How White pop culture corrupted America and hip hop

Brother Joseph Anderson writes magnificently on Konch, which is Ishmael Reed's online hang-out, a critique of a documentary I enjoyed greatly called Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes. Anderson's critique is called "PBS: Blaming Blacks, Again," and it's insightful and just plain delightful.

"[I]t appears that no one is going to make any money – or get paid doing a TV documentary – examining misogyny, homophobia or glorified violence in American society and popular culture across the racial board. Nor will anyone get paid and win Hollywood film awards (like the 2006 Academy Award-winning “Best Song” rap ‘minstrel show’ performance, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp”) for doing a nationally-aired documentary on sociopolitically conscious rap music on any of the major television networks. Tell me that song wasn’t singled out and awarded by purposeful white design – that’s how the white media want to see young Blacks, as wanna-be pimps and “video ho’s” – rather than film songs like “Fight the Power,” or even “New Jack Hustler.” I’d vote for “Burn Hollywood Burn” in a hypothetical Black film.

"Rather, such documentary or news producers constantly have to pander to white prejudices and stereotypical fears about "the predatory, violent Black man." Ironically, such documentary makers are also pimping out such visions of Black pathology (of pervasive violence, misogyny or homophobia) to whites the same way various Black rappers (are often coerced to) sell glorified, fictionalized, or vicarious tales of their hoo-ridin,’ megagangsta lifestyles to white listeners. Such supposedly informed documentary stereotypes are also fed to white authority figures like the police, the employers or the teachers who would use that to, literally or figuratively, at their whim, beat down Black males.

"These stereotypes are constant media fodder on heavy rotation, rather than to portray rap music about political, social consciousness or reality rap (which would even include authentic forms of gangsta rap) whose messages, after all, would be critical of the system that produces or reinforces violence, poverty, racism, sexism and economic exploitation at home and abroad. This would give regular white society a more honest window into those aspects of Black society and the world – and the rich white men who make money off of this.

"The documentary includes a few token references to violence in white popular culture, such as action movies, but breezes past the fact that entertainment media created by whites, aimed at predominantly white male audiences, is, if anything, far worse across the board: for example, in video games (often a serial pornography of point-scored lethal violence, even car-jackings and often rape) – and especially when it comes to the sexual commodification and exploitation of, or violence against, women.

"Nor does the misogyny found in some rap videos compare to the suggestively violent visuals against women in many heavy metal videos. This is aside from the serial, pornographized, cat-&-mouse, sadistic torture-murder of often scantily attired females that’s sensationalized in popular horror-slasher films as entertainment. In fact, nowadays, ironically, it’s middle-class, affluent and rich white people in real life, or in movies, TV dramas, sitcoms (even little white kids), or on talk shows, who can’t seem to resist saying 'bitch' – or even the more emphatic and colorful 'BEEYATCH' – all the time.

"The video segment of young Black males on a spring break beach shown in the rap documentary doesn’t even begin to compare to the wild open all-but-intercourse sexual exhibitionism, sexually explicit catcalls, sexual palming, and the show-everything prancing strip-offs at some beach or marina in any spring break Girls Gone Wild video.

"If anyone really wants to see rampant white sexual behavior, all they have to do is to take a trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, or Padre Island, Texas, to see the corporate (usually beer company) sponsored wet t-shirt contests and strip shows for and by white college students, the de rigueur wild drunkenness and carefree drug use, let alone the promiscuous stranger pick-ups and sexual free-for-alls back at the hotels. This involves mostly white late-teen and 20-something kids – male and female.

"And one can’t avoid the giant Hooters ad at a certain San Francisco ballpark – and a ball park trip is supposed to be wholesome family entertainment. What does this say about the ballpark and team owners’ respect for women, or teach boys about respect for girls, or girls about respect for their identity?"


Reel Fanatic said…
Those are some very good points about the hypocrisy that pervades this entire PBS project .. You'll find plenty of violence and misogyny in David Banner's first two albums, for example, but if you actually sit down to listen to them you'd also find some extremely insightful rhymes .. but I seriously doubt the PBS suits could be bothered to do that
MJH said…
I would LOVE to argue about this with you some time. Ah, c'est la vie. Just come do a book reading in Montreal, and we'll talk it out.
And by argue, I do, of course, mean discuss.
I do love to argue.

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