I was driving home from work the other day when I decided my IQ could use some lowering, so I turned on the radio. Better yet, I flipped it to one of those “variety” stations, by which I mean anything that’s been produced via beat box and auto tune. It was there that I heard, quiet possibly, the greatest musical feat accomplished by mankind since cavemen learned to smash rocks against their head and fart in unison.
The song was called “International Love” by Chris Brown, but featured the theatrical talents of an artist known, respectively and yes-I’m-serious, as Pitbull.
The song is like most modern rap music; its melody is extremely catchy and its beat makes one want to tap their fingers against the steering wheel while driving down the freeway. Perhaps this is why the song soared on the charts and was ranked as high as #13 on Billboard. But take a moment with me to peruse some of the lyrics and perhaps you will begin to understand why this raises serious concerns about the state of humanity.
Let’s start with the introduction:
Went from Mr. 305 to Mr. Worldwide, all around the world
Now we’re International, So international, international, So international
Okay, so we get it, Pit Dawg, you’re international. Moving on…
You can’t catch me, boy
I’m overseas and with about a hundred G’s per show
Don’t test me boy, (Don’t test me boy)
Cause I rap with the best for sure,
305 till the death of me
This would be a good time to point out that 305 is the area code for Miami, Florida. So…Miami, Florida till the death of me? But isn’t this song calle- oh, nevermind. Let’s continue to the chorus:
You put it down like New York City
I never sleep, wild like Los Angeles
My fantasy, hotter than Miami
I feel the heat!
Ohh, Miss International love
Ohh, Miss International love
Profound. And verse two?
I don’t play football but I’ve touched down everywhere
I don’t play baseball but I’ve hit a home run…
I’ve been to countries and cities I can’t pronounce
And the places on the globe I ain’t know existed
-Hold the phone. I’m not the savviest international traveler, nor do I claim to be a geographical whiz. But…really? Your singing about “Countries and places I didn’t know existed” and the first thing that comes to mind is…Romania?!
I can understand if you were surprised to learn that Nauru is a country, or that Tonga is an option for your next weekend getaway…but not knowing Romania exists? What about Canada or Germany, PB? Do those places ring a bell? One can only hope here, that there’s a misunderstanding, but…
…she pulled me to the side and told me `Pit, you can have me and my sister.`
In Lebanon, yeah the women are bomb
And in Greece, you’ve guessed it, the women are sweet.
Actually, I wouldn’t have guessed that…but (again) whatever.
In Colombia the women got everything on
But they’re some of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen.
In Brazil, they’re freaky with big ol’ boobs
And their thongs! Blue, yellow and green!
I’ve reached my breaking point; I really can’t take it anymore. This song draws objections for a variety of reasons. To start, the intellectual quality of the lyrics is on par with the theology Westmont Baptist Church (Miss International Love in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami?). But the real reason I’m truly appalled by this song (and so many like it) is the sexual content. Of course, I’m just another tight-fisted Christian prude that’s all for sexual oppression and, relativism-forbid!, celibacy, but my objection with this song is not that it discusses sex, rather it’s how sex is discussed that makes me want to drive off the road when I hear Pitbull start to bark.
Because, as a Christian, I can proudly and adamantly proclaim two things concerning sex: 1) sex is God-given and therefore good (I mean, really, really good) and 2) sex is beautiful and sacred. I can also (again as a God-fearing, Bible-thumping Christian) come to terms with the reality that today’s American culture is not the first in the world to be obsessed with all things sexual. Nor, for that matter, do I buy that sex is more prevalent in our culture than ever before; ours is not the first horny generation. Therefore, the objection to modern music being “it’s all about sex” is a lame one indeed. Read an iota of classical literature, and you’re bound to find some sort of sexual vernacular hidden behind the old English dialect. And if that weren’t enough, any modern day prude who objects to society based on its obsession with sex ought to open the Bible and read the works of King Solomon.
If you haven’t read the Song of Solomon, or have yet to hear of its existence, I highly recommend picking it up. Make certain it’s not the only book of the Bible that discusses sex, but it certainly is the most marvelous. The book is a collection of love poems by the third king of God’s chosen people, Israel. It is, essentially, a discourse between the lover and the beloved; its’ content so explicit and mature that some Jewish cultures said it couldn’t be read by children until they were thirty, probably because they feature topics such as:
“On my bed by night,
I sought him whom my soul loves”
These poems are intimately sexual, a lover seeking her beloved. And there’s eight chapters of it, thus bringing to light the reality that, when it comes to guys like Pitbull, their rants and ravings about sex are truly nothing new.
Furthermore, in comparing Solomon and Pitbull there are actually two stark similarities.
Surely, I don’t.
First of all, both are fairly promiscuous. I mean, Pitbull apparently gets touchdowns everywhere (everywhere?) and Solomon is infamous for having 700 official wives and 300 concubines. He wasn’t exactly monogamous.
Furthermore, when it comes to their poetry (though I shudder to label “International Love” as poetic) they both share a natural, God-given desire and fascination with the human sexuality. The difference, of course, is that one of them is included in the Holy Bible and the other ought to be smacked over the head with one. Repeatedly.
Just compare the two descriptions of their beloved:
“Your rounded thighs are like jewels,
the work of a master hand.
Your navel is a rounded bowl
That never lacks mixed wine
Your belly is a heap of wheat
Encircled with lilies
Your breasts are two fawns,
Twins of a gazelle”
“…the women are freaky with big ol’ boobs and their thongs!”
Need I say more?
So it is with culture today; my issue is not the discussion of sex, nor is it the prevalence of it in our music, literature and everyday lives. As with anything mandated and created by God, it ought to be enjoyed and celebrated within it’s God-given context. The problem is that sex has been reduced from something sacred, magnificent and, quite literally, divine, into lines of pop songs like “hey, you can have me and my sista!” It’s been ripped from its frame of wonder and paraded down streets, waved from billboards and tossed about in cheap motel rooms. We have such irreverence for things like sexual arousal or the mystery of a woman’s body that we find ourselves paying money (evidently a hundred G’s per show) to hear an artist reduce such mystery to “big ol’ boobs”. It would be less of an atrocity for one to use the Mona Lisa as a dartboard.
So, if you get nothing else from my ramblings today, make note of this: beauty is under attack. We live in a culture that not only devalues beauty, but is continually in the process of defacing it. As followers and believers in the God from whom all beauty originates, we can’t take such attacks lightly. It’s part of our calling to make sure that beauty, in all its mystery and wonder, isn’t overlooked or devalued.
The same goes for Romania.