Jones’ words anger kaiso managers
TWO Tent Managers are furious with the statements made by Minister of Education Ronald Jones in which he described some of the calypsoes produced this season as “trash”, “ignorance” and “abuse against the minds of our people”.Sinclair Gittens, president of the Barbados Association of Tent Managers, said the harshness of Jones’ words showed that he did not fully understand calypso.Gittens admitted that sometimes the lyrics of popular songs might not be socially acceptable, but said that calypsonians should be allowed poetic licence. He stressed that the calypso tents provided the opportunity for artistes to showcase their talent and creativity. Children should not be brought to the tents, he said, and therefore “within the tent confine”
such lyrics were acceptable.Gittens said it seemed that the minister had forgotten that certain types of music would “appeal to its own audience and some people just like the entertainment part . . . There can’t only be social commentary; sometimes we need to break the monopoly”.“What he said has merit, but I am against the word foolishness,” Gittens said. “Music is art and art is subjective . . . you cannot put a handle on the art form.”ScapegoatGittens further stated that Jones was simply using calypso as a “scapegoat”. “Politicians have always been scared of calypso,” he said, because issues that would be overlooked in the mainstream media were amplified in the music. “Give calypso a break.”Peter Boyce, manager of Celebration Time Calypso Tent, said Jones had launched a “verbal unwarranted attack” on calypso tents.Expressing disagreement with what he called Jones’ “aggressive manner and derogatory language”, he deemed Jones’ latest statements a “strategic” move because such comments started before Crop-Over. Jones made similar statements in March concerning dancehall artistes Mavado and Vybz Kartel. According to Boyce, this showed that Jones did not give this year’s music a fair chance.“When the politicians have uses for the entertainment industry they use it. They want jingles when it is time to promote their campaigns.” He contended that ministers should seek to encourage the public’s support of the tents instead and use their influence correctly. “This is not what we expect of ministers. We in the entertainment industry will not respond similarly.” Boyce went on to say there was a need to “exercise diplomacy and conduct yourself in a decent manner” because “respect goes both ways”.Not happySpokesman for The Alliance, Ridley Greene, has expressed dissatisfaction with the “lewd and vulgar lyrics on the airwaves”. Greene said that the situation “should not have reached the stage now where the political directorate has to be censuring calypsonians and their managers and producers for being irresponsible”. “Those calypsos which are vulgar, though left off the air, might be suitable for the stages of the tents that cater to adult audiences.” Greene suggested that a board of artistes, tents and media managers be established to set principles “for the approval of calypsos [and other genres too] for airplay – based on common decency”.Errol Griffith, founder of the Experience Calypso Tent, is also in agreement with Jones. “I thank the minister. I’m glad to hear him speaking out,” he said.Griffith said it was time that we stopped “passing off smut for humour”, adding that in a quest for popularity, arrangers, writers and performers were allowing calypso lyrics to “run downhill”.“Stop telling the people to write better lyrics; help them to be better people . . . otherwise it is hypocrisy.”Griffith said he had had enough of “the nonsense being projected as culture and entertainment”.