Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rihanna Ain't Yo Mamma

Did you know that Rihanna is as old as I am? And that Justin Bieber is as old as Graham?

I came across this article today on CNN. Basically, Rihanna made a graphically violent music video that depicts a victim of sexual assault killing her attacker. The Parents Television Council called it unfit for television, "an inexcusable, shock-only, shoot-and-kill theme song." Rihanna responded, quite eloquently, via Twitter with, "I'm a 23 year old rockstar with NO KIDS! What's up with everybody wantin me to be a parent? I'm just a girl, I can only be your/our voice!" And, "The music industry isn't exactly Parents R Us! We have the freedom to make art, LET US! Its your job to make sure they dont turn out like US."

Sigh. Both sides have good points, but I'm going to have to side with Rihanna. Too often, parents in America expect someone else, anybody else, to parent their kids. It reminds me of San Francisco banning Happy Meals. When did parents stop being responsible for what their kids eat? Can they not say no to their kids? And in the case of Rihanna, when did parents stop being responsible for what their kids watch? I'm not arguing the artistic or moral value of the video-it was probably violent and tacky-but Rihanna didn't break into the homes of those susceptible children and shoot the guy in their living room. The parents bought a TV, then they bought cable to supply that TV, then they handed the remote to their kids, and then they walked out of the room. And then Rihanna shot someone.

Telling Rihanna she can't exercise her first amendment right to portray violence and baseness isn't the answer. You can't tell a dog not to poop on his own lawn because your kids might play there while you aren't watching and step in it. Parents are the gatekeepers to their children. As parents, WE are supposed to police what comes into our homes-not cable companies or legislators. If we don't like what's on TV, we turn it off and then we try to raise children who can discern between filth and art. And if real art is what our kids want-that's what the rockstars of their age will produce. Too bad about those other people's kids, though, the ones that have lazy parents and will continue the cycle of the creation and consumption of smut.

Another point-it may seem great to restrict what people can publish or broadcast in the name of protecting our children from violence, immorality, and the like. But what about when the people with the power to restrict start to say that a belief in God hurts children? Makes them delusional? What if some poor Atheist kid were to accidentally watch General Conference? Or tune into Music and the Spoken Word? 

That's part of what I love about being American. I can do pretty much whatever I want. I can name my baby what I want (we thought about Gremlin Odysseus for a while), I can choose whether or not I have health insurance (oh wait, no I can't-forget that point), I can say what I think about our leaders, and I can sell unhealthy food to children while luring them in with cheap toys (except in the US city of San fRancisco). I can also worship as I choose, vote, write, and raise my children how I think they should be raised. And Rihanna can sing about what she wants. (Confession: I love the Umbrella song.)

I disagree with Rihanna when she said, "U can't hide your kids from society, or they'll never learn how to adapt! This is the REAL WORLD!" I disagree that her reality of violence and immorality will one day be my children's, and that shielding them from her "art" is keeping them from learning how to adap. I can explain the dangers of the "real world" to my children without shoving them headfirst into it while it's packaged in addictive beats and a minimal yardage of fake leather.

Yes, Rihanna apparently skipped a few too many days of seminary and should stop making crummy music videos, but more importantly, as parents we should stop looking to others to parent our children. We are the parents ----Graham just woke up, hungry. What did I feed him? The best stuff ever-white gold. I didn't let the homeless guy on the bench outside my window babysit him and feed him with swigs from the brown paper bag that he keeps hidden in his armpit.

Check this out, verses 7-11.

Parents, let's be parents. Rihanna, have you ever wondered who you are, where you came from, and where you are going?

1 comment:

  1. I agree that parents have the responsibility to control what their children watch, but I don't think that means that artists should publish smut.

    Certainly The intention of members of the Parent Television Council is not to passively allow their children to consume everything that comes their way. On the contrary, they are actively trying to decrease the amount of filth that is easily accessible to their children. They aren't interfering with freedom of speech: they are voicing their consumer opinions to a capitalist company that broadcasts whatever maximizes their bottom line. This is the appropriate channel for these concerned parents to pursue: giving feedback that parents who pay the cable bill don't like the current product and they are prepared to take their business elsewhere. The article seems to say they don't want the video aired on tv - not that they are trying to censor its production.

    Smut should not be produced, but it will be. Responsible parents will teach their children to avoid it, seek to block access to it, and indeed seek to influence the networks and cable companies not to broadcast it on regular cable. The trend is for entertainment to become increasingly promiscuous and violent because that sells well in all of the passively parented households, so someone needs to voice their opinions to the contrary to push back and show cable companies that there is plenty of clean business to be had.


Comments make my day.