fbpx

Should the US follow Jamaica’s lead in banning violent music, TV?

by Tanesha Peeples
Should the US follow Jamaica's lead in banning violent music, TV?
Listen to this article here

A few weeks back, I was heading to the airport in an Uber and a song with rappers Megan Thee Stallion and Future came on the radio. Half asleep, I wasn’t paying attention to the lyrics until I heard Future repeat, “Adderall, adderall, adderall” in a verse. 

FYI, adderall is a prescription drug used for ADHD and narcolepsy. According to WebMd, some people, especially younger adults and teens, misuse the drug to get high or to feel alert and energetic and it is addictive.

In that moment I couldn’t believe my ears. I thought to myself, “Are y’all really playing this on the radio?”. And I’ve absolutely heard trash on the radio before, but damn, when does enough become enough?

Should the US follow Jamaica’s lead?

Day in and day out, I see young people (and adults) with headphones in their ears, bopping their heads and rapping/singing these songs to themselves–ingesting and savoring every word. Their eyes and minds are constantly subjected to violence on social media and television. What they’re listening to and watching damn near 24/7 is murder, drugs, sex, materialism and misogyny. 

At the same time, we’re seeing the “entertainment” they internalize play out and into the destruction of our communities in the United States–particularly in Black, Brown and poor communities. Along with systemic racism and oppression, the glorification of crime, rising gun violence, drug use and a “by any means necessary” mentality to secure the bag, newest shoe, belt or cellphone are killing us, too.

And I imagine the same thing is happening in Jamaica, which is why they’ve banned music and tv content promoting violence and drug use.

In 2021, Jamaica had the highest murder rates out of Latin American and Carribbean countries. The government is hoping that this ban will help curb violence.

Jamaica moves to curb violence in music

According to an article in The Root, “…the country’s broadcasting regulator has made the decision to ban all music and television that seemingly glorifies the use of weapons, drugs, and violence, as well as scamming and other criminal activity.” The country also wants to dismiss any notion that criminality is accepted in Jamaican culture and society.

Now we’ve been here before with attempts to censor various artists and music, specifically, rap music. And although the Jamrock state has implemented similar bans going back to 2009, they never seem to stick.

Jamaican artist McGregor bka Di Genius said he’s been censored a number of times for his sexually explicit content. Similar to proclamations made by other artists, he believes this is simply a ban on free speech and that the Jamaican government should focus its attention on issues that lead to conditions of poverty and economic crisis.

I agree with focusing on and eradicating longstanding, systemic oppressions that sustain poverty, criminality, etc. But should “entertainment” be exempt from those conversations? No. Because nowadays there seems to be blurred lines between art imitating life and selling demise for capital gain.

Should music be censored?

Let’s go back to the Future and Meg joint promoting adderall. The song called “Pressurelicious” is on Meg’s newest album, Traumazine. Meg paid Future $250,000 for the feature, where he repeated this word that woke me up from a catnap. Future doesn’t even use drugs, but here he is drilling drug use into the minds of people that love these artists and their “lifestyles”.

And for what? All to get paid and stay relevant in an industry that’s capitalized on hopelessness, recklessness and despair.

This is not to dismiss any charitable work that rappers, actors, and singers do, but if we examine the reach of their charity and the reach of their “artistry”, which one trickles down more and faster? Which one is more popular? At what point do entertainers take responsibility for the detriment they cause through their “expression of art”? Are their pockets more important than people’s lives and the communities they come from themselves? 

So going back to the question I asked in the headline–should artists/music be censored? Nah. Everyone should have the right to exercise their talents and get paid for them. But when the talents are willfully used as tools of destruction, somebody has to be held accountable.

The entertainment industry has a responsibility to be more mindful of its negative influence on the public, particularly youth. And even if it refuses to own that responsibility, Black people whose communities have been traumatized, misrepresented and taken advantage of by the industry for generations should be doubly active in obstructing that influence. 

McGregor said, “You can’t force the creatives to paint a picture that’s not really in front of us.” Well my advice is, if you help change the reality, you can change the picture.

Leave a Reply

You may also like