Values Portrayed in Popular Music Argumentative Essay Thesis

  • Length: 8 pages
  • Sources: 7
  • Subject: Music
  • Type: Thesis
  • Paper: #72789239

Excerpt from Thesis :

Values Portrayed in Popular Music: Argumentative Essay

The content or meaning of the words accompanying today's popular music is such that serves to define, direct, inform and ultimately bring about cohesion within society among various views providing a balanced view of the world inclusive of the polar opposites and everything ranging between the two. Generally, the individual given proper guidance from the authority figures in their lives including parents and teachers, is able to sort through this information and correctly assign values.

The Popularity of Sexual Degrading Content in Today's Music

The work of Primack, Gold, Schwarz, Dalton (2008) reports a study that states findings that individuals who are exposed to "more degrading sexual references in popular music are more likely to initiate intercourse at a younger age." The study reported used Billboard magazine for identifying the top popular songs in 2005. The songs were analyzed by independent coders for "degrading and non-degrading sexual references. Of the 279 identified it is reported that 103 (36.95%) contained references to sexual activity. Songs with references to degrading sex were more common than songs with references to non-degrading sex. Songs with degrading sex were most commonly identified as Rap while songs with non-degrading sex were identified as being most likely Country music or Rhythm and Blues or Hip-Hop. Songs with degrading sex were more likely to be inclusive of "references to substance use, violence, and weapon carrying. Songs with non-degrading sex were no more likely than others to mention these other risk behaviors." (Primack, Gold, Schwarz, Dalton, 2008, p.593) The study states conclusions that references in popular music to sexual activity are commonplace and degrading sexual references were found to be more prevalent that references that were non-degrading. (Primack, Gold, Schwarz, Dalton, 2008, paraphrased)

II. Violence in Popular Music

A study reported in the work of Roberts, Christenson and Gentile (2003) relates the effects of violent music on children, adults, and states specifically that students spend an average of three hours each day listening to music and this demonstrates the importance of music to youth. Addressed in the study are the uses and gratifications of popular music and it is held that the biggest reason of all that people listen to music is due to the pleasure derived from listening to music and it is reported that particularly for adolescents "…the pleasure can be intense and tends to be associated with the most intense 'peak' experiences of life." (p.156) Reasons stated in the work of Roe (1985) for listening to music include the reasons as follows:

(1) Atmosphere creation and mood control;

(2) Silence filing and passing the time; and (3) Attention to lyrics. (Roberts, Christenson and Gentile, 2003, p.157)

Findings who that of the three types of uses, atmosphere creation and mood control emerged as the most important." (Roberts, Christenson and Gentile, 2003, p. 157)

III. Ability of Music to Communicate Emotion and Influence Mood

It is stated in the work of Christenson and Roberts (1998) that music's ability to communicate emotion and influence mood has been widely noted." (p. 157) Social uses of music are stated to include social uses with the following two broad uses identified:

(1) Those that occur within the context of a social occasion; and (2) Those that help to define social boundaries. (Lull, 1987)

In fact, it is reported that music additionally works "at a more diffuse social level to define the important subgroups in adolescent culture and to identify who belongs to them. Although it is far from the only cue about group membership -- school performance, extracurricular interests and social background, clothing and other elements of personal style figure in too -- an adolescent's music affiliation says much about his or her social affiliation." (Christenson and Roberts, 1998) Popular music is stated to "…express, create and perpetuate the essential 'us-them distinctions that develop between groups. Violent music has a negative effect on youth as music that places emphasis on "the negatives, such as violence, misogyny, racism, suicide, Satanism and substance abuse is reported to impact the thinking and behaviors of the young listeners. Violent lyrics are reported to "promote youth violence" and substance abuse is stated to "encourage experimentation with illicit drugs." (Christenson and Roberts, 1998)

IV. Impact of Suicidal Content in Popular Media on Studies and Behaviors of Adolescents

The work of Bondora and Goodwin (2005) examines the impact of suicidal content in popular media on the attitudes and behaviors of adolescents and state "the relationship between the portrayal of suicide in the media an suicide attempts and gestures among young people "is one that has existed for centuries." (p.5) Suicide is reported as the second or third "leading cause of death among adolescents. It is the driving force behind increases in the overall suicide rates and rates are rising fast" according to the work of Bloch (1999).

The work of Gould, Greenberg, Velting and Shaffer (2003) report that estimation in one study state that approximately five to eight percent of adolescent-aged individuals make suicide attempts and that this is in representation of "approximately one million teenagers or whom 700,000 received medical attention due to the suicide attempt. (Bondora and Goodwin, 2005, p.6) The work of Thomson and Holland (2002) are reported to have studied how moral authority is negotiated between young individuals in regards to moral authority and perceptions of social change. Findings show that "many young people look toward media, particularly media violence as a source of moral authority. The results of this study suggest that the content in popular media consumed by adolescents may have very serious implications in their thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors." (p. 6)

The work of Martino (2007) entitled "Exposure to Degrading vs. Nondegrading Music Lyrics and Sexual Behavior Among Youth" reports "Listening to music with degrading sexual lyrics is related to advances in a range of sexual activities among adolescents, whereas this does not seem to be true of other sexual lyrics. This result is consistent with sexual-script theory and suggests that cultural messages about expected sexual behavior among males and females may underlie the effect. Reducing the amount of degrading sexual content in popular music or reducing young people's exposure to music with this type of content could help delay the onset of sexual behavior." (p.431)

A major study conducted out of Harvard University states findings that popular music videos "overwhelmingly portray black men as aggressors and white women as victims." (Globe and Mail, 1998) The study is reported to have been published in the U.S. journal Pediatrics and is held by a psychiatrist and former filmmaker to be such that should "raise concerns about the influences of videos on how teens approach conflicts and how they view each other." (Globe and Mail cited by: Media Awareness Network, 1998) Analysis conducted in 518 music videos on the most popular music video networks in the United States findings that violence occurred in 14.7% of the videos." (Media Awareness Network, 1998) In another study, it is related that teens that prefer heavy metal music, which is characterized by lyrics relating to drugs, sex, violence, Satanism, and suicide "tend to abuse substances and receive poor grades (Bleich, Zillmann & Weaver, 1991). In addition, these teens are reported to 'have difficulties in school or a lack of commitment towards education (Roe, 1992, 1995). Finally, these teens that prefer heavy metal music are stated to "show increased levels of delinquency (Singer, Levin & Jou, 1993)

Also reported is that youth who are involved in heavy metal music " have a greater tendency to engage in reckless, life-threatening behaviors, including things like speeding, DUI, drug use and unsafe sex with links stated to have been found between suicide and heavy metal music. (Arnett, 1991, 1992, Lester & Whipple, 1996, Martin, Clark & Pearce, 1993) as well as having psychiatric problems. (King, 1988) The work of Johnson, Jackson and Gatto (1995) report that exposure to rap music makes listeners develop a greater level of acceptance of violence and in taking part in violent acts and anti-social behavior. (Hansen & Hansen, 1990)

Analysis and Conclusion

With all of this said there is a general consensus found among those cited it this study that the child is in a stable and loving environment that the child is easily led to understand that they are greatly responsible for forming a 'self' identification that is worthy of respect. In fact, proper guidance is cited by many sources and among these is the Kaiser Institute report that claims that the entire process of media production should be reformed. Popular music has great potential to present messages to today's youth that will positively assist their personal development. Indeed, in many cases this is precisely what popular music seeks to do however, in a great deal of contemporary popular music the assigning of values is morally and ethically erroneous and the result is that messages that serve to formulate the 'self' of an individual are negative. In addition, these very negative emotions and perspectives are delivered all too effectively.…

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