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Ludacris controversy over words and the ideas they represent

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 Eaglenews.org, 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.

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7 Comments

  1. Collin

    “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”

    That statement doesn’t make any sense. I don’t think an “artist” is as cheap to say things just for money, that’s actually the difference between an artist and just another hack. There’s a line between artist and entertainer, yes they blend when an artist is successful, but there are definitely entertainers who aren’t making art, they’re making things just to make money and generate listeners.

  2. Mike Haupt

    It may have been disrespectful for Cubillo to make those remarks, but I’m not particularly concerned with the Student Body President’s words so much as our county’s sheriff saying that he won’t protect the concert-goers because he disagrees with the music being played.

    I don’t think the author of this piece even read what Mike Scott said. He wasn’t just stating his opinion on Ludacris’ music. He said he and his officers aren’t going to “waltz in there like a Carrie Underwood concert” – in essence he’s saying he won’t protect the concert goers adequately because he disagrees with the music being played.
    Show me your ipod, Mike Scott. Show me who you listen to and I can guarantee I’ll link them to drug abuse, spouse abuse, violence in some away or another.

    The entire reason he’s making this statement to a radio station is because he’s either trying to secure his reelection or he’s making a play for Mayor. Do you honestly believe someone who writes angry letters to the NAACP is upset at Ludacris using the ‘N’ word?
    First of all, there’s absolutely no reason for Mike Scott or any other white person to be outraged at the ‘N’ word. The word has never adversely affected a white person in the history of its use. It’s sickening that he’s using something so divisive to rally support of a majority old,white constituency.
    Secondly even if he was personally offended for whatever reason (which I highly doubt), that’s no excuse for him or any other officer of the law not to protect the concert-goers. Its not your place as sheriff to opine on the culture of your constituency. It’s your sole duty to PROTECT the constituency.

    You know, there’s a reason we don’t allow active military to participate in politics. It’s because the duties intended upon people who we want protecting us transcend divisions of a political or cultural nature. Maybe Mike Scott isn’t educated enough to understand that, but the voters of this school ought to remember it when his reelection comes around. POS.

  3. Anon

    You say no one is going to go out and do what ludicrous raps about.

    Actually, yes many people will. And yes, they do. Will they gang rape and shoot people up in public places? Most likely no. But, it is an absolute fact that people ARE influenced by what they see and hear in the media, no matter how you want to look at it.

    A lot of this crap is not only misogynistic, it promotes more racism. People like ludicrous, lil Wayne, jay z, they are all on such a high platform where they could influence a LOT of people in the black community in a positive way. But do they? Nope! They produce music that encourages misogyny, drugs, crime, amongst their own community. And what do you think happens when people listen to this trash? The black community is influenced in such a way, and others continue to see, and treat, the black community as scum. No encouragement to do better, just pure racism and other crap that our society does not need.

    I’m not an old fart either. I just like to see things as the way they are. Team Reality.

    Yes they have the right to have him perform at eaglepooza, and quite frankly I don’t care who performs. But maybe the cop is right here. Maybe the cop, who deals with criminals directly, has a point.

  4. anon

    Your premise is wrong. The reason they’re on a high platform in the first place is because they RESPOND and are a RESULT of the culture – not because they’re shaping the culture themselves. The misogyny and the word “n****” were already in the black community long before Lil Wayne or Ludacris became popular.
    I think the cop needs to do a little self-reflection of the sort of music HE listens to. Does he listen to Bach or Beethoven exclusively? If not then I’m guessing he has some questionable people in his music list as well – and shouldn’t be judging the musical preferences of his constituents.

  5. Anon

    You missed my point. They EMULATE them with disastrous results. And when did I say that they created the culture of the n-word? What I am saying here, is that they produce garbage glorifying it, telling people that it is okay to be a burden on society.

    When was the last time you heard drake, lil Wayne, etc., discouraging drug use? Telling young people not to get pregnant until they are ready to be parents? When was the last time you heard these people encouraging their audience to go to school, get a job, and earn their keep? You don’t hear it, because it doesn’t sell.

    And yeah, of course most college students are going to think he’s stupid for making such a statement. That is because they are college students. Things like what the cop said sounds nanny-ish to college students, especially when most of those college students happen to come from privileged backgrounds and have NO IDEA how this trash affects communities.

    On the other hand, let’s take race out of it completely, and let’s consider the fact that Lee County is chock full of 1) drugs, and 2) a high teen pregnancy rate. Problems that are very real in the area, yet are swept under the rug. People tend to be very, very apathetic here. Considering these things, do you really think the community benefits in any way from this music? Again, I don’t care if he performs, but you can not argue that trashy media forms don’t affect communities in a bad way, when I have not once seen or heard of anyone in fort Myers, or Cape Coral, step up to the plate and try and curb the problems that are very real there.

  6. Anon

    Oh, and by the way, they are not a result of the environment they are from. They are a result of very different things. Having a gold luck streak. Actually perusing the music industry perhaps? But do they rap about perusing your dreams or working hard? Rarely do you hear anything remotely positive.

    Personally I think that that garbage has no place on a college campus. Scott was right, the n word is a disgusting word, and to condone using that kind of language on a college campus (where people try to encourage “tolerance” and “diversity”) is pretty ridiculous. It’s not that it’s censorship, nor was it a claim that everything in his music collection is 100% perfect. It is simply a lack of common sense for a college campus to encourage respect and diversity and have groups on campus that fight racism etc, and then turn around and invite some racist, misogynistic jerk who does nothing but encourage the negative attitudes the school tries to discourage.

    Again: of course most college students are going to think that Scotty’s comment was stupid. They are part of Ludacris’s audience. Kind of like if you did a poll on how many college students think the drinking age should be lowered, or pot legalized, then yeah – of course they will be for it. Duh, people.

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