‘Adult’ Entertainment: If We Don’t Protect Our Children, Who Will?

While visiting a friend yesterday, I had a chance to watch a small portion of a children’s show called, “Hip-Hop Harry”. This Hip-Hop Harry is actually a dancing bear (wah waaaaah) who raps – like Barney with a gold chain and a flow. My three-year-old began to whine when he saw the show because he doesn’t know what rap is; the unfamiliarity of it all kind of shook him up. So, my friend turned to another, more traditional cartoon (Maggie the Mouse I think it was), and order was restored. After my son calmed down, my friend and I discussed Hip-Hop Harry more in depth.

She, like I, was not impressed when she first saw the show. The rapping bear was not her idea of a positive image for young children. However, an older child pleaded with her to give it a chance so that she would see the positive impact Hip-Hop Harry could have on a child. My friend agreed, and she explained that she ended up liking the character a lot. For the moment or two that we watched (my son really didn’t stop whining until she changed the channel), I was able to see that Hip-Hop Harry was rapping about reading and the importance of books. Nothing wrong with that at all.

Nothing except that children young enough to watch Hip-Hop Harry probably shouldn’t need to be engaged by a rapping teddy bear to become interested in learning. Why do small children even know what hip-hop is, anyway? The subject matters of most hip-hop (and I use that term loosely) songs are for mature (if you can be truly mature and listen to that crap) audiences only – the days of “Parents Just Don’t Understand” are long gone. So why are little children so familiar with rap music that someone felt the need to create a character like Hip-Hop Harry?

I’m thankful that my three-year-old is turned off by rap right now – it’s going to be tough to keep him protected from it for more than a few more years. However, I believe that I am supposed to protect him from it. It’s not cute when kindergarten children can’t spell their names, but can sing all the lyrics to the latest rap, R&B, or pop songs on the radio. That’s triffling.  If you watch MTV, you should probably do that when your kids aren’t around – they are sponges. When you’re driving in the family car, is Usher really appropriate?

Shouldn’t children be protected from ‘adult’ entertainment? 

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12 Comments »

  1. Patriot Girl said

    This one is actually pretty deep.

    I don’t listen to rap, but I understand completely what the issue is, and it’s tough. On one hand it’s good that these kids can learn with Hip Hop Harry, but on the other hand that may not be so good. It’s like educators are conceding defeat and trying to use a negative influence to their advantage instead of fighting against the negative influence!

    What’s wrong with going against the grain? Is Clifford the Big Red Dog any less effective because he doesn’t wear bling?

    Interesting.

    But on the question, we should certainly protect children from mature entertainment, and good for you that your kids are being protected. Good to know that somebody still cares.

  2. Midnight said

    This makes me really think. I think that hip-hop culture is so mainstream that the creator was trying to compete with the adult entertainment that these young children are being exposed to. As a teacher i see plenty of kids singing the lyrics to song that they should not know and most of the time dont understand the meaning of them. Think back to when we were coming up, did you really know what you were saying when you sang SWV’s downtown? But you liked it, it was on the radio and you saw the video.

    The undertone in your statement is that all hip-hop is immature and bad and really there are musicians and artists(two terms that i dont use loosely) within that genre that are making meaningful music. They are never the mainstream artist but they do exist and Eyeball you know that cause we listened to some of it in our Cass days.

    but the bigger issue is that this crap rap is so easily accessible, it is marketed to kids, thats why a lot of this stuff has nusery rhyme hooks and very repeatable phrases that are so easy any child can remember them.

    Man Im trying not to have a post that lasts three years because I have alot to say about this topic, I might be back but im signing off for now

    Massai Warrior over and out……for now

  3. The General said

    This one is a bit complex, and thanks @PatriotGirl and @Midnight for your great input.

    Midnight, you are right – I should make allowances for the two or three (ha ha) hip-hop artists that are making meaningful music. Really, I’m still salty that anything with a beat is called “hip-hop” these days – and that’s taking it back to our Cass days for real. Most of what passes as hip-hop today is “that rap crap”, and the themes are either vulgar, shallow, or just plain stupid. Furthermore, those who do listen to the meaningful stuff are usually not so discerning that they don’t let the other stuff get airplay, too – which sullies the entire experience in my grown-up, old fogie opinion.

    *shakes fist at the radio*

    However, even if an adult does listen to the meaningful hip-hop exclusively, even that is not appropriate for children young enough to watch Hip-Hop Harry (did you see the pic? lol), so we’re back at square one.

    Hip-hop is now mainstream in urban “culture”, which really just means that non-music related industries see that we aren’t separating family time from adult entertainment, so they use it to market products to us and our children.

    That’s messed up, though.

    I’m not a Hip-Hop Harry hater, but I am sad that he even exists – it means that adults have not been responsible enough with raising children in sheltered environments.

    Children should be sheltered, to varying degrees that are relative to their ages. I don’t believe that I will deny my 16 year old a radio, but I’m not letting my 5 year old watch BET, that’s for sure.

    But I don’t even watch that mess, so I digress…more later as needed 😉

  4. Steven Snead said

    Rap is a poison to the world of music. Hip Hop in its truest form is dead. R& B is pornographic. BET has destroyed authentic Black culture. If I had children, I would keep them miles away from all of that crap. But it’s constantly being blasted in homes, cars, places of business…I do not envy parents in this day & age.

    Case in point…

    I used to be director of a summer camp for the Detroit Public Schools. It was a tradition that every Thursday the children would put on a talent show, which in all reality was a competition amongst their counselors on who could produce the best show/skit.

    One show I had to veto because a young counselor chose to have her girls dance to “rock the boat” by Aaliyah. Now, I like the song. But, I’m also 28. I had to spent about an hour explaining to the 11 year old girls about how the song was innappropriate. It felt like I was ice skating uphill. They all knew the song by heart and knew the routines from the video. Even one girl told me, “My momma like the song.” I also spent about 10 minutes admonishing the counselor. Though they did not perform the song, I still felt that they just didn’t get it. That’s how pervasive adult music has become.

    As far as the rapping teddy bear, Ivo is right. Why would a young kid even know about rap? Most of the rap being blasted on the airwaves is not suitable for any child. So for a child to have a pre-disposed liking to a rapping teddy bear is disturbing to me….

  5. The General said

    Oh…My..God…

    Let us check to make sure hell has not frozen over – Steven and I are on the same page…

    This is headline news, for real!

    😀

  6. antea said

    I do agree. Because children are sponges, they need to be protected. I can understand WHY a network would indeed “embrace” rap music and turn it into something that is child friendly HOWEVER I disagree with it being done. Once “Hip Hop Harry” becomes corny and disinteresting to the child, that appetite for rap still remains because it was created by something that was really harmless…. Unfortunately that will later turn into your 10 year old knowing all the words to “Shake” by the Ying Yang Twins and wanting to be just like Lil Wayne singing hooks talkin about a Lolipop (WTF is that song about anyway??)… SO, Ivo, I agree. Hats off to you for being one of VERY few mom’s who still knows what it means to PROTECT her children!!

  7. The General said

    Antea 🙂

    Glad to see you on board here…and glad to hear your perspective.

    Your insight on the lasting effects even after the children outgrow Hip-Hop Harry was right on – I hope some parents get a chance to read it.

    All of the comments here are great, actually.

    Wondering if there are any dissenting opinions out there…

  8. Mitch said

    Well, you’re kind of showing your age, plus being a parent. You may not remember, but when Sesame Street first came out many parents were also against it, saying it promoted bad values and why couldn’t there be learning like what they got in school. Each generation of parents has those who lament the new in place of what they grew up with, and that’s kind of what you’re doing.

    Your 3 year old obviously hasn’t been introduced to the beat of hip-hop, but that can’t be said for most young black children. I would rather they find a positive message to listen to with a great back beat than the filth and garbage that’s prevalent in regular hip hop. And, in my mind, anything that helps these kids get into reading and learning is a good thing.

  9. The General said

    Interesting fact about Sesame Street, Mitch…

    Showing my age, LOL. Wait – is that good or bad? Hmmm…

    In it’s historical context, what you’re saying makes a lot of sense. But can the teaching style of Sesame Street and rap music really be put in the same boat?

    I do understand that many (I really want to say most) Black children in urban areas are exposed to rap music at a very early age – it is indeed a fact of life these days. My question, however, is whether or not embracing that instead of fighting against it is a good idea. You don’t think that Hip-Hop Harry affirms that such exposure is normal and acceptible for small children?

    And have you been lurking, mister? (smile) Your comment came along at exactly the right time…

  10. Mitch said

    I’m on the road these days, so time isn’t always my friend. 🙂

    Truthfully, why would I want to eliminate hip hop? Back in the early 80’s, that was my music, with Grand Master Flash and Melle Mel telling the people what life was like in the hood and Sugar Hill Gang keeping us dancing up a storm. One can’t blame the music itself; that’s also a generational thing, as there have been folks who have hated “new” music going all the way back to the early 1900’s when boogie woogie first came about. There is no winning culture wars by trying to turn back the clock; history has proven that.

    As to the “age” thing, I figure you’re quite a bit younger than me. Sesame Street, et al, came about when I was too old for it, but back in the day of only 3 or 4 channels, it was something different when Mike Douglas didn’t have anyone on worth caring about. Yes, there were a number of people who complained about it as the wrong way to teach kids, but look at what eventually happened. People also hated Mister Rogers and Reading Rainbow and Barney, et al, but the kids who watched those shows at the time enjoyed them, and some of them learned a lot.

    By the way, my dad only played classical music around the house, and it wasn’t until Mom bought a Sam & Dave album in 1967 and started playing Soul Man that I knew there was anything other than classical music or the Chipmunks; isn’t that a shame? I missed out on what other kids were listening to, and I was behind the 8-ball for the longest time. Don’t intentionally do that to your kids; cultural misfits are castigated more than parents ever know.

  11. The General said

    Hey there, Mitch 🙂

    I’ve been gone for quite some time, so please excuse the delay in this response.

    I, too, was a sheltered child; however, it was not all bad. In fact, if parents simply monitor and moderate their children’s exposure to entertainment and other such things, they can avoide creating “cultural misfits” as you call them.

    I want my children to be far removed from popular culture; however, they will not be completely ignorant of it.

    Think about religous Jewish families – most of them don’t even own televisions. They protect their children from the ills of society, and they teach their children about why they are being protected. They are rejecting one thing for another. The adults turn out to be pretty normal, from my observation.

    So, I plan on explaining pop culture to my kids on my terms, instead of 50 Cent and Entertainment Tonight doing that for me. I want to teach them how to interpret the world around them as opposed to hiding them from it.

    I hope that makes my position a little more clear on the matter. I think that we may be able to agree on this one, actually…

    What do you think?

  12. (Thank you rounds are always welcome, of course. Popular prizes include sports tickets,
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