If you don’t do this already, it’s time to start exercising your critical faculties when engaging with media, or even just watching the Grammys. People say we should expect more from the President of the United States and that’s why we mustn’t tolerate his casual misogyny and racist remarks. I wholly agree. But to tell you the truth, I also expect more from Lady Gaga, Jay Z and Busta Rhymes.
Busta Rhymes, who at the Grammys last weekend called out “President Agent Orange” for “perpetuating all the evil that you’ve been perpetuating throughout the United States,” has earned millions from his misogyny, not hidden on a bus, but in full view and accompanied with music. Or is it that the man behind the words, “Talk to a nigga, talk with me, You look like you could really give it to a nigga… Threw ya hips like ya never did before for me, The way you break yo’ back, and I break yo’ neck” doesn’t know a thing or two about pussy grabbing? Surely, at the very least, it’s crossed his mind?
Jay Z. If we can tear our eyes away from the pimped up cars and breathtaking bling, Jay Z frequently refers to women as “bitches” in his songs. Who cares? Do you? No complaints from the Grammy FROW. Should we expect more or less from the husband of Beyonce?
Lady Gaga speaks for herself, which is feminism of a kind, but if you can’t remember the last time your barista stripped off to sell you a coffee, you should worry that you can’t remember the last time a woman kept her clothes on to sell you a record. There is something deeply twisted about ‘feminism’ in the music industry. (Thank God for Adele.)
I’m no Mary Whitehouse, and I love contemporary music. There’s no doubting the talent of many of these artists and individuals. But if we’re not consistent in our outrage, or cautious with our condemnation, all we are are hypocrites. The evils of racism, sexism and misogyny are evils the world over and should be challenged wherever they are found. It is not okay to be repulsed by Donald Trump and at the same time endeared to Chance the Rapper. If your critical faculties are working, both should elicit caution. Or do you think you’d feel kinder to Trump if he sang “I’m Uncle Luke with the hoes, /Pretty bitches, centrefolds” alongside Chance? I know I wouldn’t.
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.”
Kanye West, interviewed by Lou Stoppard for Showstudio, on 6 October 2015, said, “I definitely think generally rap is misogynistic.” And he should know, he’s won 21 Grammys. At least he’s being honest. And honesty is what we need if anything’s going to change.