Re: [NYT] Eminem's grammy defended

From: Stephen D. Williams (
Date: Wed Feb 21 2001 - 08:16:03 PST

Rohit Khare wrote:
> [did they ever give wes craven an oscar? Or faster, pussycat, kill,
> kill! Sure, this frames the issue well, but I have a problem with
> slim shady nonetheless... oh well. We'll just keep defining deviancy
> down. Thanks Bill! [C, not G] ... rohit]

Cultural tastes are always swinging one direction or another on a number
of levels. In a sense, we're still exploring reality and exaggerated
fantasy as a foil to reality after breaking out of the neo-victorian
50's (at least in 'Western' culture). We're unlikely to experience most
of the horrors of the past except in art. It could be argued that by
exploring everything in art, we gain experience at a safe distance from
reality. Realistic war movies, for instance, are likely to cause more
aversion to war, or at least our direct involvement in it, than the

The big question is always children (and undeveloped adults) and whether
their development is affected negatively and whether there is anything
that can be done about it. This is a question with all media and
interaction and is always problematic.

There are two major schools of thought on raising children:

o Teach them to be critical thinkers and expect them to deal with
anything, even if it is to shelter themselves by their own action when
needed. Give them age appropriate explanations, but don't make overt
efforts to censor what they experience, especially if others in the
family are privy.

o Carefully control what your children see and hear to guide them to
understandings you approve of. Withhold 'negative' influences as much
as possible to keep their minds 'clean' and avoid mental 'damage'.

The reality is that the latter method seldom works without very
stringent controls and large effort and is always detectable as an
artificial view of the world by the child. You can get some of the
desired effect by claiming 'you're too young', etc., and following
through on later exposure.

Hard decisions come when you have teenagers who want to immerse
themselves in information that you have indicated disapproval for. As I
mentioned in a previous discussion, the important thing is what thinking
habits a teenager learns and avoids learning.

As for Eminem, he isn't that offensive compared to some material that is
out there. The discussion of whether people are picking on him because
he is white and can enunciate is interesting, but doesn't address
merit. "Lil' Kim" is far more offensive, for example.

'Borrowing' another sub-culture can be ok, but it can also lead to
self-damaging actions or personality changes. My oldest adopted
step-son, who is 20 now, 'borrowed' Kurt Cobain's depression, etc., for
several years. In other words, he Wanted to be depressed and hold a
bleak self-defeating outlook on the world. When he finally grew out of
it, he had dropped out of high school (the asst. principal 'hated him'
and was 'illegally' infringing on his rights...), had a baby (he lived
with his girlfriend's family for 18 months), and can't seem to make
proper decisions about work, spending his money, etc. Helping him has
become counter-productive because he hasn't learned to be
self-sufficient. A study in, not only poor mental habits, but in fact
of 'willful ignorance'. Talk about frustrating.

We have an almost-16 year old son who is really at the cusp of his life
decision making, and in fact listens to Eminem constantly. We shall
see. The most important lesson I've been trying to teach is that he
really is making important decisions. He decides every day whether he
learns something or watches anime. Whether he reads a book or talks
with his friends. Enjoys our wonderland of TiVo, computers, living
space, recreation, sports, etc., or prepares to be able to afford
anything in a few years.

Sometimes it seems like a whole generation is apathetic and has no
interest in an interesting life, but maybe that's how most kids in any
generation are. As I said before, kids aren't taught in a clear way the
benefits of a productive life and what it takes.

> Visible Man
> Eminem offends people. Is it the music or the fact that he's white?


Stephen D. Williams         Insta, Inc./Jabber.Com, Inc./CCI
43392 Wayside Cir,Ashburn,VA 20147-4622 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax 

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