Friday, June 28, 2013

Video Spotlight: "Banned In The USA" (2 Live Crew)




Author's Note:  The below post reflects my opinions alone, and not necessarily the other contributors to this blog, or www.legendsofspringsteen.com as a whole.  Thank you.

Last week, rapper Lil Wayne made headlines when he was shooting a video for his new song "God Bless America" and during the shoot the American flag fell to the floor and Lil Wayne stepped on it.  He later claimed it was just an accident, but after watching the video and hearing the context of the satirical nature of the lyrics, I don't believe him.  This once again started a debate in this country on free speech.  Which reminded me of the above video.

For those who need a quick history lesson, in the late 80's 2 Live Crew released an album called As Nasty As They Wanna Be, featuring their big hit "Me So Horny".  The album's content was deemed so offensive that it was deemed obscene and illegal to sell in certain counties in Florida(where the trial was held).  2 Live Crew were arrested when they attempted to perform the songs at a local strip club, and record store owners were arrested for selling the album.   Eventually the verdict was overturned, but 2 Live Crew responded to what they deemed as blatant slap in the face of the First Amendment with "Banned In The USA", featuring interpolation of Bruce Springsteen's iconic "Born In The USA", with The Boss's full consent.

Freedom of speech is one of those issues that everyone says they believe in, but few actually do.  It's something that I have especially noticed in the past few years that has really disgusted me.  Hypocrisy is on both sides of the aisle.  Conservatives always want the freedom of speech to criticize President Obama, but are quick to point the finger of blame when liberals bash wars, or when secularists criticize religion.  The left says they are all for freedom of artistic expression, but try being a comic and making a joke about rape, or using terms that certain groups find offensive.  Even now Paula Deen is taking a merciless beating in the media for comments she made 30 years ago.  How can we, as a country, say we believe in freedom of speech but turn against one another at the first chance when we hear something we don't agree with?

True freedom of speech, means defending people's right to say things, even when it offends you.  Especially when it offends you, as a matter of fact.  If you are offended by something, do not listen to it.  But just because you do not want to listen to it, does not mean that nobody is allowed to listen to it.  There is no constitutional amendment that says we are free from being offended.   Personally I think Lil Wayne is a jerk for that video.  But he has the right to do it, and I will exercise my freedom by not purchasing his albums (not like I was going to anyway, though).  I'm reminded of the late, great comic Bill Hicks' who did a bit on people burning the flag.  I'm paraphrasing here but the joke was basically that soldiers didn't die defending the flag.  The flag is a piece of cloth, they died defending what the flag represents.  Which is freedom of expression, such as burning the American flag.  While I personally would never burn a flag, and would attempt to stop anyone I see doing it, I don't think it should be a criminal offense.  And apparently the Supreme Court of the United States agrees with me on this one.  Also, the idea of an album being so obscene that it's illegal is ridiculous.

I've never seen Bruce try to silence his critics who have bashed him for his liberal views so I have to believe he agrees with me on this point of view.  He's never gone so far as burning a flag, and I can't imagine he ever would.  However he was certainly a vocal critic of Presidents Reagan and Bush (both), and has championed many liberal causes.  He has the right to do so, but has also welcomed those who criticize his points of view.  I find that admirable.