Obviously, the Obama campaign hastened to condemn Ludacris' new release. But there are three points worth making.
First, for a guy who was the first presidential candidate to call for Don Imus to be fired, Obama's condemnation of Ludacris is comparatively tame. Could it be that he knew going after Imus was good politics for him among a core constituency -- but going after Ludacris, well, not so much? Note that in the campaign's official statement on the matter, even amid the distancing, Barack nonetheless calls Ludacris a "talented individual." Hm. Did he offer such a grace note to Imus? (And for the record, in a dazzling explication of the obvious, Ludacris is not a "talented individual." He's a hateful thug.)
Second, it's interesting and a bit alarming to see how hard-core culturally left some of Obama's supporters are. Obviously, Barack can't be held responsible for everything his supporters say and do (luckily for him, apparently). But imagine some despicable off-the-charts right-wing rednecks chose to voice their support for John McCain by releasing a record using racially divisive language (perhaps telling listeners not to "paint The White House black" instead of urging them to do so, a la Ludacris) and calling Hillary Clinton a bitch. Wouldn't it be fair to ask: What, exactly, is it in John McCain's message or candidacy that these haters find so appealing? If so, isn't it fair to do the same with Barack?
Finally, Obama has declared himself to be "troubled" by some rap lyrics. But note that he has also told audiences that his daughter likes the rap song "Drop It Like It's Hot" -- revealing that she thinks the title is "Drop It Like a Sock."
Here are the lyrics to the song. Note the charming references to pimps, "roll[ing] weed," and "all the girls get[ting] naked." Even the edited version retains delightful elements like the references to pimps, along with a term beginning with "n" that's considered derogatory toward African-Americans (at least when others use it) and references to gun violence.
Barack's daughter probably doesn't even understand the lyrics (fortunately). But in Prude, I document instances of girls being swayed over time by the music they hear -- including one high school freshman who told me "It does influence the way you act, the way you talk." If Barack does truly object to misogyny in rap lyrics, shouldn't this prospect bother him enough to keep his daughter away from any of the Snoop Dog/Pharrell oeuvre -- and a lot of the other rap out there?
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