One of the most hot topic issues of late is how the music industry influences our youth, and whether it is detrimental to our society. This hotbed of debate has been strongly reinforced by a thousand fold thanks to the presence of Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem. There are two essays that have polar opposite opinions as to whether Mathers is blight or a champion in the music industry. Lloyd Eby wrote, “Why Eminem is a Problem” for The World and I.
Obviously, he is very concerned with the reach of influence that Mathers has.
Honestly, in terms of citations and outside research to the subject, I do not think he did a very good job of informing his opinion. All Eby seemed to do was actually just mainly write up the history of rock music before even getting to mention Mathers. He spoke about Tipper Gore trying to head the advisory committee to rate music, and Charlton Heston being disgusted with Ice-T’s “Cop Killa” without really correlating why Eby himself thinks that Mathers is truly a problem.
Eby says that children are copying Mathers in terms of language and attitude, but there was no mentioning of where he got this information. Eby is fond of saying how Bill O’Reilly “understands” this by citing O’Reilly comparing Mathers to Elvis Presley. At least O’Reilly actually attempts to give some sort of testimony as to how evidently Mathers is destroying the very delicate fabric of society by citing anecdotal evidence of two anonymous schoolteachers who have claimed to witness such behavior.
It is thin, but at least there is an attempt. Eby really just cites his opinion as to why Mathers is a problem. Again, he goes in the whole history of the PMRC. It is a very thorough write up of the organization, but during this whole history lesson he does not mention whether he feels the organization was a good idea—and why. Eby just recounts it. Same with recounting Charlton Heston reciting the lyrics of “Cop Killer” to the shareholders of Time Warner. He does not commend, or condone, Heston of doing this act.
He just recounts it, and does not transition all of this into the point he is making with his issues with the music of Marshall Mathers. It would not surprise me if he has only listened to a couple of soundbytes from certain songs that make him all concerned about the artist. In contrast, I can believe that Maury P. McCrillis did a lot of research in his opinion in “Why Eminem is Important”.
McCrillis does give the same history censorship history lesson that Eby gives, but he takes the time to take Lynn Chaney, Tipper Gore, and etc., to task about their views with Mathers and the music industry in general. McCrillis does this by giving different interpretations of Mathers’ lyrics as well as explaining the history of Socrates and Plato; while enveloping his interpretations with their works to the topic of Mathers at hand. McCrillis does seem to be a bit unwieldy with his research, but at least he attempts to make a bridge between what he researched, and the topic that he is writing about. Whereas Eby seemed to give a history lesson, and then just went straight to saying Mathers is a problem.
In terms of being unwieldy, this is what I mean: “Those who are concerned with the degeneration of cultural values seem to find supportin the Socratic/Platonic concern with the potentially corrupting influence of imitative art largely because of a dissatisfaction with the Aristotelian notion of catharsis. The notion that art helps to purge emotions which might otherwise manifest themselves in everyday life is interesting but not convincing enough to quell the anxieties of those who fear declining moral standards.
Arguing that human beings by nature “learn or infer” through imitation, Aristotle moved to rescue art from Socratic suspicions about its moral effects and instead claimed that “poetry is a higher thing than history because poetry tends to express the universal, history the particular. ” This move was also an attempt to pay homage to Socrates’s theory of mimesis. That is, at its worst, art can still help an audience to purge itself of destructive tendencies. At its best, it can portray things as they “ought” to be; it can be morally instructive. To me, this just revisits the idea that art is good or bad with respect to the extent to which it is in accordance with facts.
After all, art can protray things as they ought not to be as well. The notion of catharsis may give art enough integrity in such instances to protect it from being banned or maybe even censored, but ultimately such works become relegated to the dustbin of low art, where they are subjected to social and intellectual suspicion until they are forgotten. Only the art that can be deemed to provide the right moral instruction has the opportunity to be counted as high art, where it can receive serious intellectual consideration and perhaps real, lasting appreciation and admiration.
What McCrillis is saying here is that there are many different artists throughout the times that have been challenged with the accusations of vulgarity, and are now artists that are cited in today’s text. Is he saying that Mathers is going to be on that level? Maybe. He does concede that where he can think some of Mathers’ lyrics can be a bit too blue, but he does point out that Mathers writes what he thinks in terms of irony, and uses Aristotle as an example. A bit much, but that is more than Eby did with his essay.