Former Cheers Star John Ratzenberger has allegedly filed for a restraining order against his 45-year-old girlfriend, claiming that she is capable of violence because she listens to country music. According to the site TMZ.org, Ratzenberger filed today in L.A. County Superior Court, saying his ex "indicated that it is common in many country western songs for women to set the cars of their former boyfriends on fire." He continues, "That statement insinuates that she may have the capacity to perpetuate this act or similar violent conduct."
C'mon, really? This guy really thinks that because someone listens to a less than moral song, that he or she will commit a similar act? Granted, negative thoughts and ideas can affect your mood and perspective. But for most people, there's a limit to this. At some point you choose how you will act. We have all heard stories of people who grew up in horrendous households, surrounded by plentiful negative influences, and yet still manage to become a powerful positive influence in their communities. There are also those people who grow up in a very moral and conservative environment, who then turn to all sorts of vices.
I've listened to country music my entire life, and I readily acknowledge that there are songs that center on less than moral topics (i.e., revenge, murder, adultery). Yet I've never contemplated actually burning down someone's home ("Independence Day"), murder ("Folsom Prison Blues," "The Thunder Rolls"), using drugs ("The Cost of Living High," "Cocaine Blues"), adultery ("Long Black Veil," "Back Street Affair") or keying an ex's car (I prefer to live that one vi-Carrie-ously, thank you).
Besides, there are just as many country songs that talk of love ("He Stopped Loving Her Today," "When I Said I Do"), God ("God Must Really Love Me," "When I Get Where I'm Going"), American/Military pride ("America," "American Soldier"), repentance ("Long Black Train," "I Saw the Light"), family ("Brotherly Love," "Blessed"), friendship ("Will the Circle Be Unbroken"), perseverance ("The Impossible," "The River"), turning from temptation ("On the Other Hand," "If She Were Any Other Woman"), and other "good" topics.
I think that country music is great at simply capturing both sides of humanity. We are human; we are capable of doing right, and capable of doing wrong. As George Jones put it, "I've had choices since the day that I was born/there were voices that told me right from wrong..."
I'd love to get your opinion on this, too. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How much influence do you think music has on our actions?