Coffee Rhetoric: popculture
Showing posts with label popculture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label popculture. Show all posts

December 06, 2011

Love Rain...


I fancy myself a pop-culture pundit of sorts and so am not ashamed to admit that this includes my succumbing to the Reality TV/Celebreality machine. Likewise, I also try to stay abreast of social media buzz and peep what blogs, cyber-mags, and social networking forums are on about. The two mediums seem to go hand-in-hand, particularly when the "Black Twitter" collective is concerned. Black tweeters bring the LOLz and they come, guns blazing, when skewering Black celebrities for some foolish infraction. Black politicians, especially of the Conservative-Republican variety, aren't above Twitter reproach either... (Herman Cain-kabob anyone?).

Perhaps the best, below-the-belt barbs and Twitter hash-tags come during the hours reality shows such as Real Housewives of Atlanta, The Braxtons, Basketbell Wives, Love & Hip Hop and shows of that ilk are on. Some of the more snarky Black tweeters hit their mark with their quips during some of the more ridiculous, off-the-cuff scenes. Then there're those who incite the rest of us to chorus and ask "Huh?" after they’ve tweeted something... well... dumb or misguided.
Per usual, folks did not disappoint during Love & Hip Hop, which was followed up by the premiere of T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle, VH-1's latest reality offering, which documents the lives of rapper T.I. (fresh from a second prison stint) and his long suffering girlfriend-turned-wife Tiny, of Xscape and BET's Tiny & Toya fame.

Surprisingly, Black women on Twitter seemed to saturate their chonies with crème-de-la-lady leche and began espousing the virtues of  true  love during some of the more pivotal scenes on Love & Hip Hop (when rapper Jim Jones finally implored his  mother to stop antagonizing his embattled and always battling lady-in-waiting, Chrissy Lampkin. Jones later pledged his undying affection for Chrissy by placating her o’er top of a roof for a Moroccan inspired dinner with all the decorative fixings). T.I's - (who makes it known under no uncertain terms, that he wears the pants and bankrolls day-to-day operations in his relationship with Tiny) - obvious loyalty to his blended family and wife is undeniable. In fact, seeing it played out on TV caused a collective genital quake across Twitter however; the relationship has been fraught with well-documented legal troubles and alleged cheating. But this did not stop some women from christening Jim and T.I.'s dysfunctional relationships with their women as the blueprint for Black love. I’d be willing to wager that some of these admirers of dysfunctional love, were some of the same detractors of single-motherhood who suggested single moms should aspire to be like Beyonce and Jay Z, shortly after her pregnancy announcement. They lashed out, calling all Snarky McSnarksteins jealous haters who can't get a man or sustain a relationship ...  ...  ...  OK.

One writer for the popular online publication, Clutch Magazine, posted a whole article citing these two televised relationships as heartfelt and wrote:

"Say what you will about Tiny and T.I.’s hoodrich love, but theirs is the type of relationship many long for: Loving, affectionate, fun, respectful, and supportive. Just like Jim and Chrissy, watching T.I. and Tiny interact on screen made it clear that they are genuinely in love and they want the world to know."  

Much to the chagrin of some commenters, who cyber side-eyed the piece... 

"T.I and Jim Jones… you have to be kidding!  What I don’t understand is this constant need to look to celelbrities [sic] as role models. I mean I really don’t understand it. I would like to hope these old a$$ men would want to settle down. T.I with all those d@mn kids! Jim jones and Dipset with the way the [sic] talk about women…"

Listen, while no one deserves to be crucified for their past and everyone has the right to err, love, and be loved; Why is it that some in our community put these dysfunctional "ride or die" relationships on a pedestal (especially when a man of questionable character is at the helm, trying to overcompensate for having put  his paramour or wife through years of hell), yet will belittle others (usually when a woman *read unwed baby mama* is the crux of the conversation)? While it's undoubtedly love that they're feeling, it just isn't the standard for Black Love like some people are trying to suggest. Relationships riddled with drama may work for some, but doesn't for everyone else, and if that makes me sound like a bitter, single, jealous hag then... that's the ignoramus, narrow view of a naysayer. 

This comment from the aforementioned online magazine sums it up: “You can’t turn a hoe into a housewife, but you can turn a drug dealer into a husband?” Well, I guess you should ask Beyonce and Tiny.  Apparently thugs can grow into men, probably an exception and not a rule though. While it’s cute, sweet, and seems genuine, don’t get wrapped up in the love and hip-hop thinking it could be you."




August 22, 2011

Uncivilized Afros and Slave Earrings

Twitter... My timeline makes me cry with laughter, furrow my brow in consideration, and mutter "hell no" whenever anyone re-tweets a link to something questionable or highly inappropriate. The latest marketing and media missteps caused me to exclaim just that when this past week, several re-tweets exposed skincare brand Nivea running afoul of folks with their Look Like You Give a Damn campaign geared towards men. The featured ad that ran in the September issue of Esquire Magazine presented a clean-cut Black man gripping a scraggly, brown rubber mask, with an unkempt beard and Afro with the tagline: RE-CIVILIZE YOURSELF. The general consensus was that the ad was racially insensitive, particularly since people of the African diaspora have historically been judged as being uncivilized and not entirely human. Twitter's Black community took Nivea to task, prompting the company to issue an apology, in which they admitted: "After realizing that this ad is misleading, it was immediately withdrawn." The company further reinforced Nivea as a company that promotes diversity and tolerance. "This ad was inappropriate and offensive. It was never our intention to offend anyone, and for this we are deeply sorry. This ad will never be used again." They promised.
While Nivea quickly retreated back to the drawing board for a more presentable, less contentious marketing campaign, Vogue Italia incited the Twitter masses to chorus again with their online editorial titled: "Slave Earrings."   
"If the name brings to the mind the decorative traditions of the women of colour who were brought to the southern United States during the slave trade, the latest interpretation is pure freedom." They advise. 
Apparently the Trans-Atlantic slave trade featured a ship packed with sexy, flirty, and fashion forward folk sporting killer hoop earrings. While some people want to push "post-racial" propaganda as a way to trivialize and not have to deal with racism and bigotry while whining that we're becoming a society that's riddled with excessive political-correctness, it seems that racially insensitive quips are on the rise. Political pundits want to glorify the good ol' days and regale the masses with tales of how wonderful slavery and racial oppression supposedly was and marketing heads seem to not have at least one or two people on their staff with some semblance of common sense, before putting ads out. People can't help but react when their communities are still... in 2011... being marginalized and exploited and then told to stfu, stop over-reacting and just deal with it. 
Vogue Italia could have taken a different approach in explaining the decorative customs of women from the African Diaspora and how tribal jewelry has influenced today's versions of hoop earrings... and NOT title the feature Slave Earrings. I can't help but have an impending  feeling of dread now, when I consider which pair of large, funky hoops to wear. I think we co-exist in an age where people are (or should be anyway) highly-evolved enough to have gotten a clue about respecting people's differences and understanding the fundamentals of what's acceptable versus what isn't, regardless of how far-removed they may be from how the rest of society lives or how politically correct they think we're becoming. It's not about stifling speech, forcing folks to like something about somebody, or thinking how much a group of people are overreacting... but about reaching a place where we actually consider someone's feelings when we tackle certain aspects of their culture and truly understand what place we're coming from before we engage in discourse about their lifestyle or history. 
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March 24, 2010

Bus Tales: Umm, Er... I'm not sure

Today's society illustrates that we not only live in a multifaceted world complete with racially ambiguous people, political fence straddlers, and omnisexual revelers, but gender ambiguity factors into this ever increasing equation as well... 
This afternoon, while en route to my mother's house, my interest was initially piqued by the intimate yet loud details of a petite young woman's cell-phone conversation...
"Yeah! I know she's mad I left the apartment on Sumner Street, but I'm sorry, that shit was just disgusting! It smelled like pure DOG! I was like HELL NO! I really don't care!! She has such a nasty attitude. I don't know how she got my fucking cell phone number!! I changed my number for a reason! Don't let me have to give her baby's father her number!! And she wonders why he doesn't wanna deal wit her ass! ... " 
When two teenagers, shoulders bogged down with book-heavy backpacks stumbled onto the bus. Initially I thought they were both young teenaged boys, They both had on the uniform and look typical of most young men living in urban areas... trendy, yet baggy jeans, Timbaland-lite footwear, large polo shirts, caps pulled down low over their heads, and mouths hanging open...thoughts laden with the superficial... no doubt. Bored with petite woman's conversation, I began to listen to the two young men sitting across from me, until I noted the heavier set guy's voice...  His? voice was husky and deep... almost as if its tone were contrived. Intrigued, I looked up and noted he? had extension braids pulled back into a bun at the nape of his? neck and a baseball cap pulled down low... his? eyebrows were also groomed into an arch. He? spoke about girls to his? smaller boned friend... "Yeah, I saw her sitting in class. I was trying to talk to her... It's a good thing there's a such thing as Twitter! " she? laughed to her? friend... who was looking down and busy punching away on his? phone's qwerty keypad. 
Small boned friend wore a striped tube cap pulled down over his? head... and noticeably sparkly studs in each pierced ear. He? was undoubtedly a boy... until he? looked up and out the window and proclaimed in a high-pitched teen girl's voice... "Oh look! That's *insert girl's name here* walking down the street! The one in the pink boots!" 
"Who is that?" his? husky voiced friend asked, looking towards the object of his friend's attention. 
"That's the girl I was telling you about! I was trying to talk to her earlier!" 
I grew more confused, and tried as best as I could to study their features without being overt and rude about it... Small boned went back to busily typing on his... um, her? phone's keypad... on Twitter. "How do you spell 'committed'? Does it have one 't' or two?" 
"Com-mi-TED... One 't' " the huskier one offered, after sounding it out. I cringed and was tempted to interject and say "There're TWO 't's' in committed." but opted to mind my own business. Still intrigued by the fact that I had no clue whether or not either of them had been born girls, I listened to them giggle about their female classmates... notably the ones they thought were the cutest... Then they pulled the wire that rings the bell to stop, for Albany Avenue and departed. 
The moral to this little anecdote is that I guess it doesn't matter. They're being who they choose and want to be... However, I'm still bothered that 'committed' was tweeted incorrectly. That is all. 




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July 16, 2009

Order In The Court

I've noticed an annoying trend in courting rituals. One more small annoyance to add to the already difficult process of dating. Texting. I am not one of those self-righteous, anti-technology people who goes on boring rants about the evils of social networking, texting, and mobile phones. As annoying and impersonal as those outlets can be, I am very pro-gadget and technology. While it has it's cons, technology and social networking has made it easier to keep in or get back in touch with long lost friends, enemies, frenemies, and prospective employers. Many things in life have negative aspects to them... you couldn't pay me to travel back to the dark ages. Advancement in technology is not the sole vice or annoyance society has to grapple with. The phenomenon is only as stupid as the moron accessing it... which brings me to my primary point.
Men- (I can't speak for women, because I don't date women and many of the ones I know aren't this inconsiderate, but I'll be fair and say I'm sure they're just as guilty)- if you've just met a woman for the first time, made out with her, groped her, etc... and you've decided "Wow, I like her and I want to talk to her and get to know more about her beyond this point" and you insist... DEMAND that she give you her phone number... and you make a point of programming it into your phone while she's standing there, then CALL her. This texting bullshit as the FIRST official attempt at communicating ... "Hey sexy" and "wat u up to?" is nothing short of rude and disrespectful, and it's not a good first impression. Not to me and many of my friends anyway.
How do you expect to develop any type of rapport with someone you supposedly like... or want to hop in the sack with by TEXTING grammatically lazy phrases??
Behavior like this is vexing and agitating. Myself? I may give your brusque and short messages the side-eye, and after careful consideration, might even respond a few times. I may even give you the benefit of the doubt that you'll actually CALL and I'll hear a live voice either on my voicemail or in real-time at some point throughout the course of the courtship. I'll do you one better; In the past, I've responded to text messages by leaving a voicemail, saying "Hi," asking to "Give me a call when you get the opportunity." Which means, TAG, you're it! Your turn! Only to get yet another text in response, RIGHT AFTER I've left the voicemail! After a VERY short while, your texts WILL go ignored! Trust this.
I will flat out refuse to respond, assuming that you have no desire to actually TALK for 5 or 10 minutes, which is enough time to determine someone's personality and whether you want to ask them out on a date. I'll assume that you aren't interested in setting up a time to meet up and that you have no real interest in me as a person, and that you're only wanting to waste my time by playing electronic footsies with your cyclical, same sounding two word sentences. ... "Hey sexy. Wat u doing? Wat u wearing?" Level headed and tech-savvy folk in the know realize that "wat u wearing?" is code for, "send me a topless photo, and I'll send you a pic of my genitals."All before being asked out on an ACTUAL date for coffee or a glass of wine, because you'd rather wile away valuable time sexting messages like some sexually precocious preteen: "i want u so bad. wish u were here."
Listen, I text more than the next person, but I'm usually texting with people I KNOW. People I have connections with. People I also chat to on the phone. My close and best friends, my sisters, my mother, acquaintances I pal around with, someone I've dated, don't despise and have maintained a friendship with, so forth and so on and I'm not making an ALL DAY AFFAIR of it. If I don't KNOW you and am making every attempt to GET to know you within the context of dating, and you don't reciprocate that gesture, then you may as well kick rocks. And don't you DARE send me a message at 1:00 in the MORNING asking, "hey u up?" OMG!! R U SERIOUS!? How dreadful! Moreover, don't respond to my obvious exasperation with your thoughtless time wasting, texting : "I thought u liked me ???" or "It's just easier to txt cuz am on the run." If you're on the run, then BE ON THE RUN! How about contacting the person of your desire when you AREN'T "on the run" and have a moment to spare.
Look, I'm not one for walking down the street or going about my daily activities, jabbing at my phone's keypad like crazy. I understand that some people love it, but my thumbs get tired, it wears on my nails, more importantly it's distracting and detracts from whatever it is you're doing. As many people as I see running their pie holes on the phone while en-route somewhere, that "on the run, can't actually call" excuse is utter doo-doo. Texting sentences on a small keypad, on the run, seems like it takes more effort than talking to someone for 3 seconds to say, "I'm out and about, just wanted to call to say hi and that I'm thinking about you, we'll talk later though!" and then you hang the eff up. Don't ask for someone's phone number if you have no intention of talking to them. Get their email address instead if you want to type at them.
Cut this foolishness out. It's not a good way to connect with someone you supposedly want to learn more about. KNOW them first before you start texting them a bunch of nonsense. That is all.

August 28, 2008

Unprecedented

At work feeling lazy, abandoned (because most people had cut out early), and disheartened that the vending machine refused me a Kit Kat bar- I headed back to my desk looking for things NOT to do. The gargantuan September issue of Vogue magazine stared back at me, as if saying, "Well, smartass, you could always thumb through me, and oogle all the pretty, shiny delectables you could never afford in this lifetime."
I noticed it came with a free, supplemental magazine called Fashion Rocks. I ripped open the plastic, flipped Vogue the bird (for now), and opted for Fashion Rocks mag instead. I blew through the pages, bored and uninspired by some parts of it, sort of interested in others when an article caught my eye: Hip-Hop Heirlooms. Apparently, auction house Phillips de Pury & Company is having its first ever auction featuring personal pieces of bling from hip hop's choicest members . A category unheard of in the genteel world of high class haggling for expensive and rare items.
Diamond encrusted pieces- (many of which have such sentimental value, their owners had to think long and hard before parting with them)- such as Lil Jon's 73 carat diamond "Crunk Ain't Dead" chain- (listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest and heaviest pendant in the world and appraised at $500,000), a gold and ruby crown shaped ring owned by Tupac Shakur, and L.L. Cool J.'s diamond microphone pendant. Gems from the collections of Kanye West, P. Diddy, 50 Cent, Biz Markie, Missy Elliot, the Notorious B.I.G, and other rap notables will also be presented during the sale. A total of 50 pieces will be up for auction.
EPIC! I think the addition of this section in Phillips de Pury's catalog is a clear indication of hip hop's universal appeal and influence over popular culture and most importantly, fashion and pop art. The uptight and the narrow-minded may as well deal with that fact. In any event, A portion of the proceeds will benefit Russell Simmons' non-profit organization Rush Community Affairs.
If you have a few million dollars lying around in a duffle bag somewhere, perhaps you may want to mosey on over to 450 West 15th Street in NYC on October 1, and place your bids. Better yet, feel free to visit one of my favorite sites, Girl Props (also located on 153 Prince Street in NYC) and get this lovely little trinket for $24.99. Don't judge. It's cute and a cheaper alternative!

June 26, 2008

Intellectualizms

I'm no prude. My mouth and mind emit and harbor some rather colorful and randy thoughts and commentary. That aside, every now and again I will meet the acquaintance of a phrase or piece of slang that'll make me either giggle with glee, shrug my shoulders indifferently, or roll my eyes, perplexed by its sheer stupidity. Yesterday was no exception, for I recently discovered the term "No Homo." Which has been in use for some time, apparently. Ridiculous and awkward sounding... its meaning is even more nonsensical. Urbandictionary.com basically defines No Homo! as a phrase one shouts out after having inadvertently said something, well, 'gay'. Anonymous contributors offer up a wide array of witty examples (and I'm copying and pasting them verbatim. Grammatic errors and misspellings intact) such as: Hay man, pass the nuts. No homo and I cornered him in my room and nailed him with a board. No homo. Or my personal favorite: 'yo homie, i just spent five hours talking with my man on the phone, no homo'
Apparently, yelling out "NO HOMO" after having made an ambiguously homosexy sounding comment, is supposed to cancel out a heterosexual man's femme side or make him seem even more virile. How butch. Non? I opine that it's just another way for some chauvinist, insecure fuckknob- (conflicted over his own sexuality)- to unnecessarily assert his manhood, because he may perhaps (I'm just speculating) harbor some deep, dark, sexy fantasies involving Leather Bear Daddies, lithe... sinewy Twinks, and silicone butt plugs.
What better way for a man to feel like a MAN than to indulge in a daily dose of homophobia? It's simply not enough to hoot and holler in a strip club or pour Cristal and money all over a hooker, for that's just a whetting of the MAN'S appetite for destruction. I'd be willing to wager that this term is born out of the RAP (notice I said RAP and not Hip Hop) culture of posturing, dick swinging, and champagne dreams and delusions of making it rain on some ho's. Just saying... NO HOMO!

May 14, 2008

Sensual Seduction

Tyra Banks's best and most rational lace front wig had a major pow-wow with her, and this time she finally listened... for Whitney Thompson, deemed the 'plus size' model contender for cycle 10 of America's Next Top Model, not only made it abroad (to Rome, Italy during the competition's final round), but she clawed and argued her way to the top three (in all her annoying glory), eventually becoming one of the final two before being crowned this year's winner by the model competition franchise.
While Whitney wasn't my favorite personality on the show this season, she has definitely set a precedent in a culture seemingly afraid and dismayed by a little extra flesh and sexy softness. The thickness prevailed.
It took 10 seasons, but voluptuosity finally triumphed. Most of the aspiring contenders of sensual body, seem to never make it to the top five let alone become one of the contenders that eventually get to travel to an exotic locale, let alone to the final two. The prelude to Whitney's triumphant moment included her sashaying down the runway, in a dress designed by Donatella VERSACE (unheard of!), putting her skinny, stiff competitor with the robotronic gait and thick Hawaiian pidgeon accent, to shame.
Is the world ready for a voluptuous woman to be America's NEXT top model? Probably not considering any frame that's above a size 6 is considered obese and unhealthy. I assure you however, that there's certainly nothing wrong with a shapely, healthy, active, and Fellini-esque frame bouncing its way into the psyche and hearts of a diet-conscious American public. It definitely encourages this cult of personality to open up its notion of what it considers as beautiful and sexy. While encouraging and inspiring young girls, hating themselves for not having Paris Hilton's flat pancake ass, Victoria Beckham's barely there silhouette, or Thandie Newton's prominent collar bone. The young girls living on 300 calories a day, killing themselves to look trollish and emaciated in order to fit into a pair of skinny jeans.
Whitney's winning moment dictates that it's okay (despite this latest study)- to be fleshy, sensual, and YES, active and healthy! That accepting and appreciating a comely frame is NOT advocating an unhealthy lifestyle full of saturated and trans fat and fast foods, as some people may suggest or are being led to believe. Because a healthy, fit, and sound body comes in a variety of forms. And, psst... a skinny body is not always the picture of perfect health. After Whitney's glorious moment, Tyra exclaimed, "The correct term is FULL FIGURED model, not PLUS SIZE" to which former model and panel judge, Paulina Poriskova answered, "It's not full figured or plus size. It's just beautiful!" And kiddies, it's not just THE FACE, but the whole package in its entirety. Because as Whitney opined, I too, also know the annoyance of a backhanded but well meaning comment ... "Oh you have such a pretty/striking face..." Now let's hope Whitney doesn't somehow, find herself on a season of Celebrity Fit Club, screaming hungrily and angrily at the judges when they chastise her for not meeting her weight goal.

January 06, 2008

Manderlay

... Rent it. Manderlay is a foreign director's take on American slavery in the South. Conceived by Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier the film is a sequel to von Trier's Dogville (which stars Nicole Kidman as Grace), and is part of his USA: Land of Opportunities trilogy. It continues the tale of Grace (now played by Bryce Dallas Howard), who is traveling through the south with her gangster father (Willem Defoe) and his merry band of fellow thugs during the early 1930s, after having fled Dogville. En route to whereverville they stop outside a plantation (Manderlay), in bumf*ck Alabama to take a breather, when a black woman in full "slave regalia" taps on the car window and implores them for help, because a fellow slave is about to be whipped for stealing. Grace inquires within and discovers that slavery (quarters and all) is still alive and well, 70 years AFTER its abolishment. After a confrontation with the plantation's ruthless mistress Mam (played by Lauren Bacall), who's hemmed up on her death bed and who eventually dies, Grace decides to stay (along with a few of her father's best thugs, including a lawyer) to teach Manderlay's ignorant breed the fundamentals of freedom and how to be civilized and self sufficient... much to her father's chagrin. Dad bids grace farewell and burns rubber, leaving Grace to her own devices, but not before discouraging her from ever trying to locate his whereabouts. Grace is also made privy to a notebook called "Mam's Law." Its contents is basically a meticulously documented and comprehensive code of conduct for all the slaves, and what Mam has used to gain psychological power over them all. Each Manderlay inhabitant is divided up as follows:
  • Group 1: Proudy Nigger
  • Group 2: Talkin' Nigger
  • Group 3: Weepin' Nigger
  • Group 4: Hittin' Nigger
  • Group 5: Clownin' Nigger
  • Group 6: Loser Nigger
  • Group 7: Pleasing Nigger (also known as a chameleon, a person of the kind who can transform himself into exactly the type beholder would like to see)

Essentially, after Mam's death, Grace designate herself as bearer of great news and alerts Manderlay's slaves to the fact that slavery was abolished some time ago and that she will stay on to make sure they transition accordingly and sans minimal incident. They are however, mortified at the prospect of living "another way of life" for Manderlay and the comforts its strict system are all they're familiar with. Needless to say, without relaying too many details, Grace assumes her position, punishes Manderlay's white overseers via role reversal- (she makes them serve Manderlay's slaves dinner, in Black Face in one scene)- and eventually discovers that the inhabitants of Manderlay are indeed clever and aren't as ignorant as she initially thought and that it is she, in all her idealistic and liberal, forward thinking, and at times pretentious grandeur, who is ignorant.
The film is interesting in its approach. It tells the tale of Manderlay in 8 chapters. The Film's aesthetic and discourse unfolds just like a live stage play. It may not appeal to particular film tastes because of this... but it's worth a look-see anyway. It also stars Isaach de Bankole (one of my favorite actors) and Danny Glover (as the "talking nigger").
I, of course, am always mildly amused by how Europeans view race relations in the United States. While racism isn't as cut and dried or overt there, as it is in America, it does exist despite rumblings to the contrary. At times, it's an even more complex and multilayered system, because there was never nor is there currently a Civil Rights Movement or minority leaders who are as vocal as some of ours are and were (Farrakhan, Malcolm, M.L. King, Panthers, Davis, umm Jackson, err, Sharpton?). There aren't any organizations that really champion that particular cause in Europe, or at least none that I'm aware of. Unfortunately many countries refuse to acknowledge the role racism plays in their country, but there have been noble attempts to bring immigration and the history of slavery to the forefront and half-assed, reluctant ones, because particular countries refuse to acknowledge the reality of growing multiculturalism and bigotry in their sphere. They'd prefer their immigrants to become naturalized only if the shuck their ethnic pride out the window **cough-cough France**
Xenophobia runs just as deep if not more, in Europe than it does here, in some instances. Especially in countries like Germany (see the film Otomo, also starring Isaach de Bankole). I'm a fan of much of von Trier's work, but I suspect that his approach was a little pretentious and self-aggrandizing. His attempt to describe the system of slavery in the U.S. was underwhelming and fell short of whatever his intention may well have been. It also shows just how little the world knows about the history of slavery, in the United States and especially in the deep south particularly if you've never stepped foot there. Manderlay still deviates from the norm, is darkly comedic, seemingly anti-American/anti-U.S.'s foreign policy, and will definitely prompt discussion if not annoyance. For those reasons alone, it's worth renting and watching. I'd go ahead and rent Dogville too...

September 08, 2007

Ummmmm....

It's about 9AM. Do you know what your small, wide eyed, and impressionable child is up to? I'm scared. I'm gonna go rock back and forth in a corner now. Or, I can just go ahead and learn how to do "The Harry." Methinks I just spied me some potential future video vixens.
P.S. Did that kid in the back, just do the brokedown robot?? Fascinating!

August 02, 2007

Fifteen Minutes

This humble blogger was interviewed by Fox News (Channel 61 here in Hartford, CT) yesterday afternoon. I think it went well. I hope. Rick Hancock (the journalist who interviewed me) was very pleasant and asked some insightful questions. I was even lit by one of those tv light thingies and mic'ed. I blotted a about ten minutes before they arrived, so I don't think I was too shiny. The segment airs tomorrow night. If I don't sound too toolish or look super heiferish in stature (I wore all black) I'll link the segment and podcast here on this blog. In the meantime, I'm trying to cool off. It's a million degrees outside and my skin is burning from the sun's impact.

June 15, 2007

TMI ! TMI-I-I-I-I !!!

I was flipping through the latest issue of Jane Magazine, when I came across the back stories section. I was struck and somewhat amused by Jane senior editor, Josh Lyon's story, "There's no such thing as TMI." Josh seemed a bit put out by the notion of there being a such thing as too much shared information. He relayed a story regarding recent a dinner gathering he had with friends, including a new person one of his friends was dating. Apparently they were all sitting around the table swapping sordid tales (much to new girl's discomfort), when one of Josh's friends mentioned she was experimenting with using a strap-on in the boudoir. Newbie had heard enough and finally yelled, "TMI!" ... which marked an abrupt end (screeching noise and all) to the seedy table talk. Josh wrote:
"TMI (short for Too Much Information) "is my most hated phrase in the English language. I live by the words of Roman playwright Terence: 'Nothing that is human is alien to me.' "
Josh further justifies why he believes it's absolutely crucial for people to share baseless bits of personal information about themselves, to strangers. He even went so far as to label those of us who've no desire to hear said information, as being insecure and neurotic about the heaping dish of skankiness being force fed to us. Josh made sure to absolve himself from that equation however, by citing the only exception to the TMI rule as immediate family members discussing their sex lives- (apparently his father gets nostalgic about the hookers during his time in 'Nam). Hmm, seems as if what's good for the goose is not good enough for the gander. Listen, I have been at the receiving end of some unsavory anecdotes told by people I barely know, or only know on a casual basis. My best friend and I swap some delicious, intimate, and intimately disgusting details with one another... but we're close friends. I couldn't fathom making small talk with some stranger at the bus stop or in line somewhere or with someone from work, about how often I get gas, how noxious it smelled, or the details of my menstrual cycle. I can just picture the scenario now:
  • Stranger: Good morning. How are you?
  • Me: Great... except, I had a sharp pain in my stomach this morning, and had to high-tail it to the loo. I dropped a major and soupy slip-sloppin' load. Must've been that curried stuff I ate. So... How are you?"
  • Stranger: Ummm... alllriiighty then. *turns away from me and shudders with disgust and dismay*
Talk of yeast infections, cooter creams, sweaty boobs and what have you would undoubtedly be met with gasps, disapproving scowls, and "La la la la, I don't wanna hear it!" songs. So the fact that I've no desire to engage the DHL deliveryman right before my lunch break, about the wicked case of mud butt he contracted the previous day does not make me a neurotic prude. Imploring the mailman not to go into explicit detail about his bowel movement and the dubious burrito he ate prior to blowing up the bathroom at my job doesn't make me insecure either! Why is my desire NOT to hear about dookey stories indicative of underlying insecurities or some related neurosis?? Josh Lyon couldn't be any more wrong with his assessment. It's not a matter of censorship or someone being an uptight prude... it's a matter of principle and keeping some things sacred and to yourSELF, not everyone is interested in hearing about his drippy experience with strawberry Nesquick and coke ('caine), or his friend's experience with a strap-on. It's also a matter of respect (of other people's boundaries and space) and social conduct. Someone walking into a shared office early in the A.M. (in the presence of their supervisor) before coffee has had a chance to co-mingle with blood and declaring, "I'm soooo sore. I've been having anal sex alllll weekend!" is not only discourteous but unnecessary and unacceptable work fodder. Save it for someone who cares, who is actually willing to listen and asks for the details during a break away from from everyone else, and who doesn't mind the visual it paints. A colleague and friend recently told me that while she's open-minded and have no qualms about listening to offbeat and titillating tales of sex, drugs, and doo-doo, people share a lot of nasty nougats with her she doesn't want to hear. Because she has no obvious barriers up, she ends up listening anyway... prompting the storyteller to get even more gratuitous with the details. I think the same can be said about me, but even I have a limit. Diarrhea, anal itching, dubious rashes outside the private parts, weird vagina leakage and stories of the like are examples of where I draw the line... particularly if I hardly even know you. There are even some subjects that I refuse to blog about, and the loads of dirty laundry I share are being read by people who are going out of their way to do so. I'm not forcing my tales down people's throats and belittling those who wish not to read my blog, labeling them as socially inept and insecure because they don't want to. Sharing and listening to delicious sex stories and gruesome details about bodily functions has a specific time and place... there is also a rhythm to delivering such information, making it fun to giggle over. Dumping it on someone unexpectedly (particularly if it's not dirty boudoir banter with a significant other) is rude, inconsiderate, and plain tacky and I reserve my right say whether or not want to hear it.

June 12, 2007

That's Art

I'm an avid Sopranos fan. I've followed the series from day one, and have been watching the last 2 or 3 seasons on DVD because I got rid of my digital cable some time ago. I've always maintained that the series's creator, David Chase is an excellent writer. I've never watched a story about a group of wise guys unfold quite this way. The characters are complex and multilayered. The series is almost operatic. Tony Soprano... a dark character... husband, father, mafia chief, sociopath. One of the most compelling characters to cross television screens in a looong time. Perhaps this is why fans were livid, when the series ended the way it did. David Chase had people on the edge of their seats with the finale, only to end it abruptly, without the bang (or carnage) fans were hoping for. He left it open ended... Tony and his immediate family (wife Carmela and son A.J.) at a diner, sharing a basket of onion rings to the tune of Journey's Don't Stop Believing, only to have tv screens all across America suddenly go black after daughter Meadow opens the door to the diner, causing people to think their Tivos or cable had blinked out suddenly. But no. This is the way the series ended. The show that blew popular culture away with its irresistible cast of characters. The fact that David Chase wrote the last episode the way he did, staying true to his artistic integrity rather than placate fans, and then going on vacation to France, but not before telling HBO brass to basically suck it, because he refuses to field questions from press regarding his conclusion or explain why he opted to end the Sopranos this way, is undoubtedly the mark of a great writer and artist. The fact that we are still bemused and discussing it illustrates that the man truly knows what he's doing, and may, quite possibly, have something more up his sleeve. We live in a culture where trends spawn mediocrity. Music, movies, sitcoms, and network series follow the same formulaic recipe and just aren't that interesting or newsworthy. I commend David Chase for following the recipe that best suits art and creativity. From a writer's perspective, I think his ending was nothing short of avante-garde.
** Read today's NYTimes article for more on The Sopranos

May 08, 2007

It's The End of the World As We Know It

I'm puzzled. A whole town is virtually wiped out by a deadly tornado, people have lost their homes, personal belongings, keep sakes, loved ones, and various other momentos, and the news is saturated with visuals of Paris Hilton and her family whining to the paparrazzi about why she should be absolved from her due punishment? What has this cult of personality come to? This worthless piece of racist, overhyped trash (yup, I went there) needs to disappear. What better way is there to perform this welcome magic trick, than locking her up and throwing away the key? I think the punishment definitely fits the crime.
"I told the truth yesterday. I feel that I was treated unfairly. It's both cruel and unwarranted."
pouted Paris, as she strutted her lanky frame down the streets of L.A during a shopping spree with her mother, taking a moment to address the camera hounds, clicking away and recording her pre-jail outing. (Methinks she's addicted). How, is she being treated unfairly? I mean, she was pulled over for drinking and driving afterall, she violated the terms of her parole twice, driving under a suspended license. The average Joe and Josephine would, undoubtedly, have to suffer the same consequence... if not worse. She also went on to feign ignorance regarding the fact that her license was suspended, saying she didn't know, because she didn't read the statement she signed, which outlined that by signing, that she understood that her license was temporarily inoperative. To add insult to our intelligence, she went on to blame her publicist for her current demise, because he failed to tell her that her license was suspended. Pardon moi while I remind this twat and her mother, that she is a 26 year-old, ADULT woman! Why should her spokeswhore(s) accept responsibility for the fact that she simply can't be bothered with following, grasping, and understanding that she broke the law and that one is NOT supposed to drive and operate a vehicle under a suspended license, that she's actually REQUIRED to perform the community service, and attend the designated class as part of her punishment, for driving recklessly??- (She didn't follow any of the terms of her probation by the way). This culture of celebrity is overwhelmingly sickening, untalented, drug addled, and self entitled. When is it okay to drive drunk, spew hateful language, spit on people, not pay your tab, snort coke, and then puff on a large spliff in public? Privilege and wealth does not exempt one from having to follow the law, particularly when other, unsuspecting lives are at risk. I don't usually go on angry anti-celebrity rants, and could give two baby squirts about Paris, but in the wake of what has happened in Kansas and in light of other important, pertinent things unfolding in world events, I think bitch should serve her time, use it to reflect & become a better person, and shut her gob up, particularly when you consider that this is someone who theorized in an upcoming issue of Harper's Bazaar, that the police only pull her over to hit on her (guess she's just that desirable). The media needn't waste another second on her or
her family's bellyaching, about how they think Paris has been wronged... not unless they're reporting on her actually turning herself in to authorities to serve her time on June 5th, and taking responsibility for being careless on the roads and being an overall menace and annoyance to society. I think people the world over have had enough of her and those of her ilk, as this seems to be the straw that has broken the camel's back, where she is concerned. Hey, Martha served her time with grace, survived, and came away from it with a funky fresh poncho and some street cred.

August 25, 2006

Social Class Differentials, The One Percent, and 'Favela Rising'


Yesterday, while lounging around on what turned out to be a lazy day off, I caught an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show, which I usually never watch. The topic of discussion was Class in America; which can dissolve into a heated discussion, because no one really likes to discuss class, race, or the presumptions people believe about others and how those erroneous opinions are used to stereotype others and perpetuate class hierarchies. 
People tend to judge who they deem to be lower-class based on their diction, how they look, their skin color, whether their nails are clean or dirty, and how bad their teeth are; or at least, these were some of the qualifiers Oprah's audience members used to determine someone's social standing. 
One woman posited  that when she saw an obese person, she considered them to be at the lower rung of the economic ladder. This same woman also said that she grew up in a working class farming community and how most of the farmers had filthy nails, and this is why she equates dirty nails with lower class people. Filmmaker and heir to the Johnson & Johnson corporation, Jamie Johnson filmed a documentary called The One Percent, which details the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor and the one percent being those who control about 40% of the wealth in America
During the show segment, Jamie explained how his father had never been comfortable with discussing money. In fact, his father was downright indignant during one clip that was shown, and abruptly ended the conversation. This type of evasive behavior-- reluctance to discuss family wealth perhaps stems from the discomfort of having to unpack one's privilege and not have to acknowledge issues like how systemic inequality works to marginalize and disenfranchise the poor... particularly Black and brown people. I also found it troubling (albeit unsurprising) when an economist pointed out the shrinking middle-class and the ever-widening gap between the wealthy and the poor; a realization that slapped the masses in the face during and after the Hurricane Katrina disaster and the clusterfuck that ensued during the storm's aftermath. 
Seems no matter how much the working class work towards upward social mobility, it’s still hard to make ends meet and it develops into a cycle of living pay check to pay check, just one faulty step ahead of having the rug snatched out from under your feet. Not seeing the fruits of hard labor coupled with being oppressed in various other ways, is a depressing reality for many. One Black man from Chicago, whose story was also featured during the course of the show, said that he qualifies as being part of the working class and that he viewed those with money as being snooty and dismissive, and how most of them don’t even acknowledge his humanity or presence. One show guest's... a woman .. story also stood out to me. She relayed that she earned her living as a cocktail waitress at a high-end restaurant, where most of the clientele is wealthy. She said that most of her work evenings were spent having people look down their noses at her and snapping their fingers at her, addressing her as "Hey! Can you come over here!" She also said that most of the restaurant patrons assumed she was in school and was just working at the restaurant to earn some pocket change, only to appear chagrined and somewhat condescending upon learning that the restaurant was, in fact, her full-time job. 
Outside the restaurant’s uniform, she said she dressed really nice and trendy, wore and carried a pair of counterfeit Gucci shades and purse (which most people assumed to be the real deal), kept immaculately manicure hands, cute shoes, and drove a BMW (which she said was a gift). She said that people on the street, outside the realm of her workplace, assumed she was snooty and had a lot of money, never considering that she was also a struggling member of the working class. This woman’s story resonated with me because I live that experience everyday except, according to those taking inventory, I'm a black woman who speaks in a way they deem to be 'proper', sometimes enjoy cultural activities mostly ascribed to white people, and reside downtown; and I navigate this experience at various intersections... particularly race, gender, and class. 
Most people assume I make a lot of money because of where I live and how I dress when really, I'm fumbling towards a sustaining my livelihood working at a non-profit organization where I'm woefully underpaid, whose staff is predominantly white, and where my white female co-workers are favored over me for promotions and opportunities to flex their creative muscles. Unlike working-class white women, the chance to move forward often eludes me, and I'm expected to be overly conscientious about 'my place' on the social, racial, and class hierarchy lest I'm unceremoniously fired as a way to 'put me back in my place' for being 'too smart' (read: too uppity). 
My place of employment grants me access to (mostly-white) one-percenters and, to be frank, they’re even ruder and more dismissive of and condescending to me, just for my existing in this skin. They often express surprise that I convey an air of  intelligence, make sure to tell me how "articulate" I sound and seem bemused that I've had the opportunity to travel abroad. 
People who stereotype someone’s class based on race, appearance and something as superficial as dirty nails, are ignoramuses who willfully refuse to recognize their own privilege and how they consistently operate to marginalize others. Some of the most uncouth, inarticulate,  ill-mannered people I've had the displeasure of meeting just happen to have a lot of money. Additionally, some of the most educated, well-traveled, most articulate, and cultured people whose company I've enjoyed, don't have a lot of money and barely live above the poverty line. That being said, I saw a delightful documentary called Favela Rising.
Favela Rising is about a pro-active group called AfroReggae, who do a lot in their communities to educate and  help keep younger people (and corrupt police officers) from destroying themselves and their favelas via the arts, music, and dance. Think Rize, but with more depth of character and insight. Anderson Sa, the primary focus of the documentary, initiates a lot of community outreach programs, primarily in Brazil and worldwide, helping raise awareness. This is a clear example of people taking back control of their communities and stories, and presenting themselves in a positive light. It's definitely worth checking out! 

August 22, 2006

Fame! They're Gonna Live Forever!

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Lil Kim rapped "Money, Power, Respect what you need in life..." And it seems that today's cult of personality lives by that mantra. I was reading the Science section of the New York Times this morning where Times journalist, Benedict Carey, sought to decipher people’s sudden need... the fervid obsession to be famous. It’s almost as if people have this intense desire to be accepted and liked by the public... mere strangers who could care less one way or the other. I will be the first to admit, that I have a weird love/hate relationship with pop-culture. While I think the behavior being put on display is quite disgusting and sad, I am also enthralled and flummoxed by it. It’s akin to walking down the street, and rubber-necking at a couple groping and fondling one another in public or having a loud, obscenity laced argument. You’re at once appalled yet fascinated by the exhibitionism. Currently, hotel Heiress, Paris Hilton leads the flock of sheep clamoring for attention and notoriety. Recently voted, "Most Overrated Person" in this year’s Guinness Book of World Records Hilton would, undoubtedly, wear this categorization of her like a badge of honor... for her name is immortalized in the annals of that book’s history. She is the type of personality who probably believes that any publicity is good publicity. During a guerrilla-esque interview with a TMZ.com journalist, Paris seemed confused (and disturbed) by message board commenters, posting caustic things- (Such as: "Paris is like a fart in a mitten, you know it’s there, and it just wont go away" and "Paris is an oversized, human condom")- about her on the TMZ message board. She says the criticism hurts her feelings, and she doesn't understand why people would say such things about her. While the comments are harsh, Parish (pardon moi) Paris, should accept some responsibility for the reasons why people are so critical of her. Girl makes it a point to be at all places at all times, so that we just can’t help but see her. She has branded herself and made herself a household name. Someone of us don't want to know who she is, but her seemingly narcissistic personality and constant need to be on display, has made it impossible to ignore her. While the media’s fascination with Ms. Hilton shares some of the blame, those of us who could care less, are having her shoved down our throats. Enough, already. While Paris seems to be the ringleader in the desperate bid for celebrity, she certainly isn’t the only one. Celebrities (particularly those with dwindling careers) are suddenly having their sexual exploits leaked onto the internet. While many of them seem genuinely chagrined by having their past lascivious behavior broadcast to the world, just as many of them have people choreographing such bold career moves, such as their sex-tapes allegedly being stolen and posted on the internet. I think many of these "sex-tape" celebrities know exactly what they’re doing. It’s not enough to re-acquire that glory via the traditional movie/stage-role of a lifetime. Now we have to watch them frolicking with some unidentified lover, on a grainy sex-video. The article goes on to say that Psychologists are trying to get to the root of what prompts people to seek infamy, fame, and/or notoriety above any other goal in life. "...the motive never dies, and when we realize we’re not going to make it in this lifetime, we find some other route: posthumous fame" says psychologist Orville Gilbert Brim, who is working to complete the book "The Fame Motive." Tim Kasser, also a psychologist opined, "It’s a distinct type, people who expect to get meaning out of fame, who believe the only way to have their lives makes sense is to be famous." It’s seemingly not enough to find meaning in the those little, but significant things... family, merit, friends, an Oscar, a Grammy, a Nobel Peace Prize, a Pulitizer award, sheer INTELLECT. Even supposed intellectuals and artists desire some measure of immediate fame... i.e. fallen authors James Frey and Harvard undergraduate Kaavya Viswanathan (who plagiarized another author’s work, for much of her own). We live in a culture now, where acting visibly moronic and stupid is celebrated and being shot 9 times qualifies you as being an outstanding rapper before an album has even been dropped! Even bloggers are getting in on the frenzy to be popular, famous, and well-liked... saturating the internet with recycled celebrity gossip blogs, complete with their own signature and snarky (and at times scathing) brand of catty tabloid-journalism (and I use the term journalism loosely). No star-f*cking blogger demonstrates the need to be accepted more than Paris Hilton shadow, Mario Lavandeira...who re-christened himself Perez Hilton. A simple (and not a particularly witty or articulate) blogger who does nothing more than re-deliver celebrity gossip we’ve read or seen on TV a thousand times, posts pics of himself mugging with the very celebs he once trashed, name drops like no-one's business, and calls the likes of Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson, fat and ugly (notwithstanding his own corpulent and misshapen hulk of a body). Perez (who has insinuated himself into the celebrity haute-clique, socializes with the Queen Bee herself) is now a celebrity gossip correspondent featured on VH1 and E! respectively ... and he is rumored brokered some sort of deal for his own reality show... go figure. Andy Warhol determined that everyone is entitled at least 15 minutes of fame, but this is ridiculous! A lifetime seems to be what the untalented and desperate are striving for. I think Benedict hit the nail on the head when he also wrote: "Celebrity is the ultimate high school in-group, writ large. It appears a perfect balm for the sting of social exclusion or neglect..." And on that note, I’d like to leave you all with this delightful clip from the creme de la creme of wanna-bitches and the neglected... Flavor of Love Season 2... That’s it.

August 09, 2005

-Paris Hilton... please fuck off. -American entertainment media... stop making icons of dumb blonds. -While I'm on the topic... Pamela Anderson... give up that look already... you're getting too old for it. -White girls with pancake asses... stop saying you have "ghetto booties" when clearly you don't. Be happy with what you have. -Do away with the term "ghetto booty." -Lindsay Lohan... EAT. -Nicole Richie... EAT. -All Hollywood starlets... EAT. -G.W. Bush... do us all a favor and admit that you screwed up royally. Focusing on gay marriage in America wont erase the mess of the world you've instigated. -United Nations/Europe, while you wag your fingers at the U.S. ... realize that some of you share in the blame when it comes to the state of the world, too. -U.N. Peacekeepers, stop raping women in Africa, leaving them with illegitimate offspring and infected with HIV. That's not WHY you're there. -U.N., Bush, Everyone... realize that ignoring the plight of Africa wont make the overwhelming famine and civil unrest running rampant over there, go away. -Europe, America... admit that you helped instigate and perpetuate some of the problems Africa is experiencing. -Dave Chappelle... Please... come BACK already! -Sony, fuck you... you crooked, corrupt sons of bitches. -RIAA, Give UP already! -MTV, cease to exist! -BET, be ashamed! -Starbucks... stop overcharing for that tripe people could buy at any coffee shop. And while you're at it... revamp your stupid coffeehouse-speak. -General populace...stop giving me weird, sideward glances when I freely express my opinions. -Certain members of the general populace... stop asking if you could touch my hair. -Men... MAN UP already. -Resurrect chivalry! -Be honest! -Be sure! -Those who can't get it up... stop blaming the women for you insecurities... sexual or otherwise. -Fundamentalists... stop proselytizing to me! -Terrorism sucks, but realize that racial profiling sucks even worse! -Recognize that not EVERY olive skinned person is the enemy- hell, they may not even be Arab. -Recognize that social and economic terrorism runs rampant in this country. Government officials... DO SOMETHING and stop wasting our money on some bogus war. - Conservatives, rednecks, yankees, anybody... Stop trying to convince me that our current White House administration is doing a good job. Fucking look around yourselves. D. Nile gets lonely and cold after such a long stretch. This is MY petition... feel free to sign it.