emo and indie rock. That'll cheer them up.

Heh! And what of all the young females in the nineties like myself who grew up listening to/idolizing Tori Amos? I think Tori has delved into much darker, deeper territory than Pink ever has. Everybody focuses on this angry nu-metal, but what about all us young women who dealt with being angry, depressed, frustrated females by listening to the music of angry, depressed, frustrated females?

And Tori's just the beginning. Let us not forget Fiona Apple, Ani DiFranco, Sleater-Kinney when Corin and Carrie had just broken up...

On preview: Good point, mdn -- although I think a lot of my parents' music (which I've lately embraced) could certainly go toe-to-toe with today's music as far as negativity, anger, and disillusionment go, I do agree that a lot of those albums were balanced with some hopeful or happy tunes. But then, Pink, Good Charlotte, Eminem, et al also balance out some of their darker stuff with relatively poppy fare. I'm not sure I see a really significant shift into darker territory here, but my perspective may be skewed on account of coming from depressive Irish alkie-types who like to sit around listening to songs about death and despair. ;)
posted by fricative at 9:20 AM on December 11, 2004


And therein lies a painful truth about an advantage that many teenagers of yesterday enjoyed but their own children often do not. Baby boomers and their music rebelled against parents because they were parents — nurturing, attentive, and overly present (as those teenagers often saw it) authority figures. Today’s teenagers and their music rebel against parents because they are not parents — not nurturing, not attentive, and often not even there. This difference in generational experience may not lend itself to statistical measure, but it is as real as the platinum and gold records that continue to capture it.

This is bullshit. This current generation of teens/young adults is one of the most coddled and attended-to in ages--since the 50s in fact. And the author conflates 90s grunge (created by 70s kids) with 00s rap and rap/rock (created by 80s kids, for the most part). And she ignores the vast vast majority of popular music today, which is packaged sexy bubblegum dancepop made by teens for teens. I think she is way way too selective in choosing her examples, and forgets that the coddled children of the 50s totally went for the rebellious music of the 60s, and the coddled "baby on board" kids of the 80s totally go for their own rebellious music in the 00s.
posted by amberglow at 9:45 AM on December 11, 2004


I liked the article, but it would have been nice, and appropriate, for the author to mention that eminem is a parent himself, and his love for, and sense of connection to, his daughter are very apparent to any listener.

This also makes the 'Leave It To Beaver' reference in 8 Mile a bit less wince-worthy.
posted by bingo at 9:47 AM on December 11, 2004


Old people alarmed by young people's music! Film at 11!

This story is as old as the hills, and probably could have been written about those durn young people and their Mozart.
posted by majick at 9:51 AM on December 11, 2004


What we sacrifice in originality, we make up for by delivering solid, successful, kid-tested, mother-approved material.

--Richard Cheese
posted by gimonca at 9:52 AM on December 11, 2004


Billie Holiday sang Strange Fruit in the 1930s. It is a dark song about negro hangings. Negativity, anger, disillusionment? It dates back a lotta years.

Which only demonstrates that your requirements for music are different than some of ours. Pretty hatred is still hatred. Seductive violence is still violence.

Petty hatred and violence are precisely the reason I will not listen to that crap. I am simply astounded that lawful citizens would reward these drug dealers and thugs. I don't care how "skilled" they are supposed to be, their lifestyle is the antithesis of everything that leads to a healthy and happy society. WTF are people thinking, to make these people out as heros and icons? Give your heads a shake.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:54 AM on December 11, 2004


what would it be to "sound like a negro"?

"If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars."
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:54 AM on December 11, 2004


Eh. Let's meet back here in twenty years, and we can all laugh at what we found so offensive. We'll look back on "Got Your Money" the way my parents look at the Carpenters. Or the way their parents looked back on Pachelbel's Canon.

Hmm. Maybe that was a bit too far.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 9:57 AM on December 11, 2004


I'd say these changes the article is noting in music comes more from how society is prepared to see itself than what's "new" among teens. The 50s had an ideal they didn't live up to; there were always single moms and broken homes, but the tone of new media was one that censored those kinds of narratives. They needed that ideal, they wanted it. That was the message they wanted out there. At this point it seems that our interest is in the fallout of youthful trauma; we're interested in autobiographical art. While some popular music stars are creating music for you to dance to (Beyonce, Britney Spears, etc.), lots of them consider themselves serious artists (Eminiem, ani difranco, Tori Amos, Pink) who were created by the traumas of their pasts and want to use the public as a form of therapy.

Statistically, we're living in a less violent society than ever before. How do you see that reflected in the music?

I think you can only talk about these things in terms of what people want to listen to at any given time and how they are prepared to think about other people. It doesn't tell you much more than that.
posted by Hildegarde at 10:00 AM on December 11, 2004


...the music of angry, depressed, frustrated females...
...listening to songs about death and despair...


the blues is one thing. Music has always embraced the despair and pain of life. Listen to mozart for that. The point is not "darkness" in the traditional sense of happy/sad, joy/pain - both elements are necessary for life, and run through art everywhere. Look at aristotle re: tragedy.

But music that supports a toughened, crass, hateful, misogynistic, angered, dismissive, indifferent, or otherwise hopeless outlook on life could be considered more mainstream. I dunno, it's the bitches and hos part that bugs me. Most of the teen angsty bands are just bad, in my opinion (as someone said above, bad teenage poetry, which we used to keep in our diaries, where it belonged. because it's bad, not because it's too risque.) I like songs of despair etc but you've gotta have more of a meta-attitude - you have to understand the humor and self deprecation and commonality with humanity and all that, that comes with despair, to make a good blues song. Just whining about how daddy yelled at mommy or something is self absorbed and boring.

on rereading the article, I agree with people that the author is being selective and a bit melodramatic. Still, I think it's hard to deny that things have changed pretty significantly since the 50s, in positive and negative ways. I think we could say that with greater freedom, which we have, comes greater responsibility, which we do not take.

I caught something on tv last night called "pornucopia" about life as a porn star, and it had a little segment on how the equivalent to porn in the 60s was "nudie cuties", which were naked people hanging out and playing beach ball or whatever, bums and boobs, no pube shots. When I was growing up porn was porn, but it was not something talked about or referred to in normal conversation - maybe boys would sneak a copy of penthouse or something, but only dirty creeps went to watch porn movies. Now it is basically accepted that everyone likes porn. Yes, everyone has always liked sex. But witnessing closeups of multiple orgies has not always been part of culture. Things do change. I'm not saying it's better or worse, but it is different, and that is interesting.

We could say it's a more open culture - everyone spills the beans, reveals everything, physically, emotionally, in whatever way... but that does make it messier, as someone above said, and maybe it makes it harder for us to really connect and contemplate through all the interference... I dunno, I just think it's interesting how things shift.
posted by mdn at 10:00 AM on December 11, 2004


I'm not a social theorist, and am curious about whether people think music (and popularly consumed arts in general) reflect the times, or do they lead? Is the declaration "I don't give a fizzle, got to get my shizzle" capturing the zeitgeist of a particular group in time? And does the playing of such sentiments further spread this sentiment? This seems like an important question.

My roommate got me interested in hiphop, but I still can't get past a lot of the lyrics. While I'd never try to censor music, it's hard to really condone lots of people listening to this if there is evidence that the attitudes expressed in popular music are disseminated.

Hard to tell a clear narrative through recent rock history. Casual sex seems to have taken off. Utopianism got beat down, but makes the occasional resurgence.

If we like U2 and band-aid for being inspirational, is the counter-case true?
posted by allan at 10:02 AM on December 11, 2004


And what of all the young females in the nineties like myself who grew up listening to/idolizing Tori Amos?

And what of all the young males in the nineties like myself who grew up listening to/idolizing Tori Amos? If I can turn out alright, I think anyone can.
posted by 4easypayments at 10:06 AM on December 11, 2004


If yesterday’s rock was the music of abandon, today’s is that of abandonment

so true. i've abandoned any attempt to listen to it.
posted by quonsar at 10:10 AM on December 11, 2004


Baby boomers and their music rebelled against parents because they were parents — nurturing, attentive, and overly present (as those teenagers often saw it) authority figures. Today’s teenagers and their music rebel against parents because they are not parents — not nurturing, not attentive, and often not even there.

Essentially I see an economic critique: the pressure of 'keeping up with the Jones's' drives parents out to work too soon and too much. One or more could remain at home longer, if the shiny gadgets didn't force themselves into their shopping baskets so much. Kids drive this too - via the prevalance of pester power - but mums & dads need to remember this: in the end, kids remember the cuddles more than the possession of the newest fad.

It's also true that adults seek personal fulfillment, often in vague, hollow fashion, concentrating on inner needs (popular since at least the 60s), forgetting that to parent a child is to accept personal sacrifice. One's offsprings needs need to be considered first (not to say eternally prioritised and met above all: just made conscious, considered and where appropriate, met); an adult can rationalise the pain of the world more than a kid. A kid should do that shit with parental support & guidance, love and advice.

That's why we're grownups, and they're kids.
posted by dash_slot- at 10:12 AM on December 11, 2004


This article is an op-ed piece disguised as a scholarly treatment of an important subject; it references lyrics only, mentioning Stephanie Coontz but not the substantive material of her research.

People who want to believe that an Ozzie and Harriet America ever existed dislike Coontz because of books she's written like The Way We Never Were, which, unlike this piece, actually uses demographic, economic, historical analysis to examine American family life from the pioneer settlers to the 1950s. She found bad "family values" everywhere in our history: early states with age of consent laws permitting sexual relations with children as young as 9, with rates of alcoholism and drug use higher than our own, with divorce and abandonment more, not less, common than today. We don't even have to complicate it by bringing the family dynamics of people living under codified racism and sexism into it. It wasn't all Laura Fricking Ingalls, by a long shot, and if the same apparatus of pop culture existed then as does now, emo could have been invented by an 18-year-old farmer named Increase.

Sociologists like Coontz statistically find over and again that the single greatest impact factor on marriage and family stability is economics, not stated moral values. They find that children flourish best in environments where their basic materials needs are supported and where they are consistently cared for by adults, whether in a traditional two-parent structure or not. The sad, angry songs the author here cites arise from neglect, which happens all the time in homes with a physical adult presence.

Study after study (pdf links) has found that there's a pretty consistent recipe for childhood success: economic prosperity and stable adult support. That doesn't mean divorce isn't disruptive and saddening. It just means that it's a good idea to focus on the world we actually live in, as opposed to some shining ideal that never existed, and that no amount of moral outrage can ever bring into being.
posted by melissa may at 10:18 AM on December 11, 2004 [1 favorite]


I'm reminded a little of how all my friends and i finally totally switched to FM when none of the AM stations (they still played music then) would play "Push, Push, in the Bush" or "There but for the Grace of God go I"
posted by amberglow at 10:18 AM on December 11, 2004


Boy this article sucks.

I think the writer would be surprised to find how many parents aren't horrified at all by modern music. My mother has been heavily into gangsta rap and modern R&B for about 10 years, and she's now a 60 yr old white woman (I stole my copy of Snoop's Doggy Style from her.) And as many people have noted, every generation goes through this. Music of today just has more leeway on what it can say.

Did no one notice that this writer is from the dreaded Hoover Institution? I used to work for a podunk local newspaper, and we'd publish articles by Thomas Sowell. They were the most hate-filled, poorly written, irrational screeds ever. Same kinda shit: "Today's generation is so messed up because of gays marrying/no forced prayer in schools/damn liberals/etc etc."
posted by papakwanz at 10:19 AM on December 11, 2004


The thing about history is that the stories do repeat - the point is to correctly interpret and work to understand the story for your time and place. Parents have always been shocked at the music of their children. But does the fact that this is timeless mean that you cannot extract a valuable lesson for your moment in time? Of course not. In fact, this is always the challenge of our lives - to live in the moment, in the day, answering the difficulties of the day in a contemporary way while incorporating the valuable lessons from the past.

I accept that Pink, Eminem, and Snoop are artists (per our contemporary understanding of the term), and as such, I think this article is worthwhile in its efforts to tease out the message from their music.

Why be so defensive about pop and rock? It will survive people's debates.
posted by extrabox at 10:23 AM on December 11, 2004


Armitage: According to most reliable sources, Sam Phillips never said that. And he never made a billion off Elvis besides.
posted by raysmj at 10:29 AM on December 11, 2004


If there's anything new about music today, it's probably the level of self/media-awareness shared by a lot of these acts. This is a very good thing, I'd argue. While 60's rock looked for a peace train that never arrived, and punk sought to bring a revolution that never came, the genius of artists like Eminem, Nirvana, (and can I throw Bright Eyes in there?) is that they are trying to make listeners aware of the methods by which the media attempts to manipulate and re-direct their message.

Eminem:
"I am, whatever you say I am.
If I wasn't, then why would I say I am?
In the paper, the news everyday I am.
Radio won't even play my jam."

Nirvana:
"Teenage angst has paid off well,
Now I'm bored and old"

Bright Eyes:
"Onto a stage, I was pushed,
With my sorrow well rehearsed.
So give me all your pity and your money now"

Of course, self-awareness can turn into a big circle-jerk too, when it's in the service of bling or personal feuds or whatever, but in the long run, I think that the more media literate the kids are, the better off they'll be.
posted by idontlikewords at 10:31 AM on December 11, 2004


Why be so defensive about pop and rock?

because players play. non-players write. and mostly don't know shit.
posted by quonsar at 10:37 AM on December 11, 2004


mdn, the "things" you're referring to are media standards. As for people in themselves, I think there's been very, very little change among Americans and their attitudes since WWI/1920s. Don't fall for the simplistic notion that just because the media as changed it means people have changed. As for why we've seen the change in media and entertainment standards you don't need to run any serious social studies and the like. The answer is good old fashioned US Dollars. The so-called increased "depravity" you detect in popular culture is not necessarily new.

The author's real thesis--that the increased divorced rates are now reflecting themselves in increased negative effects among teenagers--has been addressed many times before. Really, it's too vague and ambiguous to be taken seriously. But I will say this: these arguments always strike me as incredibly disingenious. Even if you accept the fact that increased divorce rates have directly caused increased teenage suicides--so what? Should we not let people get divorced? Do we censor art and media that "glorifies" and "normalizes" divorce? Do we forbid mothers from working full-time?

What exactly is the author of this article trying to persuade us to believe? In reality, this isn't a critical argument at all--it's an editorial.

Those who insist on recognizing the positives and the negatives (there's always special emphasis on the negatives) of the mythical 1960's cultural revolution (if you scratch most of them, you'll find they think the positives are the negatives as in the case of working moms) are ultimately advocating against change in itself. It's never some change with these people, it's any change. (I'm always reminded of the famous "economic" argument against the Civil War that insists blacks were "better off" as slaves than they were immediately after the war). They are suggesting that society just forget its recent history and revert back to a more "innocent" state.

(And really, anybody who pretends to be "shocked" by the rise of hiphop in America--and thus the world--needs to pick up a history book.)

(And fff, your insistence on passing simplistic moral judgements on music rather than attempting to engage the music and understand it on its own terms is cowardly and stupid. It's a good thing most people don't agree with your conception of a "happy and healthy society." But it's your loss in the end. There's a great deal of beautiful hip-hop out there.)
posted by nixerman at 10:38 AM on December 11, 2004


And what of all the young males in the nineties like myself who grew up listening to/idolizing Tori Amos? If I can turn out alright, I think anyone can.

You freak!

One of the funniest memories from my teenage years was when my mother decided to sit next to me while I was watching Tori Amos perform on Saturday Night Live, just so that she could "understand what I was listening to." A few minutes into Tori's first song, my mother turned to look at me with a puzzled look on her face and asked, "what is she doing to that piano?!"

I don't think she ever looked at taking me to piano lessons the same way again.

However, I could never "idolize" anyone who spent as much time with faeries as Tori did.
posted by DaShiv at 10:41 AM on December 11, 2004


gimonca: Hadn't seen Mr. Cheese before, and that killed me. I just crossed a few names off my christmas list.....
posted by allan at 10:44 AM on December 11, 2004


erm..... Lucille Bogan, (1897-1948)

Bogan almost exclusively focused on explicit sexual themes, like prostitution, adultery and lesbianism, and social ills such as alcoholism, drug addiction and abusive relationships.
posted by The White Hat at 10:44 AM on December 11, 2004


Rock n Roll Critics is the worst kind of sleaze.
posted by papakwanz at 10:46 AM on December 11, 2004


If this is the stuff they like, we do need to worry about lowered standards of decency. None of this stuff is even decent, it's all shitty.
posted by Hildago at 10:50 AM on December 11, 2004


Excellent comment, melissa may. Thanks.
posted by painquale at 10:54 AM on December 11, 2004


Great essay. I agree with the premise. But while reading the article and comments, I was reminded of a sort of counterweight found in The Journal of Mundane Behavior -- borne of the notion that our society focuses so much of it's attention on the extreme and outrageous that the mundane truth about living life goes largely unexamined, and disproportionately so. After all, folding laundry and walking the dog makes up a far greater slice of life than popular art or news coverage would suggest. For every Guernica, there are five million run-of-the-mill days in Levittowns everywhere. For every mother who drives her minivan into a lake, drowning her five children, there are hundreds of millions merely driving the kids to soccer practice. That's the real hidden truth missing in art.

But there's something that resonates in the art of the mundane too. When the Beatles sing about an utterly unexceptional day...waking up, running a comb through their hair, slamming a caffinated beverage and getting on the bus to work, it's closer to the truth than Eminem rapping "we don't do drive-bys, we park in front of houses and shoot / and when the police come we f*cking shoot it out with them too / that's the reality here / that's the mentality here".

For example, while 90s popular music was overflowing with Seattle grunge exploring themes of abandonment and angst, there was this other monster hit from an Irish band that expressed a far more common, mundane truth...
Unhappiness was when I was young
And we didn't give a damn
Cause we were raised
To see life as fun and take it if we can
My mother, my mother she hold me
Did she hold me, when I was out there?
My father, my father, he liked me
Oh he liked me, does anyone care?


The Cranberries -- Ode to My Family
from the LP "No Need to Argue"
From the lyrics to the title of the song to the title of the album...that's just seething with ubiquitous, mundane truth -- one far more universal than Jeremy offing himself before his grade school class. But guess which sentiment sells more records, and makes for a more interesting FPP subject?
posted by edverb at 10:56 AM on December 11, 2004


Oh YES, TWH. I'd like anyone pining for the good old days of clean American culture to find anything as filthy, defiant, and full of piss and vinegar as "Shave 'em Dry." They'd have my undying gratitude. Her laughter at the end of that song is one of the most funny, free, and sexy things I've ever heard.

(And thanks, painquale.)
posted by melissa may at 11:03 AM on December 11, 2004


The article is typical Baby Boomer propaganda targeted at Generation X. It is basically saying, when we were kids we were rebellious, but nothing like kids today who are corrupt and evil.
posted by stbalbach at 11:04 AM on December 11, 2004


I liked this article, however, I feel that it very narrowly missed the real cause of all this frightening imagery in popular music. The themes of abandonement, divorce, and neglect keep coming up, but I would say that those are part of an even larger theme - parental selfishness. I think that there used to be more of an "anything for the kids" attitude among American parents, and that attitude seems to be fading over time. I don't really know what the end result of this will be. Maybe (hopefully) less people will get married and have kids because "it's the expected thing to do," and that will leave only the few people who actually want to be real parents.
posted by afroblanca at 11:18 AM on December 11, 2004


Want nihilistic rage full of bloody wishful thinking, with random violence directed at all and sundry? Plus plenty of hateful misogyny?

Check out the old testament.

Oh, and for abandonment, look at the new.
posted by telstar at 11:28 AM on December 11, 2004


Melissa may, great comment.

Music is like poetry, it tries to make sense of the senseless.
W.E.B. Dubois tried to make sense of being black in America and pleaded poetically with educated whites (he was Harvard-educated) to listen in many essays and books - but he ultimately left in despair for and died in a welcoming African country. I don't think it's the language that's stopping people from listening to today's music or less vulgar voices of the past.

This article is about everything it doesn't venture to say: it's true that forming a stable identity these days in our MTV society where cultural markers come and go like dollars at a Neiman Marcus Christmas sale is really tough. It forces us to hold on to and cherish things which speak to us, even if they are brutal, violent or frightening to others.
posted by faux ami at 11:29 AM on December 11, 2004


We live in a brutal, hopeless, fucked up world. Why shouldn't music reflect that?
posted by cmonkey at 11:32 AM on December 11, 2004


Starting in the mid-60s it became unfashionable to have kids. Abortion was in vouge and "demon child" movies like the Exorcist were all the rage. All this came to an end in the early 1980s with Regan and when you first started seeing "Baby on Board" signs on cars -- parenting was cool again. The kids born during that time period are known as Generation X and they are generally self-loathing and loathed by everyone else as well. They are seen as corrupt, cynical and products of a self-centered time. All part of the cycles of generations.

On preview, cmonkeys comment reflects a Generation X attitude pretty well.
posted by stbalbach at 11:35 AM on December 11, 2004


Don't fall for the simplistic notion that just because the media as changed it means people have changed. As for why we've seen the change in media and entertainment standards you don't need to run any serious social studies and the like. The answer is good old fashioned US Dollars. The so-called increased "depravity" you detect in popular culture is not necessarily new.

I didn't call it depraved, and I would never suggest that any emotions or expressions are in themselves new. To say, it isn't that the idea is new, it's that it's more widespread, is precisely to attack a strawman and hold up my own comment, which is, that it's more widespread. Yes, the market wanted it that way. But the market is just people, so you're just saying, culture changed because culture changed. Not that that's not true, but...

anyway, no, I have no interest in censorship and I don't think the world is going to hell, but I also think it's odd when people say, oh, our grandparents said this about our parents, who now say it about us, so obviously there's nothing to it. From another standpoint, one could argue that it has been a fairly long term trend, and obviously the world hasn't ended - what would that even mean? - but it is a different scene in a lot of ways. It's true, it is difficult to know what the past was really like or even what the present's really like, since there are so many individual stories, and there have always been fuck ups and drunks and will always be nurturing, supportive parents, but there is still something about a cultural climate.

A lot has changed for the better - most, I would say, has changed for the better. I would much prefer to live in this time than 50 years ago. But it is still intriguing to me to think about - how important is privacy, discretion, politeness, self-mediation, temperence, shame, etc? Maybe they're all negative. But maybe they're not... I feel like I already need to qualify the last word I put there, suggesting that shame might not be a bad thing. But aren't their some things that one ought to be ashamed of? So then the question is, what kind of shame could be appropriate (eg, shame at having killed someone, or having lied to your parents, or having thought your angsty teen poems were more precious than the everyday suffering of most of the world) -
posted by mdn at 11:37 AM on December 11, 2004


I read this some time ago, it is an except of a book by the author called Home-Alone America: The Hidden Toll of Day Care, Behavioral Drugs, and Other Parent Substitutes.

I can tell by reading the comments in this thread, that most of the people who commented didn't bother to read the entire article before telling us how it is wrong....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:53 AM on December 11, 2004


Thanks for the link. This article was funny as hell, if a bit depressing. I just don't know if the modern parental shock article can stand up to past classics. But the addition of an awareness of the past, which the grandparents never had, was a nice touch. I can't wait for my shot at it! Maybe Aphex Twin will be pop by then.
posted by 31d1 at 11:54 AM on December 11, 2004


The article is typical Baby Boomer propaganda targeted at Generation X. It is basically saying, when we were kids we were rebellious, but nothing like kids today who are corrupt and evil.

You didn't even read this article.

If you did you would see this is NOT targeted at GenX but at the Baby Boomers who are being such shitty parents.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:54 AM on December 11, 2004


The notion some have that everything is proceeding normally and acceptably is arguable.

Today, the child of a prostitute can grow up to dominate the airwaves with hate-filled lyrics about women. And who can blame them as individuals really, given the opportunity.

The children of women who are not prostitutes buy the recordings and, guess what, make a connection between the two. Mom made me come home by midnight, she's a whore. Women are whores, never trust or respect them. And this isn't impossible to understand either. Notice I didn't say accept, I said understand.

Obviously what's different now isn't poverty, prostitution, drugs, dysfunction, or teenage angst. What's different is the supremacy of the dollar over all other considerations. If it sells, it's considered acceptable. Even the sneering, leering, hatred of women. Yes music has always had dark themes, but the naked hatred that now gets packaged up and sold at the local mall as representing everyone's common knowledge and experience seems different to me.
posted by scheptech at 11:59 AM on December 11, 2004


The fact that child abandonment is also a theme in hip-hop might help explain what otherwise appears as a commercial puzzle — namely, how this particular music moved from the fringes of black entertainment to the very center of the Everyteenager mainstream.

That was the best part.
posted by 31d1 at 12:03 PM on December 11, 2004


The article reminded me that any golden age is based on people's perceptions of their own surroundings. While playing cards with my grandmother and one of her friends, my grandmother--a Disney-loving, die hard Kansas farm girl--stated she missed the "good old days" and that sex and violence was rampant in the culture now. Her friend, who had grown up in the southeast part of the state during the depression where coal mining was the industry and deep shaft liquor (named because the stills of the bootleggers were hidden in the mine shafts) and bootlegging were rampant, told stories of murder, prostitution, and other immoral happenings. My grandmother's friend didn't believe in any golden time, because she knew there wasn't one.

The same goes for music within a culture. Murder ballads anyone? Honky tonk angels? I'm always a little put off by the cries of "abandonment" from writers about musical culture when, historically, it has always been there.

Also, the Lucille Bogan post was excellent. Thanks, White Hat. A little off topic--as melissa may was saying, there's a much, much nastier version of "Shave 'em Dry" by Lucille which includes lines like:

Now your nuts hang down like a damn bell clapper
and your dick stands up like a steeple,
your goddamn asshole stands open like a church door
and the crabs walk in like people.

And after she says that, she laughs so hard that she can't even finish the chorus. So the next time someone asks where have all the good times gone, just apply the same skepticism you would with any art.
posted by sleepy pete at 12:08 PM on December 11, 2004


semi-related: i was just reading that Roe v. Wade actually helped create the lowered crime rates of the 90s, and continuing today, by allowing (more) women in the 70s and since who might have been bad parents to not become parents at all, thus not giving birth to millions of unwanted kids. And that trying to eliminate it (which is one of the aims of the right) would have as one of its consequences millions of bad parents, with unwanted kids.

And I love Lucille--thanks!
posted by amberglow at 12:31 PM on December 11, 2004


There never was ever a golden age but uh, sleepy pete, you're suggesting this material was commonly available at the time, that any child could turn on a radio and enjoy Lucille's sense of humor? Maybe this is what the golden-agers are thinking about, not that raunchy stuff didn't exist in music at all but that it wasn't the focus it is today.
posted by scheptech at 12:31 PM on December 11, 2004


Just for context, Eberstadt's book was the one that posited that working motherhood was responsible for increased teenage STDs, childhood obesity, increased criminality and suicide rates among adolescents, and a greater incidence of ear infections (from day care exposure) during childhood.

Frankly, I think melissa may was right on.
posted by ltracey at 12:34 PM on December 11, 2004


But aren't their some things that one ought to be ashamed of?

Of course....I think it's interesting you even raise the question. I would describe somebody as a sociopath if he or she lacked the ability to feel shame.

Sociologists like Coontz statistically find over and again that the single greatest impact factor on marriage and family stability is economics, not stated moral values. They find that children flourish best in environments where their basic materials needs are supported and where they are consistently cared for by adults, whether in a traditional two-parent structure or not.

Well, I expected you to de-construct the family amberglow - the above rhetoric is very predictable from you.
posted by SpaceCadet at 12:46 PM on December 11, 2004


your bias is showing, SpaceCadet--that wasn't me. I wholly agree with it tho, of course, and it's not deconstructing anything.
posted by amberglow at 12:56 PM on December 11, 2004


"Squeeze my lemon, baby, till the juice runs down my leg" == "skeet skeet skeet skeet"

The rest of this is just wanking about what's on the radio.

Melissa May: your posts are some of the most consistently interesting, educational, and thought-provoking on this site. I was in the library the other day and ended up having to google for a post of yours about Elaine Scarry's book. Now you've got me back off to the library today to pick up Coontz's book. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
posted by Coda at 1:26 PM on December 11, 2004


scheptech--I never suggested that. This was a "race record," one that wasn't available to many people at the time and it obviously didn't make it to radio--it wouldn't make it today without being edited. But the argument seems to be that commercial music with explicit lyrics didn't exist until 10 to 20 years ago, and that's not true. A song like "Pretty Polly" is a misogynistic murder ballad that wouldn't be out of place in the music the article discusses. It wouldn't have been as widely distributed because the channels of distribution weren't in place--I agree. However, it existed and always has.
posted by sleepy pete at 1:29 PM on December 11, 2004


And fff, your insistence on passing simplistic moral judgements on music rather than attempting to engage the music and understand it on its own terms is cowardly and stupid. It's a good thing most people don't agree with your conception of a "happy and healthy society." But it's your loss in the end. There's a great deal of beautiful hip-hop out there.

Well you sure convinced me.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:32 PM on December 11, 2004


The paradox of modern times touched on above - less violence, more wealth, but growing social problems (notably obesity and mental health problems) - is due to economic equality.

Hey Coda, I took a class with Elaine Scarry (the body and pain - pain being the one thing you can't express and therefore which can't be controlled by others - maybe that's why our generation uses depression, anger and disaffection to express itself) a long time ago.
posted by faux ami at 1:36 PM on December 11, 2004


Coda, wow, thanks. The Body in Pain is a dense but fantastic read; I hope you're enjoying it. (On preview: faux ami, how fortunate for you -- that must have been some class).

SpaceCadet, I wasn't using rhetoric; I was factually stating the findings of a wide body of well-documented research. But thanks for confusing me with Amberglow; I'm sincerely flattered.
posted by melissa may at 1:41 PM on December 11, 2004


fff, if you're going to throw out gangster rap because you feel the artists don't meet your moral standards then you should probably stop visiting museums too. I hear a lot of those ancient civilizations that produced such art were very much not what you might imagine as happy and healthy societies. I fear you'll find that a great many notable artists have led lifestyles that are "the antithesis of everything that leads to a healthy and happy society." I guess there oughta be a law...
posted by nixerman at 2:33 PM on December 11, 2004


sleepy pete, yes we're on the same page, always existed, no surprise there.

What I'm trying to float is what I think is a bigger difference today than abandon / abandonment although I get it and, yes it's interesting in itself.

You refer to something many would find unpleasant, but not hateful, being distributed in relatively small quantities and to adults who presumably had to go out of the way to aquire it. What's different now is the relentless full-on marketing of some pretty serious negativity directly to minors, to teenagers.
posted by scheptech at 4:04 PM on December 11, 2004


But the argument seems to be that commercial music with explicit lyrics didn't exist until 10 to 20 years ago, and that's not true. A song like "Pretty Polly" is a misogynistic murder ballad that wouldn't be out of place in the music the article discusses. It wouldn't have been as widely distributed because the channels of distribution weren't in place--I agree. However, it existed and always has.

True, but I'm not picking up on that bit about the argument seeming to be that commercial music with explicit lyrics didn't exist until 10 to 20 years ago. What I took from the article was an explanation of why said music is so popular now, not why it exists in the first place.
posted by Bugbread at 4:26 PM on December 11, 2004


Humans have never been perfect, far from it. Our societies and families have never been perfect either. Music has nothing to do with it. It seems to be a general human trait to want to idealize the past.

You've got the wrong end of the stick. The idea here is not that music causes societal ills, but that it reflects them.
posted by rushmc at 4:30 PM on December 11, 2004


your bias is showing, SpaceCadet--that wasn't me. I wholly agree with it tho, of course, and it's not deconstructing anything.

Of course I am commenting on your agreement to the quote you provide (why would you quote it otherwise). I like to point out rhetoric, because it's a lazy device to push one's opinion.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:32 PM on December 11, 2004


Once again, nixerman, your argument is persuasive. I am convinced. I shall proceed to listen to music that rejoices in the act of slapping bitches around.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:32 PM on December 11, 2004


Imagine Buddy Holly singing "But how dare you try to take what you didn’t help me to get? / You selfish bitch, I hope you fuckin' burn in hell for this shit!”

Better yet, imagine wanting to listen to it...

*tries...fails*
posted by rushmc at 4:33 PM on December 11, 2004


Let's meet back here in twenty years, and we can all laugh at what we found so offensive.

Not necessarily. It is at least as likely that the pendulum will swing back somewhat, either as part of a natural cycle or with nudges from the fundamentalist Republican nannies and PC Democrat busybodies.
posted by rushmc at 4:40 PM on December 11, 2004


As for people in themselves, I think there's been very, very little change among Americans and their attitudes since WWI/1920s.

Wow. Just...wow. You live in an entirely different world than I do.
posted by rushmc at 4:51 PM on December 11, 2004


The kids born during that time period are known as Generation X

Kids born during the early 1980s are most assuredly not known as Generation X, stbalbach.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:54 PM on December 11, 2004


I haven't heard it, but if Lucille was laughing at the end of her recording, I'd say that would be a natural human response to the situation she found herself in, and one must appreciate the freedom she felt to do so. And also appreciate the limited, adults only distribution.

I see this as quite different from today's rap hatred, nobody's laughing in these recordings, and everyone in the family gets to share.

One more try about what's most different today: the direct marketing by large corporations, of very negative stuff that confused angst-ridden teenagers have always been prone to take an unhealthy interest in. Somehow because it makes a buck, it's now ok for adults to promulgate hatred or whatever other lowest-common-denominator stuff to teens. This is the main driver of sales, not some kind of change in the audience or it's parents.
posted by scheptech at 5:39 PM on December 11, 2004


"Generation X is a term used in demographics, the social sciences, and more broadly in popular culture. It generally consists of persons born in the 1960s and 1970s, although the exact dates of birth defining this age demographic are highly debated."
posted by b1tr0t at 8:06 PM on December 11, 2004


faux ami: pain being the one thing you can't express and therefore which can't be controlled by others

Like a pain quale?

Melissa May jumps into my contacts list so I can see what she writes in the future.
posted by painquale at 10:48 PM on December 11, 2004


Bullshit utter bullshit is right.

I haven't had time to read all of these comments -- so I'm sure you guys have gone over this, but check these rolling stones lyrics:

Sister Morphine

Here I lie in my hospital bed
Tell me, Sister Morphine, when are you coming round again?
Oh, I don't think I can wait that long
Oh, you see that I'm not that strong

The scream of the ambulance is sounding in my ears
Tell me, Sister Morphine, how long have I been lying here?
What am I doing in this place?
Why does the doctor have no face?
Oh, I can't crawl across the floor
Ah, can't you see, Sister Morphine, I'm trying to score

Well it just goes to show
Things are not what they seem
Please, Sister Morphine, turn my nightmares into dreams
Oh, can't you see I'm fading fast?
And that this shot will be my last

Sweet Cousin Cocaine, lay your cool cool hand on my head
Ah, come on, Sister Morphine, you better make up my bed
'Cause you know and I know in the morning I'll be dead
Yeah, and you can sit around, yeah and you can watch all the
Clean white sheets stained red.


And uh:

Stupid Girl
I'm not talking about the kind of clothes she wears
Look at that stupid girl
I'm not talking about the way she combs her hair
Look at that stupid girl

The way she powders her nose
Her vanity shows and it shows
She's the worst thing in this world
Well, look at that stupid girl

I'm not talking about the way she digs for gold
Look at that stupid girl
Well, I'm talking about the way she grabs and holds
Look at that stupid girl

The way she talks about someone else
That she don't even know herself
She's the sickest thing in this world
Well, look at that stupid girl

Well, I'm sick and tired
And I really have my doubts
I've tried and tried
But it never really works out

Like a lady in waiting to a virgin queen
Look at that stupid girl
She bitches 'bout things that she's never seen
Look at that stupid girl

It doesn't matter if she dyes her hair
Or the color of the shoes she wears
She's the worst thing in this world
Well, look at that stupid girl

Shut-up, shut-up, shut-up, shut-up, shut-up
Shut-up, shut-up, shut-up, shut-up, shut-up
Shut-up, shut-up, shut-up

Like a lady in waiting to a virgin queen
Look at that stupid girl
She bitches 'bout things that she's never seen
Look at that stupid girl

She purrs like a pussycat
Then she turns 'round and hisses back
She's the sickest thing in this world
Look at that stupid girl



For themes of Misogyny, violence, suicide, and sexual exploitation.
posted by Jeff_Larson at 3:34 AM on December 12, 2004


You've never heard any of the type of song we've been discussing here, have you, Jeff_Larson? The examples you cite ring like nursery rhymes in comparison.
posted by rushmc at 8:41 AM on December 12, 2004


"take black arts to the bank," and lists "Fred Astaire, Benny Goodman, Elvis, Eric Clapton, Larry Bird, take your pick"

Who the hell gave Isiah Thomas an account? The idea Larry Bird was famous for being halfway decent at a "black art" is . . . well, a popular lie. It's repeated by those who can't do, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find many of his contemporary "artists" who'd agree with it.

As for Buddy Holly, imagine if he sang about those orgies he enjoyed so much back in the Golden Age.
posted by yerfatma at 9:25 AM on December 12, 2004


This was a "race record," one that wasn't available to many people at the time and it obviously didn't make it to radio--it wouldn't make it today without being edited.

This is worth noting--for example, Lucille Bogan's dirty version of Shave 'Em Dry was a test pressing bootlegged among 78 collectors much later but never heard on wax by her core audience. While one can make an argument for sex and violence being present in early blues recordings, among classic women blues singers, Bogan was a marginal figure--especially as the 1930s were extremely bleak times for race records sales.

Only in the last year has a decent collection of her work been released for even latter day collectors--she's no poster girl for the ubiquity of dirty blues lyrics in times past whatever the merits of that argument may be otherwise.
posted by y2karl at 10:08 AM on December 12, 2004


Uh...sure, Jeff_Larson. Real hardcore there.

For comparison, an excerpt from "Kim", by Eminem:

There's a four year old boy lyin' dead with a slit throat
In your living room, ha-ha
What you think I'm kiddin' you?
You loved him didn't you?
(No!)
Bullshit you bitch don't fucking lie to me
What the fuck's this guy's problem on the side of me?
Fuck you asshole, yeah bite me
Kim, KIM!
Why don't you like me?
You think I'm ugly don't you
(It's not that!)
No you think I'm ugly
(Baby)
Get the fuck away from me, don't touch me
I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!
I SWEAR TO GOD I HATE YOU
OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU
How the fuck could you do this to me?
(Sorry!)
How the fuck could you do this to me?

Come on get out
(I can't I'm scared)
I said get out bitch!
(Let go of my hair, please don't do this baby)
(Please I love you, look we can just take Haley and leave)
Fuck you, you did this to us
You did it, it's your fault
Oh my God I'm crackin' up
Get a grip Marshall
...
See it all makes sense, doesn't it?
You and your husband have a fight
One of you tries to grab a knife
And during the struggle he accidentally gets his Adam's apple sliced
(No!)
And while this is goin' on
His son just woke up and he just walks in
She panics and he gets his throat cut
(Oh my God!)
So now they both dead and you slash your own throat
So now it's double homicide and suicide with no note
I should have known better when you started to act weird
We could've...HEY! Where you going? Get back here!
You can't run from me Kim
It's just us, nobody else!
You're only making this harder on yourself
Ha! Ha! Got'cha!
(Ahh!)
Ha! Go ahead yell!
Here I'll scream with you!
AH SOMEBODY HELP!
Don't you get it bitch, no one can hear you?
Now shut the fuck up and get what's comin to you
You were supposed to love me
{*Kim choking*}
NOW BLEED! BITCH BLEED!
BLEED! BITCH BLEED! BLEED!

[Repeat 1 (2x)]


Slightly different dimension than the Rolling Stones.
posted by Bugbread at 10:37 AM on December 12, 2004


Aww, come on, bugbread! Are you saying you don't want your twelve year-old boy to know how to behave like a real man?

Eminem is a multi-millionaire. He is a modern-day rags-to-riches story. An exemplary model for our children, indeed: do we not wish all our children to be as successful in their endeavours?
posted by five fresh fish at 12:13 PM on December 12, 2004


I actually like Eminem. Horrible lyrics on some songs, really great lyrics on other songs, and pretty damn good at freestyle. And my Eminem collection is yarr'ed, so I can have my moral cake and eat my audio cake too.
posted by Bugbread at 12:19 PM on December 12, 2004


bugbread and rushmc:

I wasn't comparing the stones songs to the type of songs eminem et al. pen. I was merely pointing out that themes of misogyny, violence, suicide, and sexual exploitation are nothing new, and getting all uppity about it is seriously, I don't know, retarded. If you guys want shocking, though, there's always gg allin (who never knew his father and yes did sing about it), T.S.O.L., John Zorn et. al.

But I had enough faith in the metafilter community's collective reasoning -- i.e. the ability to distiguish such a theme -- that I didn't feel that I needed to bring in an overwhelming shock factor.
posted by Jeff_Larson at 7:50 PM on December 12, 2004


Perhaps the difference is that in the past, songs of such were sung in third person, while now it's being sung in first person.

A world of difference between singing about Mack the Knife and being Mack the Knife.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:46 AM on December 13, 2004


Jeff_Larson,

Understood, and to some degree agreed. I think, though, that the point is about the mainstreaming and strengthening of those themes. It has always existed (or has existed for a very long time), but the mainstream artists have become more explicit / the explicit artists have been more welcomed by the mainstream. The Rolling Stones were as mainstream as they come in their day, and the themes we're discussing were there, but they were nowhere as explicit as they are now. gg allin was as explicit as folks are nowadays, but nowhere as mainstream as the artists we're discussing.
posted by Bugbread at 6:40 AM on December 15, 2004


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