Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sex Advice from the Good Doctor


Meaning Dr. Cornel West, esteemed intellectual and professor at Princeton University. I guess in some sort of half-hearted nod to Black History Month, MTV crowned West artist of the week this past week. For all those who don't know, West dropped an album last year of his professorial musings over some hip hop and R&B beats, but that's not what this post is about.

This post is really about one of those MTV interstitial commercials in which West proceeds to talk to a library full of poorly acting teens about safe sex.

Things I think about when I see Cornel West:
1. Frederick Douglass
2. Multi-syllabic words
3. Hair care products

Things I don't think about when I see Cornel West:
1. sex.

So really, his speech did some good, in that it likely killed the libido of every kid watching, at least for a couple of weeks.

After the jump, a Professor Clifton East lays down the law on pop culture.


Media Clips...


If you though Flavor Flav was a bad actor on Flavor of Love, you ain't seen nothing yet...

More rappers turned actors, this time Will.i.am steps up as an X-Men character...

Madea gets more animated than ever.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Laurieann's Music Video Debut


"You embarrass me. You embarrass yourself." - Crash

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

How Will.i.am jaded me


At this point, if you haven't seen Will.i.am's video "Yes We Can" you have been living under a veritable rock. Hell, the day the video was released I received four different emails linking to the video, with such descriptions as "inspiring!" and "beautiful!"

Now let me disclaim the following commentary with an admission: before I viewed the video on youtube, a very good friend of mines IM-ed me saying "Am I the only one that wasn't that moved by the video?" So already I went into it with a cynic's eye for disappointment. I'd also like to fully disclose my skepticism: I am a critic's critic and have been described as "having something to say about everything." If I watched God create the earth I'd probably say something like, "Does Hawaii have to be that far? I'm just saying, that could get expensive..."

Disclaimers withstanding, let me go ahead and come out and say it - the video wasn't that great.

I will give it to Will.i.am for the creativity. I have always respected him as a producer and think he is an incredibly talented man.

However, seeing "celebrities" (not you Fonsworth Bentley, and sorry Tatiana Ali, not you either) sing/talk/act out a speech didn't really move me. People talking about crying over this video, I'm expecting seeing shots of Obama speaking intercut with old footage of civil rights protesters getting hosed down, single moms bouncing fat babies on their hips, little kids going to school... instead I got Scarlett Johansson singing in a studio, which distracted me more than a little bit.

That said, I think the concept of the video was a great gesture to the campaign, especially in light of the upcoming Super Tuesday. However I couldn't help but look at the celebrities involved as opportunist, jumping on the Obama wagon because that's what everyone else was doing. Hell, I bet if you asked half those people in the video how they felt about Obama's policies, they'd probably say something vague like "I like that he's for change..." Well no shit. Who ever runs for office saying "I'm going to keep this shit exactly the same, so don't ya'll expect shit from me, I'm putting this bitch on cruise control." It's a politician's job to say they're going to do lots of change, ESPECIALLY if they're from the opposition party.

So the video made me nervous in that I fear the kind of influence it could have on uneducated voters. The shit was very alluring, shot well, with the black and white to make it all moody and deep, that joint could def go to number one on 106 & Park. But does that make Obama a great candidate? I'd hope that people would research more of what he stood for and less of who stood behind him. I trust Will.i.am to make hit records, not inform my political vote. Hell, Will admitted it himself - he's not really into politics, and he was really won over by Obama's speaking abilities & win in New Hampshire, not his stance on the iraq war and universal health care.

And I won't parade around like I know much about politics either: after I took this online quiz, I learned that Hillary Clinton edged out Barack Obama to be the candidate that most lined up in my political beliefs, at 87%, 3 percentage points more than Obama. Now am I going to let this online quiz determine who my vote goes to? No. But if there's anything I learned, it's that it's my responsibility as a voter to really study the candidates and vote based upon my beliefs, not the alluring popularity of a candidate.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Redeeming Qualities

After my rant on Jay-Z's casting agency a few days ago, I didn't think my redemption would come via Diddy. But lo, just when I want to write black male hip-hop'ers off Diddy comes out with a casting call for, gasp, African American women!! He didn't even mention exotics or ambiguous ethnics! To quote from Sophia "Ise belives deh is a god!"

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Coonery Continues

Now to be honest, we've all been excited by some extra cash (I had to do a happy dance on Friday from a much overdue check), but a top 40 hit rippin' off my boy buckweat?? Come on now...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Calling all Stereotypes



Look! A really creative casting for a music video:

Music Video Casting for Hip-Hop Megastar JAY-Z!!!!

Hip-Hop's Biggest Star is now casting for multiple roles for his new video due out in Spring 2008!
Expiration Date 3/1/2008

Location: NYC Area

Send Photos and Resume' to:

PALADINO CASTING
159 W. 25TH STREET
5TH FLOOR
NEW YORK NY 10001

SEEKING:

[WOMEN] Seeking 3 ethnically ambiguous females (African-American/Hispanic, African-American/Asian,Hispanic/Asian, Indian/African-American, etc.) who appear to be 18-26 years old. Talent should be extremely beautiful, exotic model-types.
Rate: $1,000

All they forgot to add was African American women need not apply.

The casting call continues on to request other extras, but never are black people specifically requested.

And fine, I mean people can't help that they're biracial anymore than I can help that I never reached 5'7". But forreal, this shit is tired. Like surprise, surprise, ethnically ambiguous women are wanted for a music video. How very original!

The sad thing is, while black folks in the hip hop world are still caught up tired cliches, the fashion world is finally realizing how played is the stereotype of the crackhead chic skeletor model. Last year saw some major shakeups in international fashion shows, with countries such as Madrid and Milan banning skinny models from their fashion shows. Even in the states some fashion labels are beginning to follow suit, like Lycra featuring normal sized women sporting swimwear at their 2007 Miami fashion week show.



Hell, the whole reason I was spurned to write this post was the stark contrast between what this Newsweek article reports on the growing popularity of street fashion blogs and everyday people becoming models, and what this tired casting requests for what will likely be another unimaginative music video. 

I always was torn in my disgust over the images of black women in music videos: was I mad because women were being exploited as sexual objects meant to bolster a man's status, or madder because these women became lighter and more vaguely ethnic as the artist's career began to take off? You can look at any hip-hop artist and see the cliched whitening of their music videos: the first usually takes place in their old neighborhood, featuring people they know, dancing in a crowd shot on the street in front of some hood ass cars. Close ups on the booty shaking and bad weaves. The next video will likely take place in a club, with nicer cars, someone throwing money, or shaking a bottle of expensive liquor, probably all while brandishing their advance check in the form of a blinged-out chain. The women in this video will be considerably both more beautiful and lighter in this video, and typically women that this rapper would have never even had the chance to wink at if it wasn't for his newfound "career". Cut to the third or forth video (which may be on the second album at this point), and you're destined to see an "exotic" locale video featuring the hallowed ethnically ambiguous women gyrating seductively for the camera. And from there on in expect that to be the only women in the videos. Sorry girls who look just like the rapper's mom, sister, cousin, and first three girlfriends - you're just not beautiful enough anymore.

So let me be the first to say it: I'm over black men in hip hop being obsessed with "exotic" women. It's tired, unimaginative, and really could construe to self-hate when you consider that most of these men are about as exotic as Hawaiian Punch. Put some brown-skinned African American women in your video for once.

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