Auto-tune the News and my conscience

Recently, I’ve been feeling a little guilty about my YouTube subscription to The Gregory Brothers’ Auto-Tune the News. You know them. They’re behind this song, featuring Antoine Dodson, whose sister was nearly raped by an intruder in the family’s home:

I will get to my feelings about Auto-tuning Dodson in a minute, but let me first quickly explain the Auto-tune folks, in case you don’t know what I’m talking about. Auto-tune is an application that was originally developed to even out the voices of singers who might have not have been dead on during a studio session. It’s what makes Cher’s voice do that weird thing in the chorus of “Believe.” Unfortunately, Cher’s little stunt was the forerunner  of artists who can’t produce an album without abusing Auto-tune. (Ke$ha and Usher, I’m looking at you.) The Gregory Brothers use Auto-tune to make music out of the day’s news, footage from C-SPAN, other YouTube viral videos and local newscasts. Check out this vid, which is awesome, not only because Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) sings the catchiest refusal to resign ever, but also because Weezer is involved.

Wasn’t that great? Almost makes you want to root for Rangel.

I don’t mind having a chuckle at the expense of the news anchors or politicians. Public figures are just that – public. And Auto-tuning their speeches, filibusters and sound bytes is a pretty harmless kind of amusement. I also have no problem laughing and singing along to the people who’ve put themselves on the Internet, like Double Rainbow Guy, or the two Brooklyn guys who spotted a tornado outside their apartment. They put themselves on YouTube. What’s a little Auto-tuning?

But this lady?

This video takes me back to the dark, awful, horrible days of middle school, of laughing at the class punching bag after her lunch money was taken by the local bully. When I watch this video, I feel like we’re all sharing a chuckle at this woman’s expense.

And Dodson? I get a twinge of guilt every time I find myself humming the Bed Intruder song. This is a family whose home was invaded, and who nearly had a member raped. Antoine Dodson was in a rage about his sister’s attack when he was interviewed, as he had every right to be. That’s not funny, and I don’t want to be singing it.

I know the proceeds from the song are being split between the Dodson family and the Auto-tuners, but that doesn’t make it okay for me. The Dodsons and the Backin’ Up lady were victims. And victims, if they are willing to share their stories, should be interviewed by the press. But should they be Auto-tuned? No. No they should not.  That’s too much like adding insult to injury.

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