February 23, 2010

She'll Blow Your House Down

When Hollywood gets you into your House, prepare for them to move in...

Can you remember another time when you had so many "Whaaa?" moments involving the President? I am constantly torn between whether I am totally baffled by the shenanigans of Barack Obama - for example, who he trusts as an advisor - or absolutely unfazed by his lack of seriousness about his job. Which way do you go on that?

Most times, my first response to his actions is "Ha!" After that I settle into a disbelief that sounds something like, "No, he can't really be serious." Then I read the article and realize that, yes, he is completely serious about having Shakira over to the W.H. to discuss U.S. policy toward children.

Not only did they meet, but it was in private. As in, not on his public calender. So important was it that they meet and discuss! Anyone know how many times Obama's met with his security advisers so far? Let's get some stats on that for comparison.

Not to mention, is Shakira the best ambassador for the treatment of children? I realize it's somewhat of a misnomer to think that she is an example for children, just because she's in the role as an ambassador to them. That said, is this a woman whose opinion on public policy toward children should be taken as any kind of authority?

Shakira, similar to Beyonce or Christina Aguilera in this regard, is a well-known pop performer banking on what has become the traditional way to sell albums if you're a female - by stripping. You know, take off half (or more) of your clothes in a video, on your album cover, or in concert, all to prove how great of a singer you are. Like predecessor Nelly Furtado, Shakira was originally a Spanish language-only singer from Colombia, where oddly enough she garnered a huge following without ever singing about promiscuity. When she "crossed over" to the U.S. market, her music took an unambiguous turn to more sexual content. Her most recent release is "She Wolf," a song about a woman trapped in a relationship where she is a werewolf (a.k.a. maneater) and needs to be set free. See lyrics here. It's not poetry, or even intelligible in some parts, but the video accompanying was pretty lurid and definitely not appropriate for a child's eye. See video still here (not posted as a photo on this blog because of its sexual nature).

Now she's a Unicef ambassador speaking to the President about children in poverty in the United States. How she went from one to the other is a mystery.

I suppose this is the age-old question of whether or not an artist's personal life should necessarily be connected to their artistic life. Critics have long questioned whether the art of a drunk, drug-addled, unbalanced, violent or psychotic artist can be evaluated without taking the personal characteristics into consideration. But there are really two ways of looking at this: that there is a connection from artist to art, or there isn't.

Are we questioning the art's validity/seriousness/aesthetic quality, but then dismissing that evaluation upon finding out a mental patient painted it?

Are we looking at the artist as a person with a whole mess of foibles and saying, wow, despite their problems this art is really amazing?

Do an artist's personal struggles/problems inform the content of their art or is their public life as an artist completely separate from their personal life?

Well, obviously it seems that a person's personal struggles in life will inform the content of their work in some way. No one is able to completely suppress every memory, every experience, every feeling they've had in order to prevent it from affecting his art. In fact there are many unconscious changes in a person because of their life experience that one wouldn't even be able to suppress, precisely because they're unconscious.

After thinking about the motivations for art in my college program, studying independently and trying to objectively think about this question, I've concluded that there is most certainly a personal interest in the content of one's art. I mean, duh! An artist of any kind is choosing what to perform, to paint, to sing about, to build. It's one of those professions that is somewhat sheltered from a crowd mentality (at least this is true when you are a budding artist; the selling out comes later!). You can, despite what high art snobs might tell you, do whatever you want.

So if you're Shakira and you are singing about being a wolf that needs to be set free to tear men apart, and you're writhing around acrobatically, half naked, in a cage in your video, there's a part of you that wants to be doing that. Desires to put that content out there for everyone, including and especially children (because they watch more tv) to see and imitate, or at the very least have embedded into their memories for usage in later years.

It's my opinion that someone with an urge to promote sexual freedom should not be an advisor to any policies that have to do with children. Does she really have their best interests in mind, or even know what they are? Will she support extensive sex ed in schools, or promote abortion as an option for young girls who find themselves pregnant as a result of being promiscuous?

Will she stand up for girls and boys who want to remain pure until marriage, and face peer abuse because of that choice? Or will she urge "empowerment" counseling for girls who decide to "explore their sexuality" at a young age?


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On a personal note:
I frequently regret my exposure to Mtv, HBO and pop radio as a young child. My precious little mind and heart were corrupted so early on by seeing and hearing content I should not have seen maybe until I was an adult, but probably not at all. How much did the lyrics and images burned into my mind inform and shape my ability (or inability) to behave like a woman when my age should have reflected that? How much did they contort my ideas about how men and women should relate to one another, and when? And how much did I see and hear that was sexually perverse, unnatural and inimical to God's ideas of sex and love?

The answer is "enough;" enough to cause me major problems as a young adult and adult woman.

1 comment:

angela said...

First I was speechless - fontless, scriptless if you will..then I read your post script and I will write "A-men"
We were sheltered from all that until I was about 13...and it was still, way, way to early.

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