Watching music videos is an integral part of life for most teenagers and their behavior is swayed and shaped by the type of music that they watch on TV. Sexual themes in these videos range from romantic and playful to degrading and hostile and many videos feature sexual content that objectifies women and promotes a recreational view of sexual activities involving men who are active and enjoying it, which has been linked to teenagers’ becoming sexually active earlier in life. This has become a significant problem in the United States leading to unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The average youth listens to music 1.5 to 2.5 hours per day. In studies performed to assess the reactions of young males exposed to violent rap music videos or sexist videos, participants reported an increased probability that they would engage in violence, a greater acceptance of the use of violence, and a greater acceptance of the use of violence against women than did participants who were not exposed to these videos.
I grew up before MTV and VH1, but music was always a central part of my life. It gave me something to talk about with my friends and violence is not new to music, but I never felt that the stuff that I was listening to was inappropriate. I wonder if people are becoming more violent these days, and this hit home yesterday when my friend Fandango posted an article ‘And Then There Was This’, which discussed this guy, who he called “one sick puppy”. I did not consider the music that I listened to as being violent at all, but one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure and I did go to see Black Sabbath in concert several times. Alice Cooper’s song ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’, might be disturbing to some people, but this was a declaration that he was not going to apologize for his wild-man stage antics anymore.
AC/DC’s song ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ does have some sexually overt lyrics in it, but this song is about the singer’s past relationship that did not work out and he is about to embark on a new one that may be even more intense, but it will probably be much healthier.
Music is tricky, as you can’t tell another person what they should listen to, because this is a personal choice and they have to decide this for themselves. Music really changed when hip hop came along, but violence existed since Cain killed Able and the ancient Roman gladiators probably did not listen to gangster rap before they entered the arena. Why didn’t people get smarter and realize that violent behavior is unacceptable? I would love to blame all the violence on rap music, because I detest it’s constant use of offensive lyrics, but it is grounded in complex social issues and it is a way for the youth of today to express themselves. I imagine that there is some low probability of rap music actually being good, although it is not my cup of tea. People say that you are what you eat and I feel that you become what you listen to.
Written for FOWC with Fandango – Probability.