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Lip Dub causes controversy on campus

Cathrine Lilja, Editor-in-Chief

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     For the first time in four years, Amador Leadership hosted a Lip Dub event on campus last Friday.  However, before the event even occurred, pressing concerns about the music chosen for the Lip Dub created controversy on campus.

      A Lip Dub is a “music video that combines lip synching and audio dubbing to make a music video”. High Schools and universities started to produce lip dubs as school-spirit events back in the early 2000’s. Amador Valley High School did their first lip dub in 2014

    The leader of the Lip Dub project this year was AV Junior Payton Henry, who was helped by the ASB representative, Alyssa McFarlane. (Check out our coverage of the event here).

     “I sent Mr. Benbenek an email when we and I got the lyrics we were supposed to sing. I expressed concern that we should not be singing a song that uses those words and is degrading toward women” said one anonymous Social Studies teacher.

     The song in question is the hit Crank Dat by Soulja Boy. The song contains many references to crude, sexual actions the singer is making towards women, and the original song has several swear words.     

     The version used in the Lip Dub was clean of explicit language, though it still contained several words and phrases that were considered offensive and degrading towards women by some teachers and students.

    “I’ve known the Soulja Boy song since it came out, and I knew that the implications of it were very sexual and there is a lot of bad language, and I felt as if it didn’t properly represent our Blue Ribbon School… I went up and talked to Admin, and it was basically too late to do anything about it. I was not happy with the song choice, I think there are so many other songs, and the point of the Lip Dub was to bring the school together” said an AV Science teacher, who expressed concerns beforehand.

Students head out to the field for the final shot of the Lip Dub, screaming and shouting even though the sound will eventually be replaced by music.

     The songs chosen in 2014 were “Brave”, by Sara Bareilles and “Best Day of My Life”, by American Authors. They were chosen because leadership students at the time considered them to be popular songs which also had positive messages. They were also easy to sing along to.

     The rap music by Soulja Boy chosen for this year was considered popular with some students, though others had concerns that contained certain themes that were not an appropriate representation of the school culture.

     “The songs that we used didn’t have any swear words blatantly said, we got the music approved by admin, there were no concerns with the songs because they are played at school dances and other events. I had never heard another meaning to the song, it says ‘oh’ by the way, just oh” said Alyssa McFarlane (‘18).

     However, there must have been some misunderstanding with the lyrics. The primary concern with the lyrics was the term Soulja Boy uses to refer to woman: “ho”. Many students we asked confirmed they thought the lyric was “oh”, but a simple google search showed that Lyric Genius, AZLyrics, and MetroLyrics all confirmed that the song is actually saying the word “ho”. This was degrading way to refer to a woman was one of the main concerns with the song.

     “I think that people did not actually do their due diligence in looking in the lyrics, I feel that maybe people just skimmed right over that. When I complained, I was assured that that song would NOT be the one we were singing to, but then it ended being the song, so I don’t think my concern was handled at all,” said the AV Social Studies teacher we spoke to.

     In the first take of the Lip Dub, the part of the song that some teachers had been promised they wouldn’t be singing ended up being the one playing anyways, shocking those teachers involved.

     “I wasn’t happy with the music at the Lip Dub, honestly I think that since this is a school event we should uphold everyone’s values and we should just make it safe. Yeah, that may be annoying, and maybe it is less fun, but you’re dealing with people of all religions, ethnicities, of all these backgrounds, you have got to make it work. That is what school is, it is a safe environment” said Cori Jackson (‘18).

     The lyrics and their connotation made many people uncomfortable. Although some were willing to accept the song, as long as they weren’t the one singing it, this was a dangerous guarantee to make when the timing of the filming was so up in the air.

     “When we chose the songs we really did not expect any controversy. We thought it was an innocent classic throwback song that we all heard growing up” said Payton Henry (‘19), the project’s leader.

Students head back to their positions for the second round of filming. Some of the mistakes in the first round were rectified in the second.

     When students returned to school on Monday, the controversy continued and the decision was made to deal with the issue.

     “This is something that has clearly upset people, and that was never our intent, so we want to make sure that everyone feels comfortable with the final product, so we are looking at replacing the song” said John Benbenek, English teacher and AV Leadership advisor.

     The team confirmed on Tuesday that they will be placing another song over Crank Dat, in order to make people feel comfortable before the Lip Dub is released to the public. The AV Leadership advisor also sent a heartfelt apology to the staff. 

     The overall feeling from the people we spoke to on Wednesday was that this project has been a learning experience for everyone involved.  Students and teachers are interested to see the final project, especially now that the majority of concerns have been addressed.

    Although the students all had good intentions when they started this school-spirit project and worked incredibly hard to get the project done, the overall feeling of the people we interviewed was that that hard work can never supersede good judgment. Luckily, it looks like the final project will be a strong representation of the AVHS 2018-2019 population.

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Lip Dub causes controversy on campus