As we stand on the edge of Black Music Month, I decided to share a classic from an oft-overlooked group, Shalamar. Go on and get your boogie together!
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
at 9:00 PM
I've relaxed my stance on Reality TV in the last year or so; partially because I’ve been able to stomach a few shows and also because I’ve come to realize the genre isn’t going anywhere. I can’t always rage against the machine. However, please believe there are certain franchises that I will forever be at war with, mostly because of the characters they create and how those characters has become the chief media representation of a segment of our culture. So imagine my surprise and disgust when four Reality personalities grace the cover of Vibe magazine with “Meet Your New Role Models” superimposed against their heavily made-up figures.
Over the last couple of years the “Basketball Wives” and Atlanta installment of the “Real Housewives” have been among the most talked about reality shows and not because of any outstanding performances, but the drama held within their one-hour time slots has been riveting, if not embarrassing. The bankability of those shows have spawned numerous offspring, most notably the Los Angeles version of “Basketball Wives” and “Love & Hip-Hop”. These shows have the same premise, putting a group of women who allegedly have some strain of commonality and following their day-to-day lives.
These lives include fabricated rivalries over the most trivial of moments, copious amounts of liquors, more B-words than an Eddie Murphy routine and the latest rage, fights complete with tossed glasses and other objects, weave pulling and plenty of tears. Essentially, we’re watching summer on Martin Luther King Boulevard masquerading behind designer names and high-end locales. Instead of showcasing groups of women thriving in a man’s man’s man’s world, we get the lowest common denominator and due to mainstream media’s historic reluctance to accurately and consistently portray women of color in empowering roles, this is the version of our women that gets displayed on the Idiot Box several times weekly.
Since Flavor Flav’s Reality rebirth, Reality TV has become the vehicle for resuscitating dying careers, so when Toni Braxton signed her family on for “Braxton Family Values”, I’m not sure if she thought Tamar would become the breakout star. However, I’m quite sure Tamar had seen more than her share of other shows and knew what works; I’m sure she took note that NeNe Leakes, Tami Roman and Evelyn Lozada were the most controversial personalities on their respective shows and more importantly, saw how their profiles and bank accounts exploded because of their on-screen personas. While Toni thought she would ignite her stalled career and maybe put a little cash in her sister’s pockets, Tamar figured she would follow the Reality blueprint to become a star and hopefully find three people interested in her singing career.
Two weeks ago a Jill Scott tweet prompted a terse response from Tamar and sister Towanda that launched a few responses from the sisters and even fans that objected to the way the sisters were immediately offended by the tweet. If that’s the response garnered by someone saying “a real representation”, what are you saying to those that routinely go in on you? Not to mention that your show is not the only game in town, so who knows if Jill Scott was even referring to that show, when there are so many poor representations on the air? I guess guilt is heavier than weave…
Vibe has a responsibility to move units and this cover could possibly be nothing more than an attempt to do so; these women have established followings and just look at how the internets have been buzzing since the cover’s release. There’s a chance someone came up with the tag line as mere provocation, much like Rick Ross appearing chest naked on last year’s “Sexy” issue. Based on the ratings, the copycat shows and the social media capital these characters hold, they have become the new role models. We freaked out because we associate the term “role model” with a level of positivity, but those words are generally missing from its definition, so these women have become role models and it’s not hard to see just who they’re influencing.
Over the last couple of months, Facebook feeds have been littered with videos of young girls brawling with one another or being assaulted, bullied or downright degraded by other young women. The most infamous of which was a video of Tashay Edwards confronting another young lady over a Twitter comment and commencing to brutally beating the girl down on her front porch. The entire ordeal was disturbing, even more so that it was videotaped and uploaded to the internet for the world to see…which we did. In the aftermath of this beatdown, I came across “The Bad Girls Club” on Oxygen and have been glued to my TV watching this nonsense, not because I’m entertained by it, but because I cram to understand its intent.
The deplorable behavior on these shows and lack of consequences has resonated in the mind of an impressionable generation on the verge of self-destruction. Take a look at those half your age and realize far too many of them have half the sense you had at that age and go twice as hard on the vices you have now. You couple their lifestyle with the celebrated “stars” of these shows and we have a lethal mix that has spontaneously combusting at every turn.
Enter “Scandal”, Shonda Rhimes brilliant D.C. drama featuring Kerry Washington as high-powered attorney/fixer Olivia Pope and in seven weeks we saw the rejuvenation of a culture…but that’s TV, this is “reality”, right? If your reality is anything like mine, you don’t know too many women who behave like the caricatures we see nightly on television and you’re thankful for that. However, perception is reality and though other cultures have similar shows that display depraved behavior, there seems to be enough to counteract the effects of the pigeonholing. I often joke about how Essence rotates the same five women on its cover, but now I’m thankful they don’t add these four and a host of others to the mix.
Friday, May 4, 2012
at 4:51 PM
As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots — what a shock that he chose black and white as the new team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new “urban” home — why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment? Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N------s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B----hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!
It was two paragraphs, less than 90 words, but they survived longer than anything else is Phil Mushnick’s column today. The longtime New York Post columnist called his insensitive and racist remarks an observation on Jay-Z’s artistry, not divisive, racist commentary meant to demean and belittle the man, the borough and the movement that has supposedly help mend some of the divides in our culture.
I’m not surprised.
I’ve never read any of Mushnick’s columns in his near 40 years of service, so I can’t speak of his content, but for his hate to creep into his fingers is no more surprising than I am invisible in Walmart, parking lots or how that cloak of invisibility is raised when I’m rocking a hoodie in a gated community. Mushnick offered up an explanation to The Village Voice in which he attempted to distance himself from being a closeted racist, but never discounts the hateful intent of his words.
By deducing Jay-Z to a common thug that wears “Nigga” on his chest, packs two guns and runs with a gang of bitches and hoes, Mushnick is able to effectively shut out the Jay-Z that has gone from the Marcy Projects to one of the most recognizable faces on the planet, all because of his mastery of an art form that was born to create discomfort in folks like Mushnick. If he was truly commenting on Jay-Z’s artistry, he may have wanted to start at the genius level use of words that has created some of the best music over the past 15 years and allowed Shawn Corey Carter to amass a fortune of close to $500 million.
You and I know that’s not what was at work here.
He claims his family was never exposed to the word “Nigga” until “folks like Jay-Z came along. Outside of his column, he’s told nothing but lies today, unless his family lived in a bubble. I suppose his family never watched Quentin Tarentino films, “The Godfather”, “Roots” or any number of critically acclaimed (read: White approved) works of art. They missed that episode of “All in the Family” when Archie Bunker said “nigger”. If Mushnick wanted to inspect the content of Jay-Z’s lyrics or those that have come before, during and after his reign at the top of Hip-Hop, then he must inspect the conditions that impregnated these voices and suppress the genius of many children in Ghetto, U.S.A. It’s obvious he has no interest in that sort of exploration and even more apparent that his words flowed effortlessly from the tips of his fingertips, because a man who doesn’t say those words, doesn’t use them with such vigor.
I don’t know if Phil Mushnick dislikes or even hates Black people. I know there’s one that he harbors animosity towards and that’s Jay-Z. The jealousy in his ranting was evident; he’s on the attack because Jay-Z has used words to achieve fame, acquire a not-so-small fortune, expand into a near exclusive business arena and that gets Phil Mushnick’s goat! The fact that Jay-Z’s words have given him passage into a world Phil Mushnick felt privy too and parts he’s never knew existed because his way of words probably landed him as far as Long Island and a timeshare in Key West, while Jay-Z and Beyoncè enjoy rarified air. That’s enough to curl the fingers above a keyboard and unmask your hate through dashes in a rant about the new color scheme, location and logo for a basketball team.
By the way, how many dashes are in “nigga”, certainly not the five you added in your article Mr. Mushnick.
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