Monday, May 18, 2009

Get your mind out of the ghetto

Evey's nine-year-old little sister is cute as a button. So when I hear stories about how her MSN name has changed to "gangster~ ^^", and when she sends me Restaurant City mail in which I am referred to as "homie", there is still some semblance of "I'm a nine-year-old - find me adorable, dammit!"

But there will come a time when her girlish charm will no longer be able to cover for her slum-inspired linguistic leanings. And while I myself have been known for the odd surfer-boy "dude" and "man", I felt it my duty to prod her away from the precipitous lexical black hole known as ebonics. So I fired off a reply: "Homie, eh?" (Notice how I am simultaneously educating her on proper Canadian vocabulary)

When an unrepentant "Yes, homie ^^" returned, I shot off another one: "I do not approve of this ghettoism." Is ghettoism too complicated a word? Do nine-year-olds understand made-up words using the suffix -ism? Do they even grasp the connotations of the words "ghetto" or "gangster", for that matter?

The next day, I received a more sombre reply: "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to. You're very nice." Boy, I felt rather guilty. But I stand firm in the hope that my preemptive strike will lead to a future in which Evey's one-day-teenage sister will be able to string together a sentence without referring to her girlfriends as "bitches" and her boyfriends as "gangsta."

Watching gangsterism and the ghetto rise up onto the pedestal of pop culture has been one of the most mind-boggling disappointments of my short twenty-two (soon to be twenty-three) year lifespan. I certainly appreciate the utility of using art as an outlet for social frustration, discrimination, and abject poverty; but this window into ghetto culture should open society's eyes to the challenges and horrors of ghetto life, not infect us with them. The topics embraced through rap music - gun violence, rape, and social disorder - are side-effects of discrimination, poverty, and social stagnation that we should be rectifying, not romanticizing.

It seems appropriate then, on this fine Victoria Day, to redouble our efforts to reinforce civilized language and civilized society. So if you should catch yourself in such utterances as "homie" or "gangsta", do us all a favour - wash out your mouth with soap and water and belt out a few chords of God Save the Queen. We are not amused.

This entry was
adopted by Brutus.