Rap and Moral Character Essay

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Rap and Moral Character

Various critics have railed against the alleged harms of rap music.
It is misogynistic and promotes violence (especially toward women), crass materialism, and street crime. Virtually all of the arguments about rap focus on its alleged effects—harmful or, occasionally, beneficial. Yet such arguments are difficult to prove. While not suggesting we abandon approaches like this, the focus on effects ignores another important moral argument—rap music is both a sign of and contributes to a form of corruption of moral character.

Morality is not simply about actions, consequences, and effects on others. It is also about oneself and the development of one’s own character. Being self-centred, cowardly, or
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Women are subjected to the crudest form of sexual subjugation—as merely the sexual playthings of violent men—to be used, pimped out, and discarded.

The imagery is unrelenting. And it glorifies a world of misogyny, where crass materialism by any means, where violence as a primary means of settling disagreements, and where illegal activity—drug dealing, stealing, killing cops—are considered normal and desirable.
People who choose to listen to and watch such material on a regular basis are saying something about their own moral character, about what they value, about who they are. They are endorsing the behaviours the genre exemplifies. Seeking out such material is like seeking out and choosing to watch portrayals of atrocities, such as rapes, executions, and real-life violence, all of which are available in our culture and on the Internet.

One could argue that people might listen to rap only for the music and not pay attention to the lyrics. In response, consider the following parallel. Imagine that a genre of music emerged that had interesting music but whose lyrics and accompanying videos were entirely devoted to the denigration of a particular race and the superiority of another. I doubt that we would believe that self-described nonracist people listened only for the artistry of the music and ignored the lyrics. But even if this was the case, we would likely still find a moral failing in that. Their failure to see and condemn the message
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