Ruiz: 90’s Boy Bands and the Threat of Gun Control











The record industry has been notorious for manufacturing artists in the vain of other popular artists. If someone seems original and becomes a hit – several artists just like him or her will soon follow. Suddenly that brand of artist defines pop music, even if only for a season.

For instance, in the 1990’s the Backstreet Boys became a fixture in American pop music. They lead the boy band movement. Their success prompted record executives at every label to ask themselves, “Where’s my boy band? Where’s our piece of the pie?” Suddenly N’Sync found a home on pop radio. 98 Degrees soon followed. By the time this trend died out labels had saturated the market with boy bands all attempting to capitalize on the Backstreet Boys’ success. Westlife, 5ive, O-Town, LFO, C-Note, Dream Street , and BBMak were among other acts. One of the more short-lived groups, 2gether, even made its name by acting as a boy band who satirically mocked their more serious boy band counterparts.

And it wasn’t just the fellas. The introduction of Britney Spears was met with Christina Aguilera, which was then met with Mandy Moore, Jessica Simpson, and eventually the lesser talents of Willa Ford and M2M.

Likewise, a successful Grammy Awards performance by then Latin superstar Ricky Martin created The Latin Explosion, during which several titans of the Latin music market became crossover stars overnight. These included Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias, and Shakira, and even opened a door for then-actress Jennifer Lopez to acquire her own recording contract.

Further down the road Lady Gaga opened the door for Ke$ha, and the list goes on and on.

But it’s not just the record industry. Film studios do it too. Seen any successful superhero movies lately? Well, then you’ve probably also seen some that were not so successful. Batman & Robin anyone? Catwoman?

CBS sitcom Big Bang Theory recently received the highest ratings ever! While I enjoy Big Bang Theory, TV executives must have sat around their offices shouting at writers and interns, “People like nerds! Get me my own nerds!” Suddenly TBS presented a show called King of the Nerds while AMC opted for Comic Book Men.

And so it happens everywhere. Creative people in all forms of entertainment might have one good idea (good depending on who you ask), while the remainder of the time they just copy other creative people and cross their fingers. That’s the game. That’s entertainment.

Now, our government and the corporate media who work for them often adopt the same strategies. The recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary was a huge story to those of us who watched – terrified for the families and community involved. But in the weeks to come it seemed as though the media has been quick to adopt any news story, no matter how big or small, to which they could draw some sort of connection or comparison. And why would they do that? Is it really because this one act of terror influenced aspiring killers and criminals everywhere to come out of the closet and attempt to take human lives?

I don’t think so. Rather I’m reminded of Rahm Emanuel’s infamous statement, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” You’ll often hear advocates of limited government refer to this statement, and rightfully so. Consider all that it could imply!

If there’s an agenda to push, our government – by way of the media, will almost certainly milk it for all its worth. Since Sandy Hook, gun control has been at the forefront of many political debates.

Now whether you’re for or against gun control (I’m against it), my intent isn’t really to start that debate. Most people have made up their minds on the issue. If you haven’t you can find arguments for and against it just about anywhere. All of the right arguments and all of the wrong arguments have already been made, and I’m not going to teach you anything new using that approach.

My intent is rather to make an observation about the nature of government and the media. They’re in bed together. Some even refer to the media as the fourth branch of government.

However you want to put, there were once advocates of gun control sitting in an office somewhere much like the music, film, or television executives. When the story began to fade away there was someone sitting in a chair and yelling at the media. “Hey, don’t let this leave the top of our viewers’ minds! We need them to dwell on the awful things that happened!”

And so the media finds any remotely common and terrible incident and makes sure that you know about it! If they can make you feel scared or if they can fill you with fear, you will cultivate in your mind the idea that this kind of violence is common, and you’re much more likely to let the government have their way with your firearms (instruments that are supposed to be for your personal safety).

This comes from a theory called Cultivation Theory by George Gerbner, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Gerbner theorized that the more you become accustomed to seeing violence on television, the more you begin to believe that the world as seen on your TV set is like the world outside your window (paraphrased).

For a government who wants to take guns away from American citizens (with no mind to their Constitutional rights), making people feel a sense of fear for their lives consistently enough just might do the trick. My advice to you: Don’t let it.

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Joe Ruiz

Joe Ruiz is a writer, political aficionado, pop culture enthusiast, pro-wrestling smark, MBA graduate, former US Congressional candidate, ukulele tinkerer, Puerto Rican / American, Freemason, marketing guy, podcaster, and family man. He currently hosts The CAP (Culture & Arts Podcast) and is the Managing Editor at We Are Libertarians.

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