by Collen Raezler [media critic]
Want to be a role model to the kids of a major American city? All you need, at least in Chicago, is a high school diploma and a dirty song on the charts.
Just at look at the celebrity Chicago public school officials chose to help with the system’s back-to-school campaign – 21-year-old R&B singer Jeremih, whose song “Birthday Sex” hit number 4 on the charts this summer.
Rolling Stone magazine claimed in June, “It’s only two days into summer and Jeremih may already have a lock for releasing the defining song of the season.”
“Birthday Sex” explicitly depicts the circumstance of a man who offered his girlfriend sex for her birthday in lieu of a gift or a cake.
Officials hope Jeremih’s diploma from a Chicago high school, combined with tweets to his 75,000 followers on Twitter about the first day of school, will motivate students to return to school in the fall.
“He’s a young man, [with a] back-to-school message, a young man who has had great success recording, producer, going to school, went to public school,” praised mayor Richard Daley. “Graduated from Morgan Park, and like anything else, he’s willing to help other youngsters in our public school system.”
Jeremih’s also a young man whose best-known song contains the following lyrics:
You close your eyes as I improv between your legs
We work our way from kitchens, stoves and tables
Girl, you know I’m more than able to please yeah
You say you wanted flowers on the bed (on the bed)
But you got me in hours on the bed
The singer told Rolling Stone an effect of the song has been, “Every day, girls tell me it’s their birthday. I’m thinking of working for hire.”
Neither that statement nor the lyrics in the song don’t appear to be a problem for Chicago Public School According to Ron Huberman, CEO of CPS, the singer is a “role model” and “someone who can get the word about getting our kids back to school.” officials.
Alderman Fredrenna Lyle defended the choice to partner with Jeremih because his song is “on every radio station that plays contemporary music.” She continued, “He is someone who can get [students’] attention and when the gets their attention he has the opportunity to give them a positive message about coming back to school.”
For these officials, a positive message about school trumps two terrible messages portrayed in Jeremih’s biggest hit.
First, for boys, this songs says “All you need to do is offer a girl sex for her birthday. She’ll be thrilled.” The flip side of that message for girls is “You’re not worth anything but a hot night for your guy.”
Second, there’s an element in the song that refers to male sexual dominance. Jeremih sings, “1-2-3… Think I got you pinned/Don’t tap out, fight until the end/Ring that bell, and we gon start over again.”
Research, such as a 2006 study published in Pediatrics, found that adolescents who listen to music with degrading sexual lyrics were more likely to initiate sexual intercourse and engage in other sexual behavior than those who did not.
A 2003 study found 16 percent of high schoolers ranked music among the top three sources of moral guidance.
Daley brushed aside concerns about the content of Jeremih’s songs under the “free speech” mantra. “Today you have all types of artists and music, and like anything else, you’re going to sing their songs and let them sing it. It’s freedom of speech, and he’s just pursuing careers, as well as making money off this and why not?”
Jeremih might encourage students to come back to school in September, but his music is also promoting terrible sexual morals. Responsible officials would ask themselves, “Is it worth it?” ExileStreet
copyright 2009 Culture and Media Institute
Collen Raezler is a staff writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.
School officials indifferent to message in Jeremih’s lyrics.