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Prince: Pardon Him for Living (1993)
Tory Simon
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I just can't believe all the things people say. Am I Black or White? Am I straight or gay?

That's how Prince begins the song "Controversy" from the tape of the same name.

It is true that Prince is like no one else! He follows his own rules. Because of that, he is always under attack.

For me to walk around saying, "I like Prince" is something of a risk. I rarely hear anyone else say that they like him.

The things that people do say are outrageous! They range from, "I don't like the way his butt cheeks are hanging out of his pants" to "He's selfish. He only does things for himself." I've also heard people say things like "Prince looks and dresses like a woman," "He's no Michael Jackson," "He's nasty, always singing about sex," and the worst one of all: "He's a devil in disguise."

I believe the song "Controversy" shows that Prince is a bit tired of people picking on his music, look, and dance! If I can say so, I'm a bit tired too. I disagree with 99% of the things people say about him. (They're right about one thing-Prince did wear a yellow outfit with the butt cut out to the MTV Music Awards one year.)

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Prince may have done things to get attention but I don't think he deserves the treatment that he's gotten. Most of the negative things people say about Prince are totally false.

For example, the comment that he only does things for himself. He's helped a lot of people! One thing that he doesn't get enough credit for is helping other performers like The Revolution, The Family, (my favorite) Sheila E., Apollonia 6, and Vanity. He really helped them with their careers.

Besides helping these people get started, Prince also has donated money to organizations and put on free shows. Like after his concert here in March, he put on a show at the Apollo for troubled children. Those things just don't get put on magazine covers. Prince doesn't want you to like him for the things he does for people, he wants you to like his music.

And his music is great. His songs all make me move my body. He doesn't worry about the things people say about him. He expresses himself freely. Because of that, some people think his music and outrageous personal style are a bad influence on young people. But just because he sings about sex doesn't make me want to run out and have sex with some stranger.

I relate to Prince because his songs are full of the trials and tribulations, heartaches and pain he has gone through during his life. He expresses the feelings I keep inside, things I don't have the guts to tell other people, even my parents. His music lets me know I'm not alone in things I go through in life. I also love the way he talks sweet in the songs and the way he plays the guitar.

The Man Behind Batman

I first discovered Prince about five years ago when I was visiting my great-grandmother in Sumter, South Carolina. I was at a friend's house and he was playing the soundtrack for Batman. The song "Scandalous" began to play and I started to sing and dance. I knew the songs because I loved the movie and had watched it many times. But I hadn't paid any attention to the person who sang the songs before.

When I read the inside of the cassette I found a picture of Prince in a black shirt with sheer sleeves. His eyes looked more innocent than evil. His eyes, nose, hair and even the complexion of his face looked good to me. I was in love with this unknown person.

After that I began to listen to his music more closely. My friend played me another of Prince's tapes-the soundtrack of Under the Cherry Moon. I was 12 at the time and my mother wouldn't let me watch that movie. She thought it was going to be about sex and women and that Prince was a nasty man-not a good role model for her child.

Singing, Dancing, Air Guitar

My mother was shocked by the new phase I entered. My behavior didn't change, but from then on in my room all you would hear was Prince's voice hitting the ceiling. I played all his tapes turned to the max. I even had my two-year-old twin sister and brother singing "Cream" and "Sexy M.F." They loved the part in "Cream" when Prince sings "look up in the air, it's your guitar" and then he plays the guitar. My sister and brother would look up in the air, then Eric would pretend he was playing the guitar, while my sister and I danced.

I finally got to see Under the Cherry Moon when I was 16. Prince plays Christopher Tracy, a guy who falls head over heels in love with a French woman whose father has already arranged for her to be married to another man. I thought it was a sad but romantic movie. But what was really great was the music.

Later, Janet!

When I moved back to Brooklyn at the end of the summer I spent in South Carolina, I was singing "Kiss." People looked at me like I was some type of weirdo. Everyone remembered how I loved Janet Jackson, how she was my idol. This big change in my taste was a shock. (Don't get me wrong-I still enjoy Janet's music.) All my friends were into rap and no one really enjoyed Prince songs. I was the different one.

I stopped listening to Prince for a while because of that. Then, in 1992, Graffiti Bridge came out. When I got the video, I rewound the tape and watched it five or six times. And, of course, I loved the soundtrack. Before the year was out Prince released another tape. A lot of people thought it was too soon, but not me. I thought it was a great idea. I was a devoted fan again and didn't care what anyone said.

Last June, I heard through others that Prince changed his name. He was no longer Prince. He was going to identify himself with a symbol that included the signs for male and female. A lot of people thought this was strange and started criticizing him again. But I wasn't shocked. He should have a unique name because he is in a class by himself.

He's No Freak

It bothers me when people have to go around putting Prince down. Just because he dresses in a way nobody else would, that doesn't mean he's weird! Just because he sings mostly about sex doesn't mean he is a freak! Just because he is interested in expressing his feelings about "male and female" doesn't mean he's gay.

I'm one fan who will not criticize Prince. I don't care what anyone else says about him. I'll let the great one do his work. Like his song "New Power Generation" says:

Pardon him for living, but this is his world too. I can't help what's cool to us might be strange to you.

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(NYC-1993-12-05)

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