Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Tale of Two Songs

Could they be the best of songs? Perhaps the worst of songs? Music has a powerful way of affecting the way people see the world, especially young minds, and it's always important to be mindful of what you're feeding your intellect. When Love the Way You Lie (and, no, I don't include the video as a cheap excuse to show Megan Fox on our blog) hit the airwaves, I was disgusted on a variety of levels--not the least significant reason was that Rihanna contributed to a song like this such a short time after the domestic violence encounter with Chris Brown. Another major contributing factor to my dislike of the song was the explicit nature Eminem's character in the song (yes, I give him the benefit of the doubt that he would not actually consider burning the woman he "loved" to death) talked about harming the female character.

Of course, they came out later and said the song was supposed to increase awareness of the problem of domestic abuse, which, to me, is little more than a "get out of jail free" pass to be able to push the envelope of what qualifies as "entertainment." The critics loved it, the people ate it up, and the artists increased their awareness of their full bank accounts.

Fast forward a few months, the controversy surrounding the song dies down, and we move to Kentucky where you can go half-way 'round the radio dial before finding a station that doesn't follow the country format. I had known about Martina McBride's Independence Day for a long time, but primarily from knowing it as the bumper music to Sean Hannity's radio show. Imagine for a moment my surprise when I finally got to hear the complete lyrics of the song and learn that it's not about the liberties that my least favorite conservative talk show host claims to espouse, but rather about another example of domestic abuse.

In a way, this song bothered me even more than Eminem's because the justification of murdering your abusive spouse/lover is couched in a tune with a catchy refrain (although I'm sure some thought Rihanna's singing about loving the way someone lies was catchy) and an attempt at legal justification: "I don't know if it's right or it's wrong, but maybe it's the only way."

I guess a song about someone getting beaten, going to the cops, and progressing through the legal system won't sell albums anywhere, city or country. However, I challenge the artists out there to make a hit song out of the theme of domestic violence where the abusee walks out on the abuser, taking any kids with him/her, and having all the legalities arranged ahead of time. Demonstrate and glamorize strength of character in your song, not strength of will. You'll simultaneously increase awareness of the problem and provide a practicable solution to those who suffer.

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