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Stanley Crouch’s Essay “Hooked” Essay, Research Paper
Stanley Crouch’s essay “Hooked” is about the music of today. He talks throughout the essay mainly about Michael Jackson, and his music and image. He talks about Jackson throughout the years, from the beginning of his career as a member of the Jackson Five, up until the release of his latest record HIStory. Crouch goes on to say in his essay that today’s music is mainly about going against authority, and can be compared to Hitler’s Fascism. He also talks about how many people today listen to music, without taking note of the lyrics.
Stanley Crouch’s essay “Hooked” is an attack on popular music of today. He argues that today’s music is bad, and that most people don’t even listen to the lyrics. He also compares listeners of today’s music to fascists. Stanley Crouch does not back up any of his arguments with factual information. His essay is based on opinion, and observation, and in my paper I will discuss how he is obviously wrong in his arguments of these topics.
First of all Stanley Crouch is wrong in arguing that all music of today is bad, because he uses only Michael Jackson as a representation of today’s music. Michael Jackson is not a representative of all popular music of today. For one to write an argumentative essay rating popular music of today, one must use more then one-example of a music artist. There are many artists of the late 90’s who are as mainstream as Michael Jackson is, but who also write very good music. In Crouch’s essay he states that today’s music ” exploits the insecurities of young people by telling them, over and over, that never growing up is the best defense against an oppressive world where fun isn’t given its proper due.” In this statement he is saying that the music of today is mostly written to send messages to the youth of today that growing up is bad, go against the authorities do what you want while your still a child. This is very much so an opinion. There are numerous artists of today who write very meaningful songs on a variety of topics that young people of today can relate to and take comfort in. For example Mariah Carey is a mainstream artist who writes many songs that people of all ages can listen to and relate to. On a recent album entitled Butterfly, there is a song called Outside, which is about not feeling like you fit in anywhere, and not being sure what your supposed to do with your life. A example of lyrics from this song are ” Standing alone, Eager to just believe, It’s good enough to be what you really are, But in your heart, Uncertainty always lies, And you’ll always be, Somewhere on the Outside.” This is an example of a song that isn’t about going against authorities, but about the pain of trying to figure out who you are, and what your life means. Songs like these can help many get through hard times, just because they know that someone else has been through this, especially someone as prominent as Mariah Carey, and made it out ok. So to say that popular music is bad, is not accurate.
In Stanley Crouch’s essay he also talks about how many times today “lyrics so often go by, barely noticed.” I disagree with this because I know that there are many times that I choose to listen to songs just because of the lyrics. For example, one of my favorite songs right now is called “Light in Your Eyes” by Blessed Union of Souls. When I listen to the lyrics I feel like they wrote the song just for me. It’s as if they knew exactly what was going on in my life, so they wrote about it. Lyrics are the most important part of the song. They shape the song, and make it worth listening to. A perfect argument to refute what Crouch is saying is the fact that people pick wedding songs. To pick a wedding song, you must listen to the lyrics, and figure out if it fits your relationship with your fianc?. Most wedding songs have beautiful lyrics, about love, and bonds that won’t be broken. So to say that people don’t listen to lyrics is very farfetched.
I also disagree with his statement about when people do notice lyrics that they are “anthems of estrangement or bludgeons against some vision of corrupt and hypocritical authority.” I don’t know if Stanley Crouch has listened to the song “Fight for your Right” by the Beastie Boys, one too many times or something, but hardly any of today’s music goes against authority. Most music today has lyrics based around issues in people’s everyday lives. People listen to these songs because they can relate to the lyrics, and find comfort in knowing someone else is thinking like them or has the same problems as them. For example a song by Blessed Union of Souls called “I Believe” talks about an interracial relationship, and how he believes that even though they must struggle because the girls father thinks interracial relationships are wrong, love will find a way to keep them together. Many people in today’s society can relate to the lyrics that say “Cause she believes that love will see it through, though they don’t understand, And he’ll see me as a person. Not just a black man, Cause I believe that love is the answer.” Many might find comfort in that simple statement that love is the answer. So this song has to do with love, not estrangement, or authority. Another example of a song that many young people can relate to today is called “Adam’s Song” by Blink 182, who is another very popular artist of today. The song is about a boy who has committed suicide. I think that the song really hits home to anyone who has come in contact with this tragedy, and even those who are experiencing it. An example of some lines from it is “I’m too depressed to go on, you’ll be sorry when I’m gone.” I think that a lot of young adults out there can listen and relate to this song, and may be make better decisions in their lives because of it. Therefore I think that Stanley Crouch was wrong in commenting that popular music of today is only about those two subjects.
I’ve been to over 15 concerts in the past 4 years, and in no way shape or form do I even compare myself to the likes of a fascist. Many people today attended concerts as a form of entertainment. A concert is a place one can go to, to relax with friends, while listening to the music they like live and right in front of them. I would not describe concerts as “hypnotic rituals of enormously magnified passion”. This statement better describes the “shows” that Hitler put on. People go to concerts like they go to the theatre, or the movies, as a form of entertainment, not to come together to be biased against a group of people. In fact concerts bring together people of all races, and religions, because of the fact that music today is so widely appreciated. Listening and enjoying music has nothing to do with ones race or religion. It is actually one of the things today that is completely free of racial, or religious bias, anyone can listen to music. So to compare concerts with Hitler’s fascism is utterly ridiculous. In all actuality many concerts of today are only put on to raise money for good causes such as the Tibetan Freedom Concert, which is a concert that raises money to free Tibet. So to compare those two things is absolutely wrong.
I do think that Stanley Crouch is correct in placing Michael Jackson under all of these categories, because everything stated about him within the essay was true. But like I said before he does not represent the entire music industry. Michael Jackson’s music and concerts can be compared to Hitler’s fascism, because that is the person he tries to be. This obvious to anyone who does watch his video history. He makes it seem like he rules the world and that everyone follows him and does what he wants them to do. I also agree that the television station of today such as MTV, VH-1, E!, and Entertainment Tonight, are very much so “dedicated to nothing but the marketing of the products” and that “hype and genuflection are their trade” I think that if these channels got more into the meanings of songs, and how songs relate to people in real life, as well as the good aspects of music today, the present music industry would have a better rap.
All in all the music of today is clearly not all that Stanley Crouch makes it out to be. If one searches further into the music industry then just Michael Jackson they will talented artists, who write exceptional songs. Many people today listen to music as a form of relaxation, a form of entertainment. They listen in their cars, in their homes; they listen when they’re happy, when they are sad. They listen by themselves, or with others. But all in all music is an important part of many people’s lives, and for one to judge an important part of people’s lives on one aspect of it, is completely wrong.
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