As you are no doubt already aware, earlier this week, Brad Paisley and LL Cool J released one of the most embarrassing songs ever written. In "Accidental Racist", the two try to solve national issues regarding racial tension and the legacy of slavery with lyrics like "If you don't judge my do-rag, I won't judge your red flag," and "If you don't judge my gold chains, I'll forget the iron chains." Ta-daa, everybody! Problem solved! Now, can't we all just get along?
These two idiots aren't the first musicians to reduce complicated issues surrounding racism and history into over-simplified solutions and hokey objections to injustice. Here are five other examples of artists tackling racism with all the gravitas of upset five-year-old children.
"Where is the Love?" Black Eyed Peas
This is one of those tracks that will remain in our personal Worst Songs Ever list forever. "Where is the Love?" has some of the most incredibly facile lyrics we've ever heard anywhere. Here's one of our favorite bits: "But if you only have love for your own race, then you only leave space to discriminate, and to discriminate only generates hate, and when you hate then you're bound to get irate." And there we were, thinking that discrimination and hate and feeling irate were good things! Thanks for clearing that up, Black Eyed Peas. Now that racism has been dealt with, would you mind solving world hunger? Cheers.
"Black or White," Michael Jackson
Now, as someone who kind of experienced being both black and white, you'd think Michael Jackson would be able to offer some real insight into issues of race. Juuust kidding. "Black or White" was a well-intentioned exercise in stupidity. It wasn't aided by the fact that the first black people you see in the video are mostly naked, wearing face paint, and dancing around with spears. And it only goes downhill from there. It's a song that disavows racism, with a video that features wall-to-wall uncomfortable racial stereotypes. Absolute nonsense.
"China Girl," David Bowie
One gets the feeling that Mr. Bowie was trying to hail and exalt Asian culture when he wrote this song. Actually, what he winds up doing is further fetishizing Asian women (because there's not enough of that in western culture already... ahem) and doing something jaw-droppingly racist in the video. Skip to 1:13 minutes in and prepare to have your mind blown.
There's nothing quite like hearing white boys complaining about racism in rap form. "But of the racist institutions, simple minds belong," one line here goes. "Not happy just being human, no wish to get along." Wow, guys. That's deep. So deep. You should probably become politicians or something, so you can fix ... the issues. All of the issues. You know, the bad ones. 'Cause they're bad.
"Ebony and Ivory," Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
"Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony. Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh lord, why don't we?" Well, Paul, Stevie? We'll explain. The thing is, inanimate objects don't have feelings, or a grasp of historical facts, or the ability to move. Inanimate objects don't treat each other like shit. Human emotions and prejudices, on the other hand, do exist. And that can cause complications. But it's okay. We're pretty sure now that you've made a video that stretches your piano metaphor to inexorable levels, everyone in the world will stop being so gosh-darn mean to each other. Back-pats all 'round.