Saturday, November 5, 2011

Opinion: Bagley Concerned About J-Setting by Minors in Public School Bands

by Andrew Bagley

There has been considerable controversy coming from Pine Bluff this week as a result of performances by student groups at Pine Bluff High School that involved lewd and lascivious dancing that is sexually provocative and sometimes called "J-Setting."

During the course of the past couple of weeks, Elijah Mondy, who owns both KJIW in Helena-West Helena and KCAT-AM in Pine Bluff, has called on the Pine Bluff School District to ban these kinds of suggestive performances.  He has sent an email to the Superintendent of the Pine Bluff School District.  The pleas have, as of the time of this column, been ignored.  Now Mr. Mondy is threatening to discontinue coverage of Pine Bluff Zebra Football effective immediately, meaning there would be no broadcasts of the postseason unless the Superintendent limits the suggestiveness allowed in the band and dance team performances.  KCAT-AM is not ruling out broadcasting one of the other Jefferson County schools next season because of this situation.  Mr. Mondy has taken to the airwaves in Pine Bluff, Helena-West Helena and on WJIW-FM in Greenville, which he also owns.

Mr. Mondy said, "I do not want my radio station to be associated with this type of performance or any school that allows it and supports it."

Thankfully, these kinds of performances have been held in check in Helena-West Helena, where I am the Voice of the Cougars on Mr. Mondy's KJIW-FM.  However, that hasn't come without a fight.  We have had band directors from time to time that would have like to have had our female performers engaging in this sort of spectacle.

I must admit that I am very concerned about these kinds of provocative performances in our public schools.  First, in a culture where sexual promiscuity is rampant and the illegitimacy rate has skyrocketed, our schools should not allow performances that make high school girls appear to be sex objects.  Our school administrators should ban these kinds of shows because they are educational institutions that should be concerned with the proper development of the whole individual.  Jr. High and High School Girls should not have performances sanctioned by their school that could easily involve the placement of a stripper pole at midfield.  At Pine Bluff, according to local observers, a male performer even turned to the crowd and grabbed his genitalia.  No school district should allow this.

School districts should also want to maintain a wholesome image for themselves.  Part of the reason that we see enrollment declines and a push for the creation for more private and quasi-public charter schools is that our schools have allowed their image to deteriorate. Parents are voting with their feet to seek out other public schools, quasi-public charter schools run by private groups, or private schools.

Second, parents should oppose this as well.  We should constantly be sending messages to our kids to behave in a way that will prevent them from tough consequences down the road.  If we send the message through the kinds of activity that we allow them to do, such as lewd dancing, that sexually provocative behavior is entertaining and deserving of applause from large crowds, then it is just a matter of time before in private our adolescents think sexual promiscuity is OK.  The illegitimacy rates in this country today indicate our culture already has a serious problem with this.

Third, by dumping more emphasis on proficiency with the instruments and traditional forms of marching, we are limiting the number of schools that will be interested in these students for band scholarships.  In order to be a top prospect at the vast majority of higher education institutions that don't include this kind of performance style, our students need to be learning traditional marching styles and becoming proficient at playing their instruments for a wide variety of music.

In closing, there are ways to have performances that the kids will enjoy that don't take this sort of thing over the line into indecency.  Many bands have provided entertaining performances for decades without taking the "pumping" and the "gyrating" into territory where it is more suitable for the club than it is a high school performance.  You can "Drop It Like It's Hot" or "Get In There" without trying to "Push It" into territory fitting for the strip club or Hustler Magazine.

It is my sincere hope that school districts around the state and region will take a stand to reverse the trend of this type of performance continuing to expand.  Secondary students should be able to enjoy music and dance without being portrayed as sex objects.

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