Traditionally, people have looked to their elected leaders and officials for guidance and support. When the Great Depression sent the United States into a spiraling hole of unemployment and despair, the people looked to FDR and relied on him for a way to get us all out of the mess. People even looked to George W. Bush in the aftermath of 9/11, seeking answers, hope, and justice. The dysfunction in Washington, D.C. is no NSA secret, it’s as rampant and fertile as ever. Today, people are becoming skeptical and pessimistic about politicians and other elected officials and the faith in them is being lost. When important issues are brought up, it seems almost impossible to get a straight answer to questions. This leaves an outlet for other voices to emerge on important social issues, an outlet that has been filled by some unexpected faces.
Macklemore, a Seattle-based hip-hop artist, recently hit mainstream music hard and is now a frequent artist featured on Top-40 stations across the country. His newer single, “Same Love”, details his strong and passionate views on the subject of same-sex marriage and draws from his personal childhood experiences as well as having gay uncles. The song was written in support of the Washington referendum legalizing same-sex marriage.
When kids are walking ’round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart,
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start
Bravery and courage is something that is hardly publicized and broadcast loud across CNN, Fox, or MSNBC. It can’t be ignored. Macklemore is a member of the hip-hop/rap community, a genre of music with a notorious history of shaming gays and filling the airwaves with lyrics wrought with bigotry. It’s not a small feat to turn that world upside down, but its one that Macklemore has taken on. Success did not fall into his lap, he spent 14 years writing music and hoping to make it big. With an industry that has never shown public support for something like same-sex marriage, Macklemore took the chance of throwing it away by releasing “Same Love.” That is courage.
If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ’em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
The lyrics are simple, meaningful, and can relate to just about anyone. They aren’t laced with boastful assertions about wealth and status, but eloquently illustrate the issues that plague those who are gay and want to have the same rights as straight people. Not many politicians have been able to master this type of “art of simplicity.”
Politicians have to worry about re-election, so some might argue that its understandable for them to not take a hard stance on same-sex marriage or to table the discussion for a later time. So how can I really compare an un-elected hip-hop overnight sensation with public servants who spend a lot of time and money on their re-elections? Easily.
Macklemore is not an elected representative, but that doesn’t mean his reliance on the people isn’t the same as a member of Congress. An artist’s survival depends on their popularity as well. While people may cast a vote for Barack Obama in a polling station, Macklemore’s votes are cast on iTunes, YouTube, and his concerts. His survival is dependent on the loyalty of his fan base. His success can expand with a new hit single just as easily as it can decline with an album that flops.
It’s not easy to take a stand for what you believe in, especially in the face of many who think you’re wrong. But history judges those most favorably who take to their grave knowing that they did what they believed in, that they did the right thing.
This is not to say that there are not public servants that have come out strongly in favor of same-sex marriage, because there are. However, the fight for equality is far from over and there is a need for support from elected officials more than ever. If members of Congress took a page out of Macklemore’s book, maybe their approval would be higher than 20%
- ‘Same Love’- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (louissherman.wordpress.com)
- Same Love (closetprofessor.wordpress.com)
- Miley Vs. Macklemore (transatheistpod.com)
- “The Content of His Character”, Album Review, Macklemore’s The Heist (thebrothersjblog.com)
- Macklemore Has Added More Clarity to Same-Sex Marriage Than Most Politicians (centerleftorg.wordpress.com)