THE EDITOR, Sir:
MY SPIRIT was revived after reading Reginald Budhan's article, 'Stop polluting the social environment', in Monday's
. The words to express my appreciation for such a timely piece have eluded me. Nevertheless, I will attempt to add my bit to his discussion.
In his article, he congratulates the Broadcasting Commission (BC) for its move to clamp down on lewd and violence-oriented lyrics and videos. I, too, congratulate the commission. However, Budhan acknowledges that the BC cannot accomplish this task alone, and he called for "an avalanche of support from all quarters of the society in denouncing both those who produce these music and videos and those who promote them". I wholeheartedly agree that "it must be taboo to support the slackness and violence-oriented lyrics some package and pass off to us as music and entertainment".
Surprised and annoyed
That said, I must declare how surprised and annoyed I was when I learnt of the Excellent in Music and Entertainment (EME) awardees for 2010. The EME (for those of you who don't know) is deemed the most prestigious music and entertainment award in Jamaica - the local Grammy.
Music is a very big and influential arena in Jamaica and the gully-gaza phenomenon can attest to its pervasiveness. But we cannot improve a negative construct if we continue to reward and attach importance to the construct in its negative state. Why then would the EME reward and acknowledge artistes who flood the music industry with violent and sexually explicit/dirty lyrics?
Rewards and recognition influence entrenchment, continuation, further-ance and prolongation. I was literally bowled over when I realised that 'positive lyrics' was an awards category by itself. If we are trying to clean up our music we should not just have a category for artistes with positive lyrics, but positive lyrics should be one criterion for nomination for the EME awards.
Making positive lyrics a criterion for the EME nominations will not clean up the lyrics of our artistes but it would definitely send a strong message that we are serious about the music diet we want Jamaicans to be fed. The BC has given us some hope and I am certain that the EME would not want to be promoting what we, as a society, are trying to stamp out.
It has already been established that the social fabric of Jamaica has decayed and our music contributed greatly to that decay. We must see these distasteful lyrics as social pollutants. Cleaning up our music can significantly help in the reweaving of our social fabric, but rewarding artistes who continue to write and sing repugnant lyrics will only push us further into the moral and social decadence suffocating Jamaica, land we love.
I am, etc.,
Tennisha A. Morris