Ludacris controversy over words and the ideas they represent


Circumstances have already shaken up Eaglepalooza. Kendrick Lamar dropped out to tour with Kanye West, and the venue changed from JetBlue Park back to Germain Arena.
But the biggest shake-up has been Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott taking issue with Ludacris’ lyrics and themes, citing specifically the rapper’s use of “the N-word,” his attitude toward women and his references to violence. Scott claims that FGCU is condoning these themes by booking Ludacris. Predictably, many students oppose Scott’s viewpoint. Our poll on, while by no means scientific, shows 81 percent disagreement with Scott. Thirteen percent agree, and 7 percent are undecided.
It’s no surprise since rap moves money at FGCU. Pitbull in 2011, for example, sold almost twice as many tickets as Taking Back Sunday that same year (6,700 to 3,403), according to a report by The News-Press.
Students don’t see Ludacris’s lyrics as a problem.
Student Government President Juan Cubillo made a distinction in an online interview with me, saying, “Ludacris is an entertainer. He is an artist. Artists say controversial things in their music to make money and generate listeners….and I think we’re all old and mature enough to understand that it’s just entertainment.
“I personally don’t listen to much rap or hip-hop, but I can appreciate Ludacris because though I don’t agree with all that he says, I can tell he’s being honest in his music,” he said.
Scott’s assertion that FGCU is condoning Ludacris’s themes is inaccurate. There are people on campus who disagree with Ludacris’s consistent objectification of women and promotion of violence. You’re reading the column of one objector right now.
After all, who in their right mind calls for “disturbing the peace?”
Let’s get a few things straight:
1) FGCU’s programming board has every right to book Ludacris.
2) Scott has every right to disagree personally.
3) Censorship of any kind is never the answer.
Ludacris’s profanity isn’t the problem. “Bad words” are hardly damaging; the misogynistic and violent themes are the real problem. Which is why radio censorship doesn’t make sense. If you bleep out “Move, B—-,” but the message stays the same, what have you really done?
Maybe I’m lame, and maybe I sound like the old man yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off my lawn, but I lack whatever special ingredient it is to see the merit in Ludacris.
Will anyone who listens to a Ludacris song go out and imitate what they heard? No, of course not. And I’m not a moral arbiter, but you have to look at the broader picture here and ask why exactly we culturally accept these themes under the guise of entertainment. Really, don’t most of us respect women? And we don’t have an inclination to violence, right? Then why is it OK to put these into a song that reaches millions of people? Just because it makes for a nice evening concert?
Cubillo posted on Facebook on Aug. 30 “How about we all film Ludacris performing ‘Move ****’ at Eaglepalooza and send the video to Sheriff Mike Scott…,” which has 87 likes as of Tuesday.
This is an irresponsible way for a student body president to represent his constituency, by disrespecting a community figure. Of course, like Scott, Cubillo has every right to express his thoughts, and he is not the only student to take to social media to express his displeasure with Scott’s remarks.
Cubillo, in the same online interview, said his comment was “intended to mean that the voice of 14,000 students is not to be taken lightly. We are 14,000 strong Eagles, and if we want to have Ludacris come here, then that’s what’s going to happen. We are adults, and I expect the sheriff to respect us like we respect him.”
The narrative that has unfolded in wake of this controversy echoes entitlement. It’s as if the discussion over Ludacris’s themes doesn’t matter — students just don’t want an authority figure trying to dictate what they should or shouldn’t do.
Take a step back from your own, subjective perspective and ask if it’s OK for someone with the ability to reach millions and millions to talk about treating women like “hoes” and “blood spillin’ like a faulty faucet.” I’ve written off musicians (sometimes ones I used to respect) before for putting out garbage. I consider it conscientious consumption.
If you think it’s fine and can justify it, then by all means enjoy your concert. All I ask is for you to think about it.
Andrew is a senior majoring in journalism. He goes to far too many concerts, suffers from severe wanderlust and takes pictures of things sometimes.