Ignorance Isn’t Always Bliss

NOTE: This post is an excerpt I wrote in response to an article that drove mass amounts of controversy at my school last Spring. I felt it was my duty to write some sort of response to a piece as ignorant as hers. Here is a direct quote from the editorial… (you can click on the quote to read the entire piece)

Let us dissect a country song now… this is going to be so much fun. I have decided to go with: “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” by Kenny Chesney. Why? Well because I need to show people the stupidity. I need to open their eyes. Let’s begin with the title: the thought of a female actually thinking a man’s farming equipment is attractive is pretty asinine and kind of hysterical. It also makes no sense at all. It slightly aggravates me. Now lyrics: the fact that a beautiful woman could look past the farmer’s tan and still bring a man “a basket full of chicken and a big ‘ol jug ‘a sweet tea” just because he’s ridin’ high on a tractor… that is just an insult to women everywhere! There is a line that goes: “Well she ain’t into cars or pickup trucks”. Why isn’t she into a nice BMW or a Porsche? At least she has good taste in cars and a good taste in men with some spending money.”

Here is my response… 

Let me preface this article by saying that I believe music is a topic of life that is as subjective to personal preference as religion or politics. It is a form of expression for many and a way to escape the routine syncopations of everyday life.  The same reaction a person would have if an article were to be written defaming the political party they support, or the religion they practice, is the one they will have if you disrepute the music that means something to them.

I was never a huge fan of country music. I grew up in Philadelphia, a pretty large city in Pennsylvania where most people blare classic RnB or rap from their stereo speakers, but never country music. Therefore yes, I can blame anyone for saying that Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are give-in’s for being country music hub’s because as far as I know, where I grew up was not. Also, I am pretty sure Boston, Mass and neighboring cities have very large urban music scenes that are not focused in any way on country music. The demographic knowledge of anyone who groups an entire state into the likes of one musical category seems a bit underdeveloped.

After coming to the University of New Haven my eyes were opened to how inspirational and real country music can be. My suitemates loved the genre and though I did not at first I was never narrow-minded and gave it a try every time. I soon began to realize that not all country music is about tractors and fried chicken, which is easy to see if you do some research instead of only analyzing the one popular song you’ve heard a bit too much. The songs that are about these down south subjects are written because people can relate to them. Believe it or not, there are more cultures out there than just the one you grew up in and what is the norm for you is not the norm for everyone.

To say that women should be more interested in songs that talk about men with nice cars instead of tractors seems a bit superficial. Obviously, it does not have to be said to be understood that the farmer owns a car besides the tractor that he uses for work. I feel that many girls out there would agree that it is sexier to think about a hard working man who appreciates you for who you are and drives a pick up truck, than a man who is more in love with his blackberry than the sound of your voice and spends his time spit-shining his BMW. But hey, to each her own.

No one will ever love every song of a genre. I love RnB. I live it, breathe it, eat it, and sleep it. I can honestly say however, that there are some RnB songs I can’t stand. There are some that have one too many riffs or runs and I can’t listen to the whole thing without getting annoyed. Even if you are the biggest rap, pop, classic rock, metal fan, there is going to be an artist, an album, a song or two that you absolutely hate, but you’d never go as far to say that you hate the entire genre or decide that music is an objective category of life where only your opinion is right.

UNH is an extremely diverse college and with some time and consideration it is easy to see that is reflected by the musical tastes on campus. No one person can make an assumption about the musical likes of everyone on campus unless they have analyzed every single iTunes library.

It is an ignorant statement to say that those who listen to country music are “musically challenged.” I believe it is more accurate to say that those who discuss a genre they clearly know nothing about and act as if their opinion on the subject is the only one that matters, are the ones who are “musically challenged.”

It is laughable that some people would go as far as to say that country music is degrading to women and solely focused on the subject of sex. That is clearly a joke coming from someone who probably prefers rap and pop music. If we did a one by one comparison I am pretty sure the sentimental words of songs such as “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” by Darius Rucker, “She Wouldn’t Be Gone,” by Blake Shelton, “She’s Everything to Me,” by Brad Paisley, or “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do,” by Brantley Gilbert would be much more romantically focused than those such as, “Lollipop” by Little Wayne, “Problems,” by ASAP Rocky, “I’m in Luv With a Stripper,” by T-Pain and many others.

The funny thing is that I love all of those songs listed above. Some more than others, but I don’t hate any to the point where I would go as far as to insult the people who listen to them. To truly appreciate music is to have an open mind about all of it. Loving only one kind of music means that you really don’t love music at all. Sharing ignorant opinions backed with no research or a mild clue of the genre you are disputing is only going to make people angry.

Music is one of the only thing’s left up to personal expression that can still bring all types of people together. It is the one aspect of life that has stayed constant through every generation of war, depression, couples falling in love, and millions of broken hearts. Every kind of music we listen to today has evolved throughout these moments in history and become more personal to some than the photographs under their beds.

The moral of the story is… when you are going to write such a controversial piece, try to back it up with solid points that could make people at least be a little persuaded to agree with you rather than insulting their taste in music, men, women, and the culture some grew up with. Your ignorance isn’t always bliss for everyone else.

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