Violent Lyrics

February 21, 2011
Every era in music, including the current one, has been subject to questioning by an older generation. Culture is an ever-changing entity whose guidelines are constantly morphing to suit new situations and issues in the world. What was inappropriate ten years ago is now widely accepted. People suspicious of music’s having a detrimental affect on young people fail to recognize the source of that music. Songs on the radio are an expression of the current generation, not a malicious force bent on corrupting the youth of our nation. Violence in the real world is the predecessor to violent song lyrics, not the other way around.
Evidence connecting violent lyrics to real violence, a commonly asserted idea, is extremely weak. Scientific studies testing the relationship between listening to violent music and carrying out violent acts have been either inconclusive or in contradiction with each other. Just because a person acts aggressively and listens to music with violent lyrics does not mean that the latter caused the former. People biased against such music will often give anecdotal reference to the small percentage of people who react adversely to a song that had no ill effect on others. While data implies that unrelated factors motivated violence, the violent lyrics are put to blame. This case is merely a glorified correlation fallacy.
Among the many different coping mechanisms people use to work through day-to-day issues, music is a popular example. Many people, myself included, use music to calm down when emotionally overwhelmed. Personally, I find that sometimes I need to slam the door and blast Eminem or AFI in order to release pent up frustration and anger. A song that people can relate to (regardless of violent content) is, in my opinion, the most valuable piece of art one can create. Songs are not instructions telling people what to do or how to live; they are autobiographies set to music and shared with the world. At this point in time, many young people deal with unfortunate situations that include violence and anger. The world would be a much better place if people wrote or listened to a song about violence rather than acting on malicious impulses.

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