- Throughout history the human populous has been attracted
to music. Whether it be part of a ritual, an emotional release, religious
reasons, or just for listening pleasure music has been at the center of
our society. We have used music to express ourselves, tell stories, and
let others into our thoughts. However, we often wonder whether what we
are saying has an effect on the listening audience. Recently, in the 1990's
references have often been made to link violent and deviant behavior to
music and certain music genres.
- Some such genres include but are not limited to; heavy
metal, rock, death metal, rap, gansta rap, industrial, hardcore, and alternative
music. During the last decade we have seen music lyrics become more and
more violent and sexually explicit. Experts argue that this can cause problems
in children and adolescents. Studies show that the average teenager listens
to approximately 40 hours of music in a given week. One is to assume that
somewhere in the mix a child is going to hear something derogatory or objectionable,
as it has become the norm in todays society.
- In most music today especially rap and heavy metal most
of the lyrics contain references to violence, sex, and/or drugs. While
many argue that this is dangerous for children to hear we know that a modern
day teenager often faces violence, drugs, suicide, pregnancy, and other
aspects of this music. While we find that lyrics may be dangerous to a
child we must ask ourselves whether the child fully understands and comprehends
what the artist is saying. Teenagers often do not understand what is being
said, in fact in one study only 30 percent of those questioned knew the
lyrics to their favorite songs and they all had varied comprehension as
to what the message was. It could be argued that if the lyrics were not
included in the artists booklet then the audience would never know what
was being said.
- Some lyrics are indeed harsh such as this Nine Inch Nails
lyric: I am a big man yes I am; and I have a big gun; got me a big ole
*censored* and I like to have fun; held against your forehead I'll make
you suck; you know, just for the *censored* of it. Obviously we cannot
interpret this as a positive meaning.
- A sampling of lyrics from Marilyn Manson include Who
says date rape isn't fun, ...the housewife I will beat.., and I slit my
teenage wrist, among others. Manson concerts are often grounds to bash
religion and rip bibles while fan chant we hate love, we love hate. Other
songs that have overtones of violence include slap-a-ho by Dove Shack and
another song sung by death metal band Cannibal Corpse in which they make
reference to masturbating with a dead womans head.
- Avid music lovers attest that they words sung in these
songs are just words and or no different that poetry printed in literature
books. No studies to date have concluded that listening to a song that
speaks of death will make a teenager want to go out and kill. Do these
kinds of lyrics breed todays children to be killers and to be sexually
promiscuous? Yes, and no, depending on who you speak to.
- Listening to music does not drive people to kill, and
no proof of such has been offered. In fact, one teacher speaks of a student
who wore a Metallica shirt everyday to school and wrote lyrics with foul
language, but was often seen sitting in the front row at Sunday mass with
his mother in a nice suit. The same people who go out to see Black Sabbath
and Motley Crue are the same people who handle world finance and international
affairs, it is just their choice in music.
- Studies that use music videos on the other hand show
an increased tolerance in deviant behavior among both males and females.
Music videos add reinforcement to what is being heard with the use of visuals.
Now an extra sense is being used. Videos often exhibit sexual innuendo,
acts of aggression, and gender stereotypes. Studies showed that men have
a tolerable attitude as to what is violent and what is too far in sexual
advances. Women have less of a tolerance. Studies have also found that
heavy metal music and gansta rap influence mens attitudes towards women
and that increased exposure to videos containing interpersonal violence
against women tended to increase men's acceptance of rape myths such as
she was dressing like she wanted it or she brought it on herself.
- In contrast, women's beliefs decreased and they felt
that men were coming on too strong and being to aggressive. Another study
conducted on college campuses in the northwestern United States involved
men and women watching various music videos and then answering a set of
questions afterwards. One video was The Way You Make Me Feel by Michael
Jackson which depicts a man stalking a woman who then becomes infatuated
in his game of pursuit.
- The other was The Stand by REM which only showed the
band on-stage playing instruments. In questions answered after the videos
men said it was necessary to pursue the woman to such an extent while women
thought it was annoying and/or disturbing. Men scored higher on a attitudes
for sexual overtones, while surprisingly women scored slightly higher on
the acceptance of interpersonal violence. The studies did conclude that
women who were often subjected to violent music videos were more accepting
of violence than those who have not had constant viewing or listening to
such lyrics and images. It also showed that men had a greater acceptance
of sexual stereotyping and rape myths after being subjected to the videos.
- Many methods of behavior modification have been suggested
in order to keep this music from causing harm or hurting anyone individuals.
Many arguments can be made as to whether the music should be censored or
if it is unconstitutional to do. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends
different types of behavior modification to combat the harmful effects
of this music. One such idea is as simple as having parents be aware as
to what their children are listening to, and to discuss anything they deem
objectionable. This would be a positive way to relate emotions to the songs.
- Another idea proposed is labeling of content in compact
discs. It would be labeled outside as to what the lyrics contained (i.e.
language, sex, drugs). It has also been suggested that groups as well as
individuals approach record companies, music studies, and artists and ask
them to consider the ramifications of their music on their audience and
market it accordingly and in a favorable manner. Ideas have been proposed
to set up research studies to further investigate the effects of explicit
music on the behavior of teenagers. One of the most effective ideas proposed
is as simple as people accept that this music is an art form and a means
of self-expression and emotional release and treat it as such. Just as
with rock and roll and Elvis Presley people will always find something
wrong with the music that others listen to.