Honey Singh, Lyrics, Images, Rape, Identity and YOLO generation

Who am I? What do I stand for? Where am I going?

These questions are so simple that they don’t get any attention. Simple is obvious and obvious is ignored. The YOLO generation – you only live once, especially in their twenties do not have comfort of latching on to cultural categorizations to construct their self and the new is not yet fully emerged. The windmills of liberalization and globalization have rendered the old structures obsolete. The new generation is caught in the situation where the old is not completely gone and the new has not yet fully emerged. The khap diktats, civil society outburst, consumerist culture, rise of the nonsensical movies and lyrics, are all manifestation of this chasm and friction. With the blurring of boundaries the new generation is left on its own to seek answers to the above questions.

The people of the new nomadic tribe are robbed of identity and their privileges that stemmed from fixed social structures. Take a macro look in a metro station or a mall, the humanity stands homogenized but take a closer look and everyone seems to be on a perpetual identity construction voyage. The deeply entrenched power structures are shaken and there is emergence of the new ones. Market is now supplier of symbolic material and consumption is no longer about satisfaction but identity construction.  A Scorpio and an Audi radically differ from each other in their supply of symbolic meaning to one at the steering wheel. Both can’t latch on the old identity structures based on who they are, therefore brand is commissioned for both identity creation and signification.

When the system fails to provide the notions of identity, people are free to make a choice. It is now upon the will of an individual to construct the person he or she wants to be. Consumption in this context gets beyond the realm of utility to acquire symbolism. The choice although free, operates within the overall constraint imposed by a set of possible selves made available in a socio-cultural context. It is not that people choose from a set of infinite selves. Media supplies a limited set of images, symbols and models differing in narrative. Popular media is one big supplier of images and models which are picked by people in arriving at their identity definitions. Primafacie people are said to be free to make a choice but it operates with a constraint imposed by total available set. Culture industries provide repertoire of symbolic products out of which free will is exerted. Bacardi ad says ‘be what you wanna be…’ but images of people portrayed- supply of symbols- narrowly push to you to be ‘the kind of person you should be’.

Each aspect of the environment is laden with symbolism. Popular media as an important part of culture producing industry is a dominant supplier of identity construction resource. The expression of this process manifests in choices that people make – what we buy and how we behave. This influence is so subtle and sub conscious that it escapes conscious scrutiny. The codes of behavior are implicitly established.  Bacardi has very successfully managed to create a new symbolism around rum and establish acceptance of white rum in the youth market. Relationship can only get sanctified if you wear a platinum band, so are you a part of group called ‘platinum people’? Love has got a new expression.

When the identity is fluid and undefined and when we look out to symbols in identity construction process is a song by Honey Singh a potential threat? If diamonds which have very little practical utility can be ‘women’s best friend’ and chocolate can say it ‘better than words’, lyrics can certainly creep into our consciousness taking a sub-conscious route. The blanks of mind are imprinted with ideas supplied by the media to a great extent. The expression of the concept contained in the lyrics would be dangerous, even if it happens in one exceptional case.

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5 thoughts on “Honey Singh, Lyrics, Images, Rape, Identity and YOLO generation

  1. Good article…but I think it should not be only Honey Singh who is to be talked about…there exist lot many instances having explicit dialogues in bollywood movies (3 idiots) and explicit item songs…to me it was more of clash in timing issue (the unfortunate Delhi rape accident and Honey singh’s song)…else people would have not bothered about the lyrics of the song, rather go dance on the tunes of music..

      • the post is symbolic of contemporary culture rather just ‘the’ song.
        may be the song’s popularity owes to its deliberate time attempt…..

        it makes me think over and over again that ____
        “Are needs created or they exist prior to their manifestations in form of products,situations,experiences etc.”

        may be there is hairline difference b’ween the two, but then what about sub-conscious which triggers to reactions sometimes heinous acts…..or may be not ?

  2. Perhaps the biggest dilemma in life for anyone is “Choice”… choose from what is available and accessible. We choose certain products, services and lifestyle to portray ourselves in a particular fashion. People choose and make decision based upon what other would think about him/her.

    As very rightly pointed out in the article, each product (including songs), service delivers a symbolic image, and our association with what we consume reflects upon what we are and what we want to be sees as. Brands takes peripheral route to persuade consumer and unconsciously imprint our minds with the message they want to convey us. Consumers

    A more clear example of the peripheral route to persuasion would be shaving ads for men, where you don’t hear about the blades of the razor or how it handles, but instead see a man shaving and then a woman appears in the bathroom, pleased to see him and carrying a strong sexual innuendo. remember the denim tag line…”for the man who doesn’t have to try to hard” !!

    If I put all above in perspective to the Honey Singh’s non-sense song, which is not asking anyone to misbehave or rape a girl… but, its just supplying a symbolic image to youths, which if gets printed on listeners mind can create social havoc !!

    We have U / A certificates for videos…its time that we start certification for songs (if they are fit for mass public consumption).

    For me, Honey Singh’s song is like audio pornography… much more dangerous than a “x” rated movies, its like feeding porn in disguise of cartoons.

  3. sir but by this argument shouldn’t songs video games be banned? also pornography which then objectifies women ? great read … like always,

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