Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Amy Winehouse is a train wreck. She is rumored to use a variety of illegal substances. However, I've found that the music industry's tolerance level of addicts is directly proportionate to how hot their last single or album is. In fact, the music industry's tolerance of anything depends on how many records you've sold in the months prior. (Insert R. Kelly reference here).
In case you missed the Grammys Sunday, Winehouse was the big winner, taking home three awards. She won Grammys for Song of the Year, Record of the Year and New Artist of the year. This is a monumental achievement when you're sober. But the fact that Winehouse has garnered most of her notoriety while being under the influence of God-knows-what makes it all the more interesting.
Did anyone even notice that her performance was simulcast from London? Winehouse is not allowed to leave England because of prior offenses. The buzz all week long was whether or not she would show up to perform at the awards. Try as they would, Grammy officials just couldn't buck the English legal system. But Winehouse was too hot a commodity, too hot an artist to not have on the broadcast. The controversy alone was enough to pad the ratings. So, the powers-that-be spent the moolah necessary to set Winehouse up with a special performance live from London.
What? All this fuss over an alleged drug addict? I'm sure addicts everywhere are jealous. They've never seen that much love and affection from the creative class. It's probably because most of them didn't have two hit records last year.
They tried to make her go to rehab but she said no three times. She's been arrested, ridiculed; even her mom called and tried to talk some sense into her to no avail. It sends an awful message when we legitimize addicts instead of truly helping them. In essence we reward those we think are cool and jail those we deem a menace to society.
I've said all along that the biggest problem in hip-hop today is not misogyny or gratuitous violence, but the recent trend of glamorizing drug use. Yeah, weed has always been a part of music in some form since the '60s. But now you've got rappers glorifying cocaine and pills. To me, that's a much bigger danger. And we're not doing Winehouse any good by giving her awards instead of telling her that she needs help. It does society no good to have our kids watch a drug-abuser win three Grammys.
Just imagine the message it would have sent if she had been removed from the broadcast and had her named taken off the list of nominees. Just imagine the MTV awards not letting Britney Spears embarrass herself by giving a doped-up performance that was painful to watch even by Britney standards. Now imagine if Hammer had a reputed drug problem. Ask yourself, if Bobby Brown or one of the N-Sync guys (who's not Justin) was caught smoking crack on the Internet. Do you think any one of them would be getting a Grammy? Hell, do you think any of them would have even been let into the Grammys?
This is not to say Winehouse is not a great artist. The first time I heard "Rehab," I was floored. She's truly talented.
It's just unfortunate that in the music business, talent is a great masking agent for horrible character flaws, especially if you're moving units. Just ask the folks who still refuse to acknowledge that Michael Jackson's affinity for children is a little "strange."
Society is selfish in that regard. We find it hard to believe our heroes are flawed. And we find it even harder to put our own selfish desire to be entertained over someone's personal well-being. In a sense we all need to go to rehab.
And that's the truth ... sho-nuff.
Haven't two rap artists recently died from overdoses of the sizzerp? The Texas rappers, esp the Swisher House crews, have been really notorious about sipping the sizzerp.
I agree with much of what you are saying; but, musicians have been using drugs for a long time. I fond it hard to blame the industry for one's own personal problems. Nor am I going to refrain from recognizing good art because the creator was flawed. Hello Ray Charles... Hello Johnny Cash... All Grammy winners and hit artists. And that is just a short list. Creative class = addicts a good portion of the time. It spans all types of creativity from music to art to writing. And if it's not drugs, its sex, food or some other compulsion. Heck, even Jesus drank wine. Doubt he was a lush thought! LOL!
right pike, if we get rid of the ones with a buzz (including alcohol), then no kanye west, no john coltrane, no mile davis, no paul wall, no bob marley, no peter tosh...all my CDs would be gone...definitely all my reggae...talk about buzz kill...maybe tosh was right (on the "legalize it" album :-).