Monday, May 14, 2007

Adults worse than kids about Akon

Photos by E. Stubbs

When I saw two 14-year-old girls wearing T-shirts with the words “Smack That” written on them at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Saturday, I was sad to think about the world in which we’re raising kids.

But when I interviewed adults about Akon -- who was dropped by Verizon last week for humping a 14-year-old girl onstage during a performance in Trinidad -- my sadness turned to anger. Akon opened for Gwen Stefani on “The Sweet Escape Tour,” which till the controversy had been sponsored by Verizon.

The people I interviewed on Saturday who saw the video or heard of the controversy were unapologetic Akon supporters. Their rationale: the girl should not have been in the club, Akon can’t be blamed if he didn’t know she was underage; and if you go onstage be prepared for anything.

Did I mention that these were common responses from adults?

Like I said, it makes me worry about how we’re raising our children. On the lawn area, I watched young girls grind on each other and undulate their little bodies to “Smack That” and “I Wanna Love You.”
If I ever catch my young niece dancing like that, if I don’t kill her, my brother will. And walking out of the house wearing a T-shirt that says “Smack That?” I wish she would try it.

As I said before, a 14-year-old girl should not have been in that club in Trinidad. But teens try to get away with things they’re not supposed to do because that’s what most kids do. It’s our job as adults to protect them, not shrug our shoulders when they endanger themselves or get hurt.
Also -- and I've said this before, too -- it doesn’t matter if the girl was 14 or 21. I do not agree that if you go onstage you should be expect to be sexually assaulted.

Is it not unthinkable that a female fan can go onstage with a male artist and not be humiliated or humiliate herself?

Oh, for those of you who are waiting for Stefani to drop Akon from the tour, don’t hold your breath. During Saturday’s performance, he returned to the stage to sing the hook of “The Sweet Escape.” If she wanted to distance herself from him, she would not have brought him onstage. Her actions were disappointing as well. She sings girl-power pop, but embraces a man who obviously doesn't respect women.


Tonya Jameson said...

To the person who just posted a comment defending Akon, please delete the profanity and resubmit your comment.

JAT said...

I really think the root of the unwillingness to treat kids like kids and adults like adults is the extent to which we have infantized young adults.

We really do not expect anyone 21-25 to be a responsible person. As a result, we tend to lump everyone between 12 to 25 in the same "youth" demographic and treat them the same.

But marketing ain't morality -- and vice versa.

Anonymous said...

i am an adult and I do support Akon in his actions. I have a daughter she would have never been in a situation as of that. And in my defense of Akon security is expected to do there job and make sure minors are not allowed in that club...

Anonymous said...

I think alot of people fail to realize that this is more of a cultural issue than a "sexual assault on a minor" issue. I am from the Caribbean and in Trinidad as is the custom in all Caribbean islands, dancing and "grindin" the way we do, while it may seem sexual and vulgar to most Americans, is simply a form of cultural expression to us. I was grindin and trampin' (as we call it) in carnival in a costume consisting of a bikini and boy shorts with glitter all over my body when i was 8 years old and there was absolutely nothing sexual about it! I went to reggae and calypso concerts during my teenage years and girls my age would fight for a chance to get up on the stage and dance with the singers and band members. Also everyone needs to bear in mind that the legal age in most Caribbean islands is 18 not 21 and they are not governed by US law. I was getting into most clubs and could buy drinks at 16. So I don't fault Akon at all, he knows he can't do that in the US, but as the saying goes, "when in Rome.....