The recent death of another rock ‘legend’ is still being lamented on social media sites like Tumblr, even though most of the people there are not old enough to remember the latest deceased rocker.
He had something in common with other such rock celebrities who died during the last year or so: he was a rebel against conventional sexual morality. His criminal record, however, is mostly swept under the rug in recent years, even before his death. And articles like that linked just above, from the ‘History’ channel, seem to downplay the seriousness of the allegations and to minimize Berry’s culpability. The racial aspect of it is highlighted by mentioning that an ”all-White jury” convicted him (of course Whitey is prejudiced and willing to convict a black man at every possible occasion) and the article defends him by saying his intentions were strictly honest and honorable. He ‘offered legitimate employment in his St. Louis nightclub‘ — but to a 14-year-old girl? Maybe she was ‘precocious’ as some euphemistically put it, but in what state can a 14-year-old legally work in a night club? And the laws were more strictly enforced in 1959.
This article from NPR’s website unabashedly blames the Mann Act itself, stating that it was expressly written to be used against people like black boxer Jack Johnson with his White (white?) mistress. The article also implies that the Mann Act was a response to what the biased writers call ‘hysteria’ over what was called ‘white slavery’, or the abduction of young women into prostitution in the early 20th century. The writers imply that many such women were not forced into that life, but were simply ‘sexually active young women’ whom society wished to punish for their ‘sexual freedom.’
The NPR writers attempt to revise history, implying that the attempt to curb prostitution was based on “hysteria.” In the last couple of years, I’ve read a great many books from older eras, books actually written then, not written by (post)modern writers and their tainted point of view, and yes, there was an ‘industry’ if you can call it that involving trapping young women, many of whom were rather sheltered and naive in those days, into a life of prostitution. ‘Inexperienced’ girls were most in demand and drew high prices. There were interstate rings of what would now be called ‘human trafficking’. Hence the need for the Mann Act. Most of the reports indicated Jewish domination of these rings. Transporting of these girls extended across national borders too, with many girls and women sent across the Pacific to China and elsewhere, where Christian workers found many of them being held literally in cages or cells, disease-ridden and sometimes dying, after having been sold into that life. It is not fantasy or ‘hysteria.’
Now our jaded age thinks that such things are just a matter of personal choice; I’ve had many younger people tell me that prostitution is ‘just another job, a way to make good money’, and as Madonna famously said back in the 80s, ”It’s not exploitation if I’m in charge of it myself.” So prostitution can be ’empowering’ for feminists.
Madonna is another prime example of a celebrity who is serving the function of a ‘change agent’ by altering people’s ideas of what is acceptable, and by helping to subvert traditional morality. Some people, maybe most people, today say that sexual morality is up to the individual; whatever people choose, and/or do in private, has nothing to do with anyone else. But it does. We are social beings. Nobody exists in a vacuum. The consequences of people’s private behavior often affect society, not just the invididual(s) involved.
Celebrities of course have a much-amplified power to affect others’ choices, especially young and gullible people.
People like Madonna, and the recently-deceased David Bowie and Prince — and in his time, Chuck Berry, have had more influence than many like to think.
Michael Jackson, too, with his ‘androgynous’ persona desensitized us to certain behaviors. And celebrity alone enables such people to get away with much, as his story illustrated. People tend, these days, to have almost limitless capacity to overlook aberrant or downright immoral behavior from those that are called ‘talented’ or ‘geniuses’. Society theoretically condemns pedophilia but oddly it can be overlooked if the acccused is a popular public figure. Please notice, at the first link on this page, from a blog which is not at all PC, that the commenters, can only praise Berry.
In 1959, people were not so flexible in their morality and not so forgiving.
In time, though, it seems that Berry has been forgiven. If one wants to be forgiven of anything, it appears, the answer is to be ‘talented and famous.’
Meanwhile society suffers the consequences.