Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Lee Dresselhaus / L’Observateur / August 30, 2000

So…..once again television has outdone itself. Nowadays, if there’s not already an award for something television will create one. And now one of those award shows just blew up in a fledglingnetwork’s face.

UPN has decided to host the “Source” Hip-Hop Music Awards. Hip-hop isthe nice name for rap music, and “Source” is a rap, er, hip-hop magazine that keeps those so inclined in touch with the latest trends, groups, and homicides related to the rap world. So, “Source” apparently decided thetime was right for an award show all their own. No problem with that,other than the fact that rap music is a contradiction in terms in my book.

After all, country artists have their very own Country Music Awards thing.

So does MTV, and VH1, and so on and so forth. So, why not? And Tuesdaynight at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium they did just that.

Turns out there is a major difference between the music genres, though.

While the folks who get country awards may be overdressed and over- coiffed, and the folks who get the MTV awards may or may not even remember they were there, they usually don’t beat the tar out of each other during the awards ceremony.

Sometime right after the fifth award of the evening was delivered to somebody with an attitude and a rhyming dictionary, a huge fight broke out between the gracious recipients of those awards. They had just shown avideotaped tribute to various dead rappers when a brawl erupted backstage. This is just a guess, but that tribute may possibly have hadsomething to do with the riot that developed. Oh, and that’s anotherdifference. Rap artists seem to knock each other off with alarmingregularity. It seems a bit safer in other areas of musical endeavor. I don’tsee Johnny Cash bumping off Waylon Jennings, or Barbra Streisand doing a drive-by shooting on Elton John.

According to Pasadena police scores of people fled their seats and out of the exits and about 75 others swarmed the stage. Numerous fights beganto break out all over the auditorium as police tried to gain control. Otheraudience members, apparently not wanting to be left out, began to throw things at the stage And now some people are supposedly concerned that this incident will cause rap, er, hip-hop, to be viewed negatively. RapperBilal Allah of the rap group Wu-Tang Clan (that’s the name of the group, really) even said that it was a sad day for Hip-Hop.

Well, yes it is. It would be a sad day for any group that was trying torepresent itself in a positive light if something like this were to happen.

If there were award shows for Latvian Circus Dwarfs – and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they created one soon – and they suddenly started fighting with each other like unsophisticated, socially-retarded imbeciles, it would be a sad day for them. Furthermore, if I were a Latvian Circus Dwarfand all those people who represented me behaved that way for all the world to see, I would be horribly embarrassed for all my kind.

Let me say this before I go any further. I don’t like rap music. Never have.Never will. But, as I’ve written before, I don’t like Pavarotti either. I can’ttake any satisfaction in this, however, because a lot of people do like rap, and not all of them are thugs and wannabe gangstas. And I have to wonderjust how those people, the people who are just fans of the music and who identify themselves with the culture associated with rap, feel after watching this debacle. I cringe every time I see something like the “JerrySpringer Show” because he showcases the very worst in all of us.

Imagine if your particular ethnic group, white, black, red, yellow, Latvian Dwarf, or whatever, was singled out and put on display in the ongoing Springer Freak Show.

Wouldn’t you feel like crawling under a bed somewhere? And now a rap award show has showcased the very worst in the culture it represents. Personally, I think all those non-thinking thugs who wereinvolved should apologize to the people they think they speak for. Theyclaim to be the voices of their people. If they are, they’re poor voices,indeed. According to an MSN news report, Rapper Coolio told the presslater “This is not what hip-hop is all about. Hip-hop is really about all thepeople coming together.” Well, somebody forgot to deliver that message tosome of those thugs. They didn’t share the love. By the way, UPN was supposed to present the awards show this week anyway. Yep, we can look forward to it being presented, supposedlywithout the fights. They went back and taped some of the presentationsafter the fact, according to UPN spokesman Paul MaGuire.

Purely for the sake of dignity I hope they can avoid this type of thing next year, and I’m not in the habit of defending rap artists.

Or maybe they can get Jerry Springer to be the host.

LEE DRESSELHAUS writes this column every Wednesday for L’Observateur.

Copyright © #Thisyear# Wick Communications, Inc.Best viewed with 4.0 or higher