Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hip hop Contraversies

Dr. Tricia Rose is a well respected professor of Africana Studes at Brown University, previously Dr. Rose has taught at NYU and the University of California. Rose attended Yale University where she received a Bachelors in Sociology, she then proceeded to attend Brown University to receive her Ph.D in the field of American Studies. Dr. Rose has published four books along with various articles discussing hip hop culture. Dr. Rose is most famous for her ground-breaking book Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Her discussion of hip hop culture in this book is so rich that it is considered a foundation text for the study of hip hop and is said to have defined what has now become a serious field of study.

In the YouTube video, Rose begins her talk by talking about popular culture, one of the subjects we've discussed in depth all semester. She says talking about a race/gender in a multi racial/gender/orientation setting is so difficult because what we all have we share is popular culture, we don't actually share lived experiences "We think we know each other through it"her quote really made me think about how this same rule applies to how we view teenagers, popular culture completely dictates our views on teenagers. This idea made me think back to the dominant discourses Raby discusses, those discourses construscted based on what we think we know about teens through what popular culture teaches us.
Dr. Rose argues that although she's "romanticizing" the evolution of hip hop by discussing the creativity that goes into the making of this musical genre, "this is a profoundly destructive period of time for black America" due to the crisis of segregation and racial discrimination. This dynamic genre of music expresses an awful lot of pain and anger which is something I think is often forgotten when we talk about hip hop now. In my senior year of high school I took an Urban Sociology course in which we discussed many "old school" hip hop artists and songs. While listening to this talk, I dug up my old high school binder in which I found some of my old work. One of my reflection papers was on a fairly recent song called "Speak Your Mind"(2001) by Immortal Technique. This song lyrically addresses many of the realities true for black youth such as being judged based on skin complexion, religious beliefs government (where they come from) etc. Another fairly recent song by rapper Papoose is "50 Shots" which talks about the controversial Sean Bell case. Both these songs, I think, illustrate the crisis of segregation and racial discrimination that Rose discusses in much more recent times than the 60's when hip hop was born.
In the Time Magazine interview with Dr. Rose she is asked why Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, etc don't sell as well as Jay-z or 50 cent she responds with the argument a certain kind of violent behavior defines black culture and there is a pleasure in consuming these ideas. Sexist images, sexuality, sexual domination and racial stereotypes all sell which makes for a consolidated market. As the interview goes on, Rose mentions that Jay-Z has admitted to dumming down his music to sell records and now rather than beong fun and play, hip hop has become an "economic industry where people get involved for the money than for the cretivity". Thinking about how hip hop has evolved, I began to think about our class a few weeks ago on Princess culture. Similarly to hip hop, princess culture also changed from fun and creativity to a multi billion dollar industry as it is discusses in Cinderella Ate My Daughter. We've come to a point where industries/companies only care about making money, not about what they are selling and how it can be damaging to not only our youth but to all memebers of society.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Queeer Representation

One of the key issues I found is discussed in all four articles is the misrepresentation of queers in the media. First off, I want to say I feel very uncomfortable using the word "queer" because of the negative connotation that is associated with the word. I've always thought the word queer was an offensive and derogatory term used to speak about, or rather ridicule, the Homosexual community, so I did some research and realized the LGBT community is slowly reclaiming a term that was turned so ugly, nasty and mean. I must admit, although I have friends and family one family member whom identifies with being homosexual, I've never had the interest in reading about how they are represented in the media and how damaging these representations can be. The media portrays any group of people (IE: minorities, teen moms, teens) etc in the worst imaginable way possible, and homosexuals are not an exception to this. What I mean by this is that the media exaggerates certain "traits" that identify that specific group. In the case of homosexuals, media has portrayed them as being promiscuous, rebellious, sick, careless, unfit etc. An example of this is seen in this commercial. The couple in the clip are discussing how "gays" are ruining this world, which is something we hear often when discussing gay marriage rights. The woman then goes on to say "I don't want to get a divorce and become a lesbian and marry a woman", as if homosexuality was contagious. I related this to a class discussion we had with Dr. Millers class in which we watched movie clips on how teenagers are portrayed. We saw teenagers as literally being the worst people on earth! In one of the readings ( I can't remember which one) I remember reading about how teenagers were always up to no good and these dominant ideologies that were instilled in people reguaring teens. Well that same is true for homosexuals. People have created these dominant ideologies that homosexuals are these awful people and they are re represented in the media. The article I enjoyed reading the most was Queer Representation in the Media because it shines some light in the improvements that we've seen over time in media portrayal of homosexuals however it also clearly demonstrates how much work is still needed.

"If the representations in question utilize humor, are queer people in on the joke or are they the joke?" This question is one I've asked myself several times in the past year or so with the increase in gay characters in TV sitcoms, movies etc and this is why...

In this video, (Embedding was disabled by used, sorry!) we view various clips of fairly recent TV sitcoms like Modern Family, Will and Grace, Mean Girls etc where we see gay men as being portrayed as overly feminine. I've met gay men and women and I know not all gay men are overly feminine. So my question is always are they ridiculing gays? In one of the articles assigned for this week, we says lesbians are portrayed as being butch and masculine but not every lesbian is acts like that. After all these isn't a rubric or certain standards to meet in order to identify as lesbian or gay! In my opinion having these stereotypical portrayals of homosexuals is actually taking a step back from the improvements we've seen in media portrayal. At the end of the day, we are just internalizing these damaging stereotypes. 

One of the reading discusses how the queer community is being targeted by marketing which is something we discussed early on in the semester when we read Palladino "Where Did Teenagers Come from". In this article Palladino talks about how marketers were targeting teens because of how lucrative that group of people was, the same is true with the queer community. In the reading this is described as being a double edge sword which I completely agree with. As in with teenagers, lower/ middle class queers might feel marginalized by not being financially able to purchase what is being marketed towards them. 
The above add by JCP, caused controversy when it was published but why should it? I see nothing wrong with the add, do you? 

As a side note I just want to say that by re representing these negative stereotypes and thus internalizing them we are pushing teens to be afraid of "coming out" and possibly pushing them into depression, self hate/mutilation and even suicide. Although it homosexuality is becoming more common, we still must realize how much of a judgemental society we are as a whole and how damaging that can be to not only our youth, but to all humans.