Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Rant in Which I Go All Tipper Gore on You

I am seriously dismayed by my nine year-old daughter's sudden interest in pop music. Because although the accessible sound and beat draw children like Miss M in, the R-rated lyrics are for mature audiences only. That is, if by "mature" you mean adults who like their lyrics lewd, stupid, and crude.

Take Tik Tok, a major 2009 hit by Ke$ha (gotta love the dollar sign) playing regularly on Star 102.1 in Knoxville:

"Wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy
Grab my glasses I'm out the door I'm gonna hit this city
Before I leave brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack
'cause when I leave for the night I ain't comin' back
. . .

I'm talking about everybody gettin' crunk
Boys tryin' to touch my junk
Gonna slap 'em if he be gettin' too drunk."

Right. Turns out Miss M's older cousins introduced her to this song over Christmas break. Naturally, she loves it, and I understand--the music itself is fun to dance to and sounds like something a nine year-old should like. But the lyrics? GAH. And guess what? Miss M knows all of them. BY HEART. She even sings them in that atonal nasal rap way, so we're talking total emulation here. I don't know how much she understands--in fact, I'm so far past the age of cool I had to resort to Urban Dictionary to figure some of it out myself--but the overarching message from that awesome song on Star 102.1? By the pretty girl in the video with the wild hair you maybe want to grow up and be like?

Is about getting drunk.

Here's another winner by the aforesaid Ke$ha: Blah Blah Blah, also playing on Star 102.1 and in the local bowling alley where we recently attended a child's birthday party:

"I don't really care where you live at
Just turn around, boy, let me hit that
Don't be a little bitch with your chit chat
Just show me where your d**k’s at

* * *

Boy, come on give me rock stuff
Come put a little love in my glove bag
I wanna dance with no pants on
Meet me in the back with the Jack and the jukebox."

Luckily, Ke$ha of the embedded dollar sign is talking so fast in Blah Blah Blah she's hard to understand. Because I don't even want to go there with Miss M.

Then there's former-burlesque-dancer-turned-pop-star Lady Gaga with her infectious Poker Face, in which she describes "bluffin' with her muffin" and sings "when it's love, if it's not rough it isn't fun." Oh yeah. I'll get him hot, show him what I've got. Even though we don't play this music for her at home or in the car, nine year-old Miss M also knows this song for some reason. I'm not saying there isn't a place for this kind of expression, but does it have to be on prime time radio? Wrapped in a sugar-coated beat that makes it appealing to third graders?

Yes, this music does present an opportunity for me to address . . . issues with Miss M, and I'm certainly going to redirect and encourage her to listen to less toxic choices. But I'm peeved that I didn't catch on earlier, or really, that I had to catch on at all. I mean, why is this R-rated music playing on the radio or even available to young kids in the first place? Pop culture--which is ubiquitous, and to its credit, can sometimes be really, really fun--has become seriously crude. I know my generation had Madonna's Like a Virgin, and Prince certainly was no pop angel, but we're talking a whole new level here. And that adult language and imagery is out there every day, playing on the radio and at kid venues, so children will pick it up.

I'll get him hot, show him what I've got.

This is not what I want my nine year-old daughter thinking about.


AppyLove said...

I SOOO hear you on this. Couple it with the sliminess of most reality television, and our kids (well, students for me) are bombarded with so many terrible messages about what determines beauty and images of hyper-sexuality it makes me wonder how my students are as well-behaved and level-headed as they are.

I asked my eleven-year-old niece last weekend what she thought of Lady Gaga. Her response?

"She's nasty and inappropriate."

Victory! (I'm personally a fan, but hearing her say that was a different kind of music to my ears.)

500Jerk said...

Hurray for your niece! I guess the thing to do is to recognize the challenge and use it as a starting point for discussion. It's just . . . I really am not ready to talk to my nine year-old about alcohol abuse. I don't think she's old enough. And I just don't understand why the radio is playing songs that are not appropriate for all ears, or at least warning parents in advance that the station's music or discussion is really for adults/older kids only.

BTW, I like Lady GaGa, too. She's interesting--a performance artist.

But not someone a nine year-old should emulate.