House Panel To Examine Vulgar Videos

Washington – Songs and videos with vulgar words and images from the world of rap and hip hop will be the focus of a House subcommittee hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill, an inquiry fueled in part by the firing of shock jock Don Imus in April over racially insensitive remarks directed at African American women on the Rutgers University basketball team.

The hearing, according to a press statement, will include testimony from industry executives, a rap producer, a rap artist, and several scholars on “the impact of racist and sexist language and images transmitted via interstate commerce and telecommunications modes, the perpetuation of damaging stereotypes, and how best to protect consumers from the increasingly coarse and vulgar language and images that have the effect of undermining important moral values in our society.”

The Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee under chairman Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) is holding the hearing. Typically, the Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee under chairman Edward Markey (D-Mass.) is the venue for a media content debate.

The witness list includes Viacom CEO Philipe Dauman, Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Universal Music Group CEO Doug Morris, Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins, III and Take-Two Interactive Software chairman Strauss Ziegler.

Appearing later are Percy Miller, aka “Master P,” founder and CEO No Limit Records, and Rap artist Levell Crump, aka “David Banner.”

The third panel is to include: Tracy Denean Sharpley-Whiting, professor Vanderbilt University; Andrew Rojekci, associate professor, University of Illinois-Chicago; Faye William, President National Congress of Black Women; Lisa Fager, president, Industry Ears; and Karen Dill, professor, Lenoir-Rhyne College.

The title of the hearing is “From Imus to Industry: The Business of Stereotypes and Degrading Images.”

In April, Imus referred on the air to the Rutgers female five as “nappy headed hos” in racially charged comments that sparked a national controversy. Imus apologized to the coach and players, but CBS fired him the following week after advertisers fled and MSNBC cancelled its cable simulcast.

While the Imus controversy raged, some argued that the I-man’s comments were tame compared to many rap lyrics and graphic hip hop videos on BET.