Even Bill O’Reilly likes President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, but since he’s Bill O’Reilly, he has to add some over-the-top caveats to his general support.
My Brother’s Keeper is a White House program that, according to its official website, takes a “collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to build ladders of opportunity and unlock the full potential of boys and young men of color.” The program aims to acknowledge and pro-actively address the circumstances that put young black men and boys disproportionately at risk for a number of unseemly fates (unemployment, murder, etc).
O’Reilly thinks this initiative needs to jump right to the root cause of these issues and to him, doing so means telling Jay-Z, other rappers and “tattoo guys” (your guess is as good as mine) to “knock it off.” He also thinks Beyoncé’s “Partition” video is disgusting and irresponsible.
It is convenient to place all of the ills of young black youth at the feet of black pop culture, but the Jay Zs of the world are more symptom than cause of any societal flaw. Surely, centuries of targeted oppression, institutional racism, domestic racial terrorism, deliberate cultural degradation and unchecked sexual violence have all contributed more to today’s most pervasive issues than say, Rick Ross’ latest ode to fictional drug deals and new-money obnoxiousness.
That’s not to say that the misogynistic, gluttonous style of music that currently pervades hip-hop’s top 40 is completely harmless. But as Russell Simmons pointed out to O’Reilly when he was a guest on his show, music is often a reflection of society more than an arbiter of change. So, O’Reilly’s notion that the way to change the youth is to make popular rappers be accountable is not the way to go. We need to change the factors that make us purchase millions of copies of songs that condone violence, criminality and the objectification of women. Don’t shoot the messenger.
And if you did want to get to the jugular of the music industry, you might try knocking on the doors of the music executives who green-light projects and authorize massive marketing campaigns. They are the ones who heavily influence what floods the radio and what goes viral online.
As far as O’Reilly’s dig at Beyoncé, he was just talking to hear his own voice. During his show when Russell Simmons was a guest, O’Reilly somehow segued from a talk about “My Brother’s Keeper” into what he feels is harmful entertainment for unsupervised kids. He called Beyoncé’s “Partition video “exploitative garbage that you know harms impressionable children.”
He went on to express how appalled he was that Beyoncé would talk about Monica Lewinsky and sex in the back of a limousine, knowing that teen girls look up to her and teen pregnancy is an issue.
Couple things here: One, Beyoncé is a grown woman. She even has a song about it in case you were confused about that fact. Yes, she has teen fans, but she also has a lot of grown-up fans and she’s a 32-year-old, married mother. Beyoncé sang about a fun encounter between two consenting adults. There is nothing wrong with making a song about sex. Sex is awesome and Beyoncé is not obligated to only create music that caters to her youngest fans. If we are worried about “unsupervised kids,” maybe we should focus on the supervision part before the music.
Two, when a man “Monica Lewinskys” on a gown, the sperm does not meet the egg. No pregnancy there. Just want to make sure Bill is aware of that.
Do you think Bill O’Reilly has a point about holding pop music stars accountable or is he way off base?