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Clarks shoes and the power of words

Published:Friday | April 30, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

The recent increase in the sale of Clarks shoes is, without a doubt, attributed to two songs and one artiste, Vybz Kartel (Clarks and Clarks again) - Popcaan is an extra. These witty songs on one of Jamaica's oldest fashion obsessions have brought back the early 1990s for those who remember sporting Clarks and Bally. The power of words.

Shoes stores and higglers are now falling over each other to obtain what has become prized commodity since the songs broke. From the higglers in downtown Kingston, to the stores uptown, many are reporting a significant increase in the sale of Clarks shoes, with even The Gleaner carrying its own story. Prices on the shoes have even doubled in some cases, and stores are running out of stock. This is all due to two songs, brilliantly worded to bring across the joy of owning a pair of 'Bank Robbers' or Wallabees.

It is now reported that thieves are now targeting the shoes, with the reports of two stores being robbed of Clarks shoes, valuing over $2 million. The power of words.

No disconnect

Yet the same artiste(s) turn and try to create a disconnect between the violence in society and the violent lyrics they spew. They point to everything else, the police, the politicians and the system (lack of jobs and high levels of illiteracy). Suddenly their words lose power - when it's convenient. This point is even backed by intellectuals, but I guess you can't demonise your life's work.

No, we cannot use statistics to determine explicitly the effect of violent songs, like a rise in sale figures, but to argue the contrary is ludicrous. I am saying to the entertainer(s) just as your songs can raise sales, they also can influence the actions of individuals; even if not immediately, but after repeated exposure. Dennis Howard in the Jamaica Journal writes, "these songs also influence youngsters to enter the underworld due to its endorsement by their musical 'heroes'...".

Freedom brings responsibility

If you make wearing a Clarks sound so lovely, and in the same breadth make shooting and killing sound just as attractive, why do you think there is a disconnect in the effect. Is there someone actively promoting that what is being said is just for entertainment? Is anyone taking the responsibility to put a disclaimer before these songs before they start, to say, ignore the rhythmic beat, the harmonious melody, the catchy, clear lyrics and the message they carry.

Take responsibility now, before all perceived freedom is eroded from you. Jamaican politicians are not known for calling a spade a spade, for educating the people to understand that with freedom comes responsibility. Well, artistes like Vybz Kartel and Mavado are finding that out now, but what they are reaping is not their actions of the present but that of the past, as markets for their words are closed around them.

So I say to the two entertainers, and all the other aspiring artistes, sow now what you want to reap later. I am sure Kartel does not own the only studio in Havendale, but his has been the only one to be closed. With freedom comes responsibility ... right Popcaan?

I am, etc.,