Don't Wiggle Those Hips, Boy!
I am old enough to remember the fledgling days of Rock and Roll. Man, what a time to be alive! When I refer to the Rock and Roll of the Fifties, I am not thinking of the kind of music that later became "hard rock" during the Sixties and afterward. Rock and Roll of the Fifties was bland when compared to what it being presented to the public today. Three guys basically started Rock and Roll. They were first cousins who gathered around a piano and blended black church gospel and the blues. They sped it up and the sound was born. Those three fellows were Mickey Gilly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart. If one listens well they will hear the similarities in the way these three cousins play the piano and in their voices as well. Rock and Roll was basically birthed by those three entertainers.
I remember very vividly the Sunday evening that Elvis Pressley first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. It had been promoted that he would appear and I believe everyone who was breathing made sure that they watched that show. Ed Sullivan introduced Elvis and suddenly, there he was! It was in black and white but that made no difference....it was Elvis, the heartthrob of all the teenage girls and the guy the fellows wanted to emulate. Good looking, great hair and a smooth-as-silk presentation. When he smiled, one corner of his mouth arched up a little bit. I remember there were some young guys who tried to make their mouth do the same thing. Never saw one that was totally successful. They just thought they were. So, Elvis sang Heartbreak Hotel and Blue Suede Shoes as I remember. Even my mother liked him. She thought he sang beautifully and she also through he was very good looking. She wouldn't talk about it much, but she did.
Well, he put on a show and the place almost fell down with the screaming and clapping. Young girls up near the stage were overcome and some fainted. Elvis really had it! Whatever "it" was; Elvis had it! He twisted and turned, swiveled his hips and contorted his legs in several ways. It was something else. But, in the atmosphere of the pristine Fifties it was all toooo much for those who were the censors of what was then shown on television. So, it was announced that the next appearance of the "King" would be the next Sunday on the same program. Again, he was introduced. Crowd was bigger! Enthusiasm was through the roof! The crying and wailing of the fainting young ladies was even more pronounced. But, the producers of the program had been told not to show him from his waist down. It was too much. It was vulgar so they said. It was too sexual and suggestive they said. It was different for those days and he was the first to do such things. When they filmed him it was only from the waist up. It was still good but one could tell that he was "stilted" and careful as to what he was doing. But everyone liked it anyway. It was the censors that they didn't like. "They should not have hindered Elvis and his performance that way!", it was said. He just became more popular.
I paint this picture from my memory for the purpose of drawing a comparison between those days and what is being presented to the youth of today. And, the presentations of today are truly vulgar. I wonder what the censors of Elvis' day would think about "twerking"? What would they say about the lyrics of many if not most of the "music" being offered to the young people of today? Most of it fosters rebellion. Hatred of the "Cops" is something that would not have been tolerated. In fact, anyone who talked that way would have been closely observed. Sexual themes are explicit in today's "music". The lyrics are embarrassing to read even in a room by oneself much less in the company of someone else. I would not share any of it in an article such as this. Too terrible! One of the music industry's biggest "stars" interviewed Joe Biden recently. She is suppose to be someone qualified to ask him about racism, education, free health care and tax breaks. I don't understand why they even allowed Mr. Biden to talk with her. She has a song out that has the most vulgar of words describing sex acts and she is proud of it. This is how far we have come from the days when Elvis was reprimanded for wiggling his hips on stage. The old Rock and Roll was innocent when compared to Cardi B's presentation. No one in their right mind would have ever imagined that such trash would be broadcast and sold to our kids. If one wants to know why there are so many abortions performed on young people today, all they have to do is look at the environment to which they are exposed. Sex in the most raucous forms is described in this music and it is easily available to our young people on You Tube and other internet sources as well as in stores. This writer read the lyrics of Cardi B's latest big hit. They are beyond the pale when it comes to vulgarity. I could not print them here or even tell the readers of this article what they say. And we wonder what has happened to the morals of our country. The problem is that the "artist" mentioned above is only one of many. It's not just what they say in the musical lyrics, it is also what they do on the television screen. People are not shocked by what they see any longer. And, as long as it is perceived that people are not shocked, the music and television industry will continue to see just how far they can go. "Don't Wiggle Your Hips, Boy".
The only defense against such degrading stuff is to be found in the parents of our young people. Parents who don't care are letting their children become polluted in their minds and lives. Things the parents would never think of doing or saying are becoming the norm for their children and then the child thinks they are being treated wrongly when the parent tries to govern what their children are viewing and listening to. The entertainment industry doesn't give a hoot about the people listening to or viewing their filth. Follow the money!
Parents need to understand that the creators of such filth as is being purveyed today are not concerned about how it affects your children. They will continue to "push the envelope" and try to get away with ever increasing degrading content. Who's going to slap their hands hard enough to calm things down and bring things back to some semblance of decency? The minds of children are at their most vulnerable point of development. They don't forget a thing, especially those things that appeal to human nature as naughty. And, parents must understand that once that information is placed in their minds, they will carry it with them throughout life. Kids six and seven years old have been exposed to things that were only available in the dark back rooms of bachelor parties in years past. Even that stuff wasn't what is easily available for people to see today. It poisons a person's mind and later on, they find that they would do anything if they could get it out of their minds. In my years as a Pastor, I counseled a number of people who were tortured by things that they should have never allowed to be put in their "computer" of a mind.
But, Hollywood and other producers of such filth don't care. All they want is the money. The damage to individual lives and families isn't even considered. They produce television shows with content that would have been considered pornographic in earlier days. Costumes that reveal as much as possible are the norm today. Dances and routines that feature the most suggestive and perverse movements aren't considered offensive at all. In fact, if a show doesn't contain such actions, the producers know that it won't attract an audience. So, the edgier they can get, the more money they will make because they have been successful at programming the public to accept what should be unacceptable. They know how to appeal to human nature which is bent toward such things. The church, which in days gone by was a defense against such things is largely silent for two basic reasons: first, it is too embarrassing to present to a congregation that also has little children in the audience and, second, the preachers perceive that they have already lost the battle and it wouldn't do a lot of good to mention it. It's easier just to leave it alone. Let me say, that not all preachers take this route. There are many who do face the issues at hand and they are to be commended. But, even they know that the "shock" value of such information is lost on most people today. The religious community which used to set a standard for conduct in society now only yawns when they are presented with vulgar information. Ole Elvis wouldn't draw a second look today. The "Don't Wiggle Your Hips, Boy" warning was for a day when the people of America still had a sense of shame and respect for dignity.
The fact is that the people who remember those "pristine" days of the fifties would welcome a return to what was considered vulgar in those days. It seems so calm and innocent compared to today. Just think how different society would be in a positive way if what Elvis did was still considered unacceptable. But, he has been left behind where all this is concerned. I have often said that, if we could, we ought to resurrect Elvis and apologize to him! He just isn't explicit enough for today. Americans who used to govern such situations are now letting the situations govern them. As, I have often said, "you don't have to teach a person how to be bad. What one has to do is to teach humans how to be good." Being bad is bound up in our nature and in today's world human nature is so polluted that it is willing to accept anything it seems.
Much more could be said about the situation but suffice it to say that we need to return to the day when "Don't Wiggle Those Hips, Boy" was the standard of the day.
William F. Harrell