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° Rubrique About The World

ABOUT The World ...  

Par Claude Chastagner, professeur d'anglais à l'Université Paul Valéry à Montpellier.

  The Parent's Music Resource Center from information to censorship. 

Site Philagora, tous droits réservés ©



Very revealing in that respect is the war against rap music waged in the early 1990s by two leading figures of the black bourgeoisie, Illinois Senator Carol Moseley-Braun and Dr. C. Dolores Tucker, chair of the National Political Congress of Black Women. The Senate Juvenile Justice Subcommittee hearings they instigated were intended to crush the most prominent style of rap at the time, gangsta rap. A single figure of the black community opposed them, Rep. Maxine Waters whose district included part of South Central L.A.. For the leaders of the conservative fraction of the black community, rap music and its success among white youths contributed to the sexual, violent image cast on African-American culture.

Hence my conviction that the primary motive behind the action of the Washington Wives was to divert the people's attention from major issues by focusing it on trivial ones and specific groups. It is a well-known trick, particularly effective when, as was the case with the PMRC, it is based on genuine though ill-founded moral convictions. 

Artists and audience alike represent easy targets, obvious scapegoats. René Girard's seminal work on the scapegoat process defines the criteria required for the transformation of an innocent into a scape-goat. The most important is the subtle status of the victim who must at the same time belong to the community so that his sacrifice will be effective, and stand somewhat apart from it, in order to prevent a cycle of retaliatory actions. Another criterion is that the imaginary transgression attributed to the selected individual to justify his sacrifice is very often of a sexual nature. Girard also outlines the function of the scapegoat process, i.e., bringing together the various members of a community in times of disorder, doubt and fear through a cathartic process. The actions of the PMRC against rap and heavy-metal fans and artists perfectly fit these criteria. As Robert Walser wrote, 'heavy metal (along with rap) remains the dark "Other"' (p.103).

As a matter of fact, one can read on PMRC leaflets that 'studies have concluded that over the past decade the rate of arrests for homicides committed by 14-17 year olds has tripled' and that 'according to the Attorney General Janet Reno as cited in the American Medical Association 1996 report on violence in America, there are more than 16,000 street gangs with more than 500,000 members nationwide'. 

In perfect PMRC strategy, no conclusion is given, the reader is left to ponder on the causal link that may exist between violence and the music criticized elsewhere by the Center. Scapegoating is a convenient means not to deal with real-world problems. Eliminating cultural differences offers a simple solution to the complex social ills targeted by the PMRC. Searching for real solutions is a challenge seldom taken up by political leaders. The role played by 'deindustrialization and disastrous social policies' or 'poverty, joblessness and police brutality' (Walser, p. 144) and other problems such as 'homelessness, a stagnating economy, a crushing debt, destructive racial divisions, widening economic disparities' (Heins, p.186) are obviously much more volatile issues than the musical practises of illiterate minorities.

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° Rubrique About The World