My job as a keyholder at a store that markets to teens exposes me to certain media expressions, mostly Top 40 hits. There is one station in town that plays these songs, and we have it on from the time the store opens to the time it closes. When I work 3 8-hour shifts, I hear the same songs anywhere from 12 to 14 times a week. I have had the time to reflect on some of the songs, mostly the lyrics, and I have come to the conclusion that this music is directly contributing to the complete and utter idiocy of American youth. Am I being harsh? No, I think I’m actually being rather generous. Allow me to give a few examples of that which drives me insane every day that I am at work…
One particular song focuses on a young crooner lamenting his rather regrettable actions towards his girlfriend, namely cheating on her with some other girl. Sounds good; he is sorry for his actions, right? Well…the refrain contains the morally (and rhyming-ly) questionable “I know what I did wasn’t clever/But you and me were meant to be together.” Clever? Really? Your main regret was that your actions weren’t CLEVER, instead of ethically and morally bankrupt? (And if you were stupidly but honestly just trying to find something that rhymed with ‘together’, well then my poor dear, you might want to have your hearing checked or go back to 3rd grade.)
Another number counts up the ways a man envisions his future. It mostly consists of “popping bubbly” in the club and doing whatever he wants. He sees this as the be-all, end-all of his life; his highest purpose and goal. No freaking wonder our country has more black males in jail than in college (1). College is all about delayed gratification (working hard to get a degree that will allow them to get a good job, be educated, and contribute to society, hopefully), and these guys grow up listening to music that tells them they should be getting all they want right now. When they do not get their goals as immediately as they wish, they turn to other (quicker, more illegal) methods, which ultimately end badly for them. Worse, the goals they initially set for themselves are shallow and worthless. You honestly think you will find fulfillment in drinking champagne with people who only care about your money? Do society a favor; quit making music and get a “real” job with the rest of us “real” people. Doesn’t matter what it is; flip burgers, work retail, teach preschool, build buildings. Make an honest living, seek God, marry a nice person and raise a few kids. You will be a better person, and you’ll get more fulfillment than you will for all the days you get gas from drinking too much bubbly.
Finally, a song that Kevin and I like to mock relentlessly and constantly is a song written extolling the beauty of a lovely woman noticed in a social atmosphere, while simultaneously attempting to not offend her delicate sensibilities. Well…if only it were that polite. The singer talks about the attractiveness of the lady’s backside, and worries, “I’m trying to describe this girl/Without bein’ disrespetful” (no, that’s not a typo; that’s actually how he pronounces it). Is it honestly that hard to describe someone attractive without being blatantly rude, especially when you already commented on her butt? Little tip for next time; starting off by talking about a person’s sexual characteristics has pretty much destroyed any chance of not being “disrespetful.” Here’s the thing; there are a multitude of words that can be used to describe a young lady that are all perfectly respectful and polite. For starters, there is intelligent, attractive, sweet, spunky, fun, gracious, loving, thoughtful, and lovely. I’m sure you can think of others. If you are so completely brain-dead that you cannot think of this basic vocabulary, you don’t deserve this girl. Period.
What really upsets me about this last song is the way it is received by girls I work with. Some of the girls are still in high school, still impressionable, and they squealed when the song came on. “I love this one!” I couldn’t help myself; I gave them the same explanation I just wrote. It bothers me that they think this song is so great; after all, this sets the bar incredibly low for guys. If girls are conditioned to think that this is the highest expression of romantic love, of self-sacrifice, of plain human decency, they will put up with all kinds of crap from the men they date. No one will challenge the men to better, more manly behavior, and the women will develop a warped view of themselves and how God created them. After all, those created in the image of God are worth more than a guy who merely aspires (and poorly, at that) to avoid disrespect, instead of actively striving towards demonstrating respect.