Hip-Hop got Krushed (changed)…

Posted: December 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

In our second session of class we had a very beneficial discussion on how Hip-Hop and the culture that is associated with this genre has changed over the years. The discussion was not whether it had happened or not, the discussion was about if it was good for the Hip-Hop culture or not. Overall, the conclusion we came to was that it had changed for the better…and for the worse. Although it was hard for us to come together with one final conclusion on the matter, we were able to have valid reasons supporting both sides of the arguments. Crys made a great point that Hip-Hop had changed from what Luther Vandross used to sing about. She stressed over and over again that there were many great, unique, and sensual aspects of Hip-Hop that have just died out over the years. And she is right, she made a great argument by saying, “I just don’t understand what the purpose is behind most of the music that is being produced these days.” Basically, she was wondering why these Hip-Hop artists didn’t all rap and sing about certain causes, raise awareness and attention about issues? The change she wanted to see was in the content of the music. However, the argument Justine had was that singing and rapping about important issues is not what sells to corporate America. She made a good point by saying that the catchy dance music about sex, drugs, and the projects is what sells. People like to hear about other peoples’ struggles. We enjoy purchasing songs about things other than political issues because music, for many people, serves as a “getaway” from real life.

After discussing the changes in Hip-Hop over the years, we sat down as a class and watched the first hour of Krush Groove. Krush Groove is a movie about Russell Simmons and the establishment of Run DMC and other influential and respectable Hip-Hop artists during the “Hip-Hop revolution.” Some of the greatest Hip-Hop artists of all time got their careers started around the time Run DMC did. I really wish we would have finished the movie but I guess we ran out of time. I think anyone who considers themselves to be a member of the Hip-Hop culture should watch this movie.

Advertisements

How has Hip-Hop evolved?

Posted: December 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

In so many ways… This class is going to make me dig deep into the history of Hip-Hop and how the culture has evolved. Our first discussion delve into how Hip-Hop was a culture and not just a genre of music. This wasn’t necessarily news to me, but I still learned a lot of things that I never thought about. For example, I’m a part of the Hip-Hop culture. I didn’t ever think of how I was in it or how it influenced me, but after discussing the different aspects that go into the culture that is Hip-Hop, I realized that I was very much a part of it and very much influenced by it. I love the music. I love the style. I love the soul that was established in a lot of the music in the past. I love everything from the struggles that were experienced by so many, to the success stories that many successful Hip-Hop artists enjoy sharing with members of the Hip-Hop community. I’m really excited to dig deeper into what made Hip-Hop what it is and I’m really excited to understand the culture that I have been a part of for so long now.

 

In our first class we were given the first chapter to read of Jay-Z’s new book Decoded. It got me really excited to read the rest of the book. I mean, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I purchased the book later that night on Amazon. I think Jay-Z coming out with this book couldn’t have been better timed and I am excited to relate his experiences in his chapters to the topics we discuss in class. I think a lot of people can learn a lot about Hip-Hop and can learn to appreciate different aspects of the culture by reading his story.

I can finally educate the ignorant. Only because I, myself, have been educated.

I came into this class thinking that I knew everything there was to know on racism, sexism, and stereotypes in the media. I thought that I knew the ins and outs to living a bias-free lifestyle. I was sadly mistaken. Throughout the month-long class I learned that I had only studied one chapter in the book that is race, gender, and the media.

In our lives we see racism and sexism come in all shapes and sizes. In my first blog I wrote of how racism has no color and sexism has no gender-inflicted voice box. I still hold these assessments to be true. We have learned in this class that stereotypes can be found everywhere and I have found a number of biases that I believed in that weren’t healthy. I’m proud to say that this class has molded me into not only a stronger American, but a stronger human as well. I have eliminated my own biases. I have overcome what little stereotypes I used to find. Fortunately for me, no longer are the issues that can be closely related to racism and sexism found in my thoughts. I have overcome an evil that has torn apart our country and the world for so many years. And I have one month in one class with one teacher to thank for it.

Have we moved past the need to have a class called “Race, Gender, and the media?” Three weeks ago a number of my fellow students would have said “yes.” Now, I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we all agree on “No.” We haven’t moved past the need for this class. We all know this because we have all grown from the topics discussed everyday.

The best example I can give is what I initially thought when I saw Bryan, my classmate, in class for the first time. As Bryan said on his first day, he was from a small Texas town and had joined the class late. He came into class in a baseball cap, some athletic shoes and a football polo. My first thought was “Uh-oh. Small town Texas football boy is NOT going to like me or Ta’chelle.” There. I automatically, without even knowing this kid, assumed that he was a racist, white, small town Texas kid. I was sadly mistaken. Never have I been so happy to be wrong and felt so bad internally for assuming incorrectly. I felt awful. The first things he said were so out of the box and down to Earth. The words coming out of his mouth didn’t match the stereotype that I had thrown him in and it was already a wake-up call for me. Second day of class and one of my stereotypes was shot down already.

We all have a Bryan around that we can learn from. The question is, are you going to take the time to learn from your Bryan? Are you going to step out of the box and not only close the door behind you, but also lock it and throw away the key? I did. And I will continue to do so.

I stepped out of the box. I closed the door behind me. I locked the door. I threw away the key. I’m never looking back. It’s invigorating. You should try it.

It’s been a blast blogging for you. I hope in reading about my growth you have grown with me. I hope, if not all my words, just one sentence had a positive impact on you.

Here is the link to our FINAL PROJECT!

Thanks again,

Nader

When we see ads these days we see only one common theme: 1. Sex. It sells. People believe it. Companies believe it. Men believe it. Women believe it. It’s evident. Everyone knows that it’s true and yet no one thinks about its morality. Is it moral to sell products through the manipulation of the male and female sex drive? To prove my point I’ve found the top 15 ads that sex sells anything. Click Here for the images.

Now to my advertisements that I chose for my blog.

I’ll start with three words. Be-Yon-Ce…Actually, it’s just Beyonce. But her recent advertisement in Vogue is so seductive that everyday readers will find themselves reading a little slower than usual. The advertisement is for her first fragrance called “Heat.” The ad is a full-page photo of Beyonce in a red silk dress split in front of her chest, showing the side of her right breast. The ad reads: “HEAT. CATCH THE FEVER.”

There are a lot of things that are wrong with this advertisement. However, for the sake of all my readers I’ll just point out a few.

1. It is a full-page ad for perfume but the picture of the fragrance bottle itself is a small one, about half the size of a cigarette pack, in the bottom right corner. The rest of the ad is Beyonce, seductively posing.2. Beyonce is posing with her forearm pressed against her left breast and her hand stroking through her hair. Are you thinking about sex yet? 3. The writing is placed in her cleavage. Not below it. Not above it. On it. 4. The writing I just mentioned reads: “Catch the fever.” What fever? 5. Her silk dress is red and very loosely fitted, almost resembling stripped bedsheets. 6. The red silk symbolizes a more rebellious nature and way of living.

All these are observations I got from this one advertisement and all these are incredibly degrading and almost insulting to women. Did I say almost? I meant they are. This basically portrays Beyonce as a very successful temptress. She has stripped the bedsheets and covered her body in them. Her body language indicates that she wants to get intimate and the writing on her chest suggests that the way one can “Catch the fever” is by getting intimate with Beyonce. Shame on you Sasha Fierce.

My next advertisement is identical to Beyonce’s except everything that I assumed with Beyonce is down right evident in this ad. It is an ad in Vogue by Calvin Klein for his new Euphoria perfume. This time the advertisement has a different tone. The women is a young white woman who looks almost sad or used. Which is very odd, seeing as how the perfume is called “Euphoria.” She looks heartbroken. She is holding a flower and actually wearing bed sheets with her back and partially the side of her left breast showing. In her right hand she is holding a flower and holding the sheets up above her chest. When I see the flower I think that she woke the morning after having sex with a man and he was gone. She woke up to a flower and is now still in the sheets looking for the man but can’t find him. Again, like the Beyonce ad, the full-page advertisement is of the woman and the perfume bottle itself is in the bottom right corner, no bigger than the last ad.

My last advertisement in Vogue was for a different perfume by Yves Saint Laurent called Parisienne. This advertisement was a little better, but not by much at all. I only say it’s better because the white woman in the advertisement is actually wearing clothes. However, this ad says a lot. The slogan for this perfume is “Living and loving in the moment.” The picture is of a white woman in a dress from the night before when it was obvious that she went out to the clubs or dinner. Her hair is disheveled and her jacket is resting on her shoulders but not securely on. In her right hand we see the flower again, I mentioned earlier what I thought this symbolized. The woman is seen in the streets of Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background of the picture. Half of the sky is dark and the bottom left corner of the sky is light, inferring that the sun is now coming up. This ad insinuates that the woman met a man the night before and stayed with him and “lived and loved in the moment” and got up and “respectfully” left to go home. She left before sunrise to keep with a secretive lifestyle. Again, her facial features and the way she is carrying herself is in a sad manner. She looks as if she realizes that she was used and that she made a mistake. On the other hand, her look can also be mistook for the “deer in the headlights” look. As if she was caught by someone, the photographer in this case, on her way back home. Kind of like an “Oh crap!” moment.

All of these advertisements were targeted for women because they are for perfumes. However, they aren’t supposed to make the woman feel bad, I think. The way I see them wanting the women to see it is that the woman was with a man and got what SHE wanted and then left. It’s as if they want the women to feel like they are in control of these relationships or sexual encounters. The slogan should read: “If you want him, he’ll fall for this.”

I think a number of things could have been done differently, but I don’t know how. I am the last person to come up with a new advertising technique but I know other ways, without sex, can work. I know this because another ad in this edition of Vogue was for a pair of sunglasses by Tiffany & Co. and the full-page ad was just of the sunglasses resting on a blank surface.

These advertisements can be broken down far more than I already have, but that is a never ending process in today’s advertising world. I think it’s ridiculous how so many ads use sex in one way or another to instill a sense of need in consumers. But as we say in class everyday, the solution begins with us.

Let me just start by saying I love Disney. My family has gone to Disney World more times than I can count and we love everything about it. That being said, I have noticed more recently when I watched older movies that came out when I was a kid that have some underlying race and gender issues.

For this blog I chose to watch Aladdin again. When I say ‘again’ I don’t mean for a second or third time, I mean ‘again’ for the 100th + time. I have seen this movie more times than I have seen any other movie in my life. Why? Because growing up a Disney fan AND being middle eastern was weird. It was hard because every Disney show I watched and every Disney movie that I was used to seeing had a big white hero to save the day and get the girl. The good guy was always a white guy and it was confusing to me.

Aladdin came out in 1992 when I was 4 years old. I loved watching it because I could relate to him. He had darker hair and a darker skin color. Some of the words used in the dialogue of the movie were Arabic words that I had heard and was familiar with. The idea of a genie and a magic lamp were cool to me because I had heard bed time stories of similar things growing up. All these things were wonderful and made me enjoy this movie to a higher degree, but there was still something about it that bothered me.

This movie, for all I knew at the time, was about what it was like to live in the culture my family came from. So for me, this was one of my earliest lessons as to what life is like overseas. Up until this point I hadn’t learned, nor did I think to ask, about anything that had to do with where my family came from.

As I grew older and continued to watch Aladdin, I began to pick up on things that I didn’t recognize at first and it frightened me because I was afraid the negative images portrayed in this movie would reflect how people thought I was and where my family came from was. The negative images I speak of are found throughout the movie but slap you in the face in the opening credits/song: Arabian Nights

In this song they sing about how “barbaric” the middle east is…”Where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face. It’s barbaric, but hey it’s home!” As I grew older and payed more attention to lyrics I began to wonder why they had said that. Sometimes my friends would even ask me questions about it. “Is that true? Do they do that where your parents come from?”

NO! They don’t cut off your ear because they don’t like your face. Why the hell was that question even asked? Because…Disney said it. Disney said it and Disney doesn’t lie. Disney is a powerhouse.

Later on in the movie you see a lot of racism and false representation of the middle eastern culture but to pick every single one out would take a number of blogs, not just one.

On a separate note…Hip-Hop.

Lil Wayne. Oh boy. I’m not going to lie. I love Lil Wayne. He is a lyrical genius. Arguably one of, if not the greatest, rapper of our lifetime. His beats are ridiculous. His rhymes are unmatched. His talent can’t be contained and as the world already knows, He Has No Ceilings.

Now, all that being said. Yes, he is the poster child for objectifying women. I have literally heard every song he has ever written, worked on, produced, etc. And it is very hard to find a song where a woman is not objectified. However, looking beyond this flaw of his, the main reason why I listen to Lil Wayne is for the simple reason that I believe he can put a phenomenal rhyme together better than any poet alive today. He toys with the English language and has educated himself on a plethora of topics in order to keep his sharpness and witty nature up to speed.

I could talk about his flaws and uniqueness all day, so a blog may not cut it.

“And you know what they say, when you’re great it’s not murder. It’s assassinate…” – Wayne

questions or comments: Nader.Nassar@ou.edu

The Beautiful Game

Posted: June 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

Soccer. Not surprised I’m writing about this? That’s fine. Let me just explain why this sport is considered the most beautiful game and we’ll see if you agree or disagree.

Soccer is an art. When people across the world describe events in soccer they speak of how amazing and beautiful certain things are. A common phrase to hear after a magnificent shot: “That was beautiful.”

It’s a classy game that mesmerizes and captures the view of a very diverse audience.

For the sake of needing a good example of what I mean, and for my complete and total loyalty to my favorite player in the world, I’ll talk about Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, commonly known as Cristiano Ronaldo. He is the most brilliant handler in the game and is arguably one of the greatest to ever take the field. His moves mesmerize. His calmness captivates. He makes the game beautiful. Now ladies, I know you think he makes the game beautiful in a different way and that’s fine. But for all the true fans out there, his soccer i.q. is off the charts. His abilities can’t be contained and his skill doesn’t seem to be disappearing anytime soon. In fact, many argue that he gets better with every game he plays.

Cristiano and his skills are just a few of the many reasons why this game is considered a beautiful sport. All athleticism aside, the diversity within this sport make it what it is. Every country has a team, no matter how small or big. Every nation comes together, all colors and sexes, to support their players. And every game something amazing happens.

Before the 2006 World Cup (Largest sporting event in the world. Takes place every four years.) in Germany, the Ivory Coast was stuck in a civil war between the north and the south. A line was drawn and the end of the civil war seemed out of reach. However, their country’s team playing in the World Cup put a pause on the civil war. They literally stopped fighting so they could come together as a nation and support their country. This, to me, is amazing. Imagine a game bringing people to peace. Imagine fighting everyday with your neighbor and then coming to terms with him or her because you share a love for the same sport. This is beauty at its best.

The diversity in this game is unmatched by any sport. People of all ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, etc. ALL play this game. It doesn’t matter what God you pray to. It doesn’t matter how dark or light your skin is. It doesn’t matter if you’re a homosexual or a heterosexual. What matters is the game. The “Say No To Racism” campaign that they continually have is a great reminder of how diverse and culturally aware FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) is. Another incredible example that needs to be recognized is the first World Cup 2010 commercial that aired before the tournament started. WATCH IT!!!!!! Nothing compares to this. It couldn’t be said better than how this commercial describes what the tournament is all about. What do we play for? Not for politics. Not for the money. Not for certain rights. But for the love of the beautiful game.

So, do you see why I love this game? Hopefully you’ll grow to love it too.

Want to watch the World Cup? Here’s a schedule of all the games!

Tim Wise. Where have you been? Why aren’t you all over the news? Delete Michael Moore’s face off of my screen and insert more Tim Wise. His work should be published and made a required read in high schools across the country. No questions asked.

To label myself for those of you that don’t know me, I am an Arab-American. To define privilege for those of you that don’t necessarily have a definition for it, I’d say that Tim said it best. Privilege is a “head start.” It’s a benefit. It’s a gift. You’re born with it, or into it. A point that he made in defining it that really stuck out to me was that privilege goes beyond the monetary aspect of privilege. It’s more than being privileged with a hefty paycheck or allowance. It’s about being privileged in every sense of the word. I’d say that a gift, or privilege, I have is the ability to walk and talk. I can do both freely and although this seems small in scale relative to the topic we talk about on a regular basis, this is my identity. I have to be thankful for these abilities because I’ve known nothing but to have those and many people have felt the pain and misery of having the gift and then getting it taken away.

In my previous blog about privilege, I took the first five privileges that Peggy McIntosh had and compared them to mine to see if she and I shared the same luxuries. Unfortunately we didn’t on the majority of her privileges and as I mentioned in that same blog, I don’t blame nor should anyone blame her or any white person for having those privileges. The point Mr. Wise is trying to get across, and I agree, is that more people with white privilege should try and see things from the perspective of people of color and the opposite gender.

Privilege and race go hand-in -hand. Different races have different universal privileges and can’t get rid of them. For example, we all already mentioned the white privilege that exists in America. What about the privileges that the Latin community DOESN’T have in Arizona?

The racial profiling that takes place in Arizona is an outrage to say the least, but what’s really crazy about this specific story is the amount of privilege that the Latin community is not going to be “privileged” to have. They will get to watch their white bosses and neighbors live life leisurely with a smile stretching from ear to ear, while their employees are practically hiding everywhere they go. Sweat dripping down the sides of their face, not from the Arizona heat but from fear of deportation and racial profiling.

If Tim Wise ran for president I don’t know how well we’d do politically across the globe, but internally we would be a happier and more diverse nation. Wise ’13?