“I bust a brand new ho in every video. That’s on the Pound and the Row when the wind blow. I pass a ho to my kinfolk and the smoke.” Those lyrics are from Snoop Dogg’s song “Groupie” off of his album “Tha Doggfather.” That is the kind of message you will be hearing at this year’s Spring Fling concert.
It is easy to see why some members of the Penn community would find this sort of message troubling. Lyrics such as these, which aren’t exactly in short supply in many of Snoop’s songs, are clearly misogynistic.
When the Fling artist was announced, a group of students was so disturbed that they felt it necessary to circulate a petition questioning the fling-performer selection criteria. The petition describes several lyrics, much more graphic than those above, which could be found offensive to many people at Penn. It goes on to ask the Social Planning and Events Committee, which chooses the fling performers, to “consider what kind of values we as an institution support and look for artists that exemplify those values.”
College junior Kaneesha Parsard — chairwoman-elect of the Penn Consortium for Undergraduate Women, which supports the petition — said that she is conflicted about the Fling performer. “Obviously as a feminist I’m very opposed to Snoop Dogg’s lyrics. As a fan of hip-hop it’s kind of difficult for me to reconcile the sometimes problematic imagery and messages with really hot songs.”
Circulating a petition is one way to address the concerns about misogyny. But perhaps a more a proactive approach would better affect change.
When asked if the petition’s concerns were going to be taken into account in the future, College senior and SPEC Vice President Preston Hershorn responded, “Absolutely. We are not out to offend anyone. At the end of the day we just want to program the best concert possible.” But concerning changing the criteria for performers, Hershorn went on to say that, “In terms of the actual process, unfortunately we’re bound more by the rules of the entertainment industry than anything else.” Most bids must be confidential, he said, because of the way the booking process works.
Though this may be true, there are still steps that can be taken to address this problem. One wonders why those behind the petition didn’t think of a common-sense solution that Hershorn himself put forth. “At the end of the day, anybody can join SPEC Concerts,” he says. He has a great point here. Because bids must be confidential, there is no way to shop around a list of possible performers to multiple organizations on campus. If you feel strongly about the type of performers SPEC has brought this year and in the past, join the committee. The easiest way to effect change is from the inside, and this committee is open to all who are interested.
Penn students should also explore a useful dialogue behind the selection of artists such as Snoop Dogg. PCUW is doing just that. On April 12 they will be hosting a screening of “Beyond Beats and Rhymes,” a documentary that explores homophobia and misogyny in hip-hop. Examining the deeper problems behind these lyrics would be much more meaningful than just throwing your hands up in the air and placing the blame on SPEC.
Ultimately, it seems like the best way to solve this problem is to join the process. If the organizers behind the petition care so much about the Fling performers then they should get more involved in the selection process. Unless you’re willing to put time and energy into the selection, I don’t think you have much room to complain.
Dennie Zastrow is a College senior from Wilson, N.Y. He is the former chairman of the Lambda alliance. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. A Dennie for Your Thoughts appears on Thursdays.Comments powered by Disqus
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