Diversity and Unity Meet Face to Face at the Grammy Awards

by Ry Lee Stollar

Who let the dogs out?!? one might wonder as confetti falls from the sky, blue-faced imps dance around swirling colors, and a man in a yellow jacket with pink polka dots bangs a keyboard to the beat set by a punk rapper clothed in blue denim. The answer from the culprit would be Oops, I did it again! Yes, you did it again. For the 43rd time, the Grammy Awards the Academy Awards of music showcased the most popular albums, artists, music videos, producers, songs and songwriters of today. And it provided such a bizarre and shocking mixture of the music worlds fame and shame that many viewers felt they were watching a dream, crying out to their friends in amazement, Pinch me!

Hosted by Jon Stewart of The Daily Show in Los Angeles, CA, the event attempted to celebrate all the diversity among performers today by uniting them through music. While it seemed to succeed, what happened at the Grammy Awards goes beyond music. It teaches all of us Christian or not important lessons regarding the clash between unity and diversity.

Prior to the Grammy Awards, 100 protesters gathered outside to denounce the appearance of Eminem, a notoriously controversial rap artist. His album The Marshall Mathers LP features hatred towards homosexuals, a description of him murdering his wife, and a rape fantasy involving his mother. So naturally, Eminems appearance with Elton John, an outspoken homosexual, spawned a plethora of attacks from gay and lesbian activists. Their duet received flack from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which remarked: Why Elton John is performing is pretty baffling. The gay and lesbian community is pretty upset by this. We feel betrayed by Elton John, who has used his gayness for good [in the past] and here hes using it for evil.

In response, John said, As a gay artist, Im asked by a lot of people, But what about the content of Eminems music? I think there is far more humor on the album than people think. It appeals to my English black sense of humor. We live in an age of political correctness where you cant say this or that. I honestly dont think people will go out and start beating and killing people because of this album.

How can a simple song by a single rap artist spur so much discussion over issues that deeply touch pop culture? Probably because music so deeply resembles life. R&B legend Stevie Wonder explains: I think art is a reflection of our society, and people dont like to confront the realities in society. We dance forever around the issues, and [embrace] songs about unity and love. But until we really confront the truth, we are going to have...Eminem...remind us about it and thank God. They force people to look at realities in society.

This is truly a profound statement. While watching Eminem and Elton John perform their duet, two ideas struck me:

First, unity and diversity can work together. Even though Eminem sings about bashing gays and raps like white trash, and Elton John adorns himself in a yellow jacket with pink polka dots and flamboyantly prances around his keyboard, they worked together. How? By embracing what they thought was good about the other person. May this be a message to us all, Christian or not: love your neighbor as yourself. No one is perfect.

Second, we as Christians really need to understand and respect what artists inject into society. We need to remember that real people are actually feeling and experiencing the lyrics. When Papa Roach sings about committing suicide or Matchbox Twenty mourns over the loss of a loved one, we should put ourselves in their shoes. Why does our commitment to the Great Commission suddenly die when the images of Sunday School children or starving families in Africa are replaced with the Red Hot Chilipeppers or Marilyn Manson?

As fun and games filled the air at the Grammy Awards, and confetti and glitter coated the audience, I thought, This is entertaining! These people are truly enjoying themselves. But they lack direction. They try to, as Jon Stuart says, bring people together through music, but in doing so, confusion and pain arise. Nonetheless, they unite through something they love. Christians need to learn from this: Gods love should unite us, too. We have differences very significant ones. But if Eminem and Elton John can respect each other, why cant we? When Stevie Wonder says that until we really confront the truth, we are going to have...Eminem...remind us about it, I hope and pray that we will heed his warning and, together, bear the truth in love.

Click here if you would like to read Matthew Turner's thoughts and opinions of the Grammy Awards.

For a complete listing of all Grammy Awards, click here.