Why is Akon on the latest Spring Fling survey? Yes he’s famous; maybe he’s talented. But the man is probably most famous for simulating sex onstage with a 15-year-old. He echoes his actions in his lyrics, describing women as montages of body parts serving as men’s toys.
I won’t try to convince anyone that objectifying women is bad for women, men and the rest of us. Others are making that argument better than I can, waiting to be read by any who are willing to wonder.
I will argue this: No entertainment we can experience at the sight of Akon will be worth the pain we suffer at supporting him.
Yale spent $70,000 in 2007 for Spring Fling’s headline act T.I. And now Yale is considering Akon for this year’s headline.
What’s the problem? One might argue that it’s OK for Yale to book Akon because Penn already has, for their own Spring Fling on April 17. They’ve looked past his moral controversy. Why can’t we?
Citing Penn is the problem in itself. Penn has hired Akon, giving him money and a spotlight, because he’s famous. That school is actively endorsing Akon and the message he has promoted to build his fame, essentially saying, “Sure, he promotes ideas and actions which increase suffering, but it’s OK because he’s popular.” Penn is promoting Akon’s legitimacy, becoming a reason for other people to say Akon’s OK.
Please, let’s not do the same. Let’s not let Yale invest its powerful name, biggest annual event and tens of thousands of dollars to endorse Akon and his message.
We boycott shoemakers for abusing children in sweatshops so we can enjoy our shoes and not feel guilty about the impact of our purchases. Likewise, let’s boycott Akon’s message, have a good time at Spring Fling and free ourselves from assuming guilt over supporting a prolific pedophilic misogynist. Let’s tell the Spring Fling organizers to pick a well-known, talented, exciting musician whose success and fame aren’t built on words and actions that hurt people.
The writer is a sophomore in Timothy Dwight College.