Russell Simmons and the dirty words

Don Imus’ sexist/racist remarks are the controversy that just won’t go away but maybe that’s not a bad thing because we do need an open, frank dialog about these issues. Not surprisingly, as I noted in another blog entry, this has inspired sage words and stupid acts.

If you need any proof that canning Imus hasn’t ended these problems, you need only look at other recent radio jerks who’ve exploited the race card for their own purpose: NYC Radio Hosts Suspended for Prank Call andLimbaugh Plays Barack The Magic Negro on His Show. And if you need any proof that race is still a simmering issue in the new millennium, you need look no farther than here: Georgia School Holds First Integrated Prom.

The most interesting participant in the debate has been Russell Simmons: Rap mogul wants to see an end to racist lyrics. Granted, he still has a vested interest in the rap world but the big question is what good would such proposals do, if they are at all implemented — indeed, he’s been slammed for trying to make toothless suggestion like this to try deflect criticism. But even Simmons seems to know that he doesn’t expect to change the industry overnight but wants to at least start a dialog about this.

For the truly dumbest comments on the Imus flap, there’s this appropriately titled Rolling Stone article which slams the media for sexism but leaves RS itself out of the picture even as they put two half-naked women on the cover of the issue: The Low Point.

At the other end, you had smarter articles which tried to think over the situation more thoughtfully. Steven Winn’s Violence all around us, and we’re numb is a good try but he caves in too often to the same reactionary B.S. that FCC is trying to peddle about TV violence, namely that govt. regulation should take the place of parenting when it comes to protecting children from the media. For the wisest, must-read commentary about this, you should read Sarah Rodman’s Policing of rap lyrics is near-impossible task (Boston Globe). What’s so impressive about Rodman’s article is that she takes a big-picture view of the situation and wisely admits that there’s no easy answers to these problems.

Editor’s note: The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network has provided clarification on their position: “Russell Simmons, Dr Benjamin Chavis and HSAN did NOT recommend eliminating/banning/censoring those three words from hip-hop. The organization recommended to the recording and broadcast industries to remove/delete/bleep those three words from clean versions of CDs on the public airwaves, that means on radio and television. They did not refer at all to the artists, which HSAN believes very strongly in having freedom of artistic expression.”