Reebok drops deal with Rick Ross

By Emily Merlino

MCT

Reebok has dropped its deal with rapper Rick Ross in light of a controversy surrounding his song ‘U.O.E.N.O.,’ in which Ross raps about drugging and date raping a woman.

It is well known that the rap industry does not always produce kind lyrics toward women, but where most misogynistic lyrics garner mere eye rolls, Ross’ lyrics have resulted in him being dropped from his endorsement deal with a major company. By dropping Ross, Reebok is sending an incredibly important message that lyrics can go too far.

“U.O.E.N.O’s” lyrics, which read “Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it, I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it,” inarguably depict Ross drugging and date raping a woman. While Ross may have stoked the fire in a repulsive manner, he inadvertently raised awareness of America’s attitude toward the female population.

The fiery, negative feedback Ross has received is heartening, especially in the modern world of American pop culture, where party-till-you-puke anthems from Ke$ha and Chris Brown post-arrest albums continue to sell millions of records.

Bad celebrity behavior has been continuously pushed to ever-reaching limits of our morals. Many people have stood up and agreed that Ross’ disgusting lyrics are decidedly unacceptable; the action is a vital step in raising awareness of the much larger issue of rape and America’s attitude towards it.

Anti-sexism group UltraViolet began a petition urging Reebok to drop Ross as a spokesperson after “U.O.E.N.O.” was released earlier this year. The petition garnered over 70,000 signatures, and although UltraViolet was unable to directly give the petition to leaders at Reebok, it appears that the outcry had an effect.

Ross’ troubles differ from those of Tiger Woods, who was also dropped from multiple endorsement deals following revelations that he had multiple extramarital affairs, or Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

For years, Woods and Armstrong promoted squeaky-clean images of heroic athleticism. Armstrong, who previously suffered from testicular cancer, founded Livestrong, a foundation built to “inspire and empower people affected by cancer,” according to its website. Woods promoted a wholesome, family-man image that helped propel him from golfing hero to American hero.

Ross, a former Miami corrections officer,has never pretended to be a wholesome role model. He raps about cigars, cocaine, guns, yachts and being the “Biggest Boss.” So why are we up in arms about the horrific lyrics?

Ross is a popular public figure, particularly among young men, who praise him as being the “Biggest Boss” and the “Teflon Don.” As such, he is inherently given a public platform and is expected, to a certain degree, to utilize this platform responsibly.

Ross was not only irresponsible with his lyrics, but he promoted dangerous, misogynistic criminal activity that affects thousands of women across the world. Of course, Ross’ rap world is a fantasy, a Scarface-esque world that plants gold chain-wearing Ross atop a pile of money and beautiful women.

However, if Ross’ velvety lyrics depict fantasies, which they do, why is date raping a woman part of his dream, alongside lyrics about Maybach and Bugatti cars?

What message is this sending our nation’s young people when the rap fantasy is about acquiring women along with objects like cars, yachts and money?

Furthermore, the problem with fantasies is that their real-life counterparts always have much-deserved consequences. It’s bad enough that rape is rapped about as an apparent fantasy act, but it’s worse when one looks at the realities of rape and sexual assault in America.

Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet recently said that “when one out of five women are the victim of an attempted or completed rape, that has consequences.” UltraViolet’s petition regarding the song further states that “the dominant rape culture today has come from people ignoring and even glorifying statements like this because the song sounded good in the club.”

At best, Ross’ repellent lyrics garnered thousands of people to unite in raising awareness of rape culture and effectively punished Ross for his so-called “misunderstanding.”

At worst, Ross’ lyrics represent a disturbing rape fantasy blasted from the dorm room speakers of thousands of young men looking up to Ross as an idol.

It should be noted that Ross did finally apologize; saying, “to the young men who listen to my music, please know that using a substance to rob a woman of her right to make a choice is not only a crime, it’s wrong and I do not encourage it,” but only after Reebok dropped him.

One could say that the apology is too little, too late, but I disagree.

While Ross’ apology is appreciated, it is more important that Ross’ lyrics and the brouhaha surrounding them caused millions of people to pay attention to the larger problem of rape culture in America.

Emily Merlino is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]