Monday, September 28, 2009

By Popular Demand

A friend suggested that I do a post about the Kanye dustup and race in America. Then another friend said she thought it was an interesting subject too because Kanye has always been outspoken about racial prejudice, which hadn't really occurred to me. So here it goes.

Kanye made himself look like an asshole. If he thought that the award was being given to the white girl because she was white, he didn't represent that opinion very well. In fact, he played into outdated stereotypes of black men as intimidating and uncontrolled...or something.

And I think perhaps Kanye plays into stereotypes of black men, or at least hip hop artists, himself. He's the son of the chair of the English department at a substantial university and he writes blog posts in all caps with terrible grammar (I can't seem to find his actual blog posts). Granted, the blogosphere isn't exactly the most grammatically correct forum, but he pushes the LOL-language to the point of incomprehension. Normally, I wouldn't judge a hip hop artist on their grammar because it seems classist and condescending, but Kanye is known for his clever wordplay and he is obviously educated. Anyway, Lupe Fiasco seems like a good example of being the anti-Kanye in that he addresses racism in a more approachable and understandable way.

I did love "George Bush doesn't care about black people". That was an appropriate event for yelling on national television, and I was incredibly happy that he did it. But stealing a microphone from a 19 year old on national television makes racism worse, not better. I must agree with Obama that he is somewhat of a jackass.

My God.

I have only heard of Robert Moses in the past few years when I realized that cities are actually great places to live, but it really seems like he just drew lines on maps of cities however the fuck he wanted. A Laurelhurst Freeway? Seriously?

It's basically the same design every time. Giant inner ring highway destroying inner city neighborhoods, giant outer ring highway so suburbanites can get to wherever quickly, with several spokes so they can get to work downtown. But it never works.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Clinton on Gay Rights

Undoubtedly he's trying to shift the blame here, but I think sometimes we may overestimate the power that a president has to make dramatic change. Institutions (such as the military) offer a lot of internal resistance.

Wednesday Night Meyousic

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Irony and Tragedy (or, The Day that Everything Changed)

I was thinking about my own (usually ironic) way of discussing 9/11, and the title of this post at Gawker made me feel as if others may share my sentiments.

I remember when we were discussing the Holocaust in a class at school, some of my classmates insisted that it was inappropriate to be ironic or humorous about Hitler or the Holocaust because it diminishes or trivializes the deaths of millions of people. I said that it was not being humorous about a tragedy that can trivialize it, but rather a sort strict culture instruction on how to discuss a subject that trivializes it. That is, if the only way that we are allowed to discuss the Holocaust or 9/11 is by public demonstration of grief, then that grief just becomes ritual. In the same way that calling someone Hitler has become a joke, so has the phrase “never forget” when discussing 9/11, because both Hitler comparisons and commemoration of the attacks are so common that they have become banal.

As the Gawker article says, some emotional distance is appropriate in these situations, and irony or humor is a way of maintaining that distance rather than watching the planes hitting the towers 50 times or looking at pictures of Jews in concentration camps.

That’s because those images are the important thing. They’re self-fucking-explanatory, and when we demand that people deliver a visible or audible demonstration of the emotions they are supposed to feel when they are confronted with that tragedy, it just becomes a ritualized demonstration that people do because that’s just what people are supposed to do. It's difficult to return to the rage, horror, sadness, etc. of that day and demanding that everyone recreate those emotions is counterproductive on many levels.

To add another layer of irony, it’s these cultural demands for public grieving that allow politicians to exploit something like 9/11. To add another layer, it’s the politicians who exploit 9/11 who actually caused the tragedy with their empire building and whatnot. It’s never ending unless everyone just shuts up about 9/11 and let’s the tragedy speak for itself.

Maybe I wouldn't feel the need to be ironic about 9/11 if it hadn't been exploited so grotesquely, but I doubt that the exploitation was unique to this event.