Weird news from the publishing world today: crazy-rich has-been rapper 50 Cent is writing a semi-autobiographical young adult novel, titled Playground, about a bully who learns the error of his ways. The cautionary tale is due out in January. That barometric fluctuation you just felt? That was everyone who had a TV in the early ’00s saying "Uh… huh…" simultaneously.
At his peak, 50 Cent was king of finding words that rhyme with ‘-aggot,’ along with his label head Eminem; in recent years, he’s been off the radar as a musician, instead getting rich off of savvy-cum-sleazy financial deals. However, he’s still found an outlet to keep us updated on the stupid homophobic shit that pops into his head: Twitter. It doesn’t look like he’s changed much since the days when gay slurs were his primary source of income. Which begs the question: what has 50 Cent actually learned that he’ll be sharing with our kids?
This brings us to the criticism with the anti-bullying movement in general. It’s easy to take a stand against bullying, because it’s easy to take a stand against bad guys. It’s much harder to take responsibility for the cultural causes of bullying — and while there are many, the major ones are homophobia and transphobia, at the hands of parents and classmates, but originating with spiritual leaders, policies, and popular culture.
In a country that considers itself post-bigotry, suicide rates among queer teens continue to be shameful. And to divorce the anti-bullying movement from an anti-homophobic and anti-transphobic framework is to let ourselves off the hook far too prematurely.
Will 50 Cent’s Playground address this head-on, and his past (and present) along with it? Do young adults know who 50 Cent is in the first place? Hey, maybe. But something tells me you’d be better off reading your kids Go The F-ck to Sleep. At least that book has a message we can all get behind.