Thursday, April 18, 2013

GLEE (Reflection)

I know this blog is late, and I apologize, but my life is insane and I did watch the episodes (all 3 of them) in a row but didn't have the time to blog about them. Until now. Here goes...

I'm going to start off with stating that I have never ever watched Glee before this class and the reason being is I just thought I'd never like it. It seemed too immature for me and I thought that only high school kids watched it. After watching "Pilot", "Never been kissed" and "Furt", I realized that I still don't like it and there is an overwhelming amount of over exaggerated stereotypes within the show. Anyone can disagree with me on this, but I really feel that Glee is a terrible representation of teenagers, especially LGBTQ teens struggling with daily issues. Glee works too hard to proliferate categories of people like jocks, nerds, sluts, cheerleaders, "ALTERNATIVE" kids, and so forth. It tries waaaaaayyy too hard to label and categorize teenagers as certain things allowing that categorization to extend into American teenagers heads.

In the Pilot episode, I noticed that one of the first scenes was Kurt walking down the hallway, strutting his stuff bragging about how he's wearing "Marc Jacob's new collection!!!", and then he gets thrown in a dumpster. The guy playing piano (who is wearing pink), touches the abs of a male chorus singer. When introducing the characters, Rachel goes "I'm not homophobic, I just have 2 gay dads!" then proceeds to go on about how she was born to be a star and is hyperflamboyant and competitive so the other kids in school make fun of her. Did she REALLY have to say "2 GAY Dads"? Why couldn't she just say, "I have 2 Dads?" Fin is the popular, hot football player who joins Glee club after being falsely accused of possessing marijuana. He lies to his football friends about it because to be in Glee club is to be feminine, weak, and ultimately, gay. Finn faces punishment from his fellow football players by getting attacked with paint balls when he misses A practice and is expected to redeem himself by bullying Artie. Artie is put in a porter john and Finn is expected to tip it over because Artie is in a wheelchair and can't get out of the situation! How funny is that?! NOPE.

In the "Never Been Kissed" episode, Kurt is faced with the horrible tragedy of being bullied. This episode got me SO MAD because nobody seemed to want to help Kurt in a real, institutialized way. Girls just expected their boyfriends to do it for them. How traditional/heterosexual can you be with that?! A girl in Glee club made a comment after they were told about their new song and she said, "OH MY GERD, SOOOO many gay jokes just popped in my head right now!" Who says that, really? Kurt keeps getting pushed into lockers. He wears a feather boa and wants to sing Diana Ross then gets shut down. Then he goes to an all boys school where he meets the love of his life and discovers that this new school has a zero tolerance policy. Kurt cries and says "I refuse to be the victim", then transfers schools. The kid who is bullying him is really struggling with his own identity and kisses Kurt. There's a lot more that happens in this episode but it made me too mad so I don't want to write about it.

In the "Furt" episode, the same guy keeps bullying Kurt and threatens to kill him. Kurt gets really scared and the football players on the Glee club (except for Finn) get together and threaten the bully to get him to leave Kurt alone. The girls don't do anything except swoon over their boyfriends when they get in a fight. Romantic. Finn gets punished because he prioritized the football team over helping Kurt and his girlfriend gets mad at him. OOOHH. The bully gets expelled, but let back in eventually, then Kurt actually transfers to a school where he can be safe and also be with his crush.

I know Glee is a really popular show and there are a lot of good things about it, but in my humble opinion, I think it's cheesy and gives a poor representation of what "real" high school kids experience. It definitely touches on a lot of topics, but over exaggerates them in ways that Leslie Bogad says exemplify the binaries within popular media. I'm really not trash talking Glee, I just want gay and straight kids alike to have a healthy idea of themselves and not base their own self-image off of the characters in Glee.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Rose (Argument)

On the YouTube video:
Tricia Rose in the YouTube video gave a brief history of the origins of hip hop. A few of her main arguments stuck out to me along with a few things she said. In the beginning, she pointed out how hard it is to talk about race/gender because the American population is so diverse that the only thing we have in common in popular culture. Everyone can connect through popular culture if there's nothing else. We get our cultural knowledge about race through popular culture which includes movies, television, magazines and music (in this case, hip hop). Although she didn't discuss the modern issues with hip hop culture in the clip, she did talk about some of the origins which made sense to me when thinking about current hip hop music. Starting around the 1970s,  hip hop mostly took place at parties or on basketball courts as a casual, social, pseudo-competitive game. It was never meant to become this elaborate mainstream culture as it is now. Early hip hop began as simply taking apart already existing music like disco songs, recording something over it and transforming it into something new. Rose said that when creating an early hip hop song, originality rests in the context of how you create already existing sounds. The notion of borrowing, versioning and treatment of living material is a notion that arises out of African-American culture. Another concept that Rose brought up was the notion of quoting songs as if the artist is having a conversation with other artists. Pulling parts from other songs and putting them into your own was a way of conveying a feeling or lyric in the way you want to convey it, but can only do so by using that particular song. Another aspect of early hip hop was a representation of the decline and despair taking place in urban America after the 1960s, manifesting in limited economic opportunities. Rose said this lead to creativity. The FIRST DJ's were people who were in vocational tech schools learning to become repairmen or some other middle-low-class job who learned how to create their own DJ equipment. They knew their equipment inside and out. The guy that I'm dating (kind of, I don't know) is a total gear-head (which means he's somebody who spends a LOT of money on synthesizers, looping devices and samplers all made before 1985). He buys them, pulls them apart, then puts them back together in order to produce the best sounds. He is also, debateably, one of the best musicians I know. Anyways, Rose said that the era of early hip hop was a profoundly destructive era for Black America due to urban renewal. The music was a way to express pain, anger and "nihilism". This can be seen in early hip hop artists lyrics as well as urban culture.

On the TIME article:
Everyone is wrong about hip hop. Rose acknowledges in her FAQ with TIME Magazine that hip hop isn't dead, it's gravely ill. (That's the first line in her book too, but that's besides the point.) She elaborates on this point by saying that the incredibly rich world of hip hop has been buried by commercialized, stereotyped hip hop music. She goes on to say that hip hop was never about making money, killing everyone who gets in your way or never caring about a woman; it started just for fun and creative expression. However, in current times, artists who can SELL become famous. Even artists who aren't talented when compared to much more creative, talented non-famous artists. Sex sells. Racial stereotypes sell. The artists who can perpetuate these stereotypes get the richest and most famous, therefore further perpetuating these stereotypes. So, what's the right way to think about hip hop? Who knows! Rose says we have to be educated and think about our position in the hip hop war in a sophisticated way. Subtlety is key when thinking about what's right and what's wrong in terms of hip hop.

In the next class I'd like to discuss a likely extremely controversial topic: young, middle-class white boys and hip hop music. What is that culture like and how did hip hop become such a commercialized, mainstream genre?!