By Jon Roe
Recently there has been outrage over rap artist Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s upcoming performance in Toronto. One Member of Parliament, Dan McTeague, has gone as far as denying the rapper’s entry to the country. McTeague argues Jackson’s glorification of gun violence is not appropriate, considering the increase in gun-related deaths in the Toronto area. The mumbling MC makes a fitting scapegoat for the corruption of youth, following a long line of ‘controversial’ artists.
Parents and authority figures constantly forget the common motivation behind most teenagers’ actions: to piss them off. We’ve seen it a million times in movies.
A father finds his daughter being all angsty.
“I forbid you to see him!”
“You’re not the boss of me!”
“My house, my rules!”
“I HATE YOU!!”
The daughter leaves, sneaks out her bedroom window and goes to have degrading sex with someone who dresses like the Fonz.
The same principle follows for different types of controversial media. Attempts to ban Grand Theft Auto III only increased demand; rumours of stores removing the game from shelves caused a frenzy of sales. The Jackass movie was deemed the bane of innocence, but movie theatres still had to post guards to prevent the massive flow of minors who bought tickets for G-rated movies with the intention of seeing Jackass. When Jackson marches on stage in front of a sold-out stadium, he’ll likely shout, “They tried to stop me, but I just keep comin’!” to the sound of cheering and a resulting rush of t-shirt sales. The sound of McTeague’s protest is really just the ka-ching of a cash register for Jackson.
Criminal celebrities are pretty commonplace these days, but they rarely find problems entering our country. In October of this year, Martha Stewart was slated to be a pumpkin rower at the annual Pumpkin Regatta near Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was feared she would be denied entry to the country, due to her prison-time on several fraud charges. There was no protest. There was no outrage. No, the picturesque housewife’s case was fast-tracked by Canadian immigration officials. The difference: Jackson’s a gangster, a drug dealer, where as Martha gained a few dollars from a few questionable transactions. It’s ridiculous that we’d treat a crime born of circumstance worse than one born entirely of avarice. Joining gangs and dealing drugs is an option for anyone but these activities tend to attract only the poorest of society. For some, there is no other option. This is in no way how things ought to be, but it is a reality.
Controversy sells, and artists, writers, actors and musicians have found ways to cash in on it. Jackson isn’t the first challenge to our moral fibre. Marilyn Manson came before, chalk full of androgyny and outrage. Yet, his latest full-length album, The Golden Age of Grotesque, though entering at number one on the Billboard charts, fell off quickly in the following weeks and has yet to receive gold certification. Compared to the platinum status of Antichrist Superstar, that’s nothing. Eminem was the target of protests from gay rights groups due to lyrics on The Marshall Mathers LP in 2000. Lately, the most outrageous thing Eminem has done is make a vomit-inducing iPod commercial. With the lack of controversy, Eminem hasn’t reached the heights of The Marshall Mathers LP, which sold 19 million copies. 2002’s The Eminem Show sold 15 million, and his latest, 2004’s Encore, sold 10 million. The shock value of artists like Eminem and Jackson wears off, people stop being offended, sales fall and the artist fades.
The chances of Jackson getting his concert cancelled are pretty slim; McTeague is fighting a losing battle. If it is cancelled, it will only perpetuate the demand for Jackson and his ilk. What’s ridiculous is our double standard; Martha Stewart stealing money from her shareholders is perfectly acceptable, we want her in. 50 Cent? God no, not that hooligan.