Macklemore song draws criticism as well as praise

Seattle-based rapper Ben “Macklemore” Haggerty is huge in the pop-culture spotlight right now.

He and his producer Ryan Lewis’ hit singles “Can’t Hold Us” and “Thrift Shop” have given him a big name in popular music, but it’s the third song off his debut album, “The Heist,” that has been the source of a lot of attention and criticism from the media.

“Same Love,” which features vocals from singer Mary Lambert, has a strong pro-gay rights message.

The song has received positive acclaim from many, including Ellen DeGeneres, who said this before Macklemore performed the song during her TV show: “Here’s why you have to care about our next guest. No other artists in hip-hop history have ever taken a stand defending marriage equality the way they have.”

The song’s music video was voted “Best Video with a Social Message” at MTV’s Video Music Awards. Gay rights are an extremely relevant and important political topic right now, and as a young generation we are responsible for making sure the right people are given credit for the positive change that is occurring.

Macklemore’s intentions are good, but he should not be crowned as one of the great humanitarians of our generation because of one song with a positive message.

The media plays a huge role in the daily lives of young people, more so than in any past generation. Because of this, our heroes are often music artists, actors, or professional sports players.

But in the future when this generation is credited for a great political and social movement like this one, we as young members of this generation should realize it’s not a singer or actor who is really making things change in the political world.

For all we know, Macklemore could simply be a businessman capitalizing on a hot topic like gay rights via music. This is obviously speculation (and negative speculation at that), but Macklemore made a lot of money for that song, none of which went to any sort of human or gay rights organizations.

Macklemore also received criticism for not allowing Mary Lambert to speak at the VMAs, the point of view being that she had more of a right to speak about the award because she is gay while Macklemore is not.

The point being is that if you ask the average young person to name a gay rights activist, I would bet a majority would name Macklemore, Lady Gaga, or Adam Lambert.

Very few, if any, would name people like Stephen Donaldson, the founder of the first American gay students’ organization, and the first person to fight a discharge from the military for homosexuality, Barbara Gittings, who pushed for the American Psychological Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in The Diagnostic and Statistics Manual, or Richard Isay, a psychiatrist responsible for ending discrimination against gay people by the American Psychoanalytic Association.

These are just a few influential people among many who could be listed, but the point is there is a long list before people like Macklemore should come to mind when considering the great humanitarians within the gay rights movement.

From a more positive perspective, it is nice to see a rapper getting credit for a song with a positive message. Too many hip-hop artists seem too caught up in their own personal lives to acknowledge that anything or anyone besides them or their interests are important.

Too many artists with nothing good to offer young people are respected and loved among young people of this generation.

Macklemore isn’t the savior or hero many are and will make him out to be, but as long as we take the message he sends in stride and give credit to those who really deserve it, “Same Love” is a cool song and a nice change of pace from what we usually see atop the popular music charts.

Dan Almasi can be reached by email at [email protected].