In the wake of the Don Imus kerfuffle earlier this year, Russell Simmons convened a secret meeting of some of the industry’s top Tall Israelis. Hip-hop was coming under attack, and clearly something had to be done. Their solution? From now on, the words bitch, nigga, and ho are no longer allowed to be uttered on hip-hop radio stations.
As one of the angry feminist beeyotches who live to criticize hip-hop pointed out, this policy is retarded, in the sense that you already can’t say those words on hip-hop radio stations. Which may or may not be true. I’m not sure what the official rules are, as handed down by the government, but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard those words used in rap songs played on the radio.
For example, I know for a fact that I’ve heard that Ludacris song “Youse a Ho” on the radio here in the STL. I can’t say for certain whether or not the word “ho” was bleeped out, but you’d think a song like that would be pretty incoherent without it. Certainly now that Blood Diamond Russ has banned the word from the radio, that song just isn’t going to sound right anymore. Which is unfortunate.
Think about it: I’m a grown-ass man with no wife or kids or anything (and no girlfriend, for that matter); if I want to hear a black woman be called a good for nothing beeyotch on the radio in my van on the way to the BGM (where I have to deal with good for nothing beeyotches all day, mind you), why shouldn’t I be able to?
Of course I could, but I’d have to pay $15 a month or whatever it costs for satellite radio. The reason being that satellite radio costs money and hence isn’t governed by the FCC (though there has been a tendency towards self-censorship in the wake of the Imus incident), but what difference does it make, really?
Cable TV pretty much operates under the same principle. Basic cable is still supported by advertisers, so there’s a limit to how far you can go, especially during the day. But if you tune in during the evening, or to a premium station, you can see all types of shit. (Don’t even get me started about pay per view!) If there’s a difference, it’s that pretty much everyone these days has at least basic cable, while only a small minority has satellite radio.
The thing is, TVs are purposely designed so that they hardly even work unless you shove money in them (think about it), where as radios work perfectly well. Some songs even sound better on the radio than they do on the damn CD. (Again, this is on purpose.) Satellite radio, if you notice, is actually an inferior product to plain old terrestrial radio, except that you can say what you want on satellite, so long as you don’t offend the wrong people.
It seems ridiculous that I should have to come out of my pocket for some shit that I don’t even need just so I can have access to a full range of entertainment suitable for a grown-ass man. And what about those of us who don’t have the means? The idea that some people shouldn’t have access to the same information as the rest of us just because they can’t afford it seems pretty backwards, especially once you consider the extent to which issues of race and class are intertwined in this country.
In that sense, I suppose it isn’t any wonder that rap music faces so much more scrutiny than other forms of entertainment.