Law in Contemporary Society
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Quality over Objectivity?

-- By MarvinGalloway - 28 Feb 2020


One undeniable fact of law school is that it tends to attract people from many different places who thus possess a variety of different opinions and viewpoints on nearly every imaginable subject. It is rather easy to disagree with other students and professors on questions regarding law-related topics. But it seems to me sometimes that law students in particular tend to forget that life and culture exists outside of the premise of the law school. We represent only a tiny subsection of society and if we are striving to be creative, it would suit us well to engage frequently with people that do not spend the majority of their days trying to understand property theory or torts doctrines. The moments in which we socialize with others are most valuable because they consistently shape the way we think about and view society as a whole. Inputs from others allow us to be inspired and think about issues that we may or may not encounter during our lifetimes. I myself experienced this not too long ago. While spending time with my own family, I witnessed a discussion between my Grandmother, a woman in her sixties who spend most of her life working on a farm in East Germany, and my young cousin who just celebrated his 12th birthday. As the radio in the back of the room played music, both started actively listening to a rap song by an up-and-coming German artist. That is when the conversation transformed into an argument. My Grandmother questioned the lyrics of the song and then went on to criticize the entire genre of Hip-Hop in general. My cousin, although usually quite opinionated, struggled to articulate his case to defend his favorite artist and form of music. Thus, I took on the role of advocating for a more differential approach to assessing the value of the genre.

Assessing the Genre

The history of Hip-Hop music and rap is a highly complex and controversial subject and the genre has undergone tremendous changes throughout its rather short time of existence. While it has now manifested itself as the most listened to and the commercially most successful genre in the music industry, opposition to a central part of its culture has accompanied it at all times. The argument that many critics of rap make alludes to the harsh language that is at time reflected in the lyrics of various artists. The classifications that it is accused of range from being misogynistic, to sexist, to materialistic, to even at certain secluded times of being homophobic. Although these critiques might be valid in their own ways, the music and lyrics are not the problems, rather the approach to the genre in general is. As rap music, like any popular culture, is simply a reflection and reaction to the society that we live in, the criticisms should be focused on the way that the society is designed and shaped instead. Generically speaking, a rapper is influenced by his immediate environment, articulating the hopes, dreams, fears, and daily realities of such. Music tends to be a form of expressing immediate experiences and anyone that criticizes the use of certain themes in rap songs should, by consequence, also criticize the society that creates these experiences. Rap music acts as a mirror of a distinct part of culture and therefore cannot be categorized in a certain way without the categorization of the reality that it is reflecting. If the music is deemed to be materialistic, then society needs to be deemed as materialistic. If the music is accused of being sexist, then society is deserving of being labeled as sexist. One could certainly make the argument that rap music does not necessarily further objectionable patterns of behavior but rather it exposes such.

Contemporary Analogy

Condemning a part of mainstream culture for tendencies that it displays without recognizing that these are inherently imbedded within our society an unpromising approach. However, this constantly happens in modern western cultures when they are faced with realities that they would rather ignore. The world-famous Catalan football manager Pep Guardiola for example commented on the perseverance of racism in European professional football by saying that ““Racism is everywhere; people focus on football but it’s not just in football. How we treat immigrants and refugees, when once in our lives our grandfathers were refugees. How we treat them in society – it’s everywhere. That’s why we have to fight every day.” Just as the professional sports world, the music industry operates as a microcosm of society as a whole and any tendencies that are present in one is surely present in the other. The most important conclusion that can be drawn in relation to the lyrics in rap music may be that it is an art form unlike any other. It does not attempt to sugar-coat the lesser desirable aspects of our society, rather it highlights them and puts them at center-stage. At the end of the day it remains an expression of freedom of speech and perhaps should be appreciated more for its cultural contribution by exposing some of the downfalls of our world rather than being criticized for not manipulating its realistic influences.

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r1 - 28 Feb 2020 - 21:56:29 - MarvinGalloway
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