To Listen Or Not To Listen: A Pop-Music Question

What would happen if you found out that a certain type of food was bad for you; would you stop eating it? Similarly, if you found out a certain type of music was bad for you; would you stop listening to it? Wouldn’t you need proof before you make a decision? John Hamerlinck, a freelance writer in St. Cloud, Minnesota uses this article, “Killing Women: A Pop-Music Tradition”, to make his major point of how popular music is the most common link to violence (241). Hamerlinck voices his concern on the issues of violence in our society and has taken many stands on how violence is generated. Hamerlinck emphasizes that even though the mainstream press seems to have only recently recognized this horrible reality, the signs of our tolerance toward domestic violence have long had a prominent profile in popular culture (240). Through novels, films, and music, the media has effected the way our society thinks, believes, and acts. I agree partly with Hamerlinck about the strong influence music has on its listeners, but I don’t agree with how he supports and concludes his article with the type of evidence he uses. Hamerlinck starts out by supporting the way music promotes violence then suddenly changes his stand to say that music isn’t the cause of violence. How can you trust an author’s word when he switches his opinion by the end of the article?
In Hamerlinck’s article, the beginning purpose was clear but he changes his position by the end of the article. This change of purpose takes the credibility away from Hamerlinck, and confuses the reader. The article was written using outdated songs and without strong supporting evidence. The examples of music he used were from the 1920’s and 1980’s. Hamerlinck’s poor choice in music causes the 1990’s audience to have difficulty relating to the point he was trying to make. Hamerlinck reveals that from the beginning of music there has been an old folk genre known as the “murder ballad,” which tells stories of men killing women because they have “done them wrong” (241). In many of the songs in this genre, the music misrepresents the homicidal lyrics (241). How can this music genre misrepresent homicidal lyrics when it is obvious to the reader that these grouping of words are intended to express hatred toward women, enough to kill them!
Hamerlinck supports his article with random songs that have to do with violence and love, in hopes of proving that music has an impact on it’s listeners. Lonnie Johnson sang a 1920’s song called “Careless Love,” in which he promises to shoot his lover numerous times and then stand over her until she is finished dying (241). A song like Little Walter’s “Boom, Boom, Out go the Lights” has a harsh and frightening image (241). The listener may not be aware of the destructive words in the songs because of the snappy, up-beat rhythms the artists’ create. I disagree with this statement because if this is the case, how can the listeners really not know what the lyrics are truly promoting? Why then, is violence at the fault of the artists and not directly at the listeners. It is true that the artists can continue to write and sell this type of music, but it is the choice of the listener to continue to listen to violent lyrics. Hamerlinck also explains how types of music influence the mistreatment of women. Hamerlinck then goes on to say how these songs do not cause violence and their singers are not evil (242). If that wasn’t enough to confuse the readers, he challenges the reader to examine themselves by saying, “If the beat is good and the chorus has a catchy hook, we don\'t need to concern ourselves with things like meaning...right? We can simply dance on and ignore the violence around us (243). I agree with Hamerlinck when he says that these songs don’t cause violence. Hamerlinck doesn’t support this statement in his article, so I will expand on it. Of course it is not the songs that are causing killing or violence but the people who choose to do what the songs say to do. Whether the songs promote good acts or