This piece contains personal opinion, something often associated with offending the hierarchy of society and the ‘PC’ people among us. Reader discretion is advised.
For some reason, the phrase Je suis Charlie will forever remain synonymous with free speech and standing up for one’s opinion. It may seem easy to hashtag the french equivalent of I am Charlie and feel content with our own uprising against creative oppression. Of course the events that prompted this upheaval against censorship were incredibly maliciously and unheard of before and something that is completely incomparable with the methods of censorship we all usually experience from day to day. Typing three words on social media won’t desensitize the world we live in.
Anyone can be offended by anything.
In today’s society there are words, noises, pictures, phrases and whatever other types of media-esque terms and objects being produced and pumped into cyberspace by the second, which means that it’s beyond simple to find anyone that may support your views, however absurd or offensive they are. The converse of that, is that it may be even easier to find someone that finds your views/statements/beliefs offensive to them, however mild or unoffensive they are. It may not be pleasant to say it, but it can be argued that we live in a cushioned society where it’s perfectly fine to be offended by someone or something, despite that person or object’s best attempts to remain opinionatedly neutral. In fact, the heavy hand of censorship is so quick to slam down the offender rather than the offended that it has become a guessing game as to what content can be maintained as unoffensive and not complained about to ombudsmen and censorship bodies.
The one positive of this mousetrap-esque censorship model is that it has promoted the growth of self-publishing media. There are podcasts and blogs out there for every kind of interest, which is both good for the fanbase and the producers, as they act as great launch pads without the restraint of hand-on-mouth censorship. As good as freelance media is, they are only a blip on the radar in comparison to the established juggernauts that have come to terms with social media and the internet as a whole. When it comes to these establishments, however many hours, euros/pounds/dollars, effort, tears and anything else that someone has put into an enterprise they want to promote, share and get out there into the world, don’t matter if that particular enterprise can be perceived as offensive to the soft, bubblewrapped public that consume that media’s output. The cutthroat nature of business does not mix well with the butter smooth mentality of the public, so when someone wants to slap lawsuits and complaints at a money-making corporation, the easiest solution is to throw whatever is prompting the negative attention to the side and cut ties with it.
When’s the last time you’ve seen sponsors stand behind athletes when they become embroiled in public controversies? When’s the last time you’ve seen a newspaper stand up for a questionable headline?
I amn’t an advocate of confrontation or being offensive. You have to take people’s sensitivities into account when addressing any topic or when giving your opinion, but there’s a clear difference between empathy and having to restructure your thought process around potential offensive grey-areas. The reason everyone’s heightened sensitivity is a problem is because we are surrounded more predominantly by advertising and content that is geared towards our interests. The media we receive as consumers comes through a digital pipe and many things that may broaden our interests and make us think differently are pushed to the side as they cannot gain traction due to people’s hesitation’s surrounding independent media’s propensity to offend.
In my own humble opinion, one of the only remaining means of putting one’s opinion on a credible platform is music, in particular rap music, one of the most maligned genres for years. First off, rap songs have incomparably the most words, therefore allowing them to convey the most meaning. Secondly, rap music tends to come from the most oppressed members of society, giving a voice to the voiceless, be it NWA screaming Fuck the Police, or Kendrick Lamar outlining the inner struggles of social housing and the effect of the Ronald Reagan era on Section 80. I don’t support conspiracy theories and that sort of thing, but it’s clear to see that the stigma attached to rap music is somewhat pushed by the mainstream due to the truths that much of the music contains. It stands up to authority and isn’t afraid to offend. With that being said, the image rap music has garnered itself is in no way a figment derived from thin air. Today’s most notorious spitters have still managed to drag down the credibility of the rest through distorted drug lyrics and stupidity off the mic. Not only that, but the music is incomprehensible, ironically leading Desiigner to name his debut ‘album’ New English.
Refreshingly, YG’s new album Still Brazy has managed to win back some authenticity to the gangster rap section of Hip-Hop. This ties in neatly to the subject of censorship, as YG’s new body of work is the perfect representation of what society is now allergic to. The album provides a clear snapshot into the trials and tribulations of a gangster’s struggles after becoming a millionaire through his talents in the rap game.
With that being said he doesn’t do so with the red tape of censorship in mind. The album isn’t for everyone and that’s completely understandable, but the early Hip-Hop aspects of it are very reassuring as he plainly addresses his recent shooting, ‘friends’ asking him for money and a certain track aimed towards Donald Trump. His unrelenting brashness is something that’s become extinct given the watered down way we talk to each other. ‘Keeping it 100’ is a phrase that may have lost it’s meaning due to pampered teens on Instagram and Twitter, but it still has a key importance in society when sometimes things need to be said how they are.
Don’t be racist, facist, sexist and seriously harmful to anyone. Support what you want. Say what you want. You’ll find an ear to listen,but just make sure it isn’t regulatory.