Junette Reyes/Contributing Writer
It is absolutely ridiculous and unbelievably unfair to censor any form of art. There is no point in repressing something that is meant to insult some and intrigue others. Unfortunately, censorship is still very much a part of today’s society.
Because it is still present, it should be practiced more reasonably, since we have actually come to the absurd situation where a seemingly harmless song is considered to have matched or exceeded the violence of most rap songs simply through the choice of censoring the latter for its profanity and the former for the imagery of the use of guns on innocent people, which is very much present in both.
It is quite difficult not to admit that listening to “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People is a disturbing experience after noticing the eerie lyrics and the unnerving scene they depict. I will be the first to confess, especially after repeatedly hearing lyrics such as “All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you’d better run, better run, outrun my gun.” But, the few lyrics that mention gun use and the possibility that they refer to the Westroads Mall shooting in Omaha, Nebraska is not enough evidence to rationalize the song’s censorship on media such as radio stations and MTV.
I consider it hypocritical for radio editors to censor a song that does not nearly reach the violence described in most rap songs that, unfortunately, appear to have been accepted by a large community, especially those that extol gangsters and their lifestyle.
I am not going so far as saying rap songs have never received criticism and protest, however, I still find it discriminating that “gangster” rap songs containing both violent scenes and profanity are mainly censored for their profanity while “Pumped Up Kicks,” which completely lacks any crude language, is only edited for presenting a scene that possibly refers to the Westroads Mall shooting.
Tyler the Creator, although not a “gangster” rapper, is a current artist that uses references to both the V-Tech and Columbine shootings in his song “Yonkers” and was still awarded as Best New Artist at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. He received criticism for “Yonkers,” but it goes to show that one is still more accepted than the other, be it by music taste or any other matter, since both artists were nominated under the same category.
Discrimination is even more prevalent in this case, since it appears Tyler was not critiqued on his lyrics referring to the shootings until he tweeted a sort of appraisal towards the Columbine shooters stating they “…were prolly cool as f***…”
One artist shouldn’t take the heat more so than the other, which makes it unfairly judgmental to perceive one song as the black sheep of music while the other artist receives approval, although they both deal with similar references.
Were it the case that censorship never existed, neither artist would have to take the heat for their controversial art, but until something can be done about the dominating influence of censorship in today’s society, we should at least acknowledge how nonsensical it is to condone a song that displays an even more graphic scene and yet completely disapprove of one that barely reaches the intensity of the other song.
Not only acknowledge it, but treat them equally in the sense of censoring both or neither. My vote goes for censoring neither.