Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Wanting Someone Free Is A Bad Thing?

I've seen a trend in music videos lately that I've been meaning to write about for a while. With various rappers/artists in prison today, many videos have featured artists wearing T-shirts such as "Free Shyne" or "Free Pimp C" to show support for them. However, when these videos are shown on channels such as MTV and BET, the word "Free" is blurred. In the case of Paul Wall's video for "Sittin' Sidewayz," the entire shirt is blurred. This begs the question...Why?

I have to wonder what the reasoning is in blurring the message on the T-shirts. I can understand blurring logos on clothing because no station wants free advertising on their programs. However, why can't artists show support for their jailed friends? It can't be because it makes a political statement. MTV and BET normally don't have a problem with political statements in videos...otherwise Eminem's "Mosh" would have not made the airwaves.

Does it have to do with image? Maybe MTV and BET don't want to be seen as condoning crime. After all, they don't allow gun imagery in their videos except in rare cases (like Jay-Z getting shot in "99 Problems"). Vandalism, robbery, and any drug reference no matter how obscure is also taken out of videos on these channels. Do they think that by allowing someone to say "Free Pimp C" that they are putting out the image that people shouldn't be punished for their crimes?

Is it because they don't want to be seen as supporting the artist? We've gotten to the point legally where there are disclaimers on DVDs warning that commentaries and interviews don't represent the views of the studio. Maybe they got advice that someone, somewhere could make the assumption that based on allowing artists to mention that they want their associates to be free that the channel also supports that view. I'm not sure if this argument holds water, though. If that's the case, then by showing the objectification of women in many videos, does that mean that MTV and BET support that too?

I don't know which of these reasons is correct (or even if any of them are correct at all). Regardless, it strikes me as odd that these channels would insist upon taking out these messages. Apart from what I mentioned, I really don't know what more harm they could do. The whole thing reminds me of a very funny Boondocks strip where Riley held up a sign that said "Free Shyne" on the street. The joke was that all the people that passed by had no idea who Shyne was and thought that he was offering a free shoe shine. I mean, if you saw a video and someone had a shirt on with "Free Pimp C" on it and you didn't know who Pimp C was, would you care?

1 comment:

  1. Good question.
    I don't know the answer, sorry. I highly doubt even they(BET/MTV) know. But you know what's funny, how a lot of younger cats blindly follow these artists. With the whole "Free Yayo" craze for instance, I saw a number of "Free Yayo" shirts worn by the youth, who Im sure had not even the slightest clue as to who Yayo was, or why he should’ve been freed. I laughed at first, and then thought that’s depressing. Hopefully, artists start realizing their power and start rocking “Free Mumia” or “Free Assata“ shirts, very doubtful however.
    P.S. Those Boondocks strips are pretty damn funny aren’t they.