To Listen Or Not To Listen: A Pop-Music Question
What would happen if you found out that a certain type of food was bad for you; would you stop eating it? Similarly, if you found out a certain type of music was bad for you; would you stop listening to it? Wouldnt you need proof before you make a decision? John Hamerlinck, a freelance writer in St. Cloud, Minnesota uses this article, Killing Women: A Pop-Music Tradition, to make his major point of how popular music is the most common link to violence (241). Hamerlinck voices his concern on the issues of violence in our society and has taken many stands on how violence is generated. Hamerlinck emphasizes that even though the mainstream press seems to have only recently recognized this horrible reality, the signs of our tolerance toward domestic violence have long had a prominent profile in popular culture (240). Through novels, films, and music, the media has effected the way our society thinks, believes, and acts. I agree partly with Hamerlinck about the strong influence music has on its listeners, but I dont agree with how he supports and concludes his article with the type of evidence he uses. Hamerlinck starts out by supporting the way music promotes violence then suddenly changes his stand to say that music isnt the cause of violence. How can you trust an authors word when he switches his opinion by the end of the article?
In Hamerlincks article, the beginning purpose was clear but he changes his position by the end of the article. This change of purpose takes the credibility away from Hamerlinck, and confuses the reader. The article was written using outdated songs and without strong supporting evidence. The examples of music he used were from the 1920s and 1980s. Hamerlincks poor choice in music causes the 1990s audience to have difficulty relating to the point he was trying to make. Hamerlinck reveals that from the beginning of music there has been an old folk genre known as the murder ballad, which tells stories of men killing women because they have done them wrong (241). In many of the songs in this genre, the music misrepresents the homicidal lyrics (241). How can this music genre misrepresent homicidal lyrics when it is obvious to the reader that these grouping of words are intended to express hatred toward women, enough to kill them!
Hamerlinck supports his article with random songs that have to do with violence and love, in hopes of proving that music has an impact on its listeners. Lonnie Johnson sang a 1920s song called Careless Love, in which he promises to shoot his lover numerous times and then stand over her until she is finished dying (241). A song like Little Walters Boom, Boom, Out go the Lights has a harsh and frightening image (241). The listener may not be aware of the destructive words in the songs because of the snappy, up-beat rhythms the artists create. I disagree with this statement because if this is the case, how can the listeners really not know what the lyrics are truly promoting? Why then, is violence at the fault of the artists and not directly at the listeners. It is true that the artists can continue to write and sell this type of music, but it is the choice of the listener to continue to listen to violent lyrics. Hamerlinck also explains how types of music influence the mistreatment of women. Hamerlinck then goes on to say how these songs do not cause violence and their singers are not evil (242). If that wasnt enough to confuse the readers, he challenges the reader to examine themselves by saying, If the beat is good and the chorus has a catchy hook, we don’t need to concern ourselves with things like meaning…right? We can simply dance on and ignore the violence around us (243). I agree with Hamerlinck when he says that these songs dont cause violence. Hamerlinck doesnt support this statement in his article, so I will expand on it. Of course it is not the songs that are causing killing or violence but the people who choose to do what the songs say to do. Whether the songs promote good acts or a bad acts, it comes down to the interpretation of the listeners understanding of the music.
Just as metal detectors have become an unquestioned, accepted part of the airport landscape, our culture comfortably places violence and terror in pop musics love-song universe (242).All of a sudden I saw Sheriff John Brown-aiming to shoot me down-so I shot, I shot, I shot him down, these words sung by Bob Marley have been accepted by the world. So what is the big deal? Well according to the Family Violence Prevention Fund, an act of violence occurs every nine seconds in the United States (240). When Skypark sings the song Shelter, Lies provide me no shelter – Hate, no comfort -violence gives me no pleasure- Shame, no treasure… what runs through your mind? The band Skypark presents the opposite of violence–peace. If the general Public were made aware of their tolerance toward violence in the media, the question to ask is, would violence be eliminated in todays society?If so, then we better start speaking up and tuning out. Hamerlick wrote this article to inform people about the seriousness of violence toward women, and the effects of music on listeners. Shoulders shrug and the common comment from people is that we live in a violent society (242). This is a good excuse for them concerning this issue. Society just focuses on violence as something that cannot be changed and how music cannot effect a persons mood or perspective. Hamerlinck did change his opinion about the cause of violence, but through these topics and examples Hamerlinck makes an attempt to broaden his readers knowledge and tolerance of music violence.
Music and Movies