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The Impact Of The Violent African American Stereotype In Rap Music

5055 words - 20 pages

This paper will show that the stereotype of the violent, criminal African-American portrayed in rap music lyrics can become a self-fulfilling prophecy for African-Americans. Repeated and long-term exposure to this stereotypical behavior in rap music lyrics can lead to increased aggression and this stereotype becoming accepted as a social norm by African-Americans. I intend to support my argument with examples and analysis of the violent African-American stereotype, and by explaining how the stereotype can become accepted as a social norm.

The violence that permeates rap lyrics should come as no surprise because music is only one of the numerous forms of media, and violence in the media is often described as being too prevalent. The myth, “Media violence is only a reflection of violence in society,” can be refuted in different ways. One method is to use real world statistics of crime and violence and compare them to statistics of crime and violence in the media. An estimated 25 million acts of violence occur in television annually, compared to 1.5 million acts of violence in society (Potter 50). This comparison shows that “violent crime is much more frequent on TV than in real life” (Potter 50). Television depicts murder and assault as the two most frequent acts of crime, while real world statistics show that burglary and larceny “are the two most prevalent crimes” (Potter 50). The rates of violent crime in television news shows over-represent the rate of violent crime in the real world (Potter 56), and television news shows under-represent the percentage of male crime victims while over-representing the percentage of female crime victims. After examining these facts, it is obvious that the statement, “Media violence is only a reflection of violence in society” is false.

Television has been the focal point of the majority of content analyses on media violence (Potter 47), while music has not been analyzed enough to reflect the influence that it has on adolescents. According to researchers Christenson and Roberts, “American adolescents spend…between four and five hours a day listening to music…[which is] at least as much time as they spend watching standard television fare and more than they spend with their friends outside of school” (8). Music media influences the lives of adolescents in a number of ways. It “…alters and intensifies their moods, furnishes much of their slang [and] provides models for how they act…” (Christenson and Roberts 8). Music plays an important role in the lives of adolescents. They spend as much time, if not more, listening to music as they spend watching television, and therefore, music deserves additional scholarly attention.

Music is not just music, or just a source of entertainment; rather music is “a major force and presence in contemporary American adolescence” (Christenson and Roberts 11). Besides the belief that music is just music, another popular belief is that, “Nobody...

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