A space filler on the music pages of this week’s Mail&Guardian gave me a whole list of new associations to the country China.
Yesterday I might have thought about the phrase “Made in China”, poorly paid factory workers, the Beijing Olympics, communism and the colour red, but today it’s the land of milk and honey.
The article entitled “Lady Gaga is the most gagged in China” tells of the Chinese ministry of culture placing 100 songs on a blacklist and ordering music websites to remove them. These songs include Want it that way from the Backstreet Boys, Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night and various other songs from Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Rihanna, and Britney Spears.
This is in line with a 2009 directive that hopes to curb “poor taste and vulgar content” as well as copyright violations, the article states.
Now let me first say: Censorship is not cool. Restricting people’s access to anything is not the way forward.
However, the thought of turning the radio on and not cringing at stupid lyrics is a very appealing one to me. I do not mean to sound like an old tannie reminiscing on the good old days when people still sang about abstract concepts like love, peace, freedom and hope, but I can’t help it. I’m concerned about a culture that allows songs with lyrics such as : “I’m runnin through these hoes like drano
I got that devilish flow rock and roll no halo
We party rock yea! that’s the crew that I’m reppin
On the rise to the top no led in our zeppelin”*, from Party Rockers Anthem by LMFAO to top the charts.
In media studies, the general trend seems to be labelled as the “dumming-down” of society. Reality television is making audiences shallower and tabloid journalism is making them hungrier for blood. But is this really due to a shift in the media, or a shift in society? Maybe society has always been interested in trash, but the new millennium brought with it the honesty to admit it.
Debates about taste are very tricky. It’s a sensitive subject and measurements for it are impossible to dictate. I however wouldn’t mind debating the contribution the lyrics “I’m talking about – everybody getting crunk, crunk
Boys trying to touch my junk, junk” make to the world.
The article indicates that the criteria used by the Chinese to decide on which songs to blacklist remains unknown. Although I think the Chinese people should be allowed to listen to whatever the hell they’d like, I don’t think any of them will be any poorer from being denied the opportunity to listen to the Backstreet Boys. In fact, with the American economy in the state that it is and the rumours that China might become the world economic leader, I think the Backstreet Boys become a representative for something much bigger. Who knows, they might be the very reason why America is having an economic meltdown. I know my brain has one every time that song plays.
*Obtained from Directlyrics.com