Music analysis crucial to media literacy
Ahead of the Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) week and the Intercultural Dialogue Conference, co-founder of Jamaican Youth Empowerment through Culture, Arts and Nationalism, Abrahim Simmonds, spoke about a gap in perceiving Jamaica's popular music at the recent Gleaner Editor's Forum, "Education about powerful lyrics as an instrument of documenting what occurs in society, is where we are lacking" he said.
The forum was held at The Gleaner's 7 North Street, Kingston, offices. The conference will be hosted by the University of the West Indies from October 24 -27 in Kingston with music playing an integral part in the youth agenda. The idea is to use music as a platform to spread the message of MIL. The MIL week is Wednesday, October 25, to Wednesday, November 1.
"The society has many way of attributing the social issues among young people to lyrics of music and somehow it has managed to manifest itself based on anecdotal evidence. But if music has the power to create negative responses, then it is as equally powerful to evoke positive energy," Simmonds added.
The forum's participants advised that discussions involving youth will not only allow them to understand lyrics, but provide them with opportunities to reflect on the various levels of sex and violence as well as steroptyping commonly heard in music. This includes what is observed in the music videos.
Chief librarian at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Dr Paulette Kerr explained that media and information literacy is about guiding individuals from a point of consumption to an acceptable creative understanding of what is being produced.
"We are still not careful in consuming a lot of what happens on YouTube and through other media and we have not empowered our people to create more. We are also not teaching critical understanding of the kinds of music that our children are hearing or participating in and music is such a powerful education," Kerr said.
Kerr cautioned that the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica (BCJ) has no control outside of the traditional orientation of radio and it is time to reach our communities.
"When we talk about consumption, we must consider how many children sit in taxis and take in some of these songs. After a while, does it become a part of them, or are we teaching them that they should to analyse what is being broadcast. And this is where the BCJ does not seem to have any control," Kerr contended.
She further noted that MIL is not acting against the music being produced but accepting that like everything else it has it space and the role of MILL is to focus on how it defines us and process it as part of our culture rather than simply taking it in.
Dr Clement Lambert from the School of Education, UWI Mona campus concluded, "Even though we say the music is pervasive and about 98% of Jamaicans are passive recipients of what is being produced, the conference is about creating a balance between processing and producing the same media content.