RE: The Stranger, on Eminem & Elton

From: Matt Jensen (
Date: Thu Feb 22 2001 - 23:31:10 PST

[Allow me to combine my responses to Lisa and MaggieB...]

Lisa writes:
> How can you make judgements on what you believe the defendant
> to believe? We're not thought-police.

What defendant? We're not the thought police, we're not the police at
all, we're not Congress. We're Lisa and Matt, having a discussion,
offering opinions about music and good taste. I was asking for opinions
(or judgements, if you like), not calling for legislation.

> If we decide to accord artistic license to artists, then we're forced to
> allow artists to declare themselves as such.

How do my comments and questions restrict artists? They are free to find
a record label who wants to publish them. We're 'forced' to allow them to
be published, but we're not forced to buy their CDs or let our kids buy
their CDs. Just as the Recording Academy is not forced to nominate them
for Grammys.

The decision of the Recording Academy to nominate or not nominate Eminem
is not censorship. Their decision to invite or not invite him to perform
during the show is not censorship. They are a private organization; they
can grant or withhold any honors they wish. As can MTV, VH1, GLAAD, Focus
on the Family, the 700 Club, or anyone else who wants to give out awards.
If some of them decide to restrict awards to works they feel are not
offensive, that's their call. Many people believe works don't have to be
offensive to be challenging.

MaggieB writes:
> We saw this coming just as we saw the rage over Rage and Harry
> Potter. Nothing new here, folks. Controversy is cool because it
> forces people to think and debate... to _define and defend_
> personal standards (= not be sheep.... or the more popular term,
> dittomonkeys. ;)

Yes, controversy is cool and can encourage thinking. But that doesn't
mean you have to take whatever caused the controversy and put it on a
pedestal. Someone who refuses to discuss this topic simply because Eminem
says f**k is not engaged by the controversy. Similarly, someone who says
"Eminem should perform on the Grammys, it doesn't matter what he's
saying," that person is also not engaged by the controversy. Let's see
something a little more nuanced, people. We don't need "sheep" on both
sides. (And while we're at it, can we stop calling people we disagree
with "sheep"? It's arrogant to assume you know all the reasons why people
think differently than you.)

So Maggie, it sounds like you discussed it in your home and decided that
Eminem's music doesn't bother y'all. That's great, but suppose another
family had a discussion and debate, and concluded that Eminem was
inappropriate for awards and broadcast shows. Do you respect that
opinion, so long as they talked it out intelligently?

-Matt Jensen

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