The L.A. Independent Media Center, a non-commercial coalition of media makers and outlets in the Los Angeles area, recently posted a flier on its website regarding a protest of an upcoming performance by rapper Ludacris. The show takes place Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m., at Cal State Long Beach in front of the Walter Pyramid.
I love a good protest as much as the next guy. But in the case of L.A. Indy media protesting this Ludacris concert just seems like, well. . .the kind of publicity every rapper dreams of—unless the LAIMC comes up with an interesting way of getting attention that strays from the cliché of uptight rabble rousers shaking their fists.
The internet flier for the protest cites the Southern rhyme-slinger's use of homophobic, misogynistic and violent lyrics against women. This is no new development among recent popular hip-hop artists, although it's a sad but true reality. This leads me to wonder whether it's the venue with which LAIMC disagrees. After all, we can't have our local colleges and students plagued with disgusting displays of X-rated lyrics, overt sexual behavior and shameful degradation in the streets. People have to go to the clubs for that and pay a two-drink minimum.
I say that if folks want to blow their money on this crap, let 'em do it. And you can feel free to dislike Ludacris and not buy his records and think for yourself all you want. That's what makes this country so great.
But above all, it's key to remember that mainstream rappers like Ludacris aren't so much artists as they are brand names held up like banners in the “industry of cool,” just waiting for cameras to start buzzing around them. Large protests bring cameras and sound bites, two things that mainstream artists can use to their advantage to keep their names in the media spotlight. I'm sure Luda is enjoying the extra attention this protest is giving him.
Why not crowd his name out of the local news by spending time organizing a big event that actually warrants media attention and brings a positive, educational aspect to women, or inner city kids, on the same day? LAIMC may be indie, but I'm sure it could finagle some big-time publicity if its members really focused their attention on it. I know it sounds a little idealistic, but seriously, whose minds are you going to change by holding a sign when you're standing next to someone at the Pyramid who just paid 45 bucks for a ticket? They'll probably just say “move, bitch, get out the way.”
Ultimately, the best way to combat ignorant media spoonfeeding from the entertainment industry is to educate.