Relationship between music genres and negative behaviors still explored
Santo Domingo—Should the resonance of voices and instruments that, in their texts and melodies, tend to promote drug use, violent behavior, and irresponsible sexual practices be socially and legally accepted without at least some restriction? Searching for an answer becomes topical after paying attention to positions assumed by personalities in an implicit debate in which a sort of official acceptance of a controversial musical expression, sometimes seen as having a negative influence on society and youth, has been heard.
Drawing concepts from the national artistic circle itself, one comes to know the eclectic line adopted at a given moment by Wilfrido Vargas and Ramón Orlando, who, according to the latter, understood that the Urbano subgenre: “is not music but entertainment without specifying at what point one thing is necessarily separated from the other. And something else:
The renowned composer and performer of Dominican music previously declared before a television interviewer that to sustain itself in the public’s taste, the Urbano genre “has to be violent, pornographic and bad verbose. It invites the consumption of drugs so that they stick. And when those who cultivate these sonorous manifestations try to move away from these profiles, they lose popularity.”
Ramón Orlando believes that the success of urban performers and other options consumed by radio and television audiences who delight in noisy shows that invade screens without refinement and fill tumultuous concerts lies in the fact that they are options for “bad times for people” in allusion to the tensions that overwhelm many people due to the high incidence of economic problems, the high cost of living specifically, the aggressions to social coexistence and insecurity due to delinquency. These are all muddied realities that are difficult for human beings to avoid.
It is possible, however, that the sweeping rhythms of these times and the liberties taken by their authors to print rawness and attack conventionalisms grant reason to non-profit organizations concerned about the fate of children and youth who have argued that so far, very little use has been made in countries like the Dominican Republic of using songs for students to acquire and communicate their ideas on contemporary social issues and for music to be a didactic instrument and an attractive medium for the transmission of messages.
Although in the middle of last year, 92% of citizens consulted in a media survey agreed that urban music influences gender violence as well-known behavioral professionals had recently argued, sociologist and folklorist Dagoberto Tejada has taken another position by describing the so-called “street music” as an expression of protest and resistance with which young people insistently seek their identity.
He sees this type of music as a refuge for young people who feel socially excluded, and with it, they show their nonconformity. He considers that there is a “false puritanism” of those who react negatively by condemning the expressions of youth. “They lack opportunities, they have nothing to look for, and it is the only way to show their nonconformity with today’s society.” He spoke with reverence towards the so-called artistic expressions of young people and refrained from condemning any rhythm they prefer.
Contemporizing with this line of thought, when speaking to the press, anthropologist and HOY columnist Tahira Vargas disassociated music specifically from “the high levels of violence in the country.” She connects them instead with the precariousness that exists in the educational system. “Violence has been socially legitimized, and there is no political will to eradicate it.”
Participating in a luncheon of the Corripio Communications Group, Vargas opined that “music is a way of expressing feelings, emotions and situations without any political objective. Music has to do with identities (concretely). We are asking for things that it does not have as an objective.”
When discussing the subject with the media, psychiatrist Secundino Palacios contradicted those who believe that musical genres that are very popular among young people should be repressed. He prefers orientation work so that performers “use contents that induce human, psychological, social and emotional growth. It must have a good message that will make them better citizens.”
Carmen Imbert Brugal, an article writer for HOY newspaper and former member of the judiciary and the JCE, recently opined that by describing 2022 as a reference for Dominican youth, the exponent of the urban genre El Alfa, the Minister of the Interior, Jesus Vasquez, validated the author of lyrics that motivate the consumption of controlled substances, exalt violence against women and the carrying and possession of firearms without control in incentive to homicide.
He described it as “unbelievable but true” that the Power was heard praising the emitter of musical hits favorable to harmful consumption. At the same time, he described education as “something useless, unnecessary.” And while the singer above makes such expressions, “The kids in the neighborhoods are captive of fentanyl and are crazy about the consumption of cannabis.” In his article, he quoted an eloquent double meaning in the musical production of El Alfa, with which he expressed a supermacho pride: “I am the only one who kills women but leaves them alive.”
He considered that after resorting to the exaltation of a controversial urban performer, “it would be burlesque” for the Palace to repeat speeches against violence and to pronounce more harangues in favor of education and the protection of children and adolescents. He criticized that they try to motivate young people to join the Police while exalting as an archetype an artist who invites in his songs not to listen to advice because “life is better with cash, hookas, and party.”
Before saying goodbye to this life and the enthusiastic support of his public, the greatest exponent of merengue, Johnny Ventura, even blamed drug trafficking for destroying the great orchestras of the Creole rhythm par excellence with acts that would have included “financing urban music.” On the occasion, he called on the national authorities to protect and defend the artistic expressions of the Dominicans.
He understood that the displacement of authentic merengue put at risk not only the identity of the nation but also the formation and social and cultural development of the new generations, recalling that merengue had been recognized as the Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
I am still investigating the relationship between musical genres and negative behaviors.
Johnny felt that with the advance of other genres, authentically Dominican music was being extirpated from the radio, continually described as “old,” which, in his opinion, prevented the emergence of new artists, arguing that since drug trafficking made inroads in the dissemination of music “we have been relegated, because many do not lend themselves to be the spearhead of this sector, because of the damage it causes in the youth.”
Some sociological and anthropological texts also reflect the concern of Latin American intellectual circles that describe modern rhythms as “promoters of the loss of moral and personal values with the transgression of social codes that incite sex and turn women into sexual instruments. The language of the street, strong, tawdry, unadorned, has allowed it to interact with the great masses.”
It is noted that it is a penetration towards all social, cultural, and educational levels and that although not all pieces (including reggaeton) have the worst characteristics, “it should be noted that these are the ones that have taken root in the consumers due to the catchiness of their choruses and the rhythm that accompanies them.”
In a recently published academic text, it was stated that: “It is highly significant the popularity among young people of the most foul and aggressive themes from the textual point of view and the evident load of eroticism worked from the perspective of the double meaning. Titles plagued with marked sexual allusions have become everyday music for a large sector.”