Thursday, May 01, 2008

On Snoop Dogg: Fighting Gang Violence with Intolerence Won't Work

Monterey County Board of Supervisors and the crusty residents of this here county are really showing their general disconnect with youth culture in regards to Snoop Dogg's performance at the Monterey Music Summit.
In today's paper, The Herald reported that summit promoter Joe Fletcher was told that the supes could keep the event from taking place “if Snoop was on the bill.” Among their concerns was the spat of gang violence currently plauging nearby Salinas and the sometimes violent messages sent in Snoop's lyrics.
So their counter to gang violence is veiled cultural intolerance? That's the vibe I'm catching from this.
First off, as in any debate involving defense of rap music, I gotta be straight up and say some of Snoop's lyrics are inescusable. This is the guy who penned “Bitches Ain't Shit” and “A Nigga Wit A Gun.” We're not talking Bob Dylan here.
At the same time, Snoop has matured as an artist and performer. He's re-invented himself as this sort of West Coast ghetto good will ambassador, accentuating some of the more positive aspects of 'hood and hip-hop culture.
He was a coach for his son's pee-wee football team; he's got his own E! Network reality series depicting his life as a father, husband and family man. He's set to appear on the soap opera “All My Children.”
He's become a hood-icon from the D-Boys to the Desparate Housewives.
Critics, of course, will point to his violent past as an excuse to hate on his seeming calmer present. He was acquitted of murder charges in 1996. He was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, a folding metal baton he claimed was a movie prop, at a Los Angeles Airport in 2004. Recently, he was held but later released after his entourage was involved in a scuffle with security at a London airport.
Snoop's persona as a certified gangsta (he's claimed Long Beach Crip membership since his early days) is what carries over into his mainstream reputation. That gives the crusties plenty of ammo to work with.
But believe it or not, Snoop's gangsta persona is not even considered real anymore within the United States Ghetto network. Not to say he's soft of lost his touch, but cholos and thug world over know that Snoop is a character as harmless as the cartoon beagle that provided his namesake.
When you mention Snoop Dogg to your local vato loco, he might smile and nod his head in appreciation, rattle off a song or two that he likes.
No one is going to say that Snoop's music will incite violence. Period.
It's kind of like being afraid of the Rolling Stones in the aftermath of Altemont. Are you going to be worried that a Hell's Angel biker will shank you if you go to a Stones concert?
More seriously, it's a problem that county officials think they know what's right for residents when it comes to entertainment options. For years, the people in this county have complained about the lack of entertainment options, pop music in particular, available to them.
Now, when we have a superstar of Snoop's caliber helping make the area a potential hot bed for pop music acts, we're saying no way? It's too dangerous?
What really scares me is that while county supes and Peninsula residents who cite Salinas's gang problem as a reason to cance the show. Are they worried that it will cause more violence in Salinas, or are they worried that the violence in Salinas will somehow migrate to Laguna Seca? Are they worried Salinas gangsters will show up en masse to ruin it for everyone? What gives?
And since the Monterey Sheriff's Office has become involved, are they worried they won't be able to handle Salinas residents showing up? Shouldn't the Sheriff's Office be prepared and trained well enough for an event like this? No one cries fould when 200,000 people bombard the county during Rodeo and Grand Prix week. All of a sudden Snoop is showing up and the Sheriff's office isn't prepared to handle it's own residents?
No matter what the outcome, the powers that be are really showing their inability to gauge the response of youth popular culture. Snoop's appearance should be a wake-up call that local leader's fears are not in tune with the reality of its residents.
If they're worried that Snoop's appearance will fuel gang violence, what does that say about their ability to solve the gang problem by itself?

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