Thursday, January 13, 2011

What's the argument here?

(Trigger warning - NSFW)

About this Kanye/"Monster" controversy...

I'm not sure a woman who just posted about her love for "Ode to Billie Joe" is the right person to do deep analysis of hip hop culture. I don't want to talk about music so much anyway. I'm just struck--and not for the first time--how fans of an artist can twist and wheedle to make said artist's troubling biases about art rather than "isms."

Given all of Kanye West's public asshattery surrounding women and race ("Mutts," anyone?), coupled with his new dead-woman-laden video (above), it surprises me to think the jury is still out on whether or not the man is a misogynist. Can we at least agree that he has misogynist tendencies? But just like Sarah Silverman and Chelsea Handler fans are always wont to explain why X it totally ironic and neither privileged bullshit nor racist, so too will Yeezy defenders point out how folks just don't get his genius and deft use of metaphor. See, he's not fetishizing white women, animalizing black women and serving up torture porn, he's making some bold statement about himself that just happens to look like white woman fetishizing, black woman denigrating and torture porn.

Music Thursdays: Country strong edition

I like country music.

There I said it.

Okay, well maybe that's not quite right. Thing is, I don't hate country music in the way you might expect a liberal African American woman raised in a Northern city would. I like some country music. Actually, I love some country music.

I think it's because I'm a child of the 70s, when "country" was enjoying a lot of mainstream currency. I grew up watching "Hee Haw" on Sunday nights (Salute!) Top rock acts were infused with country (Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd). Kris Kristofferson was a sex symbol. Big rigs and CB radios were hot. And you were as likely to hear Glen Campbell and Dolly Parton on a non-country station as anyone else. It was also the era of the tragic country song.

This song, by Bobbie Gentry, was actually released in the late 60s, but it remained popular enough to inspire a movie starring 70s heartthrob Robbie Benson.

Of course, all country music of the time wasn't so depressing. Dolly Parton is fun. I've always had a soft spot for Dolly.

Now, as I grew older, in the 80s and most of the 90s, I ignored country music. It just wasn't cool. The Dixie Chicks won me back, though. Love me some Chicks. I've always enjoyed how the they sing about freedom, about stretching their wings (no pun intended) and adventuring, in a way that is usually reserved for male singers.

I have all the Chicks' albums, but my favorite is Taking the Long Way, the one after the Bush foofaraw. For a good chronicle of the heat the Dixie Chicks took for speaking out against President George W. Bush overseas, see the wonderful documentary Shut Up and Sing.

Country music is filled with strong women.I like that. Most of my favorite country artists are women, except for Johnny Cash, who is simply legendary and transcends any musical genre. (Rosanne Cash is pretty damned awesome, too. Funny, literate, talented and a great Twitterer. @rosannecash)


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