Friday, January 28, 2011

Douchebaggery and Music

Thanks to my sons love of martial arts, I have been subjected to The Karate Kid repeatedly.  I have used the movie as a teaching lesson and pointed out things like the girl asking to touch Jaden's hair is completely inappropriate, though it is normalized in the movie.  I have pointed out the fact that the movie absolutely failed to deal with the racism that he would have faced as a Black child in China.  You see, Jaden suddenly becomes the target of bullies, but in typical non-confrontational Will Smith manner, the larger issues are ignored to present a White family friendly version of events.  I decided that if I must watch this movie repeatedly, I was going to use it as an opportunity to teach.

The movie begins with the song Say What You Need to SayDestruction will often sing along, causing me to smile at the beauty of his voice.  I will sometimes join him quietly, knowing how out of tune I am.  He recently told me how much he loves the song and so I decided to go on Youtube to see if I could find out who sang it for him.

Imagine my surprise when I found that it is the work of megadouche John Mayer.  Before I learned what an asshat he was, I listened to his music regularly.  For me, a large part of what I actively watch, listen to, or otherwise consume, is based in my political beliefs.  I absolutely refuse to spend money supporting an artist who  is dedicated to the project of further oppressing marginalized bodies.  I probably missed this song, simply because I stopped listening to his music, due to John Mayer's White supremacist penis. 

When I realized that it was John Mayer I groaned, and Destruction immediately wanted to know why.  Being nine years old, I really didn't want to tell my son some of his antics and so I simply said that he has a history of disrespecting women and has been known to say racist things.  When he began to shrug, I told him that my approach to this song is going to change.  You see, as much as I like it and it is easy to sing to, in my mind it is now very much associated with Mayer and his heinous actions.  This is where the personal becomes political.  Is it alright to say, hey it's just a song and move on, thus ignoring the history of Mayer's douchebaggery?  For me the answer is no, but my answer may not be Destruction's answer. I simply told him how I felt and left it at that. 

I feel that it is very important that marginalized people make strong political choices about what we consume, because it empowers us and makes it clear that there are consequences for treating us as though we deserve a secondary class status. That is my political belief and in time I will come to see if my son shares this opinion.  What I can feel confidant about, is the knowledge that he already has a good sense of how harmful oppressing people can be. 

Do you avoid certain artists or movies because of political beliefs and if not why?