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Ask Tuffy – Is Music Safe? Sunday, April 8, 2007

Posted by Tuffy in ask tuffy, music, tuffy.

This group has a wonderful plan for your life…

Wherein Tuffy helps the needy and oblivious for cash and prizes…

“Dear Tuffy,

I have an eight-year-old daughter and I’m worried she is exposed to too much sex and violence in the music on the radio. Worse, I don’t understand the slang in the songs these days; I’m afraid she’s hearing filth. What do I do? I don’t want to turn off the radio – how long can you talk to an eight-year-old before you bang your head on the steering wheel?

Reneé Acton”

Mrs. Acton, your fears would be warranted if your precocious child was born when you were in the dark old days of popular music. In those days, Prince or Devo or Captain and Tennille could sing vile lyrics about disgusting acts without repercussions. While those same disgusting acts helped create your child, they are not appropriate for your child.

As you may remember, Tipper Gore and Friends gathered in 1984 with the same concerns you now hold. Late in 1984, she began forming the Parents Music Resource Council with three other Washington wives. The PMRC decried the dangers of popular culture, starting with music.

In immediate response, the British (fearing an invasion of Washington wives) formed Band Aid and asked the musical question, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” America followed in 1985 with “We Are the World”, declaring an uneasy peace with PMRC by turning their musical forces to charitable causes.

The next twenty years were more than charity efforts and group hugs. It’s difficult to forget the damage done by the skirmishes between Tupac and Biggie about whose brand of hip-hop was more socially redeeming. Special note should also be made of the tragic loss of Elton John to the den of iniquity that Broadway has become. Please keep your child away from musical theater at all costs.

However, popular music has become mostly safe, thanks to the tireless battles by Tipper Gore through the 80s and 90s. While small pockets of resistance can rise up occasionally, the kind guiding hand of the major record labels usually crushes these “independent” thinkers by signing up these groups and then losing them in ridiculous requests and red tape.

Your concerns come from youth’s predilection to create its own dialect, setting itself off from authority artificially and creating its own identity. Your fear of the unknown can be set straight, though, with a little information. I am here to provide that to you, Mrs. Acton.

By way of example, I have chosen the current top-selling song from iTunes, though I could have chosen any popular song to make this point. (iTunes is like FM radio in your computer. You wondered why that thing cost so much, didn’t you; there’s a radio hidden in there!)

The top-selling song in iTunes is Timbaland’s “Give It to Me”, featuring Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake. As you can tell by the number of artists featured, this is another charity tune. Justin Timberlake recently received accolades for his propensity for gift-giving. Nelly Furtado is Canadian and therefore obviously a generous and gentle person.

Timbaland is not a musician, despite what I said above. Timbaland is slang for the Fast Food Nation you’ve heard about from Morgan Spurlock. Any fast food joint is part of said nation. (Timba, you may remember, is the bloated great grandson of Simba in the direct-to-video The Lion King 33 1/3.)

Childhood obesity is on the rise in America. The Journal of the American Medical Association estimates 25 million children are obese or overweight. The perfectly thin in the music industry feel a special guilt about this, knowing that their example of perfect physique is still not enough. Therefore, these two young artists have joined the charitable effort to assist these needy youngsters, hoping to save these Timbaland refugees and build healthy habits that will let them lead new lives.

By way of demonstration, I have pulled selected lyrics from “Give It to Me”:

[Nelly Furtado]
Seen you tryna switch it up, but girl you ain’t that dope
I’m a Wonder Woman, let me go get my rope
I’m a supermodel and mami, sí mami
Amnesty International got bankrupt, I’m on top, on lock
love my ass and my abs in the video of “Promiscuous”
My style is ridiculous

As you can see, Ms. Furtado is setting an example of her physical form as the ideal for these needy children. If you do what she recommends, you too will be a superhero, a model for others. (She also reminds us what can happen when lessons from musicians are not heeded; Amnesty International never recovered from ignoring the high tide warnings from Blondie during their 1980 protest efforts on the beaches of South Africa.)

Oh, and don’t worry about the reference to “dope”; it now means “thin”.

[Nelly + (Justin)]
If you see us in the club, we’ll be actin’ real nice
If you see us on the floor, you’ll be watchin’ all night
We ain’t hear to hurt nobody
(So give it to me, give it to me, give it to me)
Wanna see you work your body
(So give it to me, give it to me, give it to me)

These are the strong prescriptive notes of the song. If these children exercise, they will be on the road to recovery. These musicians will watch you exercise all night after you arrive home from school. (If you want to embrace this effort fully, please buy the exercise DVD where Justin and Nelly are inset, watching you always. Always.)

[Justin Timberlake]
If se-sexy never left, then why’s everybody on my (site)
Don’t hate on me just because you didn’t come up with it
So if you see us in the club, go on and walk the other way
Cause our run will never be over, not at least until we say

Again, Mr. Timberlake emphasizes the need for continuous exercising, asking large children to keep running until the musicians can see success. Also, you see mention of the Timbaland Club. It may advertise itself as a place for you and me, but these musicians know that’s a Mickey Mouse argument. Therefore, musicians that are part of this charitable effort will drop into fast food places randomly to find and warn children of their error. If you see them in the Timbaland Club, turn and walk out of the restaurant. Start running, in fact. You need it anyway, fatty.

There you have it, Mrs. Acton; your child is safe to listen to the radio. The PMRC continues to build life lessons into the media that will help lessen your responsibility as a parent each year until, eventually, you will be able to leave your child with popular culture as a permanent babysitter and keep picking up the tax breaks until they are 18.



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