Drug, sex censorship in songs unbalancedBy Matthew Ahasay • April 12, 2012 • Category: Opinions
I was recently riding a train from Chicago to St. Louis, sitting in front of two mothers and their children. Everything was normal, the kids were annoying and the mothers were doing their best to preoccupy them. Suddenly, a familiar chorus sprung up from behind me. The kids, who were between 6 and 10 years old, were belting “I’m Sexy and I know it” at the top of their lungs, and what’s more, the mothers didn’t stop it. Songs such as “Young Wild and Free,” “Sexy and I Know It” and “In the Dark” have become commercial successes and have increased exposure over the last months. While they contain explicit material, radio and television stations covers their bases by censoring material that a reasonable person would find offensive. Right? If you have listened to Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg’s latest top-40 hit, you realize that all references to marijuana have be replaced with generic words or taken out all together. This practice seems sensible since people shouldn’t be doing drugs. When compared against LMFAO’s song “Sexy and I know It” or DEV’s “In the Dark” there is a different story told. At the surface the lyrics seem pretty harmless, but what isn’t considered is how youth perceive them. Clearly the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t think little kids will pick up on the subtle nuances of sexuality in our society, but the truth is that there is so much media exposure of sexuality that children are more in-tune than ever to what sex is and how it is gaining acceptability. In an anonymous survey of teens conducted by the Center for Disease Control, 46 percent of teens said they have engaged in sexual intercourse, and at an increasingly young age. In addition, the CDC found that 39 percent of those youths who had sex in the past three months didn’t use a contraceptive. Inversely, the use of marijuana has been decreasing since 1996, according to the CDC. The decrease isn’t attributed to lack of media exposure, either. References can be found in network television, music and movies. So why the difference in treatment? An easy explanation is that sex is legal where marijuana isn’t. That seems shortsighted considering the effects of teenage pregnancy are far worse than recreational drug use and medical marijuana laws.
It seems that there is a stigma and prejudice still circulating that seems to condone sexual encounters over a drug that is in the process of obtaining legal status. This sentiment is perfectly illustrated by shows such as Teen Mom, which cater to youths and offer a skewed reality of teenage pregnancy. Obviously the aforementioned kids had no idea what it meant but still they were obviously well acquainted with the song, which is conditioning them for when they are susceptible to sexual activity. Is this appropriate? If we as a society feel the need to censor a lyric such as “there’s going to be weed in the air” and not “Got a sex drive, push to start,” which exacerbates an ongoing problem, then there is something fundamentally wrong.