Monday, March 06, 2006

It's Hard Out Here for an Oscar Viewer

I know the Oscars are a bunch of self-congratulatory crap. I know that in the grand scheme of things, they don't mean much. However, due to the fact that I absolutely love to watch movies, every year I find myself alongside my wife watching the Oscars. After all, some of my favorite movies have been either Oscar winners or Oscar nominees: Saving Private Ryan, Silence of the Lambs, Patton, Forrest Gump, Braveheart, Good Will Hunting... all Oscar winners. In addition to the movies, the music they spawn can be quite enjoyable as well. One of my favorite Oscar- nominated songs from a movie is Miss Misery from Good Will Hunting. Don't forget about Madonna's You Must Love Me from Evita, A Whole New World from Aladdin, Lionel Richie's Say You, Say Me from White Nights, Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen, and Let the River Run by Carly Simon, which was in the 1988 movie, Working Girl.

The reason I listed all these wonderful songs is to provide a comparison to the pile of defecation that won the Oscar for Best Song last night. The song is called It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp by Memphis rap group, Three 6 Mafia. The "song" came from a movie called Hustle and Flow which is about a pimp from Memphis trying to become a rapper - oh joy.

You know how they do it at the Oscar ceremony: throughout the night, each nominated song is performed. When the last one is performed, the Oscar for Best Song is presented. The first nominee was performed by Dolly Parton, and it was from the movie Transamerica. Parton's song was happy and upbeat even if a little repetitious. The second nominated song to be performed was a beautiful and haunting song from the movie Crash. It was this song that I thought should have won. The next song was of course, It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp by Three 6 Mafia. I knew the song was coming, as the controversial title had already caused pre-ceremony buzz. I did come into the performance with an open mind, hoping that maybe it was a clever or well done rap song - hey, there is some rap I don't mind; it's just all from the 1980s or early 1990s. Once the "song" got underway, I was underwhelmed. Frankly, it sucked. First you have a woman singing over and over, "It's hard out here for a pimp!" Meanwhile, the angry young rappers echo her line with "Bee dump! bee dump!" or something like that. When the song ended, I said to my wife, "If that wins for Best Song, I am shutting off the t.v." Of course, then it won. My wife made me keep the t.v. on anyway because she wanted to see if Reese Witherspoon would win for Best Actress.

I think I probably feel the same way that people from my parents' generation felt as they watched the catchy and happy-go-lucky music of the late 1950s, early 1960s give way to the drug-induced crap of the late 1960s and 1970s. Popular music took a serious turn for the worse around the year 1993 when what we call pop music gave way to hip-hop. If this were the Roman Empire, I would consider hip-hop to be one of the key indicators that we are headed for a fall. When people start accepting the lowest common denominator as their goal, we are headed for serious trouble. Yes, I know we are talking about one song at an Oscar ceremony, but the implications of this song winning the Oscar for Best Song transcend the win itself. It says something about the people of this country and where their priorities are. It says something about what Americans are willing to accept when it comes to excellence versus mediocrity. Once we start not only accepting mediocrity, but aspiring to it, it spells the possible death knell for our nation. This "song" winning the Oscar is but one more indicator that shows what we have accepted, and it is not excellence.

Good Day to You, Sir


George said...

Here is what one of the members said in a Billboard interview:

However, there remains an even deeper bottom line for Houston. "This is big for hip-hop, but we're also representing for the black community, letting kids know you can do something positive and make it bigger than life."

Am I missing something here? I can appreciate the whole, " Gotta get out of the hood" thing, but do you do that by promoting the illicit activities of the hood?

The lyrics are available on the net. They are pretty disturbing. I'm looking for the Oscar night version.

George said...

Sorry - the above quote in regards to their Oscar nomination.

Anonymous said...

I like a variety of music, but not this garbage. Depending on my mood, 80's or 90's are great. Other times Rock N' Roll oldies or 40's swing. Sometimes even a little Billie Holiday, she's great. I think she would be ashamed to be a black singer with the riff raff that's out there now. T

jay said...

How can you say music/song in the same sentence as rap? Rap is nothing more than rhythmic noise, and cacophonous at that. (Or is that caca-phonous? )!