The Ethics of Singing Along: The Case of “Mind of a Lunatic”

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 71 (1):121-129 (2013)
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In contrast to film, theater, and literature, audiences typically sing along with popular songs. This can encourage a first-person mode of engagement with the narrative content. Unlike mere spectators, listeners sometimes imagine acting out the content when it is recited in the first-person. This is a common mode of engaging with popular music. And it can be uniquely morally problematic. It is problematic when it involves the enjoyment of imaginatively doing evil. I defend a Moorean view on the issue: It is wrong to enjoy evil whether real or merely fiction. I develop my position through an examination of the controversially song "Mind of a Lunatic" (1990) by the Houston based rap group Geto Boys.

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Aaron Smuts
Rhode Island College


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