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Media. Music. You.

Essay by   •  September 20, 2010  •  1,793 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,483 Views

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In our society today, people are influenced by many different things. The media uses advertisements and commercials to sell us what "we think we need" in order to fit in. This type of media hype is everywhere; in our magazines, on our television screens, on billboards, and in our music. Yes, music does control society in some aspects. Little girls idolize pop stars, and young men look up to the clever lyricists in our popular culture. Yet, sometimes these role model artists are not sending the right messages to young adults. Girls may judge what a man should be based on her current pop star crush, and guys may judge girls in the same way. Not all boys can be Justin Timberlake, and not all girls can be Britney Spears. This should not be the message to young people in the first place; they should listen to artists who present diverse issues in their music, so the young minds of these teenagers can form their own opinions about the world. The media and the big corporations that own the record companies place such a big hype on certain artists that some people may not take the time to dig deeper and find genuinely good music, or to see what underlying issues are taking place in the music industry. There is a website called Downhillbattle.org that provides information for music activists; the site shows the world how the big record labels are controlling the radio music play and how artists get paid close to nothing compared to how much the big corporations make.

One of the ways Britney and Justin are made into pop idols is through a system in the music industry call "pay-for-play." In an article by Eric Boehlert called "Will Congress tackle pay-for-play?" the issue of Congress finally stopping the big record companies from paying out the radio stations is discussed. "Ð'...It virtually shuts off access to commercial FM radio for artists or record companies who can't or won't spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote a new single" (Boehlert). This pay-for-play gives artists under the big record labels and unfair advantage over those who are on independent labels. This is also a way the big record labels can control what we listen to; they can control what is popular. They can put Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake on the radio all day long, but lesser known artists may not get any promotion on radio play. You may be thinking, "Well, what's the problem with the independent artists? Why don't they get on a big record label?" The answer to this is found all over Downhillbattle.org. There is an article called "The Problem With Music" by Steve Albini that breaks down what an artist makes compared to one of The Big 5 (BMG, EMI, Warner Bros., Sony, and Universal) recording companies. Basically the profit comes down to this: for every $16 CD that is sold, the artist or band receives less than $1. By breaking away from The Big 5, artists may be able to make more profits, but this will not be enough to get them on the radio waves. A way around both of these situations is the internet. Lesser known bands can get out to the masses, and file-sharing is bringing down the big record label corporations (which downhillbattle.org says will help the artists and the consumers alike). File-sharing and the internet are "causing a democratic shift, as more phenomena filter up and fans elect their own stars rather than accept the dictates of radio or MTV" (Gundersen). This is a wonderful concept that can help Americans, teens especially, finally break out of the mold of listening to what the media tells them all the time.

The media does not always know what is best for a society, and trends that are created are not always good ones to follow. By making pop stars like Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson, girls think they have to be beautiful, seductive, and sexy to be popular. Boys, on the other hand, look up to guys like Justin Timberlake and Usher, who are lean, muscular, and also seductive. This issue of sex is very apparent through music because of the music videos, the clothes the musicians wear, and their song lyrics. Some of the music videos could probably be considered "soft porn," and is that something that the youth of American should be watching? In Margaret Atwood's essay "Pornography," the issue of soft porn, erotica, and hard core porn is addressed in a negative way. Atwood questions, "Is today's pornography yet another indication of the hatred of the body, the deep mind-body split, which is supposed to pervade Western Christian society?" (p. 380). Atwood brings home the idea that "porn" in the media is a bad influence on young adults; if they think porn is okay or normal, they will be questioning their self image and their morals for a long time. This is not healthy for the teens, and this will delay them in finding their true "self." Society did not used to be so centered on this issue of self exposure. At first, revealing yourself in a music video was a social taboo; when Madonna did this everyone was shocked. Now being revealing is a social norm. Britney Spears is half naked in all her videos, and artists like Usher and 50 Cent hardly ever have their shirts on. What message is this sending to today's teens? What are Americans supposed to think of the lyrics in "Candy Shop" by 50 Cent: "I'll take you to the candy shop/I'll let you lick the lollypop/Go 'head girl, don't you stop/Keep going 'til you hit the spot (woah)"? This is what the big record companies are promoting; this is what the media is selling to young adults through music. The same underlying concept of sex comes from "Toxic" sung by Britney Spears: "I need a hit/Baby, give me it/You're dangerous/I'm lovin' it." The appeal to be sexy and sexual is pushed onto youth at a very young age. Is this a trend teenagers should really be following? Hopefully teens will learn the truth about this main stream music, and they will find music that will help them enhance their inner selves, not transform their "self" into something they think society wants them to be.

There is some music by popular artists that has a much more positive message, although most of these artists are not main stream, or they also have songs that fit into the category above. Kelly Clarkson and Christina Aguilera both have empowering songs for women, and they are both pretty mainstream. A little less main stream is Michelle Branch and Bad Religion, both of which are very supportive of doing your own thing and being your own person. Michelle Branch takes the dominant role in her song "All you Wanted" when she sings, "If you want to/I can save you/I can take you away/From here/So lonely inside/So busy out there/And all

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