Analytical Essay On Negative Degrading Music English Language Essay

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Popular songs in America and other countries such as Jamaica use lyrics that degrade or defile a persons identity. When people listen to this music they can easily be influenced to have similar views, bring out preexisting views, or become desensitized to negative realities. Negative music that uses lyrics to degrade a person's gender or sexual orientation in an obscene manner should not be listened to because it can shape a person's view, producing ill effects.

The recurrence of negative music is found more today than in the past and it reflects in the frequent use of degrading terms. In the past popular artists such as Elvis, the Beatles, and the Isley brothers did not use lyrics to degrade a person. Today many popular artists such as 30h!3, Too short, and Panic at the Disco use words such as whore, slut, and bitch in their lyrics producing a negative connotation of a female and in some cases males. A few decades ago you would rarely hear someone calling their girlfriend a bitch and it wasn't common to hear it in the music. As the term is used more frequently in songs it reflects in the language of today's youth. The repeated use also allows us to become desensitized by these words and not think much of it when heard. The definition of bitch would be described in almost any dictionary as a female dog and a hoe would be defined as a garden tool. Whereas artists and people now use the term bitch to be anything of utmost disrespect to another person and hoe as a degrading term meaning someone who sleeps around. The connotations have been changed as they are being used more and more in music.

As these words are being used more in music it is desensitizing others. Dictionary.Com defines desensitize "to make indifferent, unaware, or the like, in feeling" and also "to lessen the sensitiveness of." Negative music lessens our sensitivity to negative words and events. If for instance we hear about a crime against a person because of their gender or sexual orientation we may only be indifferent with our reactions. The more frequently we hear negative words in the songs we listen to or even imagine the events depicted the number we become to it. "Violent [media]…makes people numb to the pain and suffering of others, according to a research report published in the March 2009 issue of Psychological Science. (Medical News Today) " Research clearly suggests that the frequency of obscene material we are exposed to the less it will bother us. Consequently we would be less likely to help others being attacked because it becomes normalized. This is not true in all cases, of course if it is a term referring to attack yourself it would bother you but it would less likely be of any concern if it was about another person.

Not only can music desensitize us it can also shape our views. The younger a person is the more likely their views can be molded because they are continuously learning about the world around them. According to an article by Dave Barry "songs we hear a lot-particularly the ones we hear when we're young-soak into our psyche." Thus negative music is prone to have a greater effect on the youth which in turn shapes the stereotypes and prejudices they grow up with. Research by North Carolina State University does conclude that a stereotype is not a direct cause of a particular song but the stereotype can be brought out ("Journal of Applied Social Psychology"). Therefore the research shows that if a person has a subconscious stereotype or one that is subdued music can bring it out.

Others may argue that negative music is not the only factor contributing to the shift of desensitization and the shaping of views because of other forms of media such as movies, video games, and television. However acts regarding a persons sexual orientation in movies whether violent are not, are usually portrayed by causing the audience to feel sympathy towards the victim. The victim is usually a main character and thus the portrayal in movies hardly creates or brings out the same stereotypes as music. Also people listen to songs over and over again compared to viewing a movie once or twice. Violent video games allow a person to enact violence but it is rarely gender specific and is behavioral only. Television could also be a form of media exposing others to degrading material but it is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). According to the FCC "it is a violation of federal law to air obscene programming at any time. (FCC)" Therefore if obscene programs are not being televised a main factor must be music. With over ten billion songs downloaded from iTunes (Apple), music is a widely shared activity. The more people are exposed to music the higher chances they could be exposed to negative music. Music therefore does contribute a factor to the shift.

Although some of us may be aware of songs that express obscene and degrading lyrics we continue to listen to them anyways because of an enticing hook or an intriguing beat. However it is important to pay attention to what we are feeding our minds by the music we allow into our ears. The songs Boom Bye Bye and Log on use a catchy beat and hook to their advantage by creating songs that are pleasing to the ear. Both songs have a catchy hook and an interesting beat however the lyrics attack homosexuals. In Boom Bye Bye a song originating in Jamaica says" Boom bye bye Inna batty bwoy head, Rude bwoy no promote no nasty man." These lyrics promote shooting homosexuals in the head, pouring acid on them, and burning them alive. These lyrics attack homosexual's identities and produces a stereotype. Similar lyrics are shown in the American reggae song Log on, by Elephant Man. In a play performed by DV8 called "To Be Straight With You" they emphasized how Log On would be played in clubs and ironically homosexuals would dance to it because of the beat not knowing the meaning of all the lyrics. Lyrics such as "Log on, and step pon chi chi man. Log on from yu know seh yu nuh ickie man" which talks about setting a homosexual on fire and stomping on him. These absurd acts expressed through music can cause people who currently have negative feelings against homosexuals to possibly feel more negatively and even act violently. Also it has the potential to desensitize others. In these songs a persons identity because of their sexual orientation is being portrayed as unworthy and disgusting as in both songs they used the words icky and nasty.

Eminem a popular artist in America has also talked about homosexuals in a negative light and females as well. Underground a song from his newest album Relapse uses harsh words such as faggot and slut exposing listeners to degrading music. The song jokes about homosexuals going to rehab as if their homosexuality were a disease. Listening to this can allow us to create prejudices and stereotypes against homosexuals. He also uses lyrics to degrade women, in his relapse album on multiple songs he refers to his song superman. In superman he used lyrics such as "Put Anthrax on a Tampax and slap you till you can't stand," and used degrading terms such as bitch, slut, whore, and hoe. In the song he obscenely mentions how much he hates on his ex girlfriend that he wouldn't even urinate on her if she were on fire. This obscene song reached the top twenty of the billboard charts in 2008. His Relapse album reached the number one spot of the billboard charts in June of 2009. If thousands of people are listening to his album more and more people are becoming exposed to lyrics that degrade others identity. On a commentary of the song underground, YouTube users expressed "the beat was epic" and it had "the best hook ever." Although the beat and the hook of the song did not degrade another's identity it gives a reason for people to listen to it, which in turn exposes them to crude material.

Some may argue that just because a person listens to a song that it will not change their current views on a situation. However they fail to realize that after time repeated exposure can desensitize a person to a subject causing them to not feel as bothered by it. Also it can influence a person to act violently or begin to share similar views. While still debatable numerous studies have been conducted to show how violence in the media can correlate to violence in children. Researchers at the Harvard Medical School claim there are numerous unrealistic disturbing portrayals of violence and sexual relationships in the media. Further, "hundreds of studies have linked exposure to media violence to violent real-life behavior in adolescents (Cromie)." So even though certain negative songs may be unrealistically violent and demeaning it continues to reflect on today's youth. Negative music is therefore dangerous to listen to because the effect it can create.

Since negative music has the potential to produce ill effects upon the minds of others I urge people not to listen. Artists reserve their rights to voice their opinions and their views however demeaning they will be. However it is important to recognize the detrimental effects it can have on us. If we all did not promote negative music, popular artists may be encouraged to no longer use lyrics that reap into the vicinities of our Ipods, radios, and our minds.

Works Cited

Apple. 10-billion-song-countdown. Web.14 April 2010.

Banton,Buju. "Boom Bye Bye." Inna Heights. 1997. MP3

Barry, Dave. "Bad Songs." Writ 2 Reader. Ed. Maureen Demaio. Grafikart, 2010. Print.

Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau. Obscene, Indecent, and Profane Broadcasts. Federal Communications Commission, 10 08 2008. Web. 14 Apr 2010.

Cromie, William. " Music Videos Promote Adolescent Aggression." Harvard University Gazette (1998) 12 Apr 2010. Web. Unabridged. "desensitize." Random House, Inc. Web. 19 Apr. 2010.

Elephant man. "Log On." United Kingdom. 2001. MP3

Eminem. " Relapse." Underground. 2009. MP3

Journal of Applied Social Psychology (2008).Rap Music Linked to Sexism. n. pag.14 .Web. Apr 14 2010.

Medical News Today. Violent Media Desensitize Viewers To The Pain Of Others: U-M Study. (2009): n. pag. Web. 14 Apr 2010.

Metacognitive Reflection 4/14

After my first revision I deleted a lot of unnecessary sentences that were not needed in my paper. I added even more sentences and paragraphs that I felt strengthen my paper. My thesis and introductory paragraph was changed almost in its entirety. When making my revision I ensured that my paragraphs tied in with my introduction and when it didn't I either deleted it or added it to my thesis. I wish that I was able to become more creative with the language in my paper but overall the simplicity I used still make it an effective paper.

Metacognitive Reflection 4/19

This revision process was not as gruesome as the first. Although I rearranged, added, and deleted many sentences. I did not delete or change complete paragraphs. In this revision I rethought out my examples and evidence and made sure they were efficient. I do wish I was able to come up with stronger points but I feel confident that my points were sufficient given the page requirement. I tried to make sure I wasn't using redundant language and that I did not use "fluff." I edited and proofread my paper as well.

Different Writer Different Story

Imagine if the three little pigs was rewritten by Albert Einstein. Imagine how the story would be different. Would Einstein have added information about the air dynamics from the wolf's puff? Now imagine if Dr. Seuss rewrote the Gettysburg address. Would it now contain rhymes? As you can see a story can be slightly or even dramatically changed depending on the writer. Writers all have different styles and make arguments using different rhetorical strategies to establish their purpose. The use of rhetoric can make an argument more or less effective. Merete Rietveld (2003) and Atul Gawande (2007) are both writers that tell different stories using different strategies. In Rietvield's book review, "Mutant Bacteria and the Failure of Antibiotics," she used rhetoric to explain the dangers of mutating antibiotics to the general public, however her article is fallacious with an illogical flow. Gawande (2007), a surgeon, and author of "The Checklist," used rhetoric to assert the need for a Checklist in hospitals to doctors and those in academia . Both of these writers use rhetorical strategies to solidify their arguments. Gawandae's article is more effective however, because he clearly asserts his argument in a non fallacious manner.

To start Rietveld's (2003) article, she used an intriguing introductory paragraph. Her very first sentence draws the reader in. "Hospitals have germs (p. 1)." This hook is short, simple, and gets straight to the point. The introductory paragraph leads the reader to the topic in a creative way. Rietvield also used a well established thesis statement that clearly guided the rest of her article. However, her intro did not mention the book she was reviewing until the following paragraphs. As a book review this is not an effective strategy since the book should be a primary focus. The introductory paragraph still holds effective since it fulfils a purpose of grabbing the readers attention.

Eventually, Rietveld introduced the book she was reviewing, "The Killers Within: The Deadly Rise of Drug-Resistant Bacteria," and used the authors backgrounds to establish ethos. She pointed out that Mark J. Pltokin, one of the authors, is an ethno biologist. Establishing Plotkin's expertise established his credibility . She also mentioned Michael Shnayerson, the other author, is an editor of Vanity Fair. Vanity Fair is a well established magazine that accesses high quality writers. Many of her assertions came from claims the authors make, thus establishing their credibility establishes her own credibility. Ethos is an effective strategy because it creates a reason for a reader to believe and even become persuaded by a writers argument.

Although her arguments were strengthened by the credibility of the authors, Rietveld (2003) used proof surrogates which weaken her argument. A proof surrogate implies that evidence is credible or should be believed without citing specific sources. The usage of proof surrogates usually follows terms such as scientists theorize or research suggests (Cuddy 2009). Rietveld stated that "authors argue that substantial research shows that…resistant bacteria are easily transferred (p. 2)." By stating research had been conducted it may seem easy to believe the argument. However, anyone can research anything but it doesn't make something true. Another instance Rietveld used a proof surrogate, is when she stated that "scientists in Georgia have been using viruses…to puncture the bacterial membrane (p. 2)" If Rietveld had specified what scientists besides there geographic location it may have added more credibility. Any of the evidence she provided cannot be assumed true when she did not cite her source.

Throughout the article, Rietveld used simple diction and easy to understand concepts which effectively served her audience. Hard to understand words rarely appeared in the article. However, they were not absent. She used terms such as "epidemiologist" and "phages" without explaining them. Rietveld clarified some terms such as the difference between a viral and a bacterial infection. Rietveld was careful not to go into specifics that only scientists might understand and explained activity of bacteria using simple diction. For instance when describing a cell division process known as binary fission, Rietveld explained it in lay mans terms by stating bacteria "can divide and reproduce into more daughter cells (p. 1)" Explanations were often given without the use of complicated terms or scientific jargon allowing for the general public to understand.

Even though simple diction was used, the review did not have a logical flow because it lacked transitions. Transitions allow ease of reading, and allows a reader to be able to follow into the next paragraph without becoming confused. Rietveld (2003) jumps into separate claims without transitioning in the last lines of her preceding paragraph. Transition words are also not present in the beginning of any of her paragraphs. For example, after describing bacteria reproduction, Rietveld instantly started the following paragraph with " Plotkin, an ethno biologist (p. 1)," to begin her prose about the authors. It gave an illogical flow to end with bacteria, and then precede with the authors of the book she reviewed, without a smooth transition. Lack of transitions thus decreases the strength of the article, which gave a poor effect.

Gawande's (2007) article focused on the intricacies of intensive care, the number of hospital caused infections and deaths, and how a simple checklist could aid in the prevention of these infections. Like Rietvield, Gawande used strong introductory paragraphs to draw the attention of his audience. He began by explaining how our bodies can withstand gruesome incidents such as "crushing, burning, [and] bombing (pg 1)," then leads into an incredible story about a three year old girl whom "fell into an icy fishpond (p. 2)," and was revived doctors. These first few paragraphs led the reader on an intense journey of how this little girls life was saved, which grabbed the reader's attention to continue reading the article.

After describing the extraordinary ordeal about his patient, Gawande used an analogy to compare the complicated acts of intensive care, to the complicated needs of flying an airplane. He described how an Army airplane exploded in the air, and that "the crash had been due to 'pilot error'(p. 5)." Flying a plane includes numerous different processes, that even professionals might omit a single step that can cause a tremendous consequence. To fix this error the pilots came up with a "step-by-step" list of procedures needed before plane "take off, flight, landing, and taxing (p. 5)." This list of steps was coined as the checklist. Once the pilots began using the checklist they flew almost two million miles without an accident, the checklist seemed to be responsible. Gwande concluded that "medicine today has entered its B-17 phase (p. 6)." With the vast quantity of steps required in intensive care, the omission of even one could lead to further damage to a patient and even death. The use of the analogy, allowed readers to comprehend that since the checklist worked for the pilots, surely a checklist would work for hospitals; to prevent unnecessary deaths.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of a checklist, Gwande (2007) used the rhetorical strategy of logos, which is an argument based on logic. Statistics are used constantly in the article to provide facts about the the checklist and to demonstrate the dangers without a checklist. Peter Provonost, an advocate for the checklist, asked nurses to observe how many times doctors omitted even the simplest of steps, such as hand washing or cleaning a patient. The results showed that "in more than a third of patients, they skipped at least one (Gawande 2007, p.6)." This observation was made only on doctors whom treated patients with catheter lines, which are used to administer "medicines, fluids, nutrients, or blood products ("Central Venous" 2009)," to patients. Gawande used statistics to show the frequency that these lines are being used by asserting intensive care units use millions of lines in patients each year and "are fatal between five and twenty-eight percent of the time (p. 4)." Since millions of catheter lines are being used, and deaths, as well as further complications are arising, something needed to be done. After the realization of the omission of steps by their own doctors, Johns Hopkins Hospital began using the checklist. After a year "the average length of patient stay in intensive care dropped by half, (Gawande, p.4)," and "the checklist had prevented forty-infections and eight deaths (Gawande, p. 4)." Gawande showed that checklists once again, may be the leading prevention of these terrible consequences by supporting his argument with statistics. Simply using statistics does not strengthen his argument, but ethos is established because Gawande is a surgeon and he often stated a source which does strengthen his argument. Whereas Rietveld used proof surrogates, Gawande did not.

Unlike Rietveld (2003), Gawande's (2007) article produced a logical flow which gave a greater effect to the overall article. Each paragraph was arranged in a logical order and coincided with the previous one. Transition words such as "first," and "here, then" are present which gave an easier read and shows Gawande's strength as a writer. Two different tones were used in the article that also corresponded with the flow of the writing. Gawande used a formal tone when describing intricate details of the science, or when advocating the need for a checklist across the country. The formal tone allowed the reader to imply the seriousness of his claims. He used an intimate tone when using his patients as examples. The use of an intimate tone gave a personal feel and made the writing conversational allowing the reader to relate, and empathize. The tones did not contradict with the purpose, and thus gave the writing a logical flow.

Both Rietveld and Gawande told different stories, and made different arguments, using different rhetorical strategies, which changed the outcomes for both. Rietveld used an intriguing hook, ethos, and simple diction to appeal to her audience. Whereas, Gawande also used an intriguing hook, he used an analogy, and logos to appeal to his audience. These rhetorical strategies allowed affective articles for both authors. Rietveld however had fallacies and her writing was not easy to read like Gawande which dramatically changed the effect of her story.