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Teachers: Citizenship: Media and society

Last Updated: Thursday January 05 2006 15:28 GMT

Guns and music

Citizenship PSHE 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Media and society


ASA handout of poster showing the rapper 50 Cent holding a gun and a baby
A poster showing 50 Cent with a baby and a gun has been criticised.

The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the rapper might be seen to be condoning the possession and use of guns.

Do students think the music industry is promoting violence?

Learning aims

By the end of the lesson, students should understand:

  • The role of the Advertising Standards Agency
  • The image of crime portrayed by some rap artists
  • The reality of crime
  • Media influences society
  • Society influences the media

50 Cent's poster gets a rapping
50 cent

News-based comprehension

Read out this story to the class.

The story and the following questions are available as a printable worksheet.

Ask students:

1. What is on the poster? Rap star 50 Cent with a baby and a gun.

2. How many people have complained about it? 17.

3. What reasons do these people give for wanting to ban the poster? They found it irresponsible or offensive. Some were particularly angry that it appeared in an area where gun crime amongst children had been a problem.

4. What do the advertisers say to defend the poster? That it was supposed to show 50's fight to escape the ghetto.

5. What arguments do artists use to defend the use of lyrics and images about crime? Crime is part of their own lives which they reflect in their work.

6. What is the job of the Advertising Standards Agency? To make sure the public are not misled or offended by advertisements.

What did they say about the poster? That it broke lots of rules about violence and anti-social behaviour, especially with regard to children. They thought it was particularly wrong as many kids look up to the rapper.

Main activity

Cool scale

Working in pairs, students draw a sliding scale of 'coolness'. This is a horizontal line across the middle of a page of A4. It runs from sad case to totally cool.

Position the following celebrities along the line.

  • 50 Cent
  • Ja Rule
  • Asher D
  • Tu Pac Shakur
  • So Solid crew
  • Westlife
  • Peter Andre
  • Dizzee Rascal
  • Craig David
  • Atomic Kitten
  • Slipknot
  • Gareth Gates
  • Nelly
  • Jenifer Lopez

Pairs repeat the exercise but this time the line is a scale of criminality. It runs from most likely to commit crime to least likely to commit crime. Use the same celebs.

Extension activity

Real Gangsta rap

Students prepare a CD that gives a flavour of the reality of life for a petty criminal.

The CD design should include:

  • A track listing of imaginary song titles about the highs and lows of a life of crime.
  • Artwork for the front and back covers
  • Possible song lyrics explaining how real crime does not live up to the Gangsta rap lifestyle.

Analyse cool scale

Ask the group:

  • What do your results show you about the way the music industry portrays artists? Prompt: Are tougher edgier images are used to sell records?
  • Does having a tough 'street' image stop you being successful in music?
  • Why do you think some bands with a tough image find it hard to play gigs? Prompt: Venues may not want them for fear of crowd trouble.
  • What are the risks to young people when bands are marketed with a 'criminal' image? Prompt: They think it's real, they take crime too lightly
Conclude by elaborating that media influences society (Children might be drawn towards crime because music idols portray it as being cool).

Equally, society conditions the media and arts (Rappas sing about gun crime because it is a significant part of life for urban youth).

Students present their Real Gangsta rap CDs and explaining how real crime differs from the image portrayed in some rap songs.

Teachers' Background

Guns and the law
Person holding a gun

Our guide answers questions such as:

  • Could I own a gun?
  • Why do so many people in the USA have guns?
  • Is it any different in the UK?
  • Are airguns any different?
  • Why have gun laws changed recently?
  • What do pro-gun people think?
  • What do anti-gun people think?

The comments, in response to the question Do rappers glamorise violence?, have been sent in by children logging onto the Newsround website.

Curriculum relevance

National Curriculum Programme of Study for Citizenship at Key Stage 3

1a. the legal and human rights and responsibilities underpinning society, basic aspects of the criminal justice system, and how both relate to young people.
1h. The significance of the media in society.
2a. Think about topical political, spiritual, moral, social and cultural issues, problems and events by analysing information and its sources.
2b. Justify orally and in writing a personal opinion about such issues, problems or events .

For hundreds more news-based lessons, click on Teachers on the left hand side.

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