Entries Tagged 'Controversy' ↓

Hip-Hop’s Caucasian Invasion.

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So-called “ghetto parties,” like the one depicted above, were only one of the topics Racialicious‘ Carmen Van Kerckhove, writer Jason Tanz (Other People’s Property), and I addressed when we met a few years ago to discuss “White People and Hip-Hop.” (Since you’re wondering, my favorite detail is the “TUPAC LIVES” tattoo on the bicep of the red-scarfed brunette, middle row.) Arguably, the types of interactions white people have with the culture are far more varied.

More, the question became, how should we see these contacts when people have them? What do they mean for the culture of hip-hop? How do they affect, or describe, the larger issue of race?

I didn’t necessarily expect it would be, but the piece, for me, turned out to be a major moment, and touchstone, in my work attempting to clarify these critical subjects. (It was podcasted on Addicted To Race, Racialicious‘ internet series, in 2007.)

Of course, I’ve also addressed these issues, here, on MEDIA ASSASSIN, and in other places; for example, my “Fight the White Rap History Rewrite” post on rapper Asher Roth, or “The Unbearable Whiteness of Emceeing: What The Eminence of Eminem Says About Race,” which I wrote for The Source.

However, after doing so once, before, a couple of years ago, I’ve decided to re-air this talk with Carmen Van Kerckhove and Jason Tanz. They’re guests, today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, March 12, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear their ideas, and my own, by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Wow: I Guess I Was Completely Wrong About Tiger’s Apology.

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Last week on MEDIA ASSASSIN, I did a brief analysis of Tiger Woods’ press conference apology. Though, admittedly, Woods’ recitation of his written statement was wooden and lacked warmth, I judged that, in his words, he took appropriate responsibility for what he’d done, and spoke to the need for personal change.

Well, boy was I wrong! As this piece of video from the event reveals, above, there was more to Tiger’s talk than meets the eye or ear. Wow. How did he fool us all again?

[via brokencool.com]

The “I”s Have It: What Tiger Woods Really Said At His Press Conference.

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You don’t have to go very far into reading the text of Tiger Woods’ apologetic press conference statement, made earlier today, to realize that either he, his handlers, or both, knew the word the disgraced athlete needed to say most, in order to win back public trust, was “I.”

However, it’s only with a textual analyisis of the statement, such as the one I put together, above, courtesy of IBM’s Many Eyes software, that it becomes clear how much Woods was relying on conveying a repentant, personal account.

He used the pronoun “I” 105 times in the short, 13 1/2-minute statement, or an average of about once ever eight seconds. Looking at his most common subjective couplet, “I have,” below—said 16 times—it appears that Woods was attempting to forge an empathetic bond with those listening to his statement by affirming the words they had probably said about him in his absence: You bitterly disappointed us…you brought this on yourself.

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Or check out Woods second-most frequently-used couplet, “I am,” below, where he talks about his present state.

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Finally, study Tiger’s mentions of his wife’s name, Elin, and the complimentary contexts within which Woods praised her.

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Verbally, at least, it seems like Woods knew what he had to say about what he did, how he feels about it, and how he feels about his wife. These were the most important statements for him to make, it can be argued. (He certainly seemed to think so: He only mentioned “golf” twice.)

Though you heard it, and read it in the statement, the Many Eyes software, with this straightforward formatting, creates a slightly better sense of how Woods’ words were organized, and to what end. Indeed, IBM calls Many Eyes “a bet on the power of human visual intelligence to find patterns.”

Funny: That’s what Woods has got to apply, now, towards his own transgressive behavior and missteps.

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Alexander McQueen, 1969-2010

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I got the news, oddly enough, from Janet Jackson.

screen7Odder still was that her words had been the very ones with which others had eulogized Michael, her brother, merely eight months earlier. I’m guessing that memory was heavy in her heart Thursday afternoon.

“Today we lost a True Genius, Alexander McQueen,” Janet, shown right at the opening of MCQueen’s L.A. store in 2008, posted on Twitter. “He possessed a unique creativity that will never b recaptured.”

captphoto_1265910648513-15-0Lee Alexander McQueen was allegedly found Thursday morning in his $1M apartment by workers, hanged by his own hand at the age of 40. Police carried his body from the home, right, before it was taken away by private ambulance, according to The Daily Mail.

Reportedly, McQueen had been despondent over the recent death of his mother, Joyce, and, reading from the bottom, up, had apparently posted these tweets a mere eight days before his death:

screen3Four days later, McQueen posted these messages, where he spoke of needing to “some how pull myself together,” in order to finish the NY Fashion Week show scheduled for Thursday afternoon:

last-tweetsFour days after that, McQueen was dead.

captphoto_1265910833618-13-0Widely credited with kicking British fashion into the 21st century a decade early—McQueen sold his company in 1991; 51% of it was folded into Gucci for £13.6 million in 2000—he remained the very Oxford definition of l’enfant terrible. He had a startling, savage talent and his couture, right, always teetered daringly on knife edges of chaos and assault. As he, himself, once said in an interview,

When you see a woman wearing McQueen, there’s a certain hardness to the clothes that makes her look powerful. It kind of fends people off. You have to have a lot of balls to talk to a woman wearing my clothes.

Yet, as an immensely skilled tailor in the tradition of Savile Row, where he’d once worked, he could also fashion stunningly classic, rich lines, as demonstrated in this crimson dress, worn by singer Mary J. Blige, below.

screen41Though not a household name, on the level of Calvin Klein or Ralph Lauren, McQueen’s talent was so big that his every show was an event. His death has devastated the fashion world, and close friends. Model Kate Moss—McQueen stands between her and model Naomi Campbell, atop this post—whom McQueen publicly supported during her drug problems, is said to be inconsolable.

Finally, so brightly did McQueen’s light burn in his life that, with his tragic death, lovers of his clothing are buying everything in sight, even as analysts report that, the brand “is likely to be abandoned by Gucci Group.” The king is dead. Long live the king.

@SolangeKnowles Keeps It Swift: Beyoncé’s Sister Says What, In the Wake Of Kanye, Some People Won’t.

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alg_show_swift3Can’t say Solange Knowles, Beyoncé’s fiery little sis, doesn’t roll hard. In a couple of tweets from Monday night, the day after the Grammy Awards, she questions what anybody with more than four fingers might ask: Why was Taylor Swift, seen here, right, with one of the quartet of awards she won, being deemed the nights “big winner,” when Beyoncé took home six trophies?

Continue reading →

“What You Hear, Kemo Sabe?”: Does Avatar Merely Revive Old Movie Stereotypes of the “White Savior”?

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James Cameron’s Avatar has been hailed for its medium-busting visual effects and astounding commercial success. Since its release on December 18th it has repeatedly topped the box-office in multiple countries, and is now the highest-grossing film in history, having taken in nearly $1.9 billion worldwide.

But, underneath the breathtaking graphics and lifelike performance capture, does the story of Neytiri and Jakesully, above, just retell the story of a white person finding himself by “going native”? Is it merely a fable about Europeans who would take over non-white people, save for the leadership of a Caucasian guy who leaves his reprehensible, bloodthirsty tribe, in order to cast his fate with the natives?

Avatar has famously been compared to Kevin Costner’s Oscar-winning, 1990 work, Dances With Wolves, which also raised similar charges regarding the consistency of the “white savior” myth. Disney’s Pocahontas has also been i.d.-d as Avatar‘s spiritual predecessor, though, perhaps no more pointedly than in these two YouTube clips, the first of which remixes video from Avatar to audio from Pocahontas‘s trailer, and the latter which does the reverse.

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Today, this afternoon, Friday, April 25, at 2 pm ET, on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, my guests are:

Rebecca Keegan, author of The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron;

Dr. Mikhail Lyubansky, a professor in the psychology department of Psychology at the University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign. He authored “The Racial Politics of Avatar: Part 1″ and “The Racial Politics of Avatar: Part 2″ for Psychology Today‘s web site;

Dr. Raymond A. Winbush, author of three books on race issues, and director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University. His post, “Avatar, Africans and Racism: Some Brief Reflections on James Cameron’s Tale about White Supremacy,” appears on his blog, Reparations for Enslavement and the Blackside of Things.

They’ll talk about Avatar, race, and these issues, with the goal of giving listeners some clarity on them.

chrismatthewsBut first: After the President’s state-of-the-union address this past Wednesday, Chris Matthews, right, of MSNBC’s Hardball fame, opined that Obama “is post-racial, by all appearances. I forgot he was black tonight for an hour.”

I’ll talk with Jesse Washington, race and ethnicity editor for The Associated Press, and author of the essay, “Do Blacks Truly Want to Transcend Race?” about what Matthews meant, and what it means for Obama and our national understanding of the subject.

You can hear these thoughtful individuals’ ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Foul-Mouthed Amazing Little Brat.

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Mere seconds into this excerpt from the “red band” trailer—one containing harder, R-rated content—for the upcoming, vigilante superhero fight-fest Kick-Ass, you become painfully aware that darling little Mindy Macready, above (played by Chloe Moretz), is not your ordinary, little, enjoying-some-ice-cream-with-her-dad (Nicholas Cage) type.

Then it gets worse.

Then it gets really better.

I won’t spoil it except to say, 1) the language is NSFW, and 2) if they can legally do this with pubescents, then I’m gettin’ my doggone Gunslinger Girl live-action adaptation. No bet.

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Dumping Out the Coco: O’Brien Late Night, Back To The Future Edition.

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The more things change, the more they stay exactly the same. At least that’s what Gawker commenter Ken Hunt said after excavating this eerily prophetic, 1998 Late Night with Conan O’Brien clip, below.

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The School of Hard Knocks.

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“A Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give. When the white man who is always the aggressor knows he runs as great risk of biting the dust every time his Afro-American victim does, he will have greater respect for Afro-American life.”

paula-giddings-headshotToday’s broadcast continues my discussion with scholar Paula Giddings, right, author of When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America. This time, we’re talking about about her latest book, Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching. (Part 1 aired on January 1st. That’s Ida B. Wells-Barnett, above, in a 1930 photo, taken the year before she died at 68. For a picture of her when she was not yet 30, follow this link to our January 1 post.)

Giddings and I resume our conversation, speaking on, among other subjects, Wells-Barnett’s success in politically organizing Chicago; an effort, the author holds, whose branches, leaves, and fruit reach to the White House today.

Then, our conversation took a turn, and during the second part of today’s broadcast—the last 20 minutes—we spoke about the life of the Black scholar, especially the female Black scholar.

It was frank and insightful, and it naturally rose out of the issues we were addressing the moment before. So, it was the best kind of digression one can have with a guest.

Paula J. Giddings is the Elizabeth A. Woodson 1922 Professor in Afro-American Studies at Smith College, and the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, January 22, at 2 pm ET.

You’ll hear it by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

GoodFellas, and Why It’s the F#@%in’ Ninth Wonder of the World.

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It’s difficult to say how much I remain in awe of director Martin Scorsese’s violent, 1990 opus, GoodFellas, above. Meanwhile, on the internet, my use of Wikipedia is second only to the attention I give Google.

So, imagine my surprise when, looking up GoodFellas on Wikipedia, I came across a detail that blew up my appreciation of both.

It was a single sentence, the fourth paragraph in the Wiki page that chronicles the film’s rich history:

“The word “fuck” is used in the film approximately 300 times,[2] ninth most in film.”

Utterly blew my mind. Not the 300 times part. The “ninth most in film” part. My first, immediate thought was, “Somebody counted that?”

Turns out someone did, on the Wikipedia “List of films that most frequently use the word ‘fuck.’” I won’t even spoil it for you, except to say that 1) 2005′s fecal-tongued The Aristocrats came in #183 on the 187-film list, and that 2) Spike Lee, for all his sanctimony, has a place of honor on it. As they say, seein’ is believin’. Check it out.