House to Hold Hearings on the BUSINESS of Stereotypes and Degrading Images


(cross-posted to Jack and Jill Politics)

Tip of the hat to Eddie Griffin (no not that one) for the heads up about this. Today, Tuesday September 25th, a House Subommittee will hold a hearing on the following:

From Imus to Industry: The Business of Stereotypes and Degrading Images
Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection Hearing
10:00 a.m. in room 2123 Rayburn House Office Building

you can view the live stream with Windows Media Player starting about 10 minutes before the hearing begins.

Variety, in many ways the official entertainment industry magazine, wrote about the hearings back on September 4th.

A new front on the content wars may be opening when Congress holds its first hearing specifically into media "stereotypes and degradation" of women -- particularly African- American women -- later this month.

Hearing, not yet officially announced and tentatively skedded for Sept. 25, will focus primarily on hip-hop lyrics and videos, which critics have frequently derided for explicit misogyny aimed largely at black women.

But other media will likely come under scrutiny, too.

"I want to engage not just the music industry but the entertainment industry at large to be part of a solution," said Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, which will hold the hearing.

Just as his colleagues on other committees have summoned TV execs to be grilled on sexual or violent content, Rush wants to hear from the leaders of companies purveying rap music. The intent is to examine commercial practices behind the music's most controversial content.

According to the subcommittee website, the hearings will consist of three panels with a variety of witnesses.

Panel 1 (the c-walkers)

Phillipe P. Dauman, President & CEO, Viacom
Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Chairman & CEO, Warner Music Group
Doug Morris, Chairman & CEO, Universal Music Group
Alfred C. Liggins III, President & CEO, Radio One
Strauss Zelnick, Chairman of the Board, Take-Two Interactive Software (creators of the Grand Theft Auto game franchise)

Panel 2 (the artists)

Percy Miller, aka Master P
Levell Crump, aka David Banner

Panel 3 (the akademiks) I provide links to their bios or books, etc.

Tracy Sharpley-Whiting, PhD @ Vanderbilt
Andrew Rojecki, Phd @ Univ of Illinois Chicago
Faye WIlliams, PhD & Chair Nat'l Congress of Black Women
Lisa Fager Bediako, President of Industry Ears
Karen Dill, PhD @ Lenoi-Rhyne College


This should be very interesting. I won't be able to tune in, but I hope someone can report back on some highlights.

Congress has a habit of dragging content executives to the Hill when there is a public outcry of inappropriate images, especially where children are the intended audience. Criticisms of the media as a "vast wasteland" date back nearly to the medium's beginning in former FCC Chairman Newton Minow's famous 1961 speech.

As an artist and "content creator" myself, I don't relish the idea of legislation dictating what I can and cannot say, but I'm interested in what this hearing will bring out. The title suggests they will do more than drag a few artists and execs up in order to rub their noses in filthy content. Being about the business of stereotypes, we could see some interesting data on the affects of images and sound on the audience and the profits behind such.

I was in high school when I first saw C. Delores Tucker protesting "gangster rap," and she honestly irked me to no end. When I saw her, she was rude, mean and didn't seem to want to listen. I can't say that's how she is, but that was my impression and I wanted none of it. Let folks play what they will, I thought. But the marketplace of images isn't so fairly balanced as to let just the "market" decide, and saying that violent images don't affect people is plain wrong.

As a friend of mine put it so well once, "there's a multibillion dollar industry predicated on the idea that images and sound make people do sh*t. It's called advertising."