Jamaica’s broadcasting regulator made a bold decision to ban all music and television content that seemingly glorifies the use of weapons, drugs, and violence, as well as scamming and other criminal activity. According to the government, the ban is intended to cut down on any material that, â€œcould give the wrong impression that criminality is an accepted feature of Jamaican culture and society.â€
One cannot deny the inherent problem the island of Jamaica has with regard to gang violence and crime. Crime is all around the world but the level of violence we have witnessed in Jamaica is particularly worrying. The island nation had the highest murder rate in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2021. Consequently, one should understand any measure taken to curb this statistic.
However, as expected there is a backlash to the measures put in place by the regulator.
“We can’t stop the creatives (artists) from singing about what they see around them or grew around,” said local music manager Romeich.
“Yay! Crime and violence gonna magically stop now,” wrote local artist Di Genius sarcastically, before saying that more content went through the internet anyway.
Honestly, these arguments have merit, unfortunately, for a progressive society, these issues need to be addressed. I understand people sing about past experiences and the status quo, however, there needs to be an element of creativity and trying to change it. In addition, the music videos don’t seem to help anyone as it’s the same old dark vibes with gun-toting gangsters smoking reefer.
Normalizing drug use and violence are what the regulator is trying to curb and it starts with censoring what young minds constantly see on tv and hear on the radio. And let us not get started on the credibility of the gangster, drug use, and the notion of “who is the buddest mun?” Jamaicans do get carried away with glorifying the modern-day gangster.
I have a few follow-up questions though as to what happens to music made already. How the new rules will be enforced? Who or what is to be cited in terms of the artist, song, or producer? There are numerous platforms music is released on like Spotify, Itunes, Deezer so what happens there? The Jamaican issue is a sensitive one but change needs to start somewhere. These measures will definitely have a positive effect in the long term and I commend the Jamaican regulator. The job is certainly not done, however, this is a step in the right direction. Yes, it looks like they are just doing something which may not necessarily fix the issue but it raises eyebrows and should breed creativity in the artist to not constantly churn out the same rhetoric of strife, violence, and drug use.