THE EDITOR, Madam:
In a misguided society like Jamaica with inverted values, it is unsurprising that some opinion makers think that entertainers should be role models. Entertainers are mere actors who dazzle us with an intriguing performance. Musicians are not philosophers or religious figures, so we should not expect them to act like moralists.
Yet many in influential positions opine that incarcerated entertainer Vybz Kartel ought to be held responsible for the unsavoury conduct of troubled youngsters. Though his brand of negative music is extremely influential, it must be stated that Vybz Kartel is only describing a culture of violence. Many of our children are from dysfunctional homes and would exhibit anti-social behaviour even without the influence of Vybz Kartel.
Since Vybz Kartel is obviously aware of the problems bedeviling society, his team quickly produced a response on Instagram absolving him of responsibility: “Let me tell you somn, I’ve been in (location loading…) 9 years now and guess who takes care of my kids? Me (and their mothers), not child advocates, entertainers…my kids are handful so I can’t help you raise ‘waste man’ and ‘waste gyal’ pickney. That’s not my job.” Vybz Kartel is indeed correct.
It is evident from the chaos in society that many parents do not know how to raise their children, hence they have outsourced their responsibilities to a litany of external parties. On several occasions, Vybz Kartel has asserted that he caters to adults, but people foolishly expect him to be a role model for children.
Insensible parents allow their children to consume decadent music and, in some instances, invite them to adult themed parties. Therefore, parents must be held to account for exercising poor judgement.
Vybz Kartel is a businessman serving a market demanding filth, so we cannot impose prudish standards on his artform. By performing, he is only telling Jamaica’s story of moral decadence. Kartel’s fans and critics fail to realize that he may just be a satirist who mocks Jamaicans in several of his songs.
Due to their simplicity, his fans often assume that he is just singing about reality. So, when their ‘saviour’ his criticized, their retort is that he is only telling the truth. But in some cases, he is producing biting commentary detailing social decay in Jamaican society. For example, a song that appears to be celebrating the gory attributes of a gangster could instead be criticism of a culture that is conducive to criminality.
Non-thinking people, however, will posit that dancehall is causing crime and the sycophantic followers of Kartel will argue that movies are also violent, and as such uptown people are maligning Kartel.
Both viewpoints are equally clueless. Jamaica is a violent society and dancehall affirms this culture of violence. Abolishing dancehall would not reduce crime, if the family situation is not ameliorated. Further research shows that the consumption of violent media induces aggression in people who are already anti-social. Because of the anti-social nature of numerous Jamaicans, dancehall music may inspire them to justify harmful behavior.
Dancehall artistes are filling the gap left by untrustworthy religious and political leaders. To devotees of dancehall, artistes are not solely entertainers, but also philosophers and coaches; therefore, they are likely to take music literally and not figuratively. As a result, there can be no serious comparison between movies and dancehall songs, because foreign actors are not as influential as Vybz Kartel.
The problem is that Jamaicans need guidance, so when dancehall songs are taken literally, a fertile ground for chaos is created. For instance, using their warped logic supporters of dancehall will intimate that violent songs are okay, because some politicians are engaged in illicit activities. If fans take dancehall literally, then it is inane for them to justify the wrongness of musical content on the basis that people other than dancehall artistes promote violence.
The real dilemma, however, is that leaders have failed, hence Jamaicans are looking for role models in the wrong places. Dancehall artistes cannot be role models; therefore, society is in a sad state when people expect artistes instead of parents and political figures to be providing moral leadership.