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Written by Rodrigo Bascunan and Christian Pearce, the book Enter the Babylon System: Unpacking Gun Culture from Samuel Colt to 50cent is a fiction book that attempts to give an insider view on the situation of gun culture in the American society. The violent gun culture in society has become one of the biggest talking points for leaders at different levels who are either supporting or opposing it.
The book therefore explains why the gun culture has become a runaway problem by trying to link it to the popular hip-hop culture, which is believed to be a catalyst to the present-day gun violence culture in society.
Therefore, the writers of this book give the perspectives of the issue from an insider point of view and hence their choice of the title Enter the Babylon System: Unpacking Gun Culture from Samuel Colt to 50cent.
With this hint in mind, the paper therefore reviews the book in details based on the link between the authors’ career and content in an attempt to unveil their sole message that the issue of associating gun shootings with hip-hop is not always true.
The Content of the Book and the Authors’ Career
Rodrigo Bascunan and Christian Pearce who are the co-authors of the book under review are accomplished journalists and owners of Pound (the hip-hop music and culture magazine). Pound is rated the top most hip-hop culture and music magazine in Canada.
Bascunan and Pearce (2007) therefore have an in-depth and authoritative opinion about the hip-hop world specifically how it operates and its relation with the gun violence culture. They therefore come out to paint an unknown picture about the hip-hop culture and its link with guns by dispelling beliefs that hip-hop escalates gun violence in society.
The authors write this book from a Canadian perspective, which has embraced hip-hop music and culture like the American society. The book is written as a defence for the hip-hop society, which has come under a lot of attack from old members of the society as well as those who do not appreciate the hip-hop culture.
Therefore, the authors are people who mix with hip-hop artistes daily thus having the experience of real situations as they happen on the ground. The writers have done the writing of this book in an honest way in that there are no denials to accusations about hip-hop culture and gun violence. They have put facts on the table for readers to judge for themselves.
Review Based on Content only
The book has been written in defence of the hip-hop culture due to the accusations pointed at it as being the cause of gun violence in society. It has based its story on facts about the gun culture by providing a history of the culture in the American society from the days of Samuel Colt who invented the colt pistol to artiste 50cent who glorified gun and violence in his music in the present society.
The history in this case provides a comparative plane to judge the facts about gun culture and gun violence. From the authors’ perspective, it has shown that the problem with guns is a historical dilemma dating back to the 19th century.
This information is compared to the history of hip-hop, which is too recent to conclude that the hip-hop culture is the cause of gun violence. The book therefore aims to exonerate hip-hop as the cause of the runaway gun madness.
Recent times have been characterised by an escalation of mass shootings in school as well as in neighbourhoods thus leading to answers for the question of why the gun culture is getting out of hand.
This situation has seen many people in society point a finger to the hip-hop culture as the cause without giving statistical figures to boost their accusations. In fact, as an industry and culture, hip-hop has embraced gun culture in a big way. Because of its visibility, it has come out as the main culprit in the eyes of society.
As Bascunan and Pearce (2007) found, researchers could not give any figures that could conclusively pin down the culture as the main problem. Hip-hop is about expression, bragging, and glorification.
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One way of bragging and self-glorification is to be tough. The book strategically brings out guns as the best weapons for self-defence and elimination of perceived enemies. Just as the rest of the gangsters accomplish their missions, hip-hop has been sucked into the ideas of killing for one to be perceived as being tough thus bringing guns into hand.
The writers therefore admit that hip-hop has had its role in this problem. However, their point of departure is that hip-hop is just part of the problem and not the main cause of the problem.
The chapters in the book are short and easy to read because they have been presented in a very simple language. They give a blow-to-blow narration that captivates the reader of the book to reading it to the end. Bascunan and Pearce wrote the book on a basis of credible research that brought together data derived from different fields.
The composition of the book includes stories of hip-hop artistes as reported in the media, the history of the gun, lyrics from hip-hop songs, interviews by hip-hop artistes, and society in general (Bascunan and Pearce 2007). The writers give the story a new bend by delving into the world of guns broadly.
The book explores the manufacture and distribution of guns in society. In the end, it points out that a few who are known to governments and ones who escape without blame from society do the distribution of guns. The book therefore points to a direction where people do not look at.
There are so many guns in society so far that seem to appear from nowhere. The society is bended on blaming proliferation of guns on the hip-hop culture though it does not look further to find out the true sources of guns. The two writers have endeavoured to gather credible information on matters to do with where guns are manufactured, the reason behind the manufacture, and their distribution process.
Besides, they have also sought information on people who engage in this risky venture of gun production in an attempt to disapprove the claim that hip-hop fanatics have a connection with gun ownership and misuse.
The book paints the gun problem in society as an infectious problem that does not just affect the Canadian society but also the whole world. It goes ahead to show how guns are being used in society today by the military, police, and rebels in conflict areas as well as unlicensed criminals ruling the streets.
The authors have made it simple for readers to understand guns by defining the difference in different guns. According to Bascunan and Pearce (2007), the Canadian society lays the blame on America for the proliferation of firearms into the Canadian society besides going ahead to show how the problem is home-grown as much as it has been influenced by the American hip-hop culture.
The book names some of Canada’s own home-grown gun makers who are responsible for supplying guns to society. Though licensed gun owners acquire most guns legally, somehow, guns enter wrong hands in one way or the other.
The authors name the National Rifle Association as one group that does not live to its intentions. They describe the group as people with borderline psychotic intentions due to their ultra campaigns to legalise guns into civilian hands regardless of the misuse of guns.
Bascunan and Pearce have been very meticulous in defining most sources that inspire violence. They direct readers to video games as sources of inspiration that have created some of the worst mass shootings in society. Most video games that are on the market nowadays are based on war games involving virtual guns. A DVD or VCD player offers a variety of choices to make on the type of weapon to display.
In most cases, the weapons used on the game are actually the same make of real weapons found in the market. Therefore, regardless of age, video games tend to expose society indiscriminately to information on a variety of weapons that can be found in the market. The authors tend to point this exposure as the source of most mass shootings in schools. White students who have no links to hip-hop mostly do it.
Whereas shootings happen in neighbourhoods where they are said to be connected to hip-hop, there are more criminal elements to it than the cause being the hip-hop. The writers merge their views by providing real life stories of young men who were shot in the streets. Although the men were hip-hop artistes or fans, their murders were more to do with drugs and gang rivalry than to do with hip-hop.
The authors concede that hip-hop culture has so much embraced the gun culture and violence that it is not easy to separate the two. The difference is only to be found in findings that indicate that only few hip-hop fans worldwide are involved with gun violence.
The writers have therefore gained ground in their pursuit of exonerating hip-hop from all the blame in gun violence. This goal has been achieved by the authors’ effort to interview a whole host of stakeholders who may have a role to play in the whole issue in one way or the other.
Rodrigo Bascunan and Christian Pearce have come out in their best way possible to defend the industry that earns them their daily bread. They have achieved their purpose in pointing to society the direction it should look at when trying to solve the gun problem issue.
By being brutally honest and admitting that hip-hop has played its role in escalating gun violence culture, the authors have been able to capture readers’ trust through this strategy. The authors have done a comprehensive research on the gun problem around the world in a bid to present it as a universal problem that cannot be blamed on the hip-hop culture alone. Otherwise, the book is an informative piece of work.
Bascunan, R & Pearce, C 2007, Enter the Babylon System: Unpacking Gun Culture from Samuel Colt to 50 Cent, Vintage Canada, Toronto.