Thursday, January 25, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 82



Turn off the radio and be happy

Shaun Salnave

"What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns or watching violent videos, as if some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands -- literally thousands -- of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss.

"Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable, or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?"

So says John Cusackis character in High Fidelity -- and itis about time someone realized it.

Despite the governmentis admirable efforts to make television safe for young viewers whose parents are too busy working hard at their jobs to supervise them, our children are growing up to be depressed, a phenomenon that can be directly linked to the influence of "misery music" in their lives.

Efforts to control our childrenis lives have been remarkably successful so far. Curbing violence in television has resulted in a dramatic lessening of violence in our society, thus proving effectively that people are controlled by their culture.

Why, then, has no one attempted to solve the problem of depression in the media?

Depression affects about 10 percent of Americans over the age of 18 and almost all teenagers, especially the ugly and unpopular ones. Since depressed teens are often the dangerous loners, theyire the ones most likely to retreat into a world of obsessive media consumption.

Listening to the radio, you will be hard pressed to go for 10 minutes without hearing about someoneis lover leaving him or her, or breaking his or her heart by "going steady" with someone else.

The variety of songs about misery is endless: singers have lost love; are misunderstood; get angry, loud and depressed for no reason. But, despite the variety, these songs share one thing in common: They are poisoning the minds of our children, corrupting the youth of Athens -- err ... America -- and must be stopped.

Musicians have made whole careers exploiting the vulnerable emotions of music listeners this way.

It all began with a man named Robert Johnson, possibly the biggest threat to the American way of life (other than, of course, communism).

Johnson, rumored to have had a pact with the devil, was the first popular artist in the genre called "the blues," which is based entirely on the depression. Nearly every blues "artist" since has said that he or she "owes a debt" to Johnson.

But, brothers and sisters, the blues are not alone in sullying our children. Musicians from every type of music, from every time period, base their entire careers on how depressed, repressed, oppressed, or pressed for talent they are.

Bands like Nine Inch Nails, Morissey, Nirvana, Lou Reed, Counting Crows and Metallica (I could go on, but my space is limited, so Iill stop) all scream, lisp, mumble, grunt, whine or yell, respectively, their depression out to poison the minds of their listeners.

Nor are these musicians the only problem. Movies like Old Yeller and Bambi -- staples of our culture, movies that every child sees -- are full of misery and dying animals, as well as being completely unrealistic.

It is one thing for children to see deer die properly, like when theyire shot during a hunt. But when they see the deer in Bambi talk, it not only makes the movie over-sympathetic and creates unnecessary emotional tension, it confuses them about deeris proper place in manis world (which is in the scope of a rifle).

I could go on, but if you want more information, you can go to the Web site of Americans Against Misery in the Media:

Suffice it to say that there is a problem. This toxic waste that is seeping into our society must be stopped (or sent to some other country).

I regret that I do not have a solution. The FCC is currently investigating the possibility of including a "d-chip" that will eliminate depression from radios and television the way v-chip eliminated violence.

Unfortunately, while Americans buy tens of millions of new radios and televisions yearly, there still will be old radios and televisions all over, in buses, businesses, banks and other places beginning with "B."

The only real solution is censorship, but this frightens people almost as much as that specter that was haunting Europe for a while. Still, it is the only solution, and the misery "must be stopped."

Salnave, a senior English and history 
major who is depressed because 
of unwholesome media influences, 
can be reached at

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