Artistes as mirrors

One of the best examples of what can be described as “cliché thinking” is to be found in the frequent diatribes against well-known artistes, particularly popular singers, who are lambasted these days for leading the public, more especially youth, into various negative social actions.  Whatever the egregious behaviour – abuse of women; illegal drug use; public vulgarity; disregard for authority; drunkenness – sooner or later, and usually sooner, the charge will be made: “It’s the popular music artistes who are influencing young people into all these things.” Dancehall and rap are two chief targets, but chutney is catching up.

In fact, of course, it’s the other way around.  The artistes are the ones being influenced; rather than prophesying that these behaviours will emerge, they are telling us that they are already here – they are seeing these shockers every day all around them, and singing about them. The singers are not warning about what will be; they are talking about what is. The chutney artist singing “rum ’til I die” is conveying a stance that is clearly prevalent in this country – the drinkers are proclaiming the idea in the rum shops. Similarly, …..To continue reading, login or subscribe now.

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