September 15, 2005

Kid A

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In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Clementine Kruczynski said, “Sometimes I think people don’t understand how lonely it is to be a kid.” Growing up can be tough. I don’t know about you, but I am elated to be past my formative years. Although I’m far from what I’d consider to be a full-fledged grown up, I don’t think I’d like to go back to the insecurities and awkward social moments of secondary school, where the direction of your world and universe are often left completely out of your hands. But beyond that, I especially find disheartening the climate in which young girls find themselves these days.

Listening to WICB on Friday night, I heard the latest release from Roc-a-fella Record’s teen queen dream Teairra Mari, “No Daddy.” Aside from its club-friendly rhythm, the song is as dramatic as its title suggests. Teairra, who is only 17 years old, sounds wise beyond her years and gives a poised account of her hard knock life. She shines hope and promise as she calls out to all her girls who have found themselves in the same precarious position of being forced to grow up way too fast. “All my girls from a broken home / When you’re feeling all alone / And you feel you can’t go on (call me.)” I’m not sure how much creative direction Mari had over the song, but I found her ability to articulate and voice her artistic expression at such a young age awe-inspiring. Not that this track is representative of the majority of teens in this country, but I probably knew girls like those that Teairra describes in high school. Many kids are forced to deal with absent parents and life situations that cause them to prematurely age.

With constant insurmountable odds against them, it’s a wonder how girls are able to form self awareness and a grounded identity amidst the negative messages combating them on a daily basis. Indecision and self-consciousness seem to be an irremovable part of the human condition, but it’s only magnified when you’re young.

The way the media portrays young women does not help either. Instead of positive reinforcements, we’re bombarded with degrading song lyrics and derogatory references to the female form. Growing up, there were songs that were racy and offensive to women like Lil Boosie’s “Give Me That,” but lately it seems to be an endemic trend. The record companies seem to have created a formula for the latest, hot chart-topping club joint: risque or coarse sells. True, consenting adults, including women, participate in the creation of songs like these, but music television stations airing this stuff specifically cater and advertise to younger audiences who eat it up, coming home from school just in time to catch their favorite music video countdowns.

Now I know the objectification of women in the media is much treaded ground. These are sentiments as old and tired as 2 Live Crew and Death Metal. I’ve even considered the argument that songs like these are solely for entertainment value and their lyrics are meant to be frivolous and hence logically don’t aim to be serious. And I’m certainly not saying that all of the social problems plaguing teenagers can be traced to what’s being played over radio airwaves, but songs like the “Whisper Song” by the Ying Yang Twins have become so redundant and commonplace that one might even horribly assume that this way of addressing women is acceptable. When you hear what one 17 year old’s life is like in Teairra’s song, you realize that this is not what young women, or anyone else for that matter, need to hear.

Archived article by Sophia Asare
Sun Staff Writer