The month of February has been huge for domestic violence campaigns. The NFL debuted their domestic violence commercial during the Superbowl and the next week President Obama delivered a message during the Grammys promoting awareness for domestic violence. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, many of us are thinking about the people we love: So why are so many still abusing these people?
It’s 2015 and we still see domestic violence campaigns aired during some of the most viewed TV programs of the year, but if you think this is strange you may need to take a step back. How aware are you of your own beliefs about domestic violence? Many people would claim to be against it and react to it as an atrocity that needs to be stopped, but what’s on your iTunes recently played list? It may depend on who we’re asking, but the charts don’t lie about what’s popular right now.
During Obama’s domestic violence message, Chris Brown sat in the front row amongst dozens of other artists being honored and rewarded for their music. Chris Brown was arrested for beating Rihanna just six years ago, yet there he sits at the Grammys with millions of songs sold to people who “don’t support” domestic violence. It may be a stretch to say that by buying Chris Brown’s music you are supporting abuse, but it’s worth thinking about how possible it is to separate what or who we listen to and what we believe ourselves.
In his message Obama states “Tonight we celebrate artists whose music and message has helped shape our culture” as dozens of artists who sing songs that condone treating women as mere sexual objects are being celebrated. Ironic? Look at who won Best Rap Album this year: Eminem. A few months ago Eminem rapped, “I’ll punch Lana Del Rey right in the face twice like Ray Rice.” That is the same man who won Best Rap Album at the Grammys, the same Grammys that Obama says is a celebration of artists who shape our culture. Whether or not you like Eminem, there is definitely something wrong with this.
Additionally, Obama says “artists have a unique power to change minds and attitudes,” and if this is also true, then they could be changing our minds without us even realizing it. People might claim they only listen to songs that promote violence against women because they are catchy, but how soon until the lyrics start to become teachings? If every hit song one day promotes domestic violence and the objectification of women, it may become the social norm before anyone knows what’s happening.
Domestic violence has taken over the media, but ironically it’s also taken over the music industry that we support and love. While Obama’s message was important and the spread of awareness is crucial, the irony should be clear. We are celebrating artists who promote domestic violence. Think twice about what you believe before celebrating the lyrics to songs that promote domestic violence.