Diverse artistic expression is supported by SDSU leaders

Diverse artistic expression is supported by SDSU leaders

by Madison Hopkins

As children grow up, parents monitor what they are exposed to. A password is put on the Playboy channels, Radio Disney exclusively blasts through the car speakers and everyone puts a dollar in the swear jar after venting about a rough day. As time goes on, the restrictions slowly weaken and finally we are fully formed adults with the right and the responsibility to be in charge of ourselves.

Apparently, not everyone agrees on when this pivotal moment occurs. One Florida sheriff even called for college administrators to put the parental controls back on its student body.

Kendrick Lamar and Ludacris were scheduled to perform at Florida Gulf Coast University’s “Eaglepalooza” event this fall. This would be the eighth year in a row that the event has hosted hip-hop performers, with this duo being the most prominent event to date. This was the event that Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott chose to take a stand on. Through a series of emails, Scott asked FGCU President Wilson Bradshaw to cancel the event, as he felt it promoted racial and misogynistic messages with the rapper’s lyrics. He believed that by allowing the event to be held on campus, Bradshaw was condoning these principles for the university’s students.

According to news-press.com, the sheriff told the president, “You run the show there Brad … not the students.”

Bradshaw chose to go on with the show, stating in a return email that although he may not always agree with the views presented on campus, he hopes to aid his students in putting on a safe event of their choosing.

While I sympathize with Scott’s message, I can’t condone the outlet he chose and the underlying implication that adult students are unable to decipher between what they hear and what they choose to embody. Personally, I find many rap lyrics to be disgusting and hateful and I usually do not choose to listen to hip-hop. But that is my decision, and in no circumstance would I tell someone that he or she is wrong for doing something different.

Artistic expression knows no boundaries; it is the individual’s job to distinguish them. For some people, this may mean avoiding what they consider inappropriate material. For others it’s experiencing everything, and independently deciding what affects one’s life. In no situation does it mean letting an authority figure censor an experience to make the decision for you.

Hip-hop is frequently attacked because it tends to be more explicitly offensive. But just because it’s an obvious target, doesn’t mean it’s the only genre with potential negative interpretations. As I mentioned, I don’t like hip-hop; I’m more of a country type of person. And while I love Taylor Swift and Luke Bryan, if someone told me her lyrics illustrate a desperate dependency on men for happiness and that his objectify women by literally asking girls to “shake it” for him, it would be pretty hard to deny.  But if one of these artists were coming to campus, it would be highly unlikely the same scenario would unfold.

The reasons why a person identifies with or enjoys a certain type of music, television, theater, paintings or sculptures are subjective. We have no way of knowing what each person finds appealing or if they even have a connection to something beyond liking a beat on a track or a color on a canvas. Censorship of material that some find offensive insinuates that those who enjoy it are wrong, without even understanding the variety of backgrounds that go into such preferences.

Luckily for San Diego State students, our school officials respect students’ right to enjoy a diversity of tastes. When asked about the school’s policy regarding controversial acts, Viejas Arena director John Kolek said, “We are not in the business of enforcing morals and whatnot. Artists are artists, art is art. We don’t censor, the campus doesn’t censor.” He went on to explain that as long as a musical act is perceived as safe for students to attend, there are no limitations.

While it’s reassuring to know we attend a school that honors its student’s ability to think for themselves, critics of different forms of expression will likely always attempt to spread their views. This only becomes a problem when it interferes with other people’s ability to enjoy their own tastes and explore potential new ones. Artistic interpretations can always be shared, but the right to make one should never be restricted.