After negative Press reports and a bashing by the social media of the excessively raunchy and vulgarly obscene Digicel Reggae On The Beach 2014, veteran promoter Al Gilkes has hinted at a confession that the show after all needs to be tempered . . . .
And he would do so with “a little more maturity”. Our supplication to Mr Gilkes is that he add to this a good supply of decency.
For we are not exactly sold on Al’s notion that pulling in “an older crowd” to mingle with racy and lascivious 15-to-25-year-olds, by having artistes spanning the 1960s to the present day will of itself make [Reggae On The Beach] any “more meaningful” –– or decorous.
Wistfully, Al’s first public response to the harsh criticism of the reggae beach party was that “to revisit it would mean to shut it down altogether”, and as such “the dancehall addicts in Barbados”, by extrapolation, would suffer acute withdrawal symptoms. For after all, what we got on Brandons Beach Easter Monday was what “was intended to be”.
Sexually provocative dancing before, behind and below male dancehall artists by skimpily dressed female Barbadian addicts drawn, or volunteered, from the madding crowd, and who are not remotely unfamiliar with the jiggling, jerking, wining and stabbing to the bass line that dancehall entertainment demands –– as so frequently and underscoringly portrayed in our Caribbean music videos.
Most parents surely will cry out against Barbadian teens being exposed to these over-eroticized manifestations and movements. Other adults generally, women in particular, with some sense of decorum and self-respect, will most certainly lament this excessively steamy and sorry state of affairs.
Yes, we agree with Al that the raunchiness and vulgarity which we saw at Brandons just over a fortnight ago is not unusual and rare in the genre of dancehall. But that is in Jamaica –– the reason why our Bajan “dancehall addicts” have to wait a year to descend into depravity, and like it.
It takes 12 or so months for our young women, who are apparently in crisis, to drum up the increased gall to shrink less and less annually their wear, while increasing their wares and their vulgarity, as they reshape and redefine their sexuality. And the dancehall artists have no compunction sexually objectifying them –– to some people’s amusement and to everyone’s discredit.
Indeed, skimpy attire, paired with lewd dance –– and overshadowed by seduced and drooling males –– would be the logo for Caribbean entertainment wrapped in the misnomers of art and creativity.
It may have come as a shock to Al and company that alongside Jamaica’s dancehall’s increasing popularity among impressionable Barbadian youth there remains yet some deep disapproval in the general populace. Much like –– perhaps more than –– the responses from some Jamaican citizens, who themselves deem dancehall a vulgar and, at best, an improper and tasteless expression of sexuality and oft-times violence.
It is not unknown in Caribbean countries, including Barbados, for dancehall artists to have been banned from performing because of their violent lyrics and more often sexually explicit songs and erotica.
It is unfortunate that Reggae On The Beach 2014, with its risqué and X-rated tone, would be a blot on an otherwise palatably enjoyable and successful Reggae Festival this year. It stresses the point that our entertainment promoters have a responsibility to exercise and encourage moderation, and to so conduct their affairs that they can demand the respect of our young, of their peers, and the public at large.
We shall see how next year’s Reggae On The Beach goes with the proposed combination of the 1960s, 1970s, 1990s and current rhythms, cum adolescence and maturity.
In the meanwhile, we will leave Al and company, and our readers with this most meaningful thought of the American religious leader Jeffrey Holland for quiet reflection. It could not have been better expressed.
“It seems the door to permissiveness, the door to lewdness and vulgarity and obscenity swings only one way. It only opens farther and farther; it never seems to swing back.
“Individuals can choose to close it, but it is certain, historically speaking, that public appetite and public policy will not close it. No, in the moral realm the only real control you have is self-control.”