With Broadcast Media Promoting Violence And Murder Congress Must Re-Examine Role Of FCC
If one should desire to know if a kingdom is well governed, if its morals are good or bad, the quality of it’s music will furnish the answer. -- Confucius
Currently the airwaves are filled with messages that are violently anti woman, anti Black and in a real sense anti life itself.
We are inundated with lyrics, dialogue, and images, from music videos, song lyrics and DJ comments that glorify violence while encouraging the degradation andexploitation of women, to video games that require that you kill people in order to stay in the game and move forward.
To appreciate our concern, perhaps it is helpful to understand the emotional significance and influence of music. As noted musician David Byrne has explained, music tells us things, social things, psychological things, physical things about how we feel and perceive our bodies, and it does it in a way that other art forms cannot. It is not only in the lyrics as Byrne and others have pointed out, it is also the combination of sounds, rhythms, and vocal textures that communicate in ways that bypass the reasoning centers of the brain and go straight to our emotions.
Poet Larry Neal, one of the architects of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960’s has said that our music has always been the most dominant manifestation of what we are and how we feel. The best of it has always operated at the very core of our lives. It is the music that can affirm our highest possibilities.
That may be precisely why the best of our music is under siege.
It is also important to understand that in this society, music conveys social status. Being associated with certain kinds of music can increase your social standing, Consider the higher level of sophistication associated with opera or classical music, or the level of cool sophistication associated with the music of Coltrane, Monk and Miles.
Some have suggested that while we may indeed like the music, often what we really like is the company it puts us in. In this sense the music creates a community or life style that is validated by the acceptance of the music. It is the music that validates the “Gangsta.”
Currently the airwaves are dominated by a body of music, images and ideas that has established a code of behavior that in addition to denigrating women, encourages the murdering of Black people. It is a lifestyle where all women are “Hoes” and “Bitches”.
Consider this “gangsta” lyric: “I got a shotgun, and heres the plot. Takin Niggas out with a flurry of buckshots . Yeah I was gunnin and then you look, all you see is niggas runin”.
Music, images and dialogue that offers another view cant get reasonable airplay. Currently the airwaves are still regulated by the FCC, a commission that was established in 1934 to regulate in the public interest.
When George Bush installed Michael Powell as Chairman of the commission, in 2001, Powell said he did not know what in the public interest meant.
Since the 1996 telecommunications act which set the framework for deregulation, the FCC has been reduced to pablum serving only to sanction the acquisition of broadcast frequencies and license to the mega media corporations which has resulted in the concentration of media ownership into the hands of very few.
Under these major revisions of US telecommunications law, the first since the 1930s, members of the general public no longer have “legal standing” to challenge broadcast policy or to insure that the public interest is served.
None the less the Federal Communications Commission is directly responsible to congress and since Black media ownership is a major casualty of deregulation and since the diversity of opinion and ideas coming directly from the Black experience in the world are being removed from the marketplace of ideas, we have appealed tothe Congressional Black Caucus in general and the New York congressional delegation in particular to urge congress to reexamine the current function and effectiveness of the FCC.
Our first appeal to the CBC was December 6 2012, and in spite of additional attempts to reach members of the CBC, to date congress members, Yvette Clarke, Gregory Meeks and Hakeem Jeffries have freely dismissed our appeals to them.
Recently only Rep. Charles Rangel faced a serious opponent for reelection, the others ran unopposed. That is the last time that will happen. we cannot allow them to continue to casually stroll into office, they all must really earn and deserve the right to represent us.
Perhaps if there is a link established between the murder video games and the young White boys who routinely walk onto a school campus with automatic weapons and open fire, congress might act to at least balance the emotional stimuli on the air.
But as long as Women and Black people are the primary victims of this insidious violence, even the increasingly irrelevant Black congressional leadership ignores us.
Franz Fannon was correct in observing, “Ultimately a people get the leadership they deserve.”
It is time to support the kind of leadership we truly deserve.
Bob Law is a veteran media analyst, long time radio host, and entrepreneur in New York City.