WOMEN OF COLOR AND THE RACIALIZED HUMAN BODY

tumblr_npft68zx4d1s1lyreo5_500As the “Southern Belle of Hip-Hop,” Beyoncé redefines the ideal beauty for women of color through her image and sexuality, as well as her strong politics of Black feminism. Her beauty, curves, and sexuality visible in her many of her music videos, have impacted today’s hip-hop and contemporary pop culture. Since the 1990’s, the hip-hop dream world has undeniably objectified women as promiscuous, creating a very hypermasculinity and sex crazed music video culture (Durham 2012). The emerging hip-hop and rap videos in today’s music industries desire and objectify women with a “big booty” as a “classless ho” and nothing but “bootylicious,” presenting a damaging belief of hypersexuality of black women due to their voluptuous and “deviant” body type (Durham 2012). This sexually saturated performances and interpretations of Black women and their bodies are ironically desired because of their race and exotic features of a big butt. Beyoncé is a prime example of a real Black woman with “a thin waist and big booty” (Durham 2012), who uses her power and body to represent class, femininity and sexuality. She has driven herself to change the framing of women in many current hip-hop videos. She has effortlessly used her power and fame to reconstruct a better representation of women of color and their “big booty.”

Earlier this year, Beyoncé released “Formation” which depicts an empowering image of the brutality of police towards Blacks. The song contributes to the hash tag movement #BlackLivesMatter (Kerr-Dineen) as well as her own pride and self-love of being an African-American woman. In her video, she uses her body to represent the power and pride she has for being a Black woman with a multicultural background singing, “You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bama.” Beyoncé chorographically dances with her Black female dancers who appear quite as confident and powerful rather than engaging in the stereotypical “ghettoness” of a “video ho” (Durham 2012). Beyoncé created a respectable yet nevertheless sexuality driven, platform to demonstrate a “classy” hip-hop video filled with her political views and outlook of current cultural issues. In “Check On It: Beyoncé, Southern Booty, and Black Femininities in Music Video,” Aisha Durham analyzes Beyoncé’s performance in her “Check On It” music video. Her engagement with her body, especially her curves and butt, empowers her to expose a level of pride and control of “male sexual gratification” (Durham 2012). Her lyrics, chorography, and style demonstrate her commitment of inspiring women to be powerful, admirable and sexually modest, rather than a “hot female that’s been around the block” (Dunham 2012). Her identity of a Southern Black belle empowers her to use her heritage in her music videos as well as embracing the middle class with cornrows in both the “Formation” and “Check On It” videos. As a respectable and iconic Black feminist, Beyoncé continues to run the world and slay by contributing to current political and cultural movements with her music and legacy.

 

 

Durham, Aisha. “Check On It: Beyoncé, Southern Booty, and Black Femininities in Music Video” in Feminist Media Studies, March 2012.

Kerr-Dineen, Luke. “Fox News Slams Beyoncé’s ‘outrageous’ Super Bowl Performance.” For The Win. USA Today, 09 Feb. 2016. Web. 11 Feb. 2016.

 

 

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CULTURAL APPROPRIATION

At the 2013 MTV Movie Awards, Selena Gomez’s performance of her newly released single “Come & Get It” was criticized for culturally appropriating Indian culture and misusing the religious bindi embellishment. Not only did she adopt the Indian culture as a trend for her performance, the song itself is quite appropriated as well. The melody of the song reflects the culture due to its heavy percussion beats and a man’s singing in Punjabi. Her style appropriation and content appropriation of the culture was profoundly offensive and misrepresented. According to James Young and Conrad Brunk’s introduction in The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation, the concept of respect and offensiveness is closely related (Young and Brunk 2012). Gomez might have not realized that cultural appropriation is an extremely disrespectful act while recording her music, yet it all comes down to the common values and sensitivity audiences may intake from watching her performance or listening to her music (Young and Brunk 2012). The understanding of ethical issues from cultural appropriation is aesthetically important for cultures itself, in order to gain respect and diminish the attacks of their identities (Young and Brunk 2012).

Another example in popular media of the “unjustifiable harm” cultural appropriation has created (Young 2010) is associated with No Doubt’s lead singer, Gwen Stefani. When she released her first solo album in 2004, Love. Angel. Music. Baby., Gwen Stefani incorporated Japanese culture all around her image, music, and career during the promotion of her album. Not only did Gwen Stefani appropriate the Japanese culture to identify her and her image during these years, but she also used her Japanese back up dancers, Love, Angel, Music, Baby, as her props! She created an entourage of what she called “Harajuki Girls” who were indeed Japanese pinup girls. She was seen everywhere from award shows to appearances with these girls, which was utterly offensive and disrespectful. As stated in Young’s “What is Cultural Appropriation,” he poses that “artists represent their own experience in their works… when artists represent their experience of other cultures, the insiders are left with their experiences” (Young 2010). This is exactly what Gwen Stefani delivered for her intended audiences and fans around the world. She provided an insight of how she believes the Japanese culture should be portrayed; specifically in her own Gwen Stefani rock star way.

In cultural appropriation the appropriator is praised for the adoption of one’s culture while the creators of that culture are criticized for representing their unique culture (Young 2010). This is especially true within African-American culture. When someone adopts the culture by wearing dreadlocks, cornrows, or by having big booty and baby hairs (Brown 2014), they are automatically praised. Yet, when a black woman or man lives everyday life with these culturally related circumstances, they are bashed and ridiculed. There is a thin line between appreciation and appropriation of a culture. However not many people are aware of how to respectfully exemplify a culture. Whether or not the representation of a culture is appropriate, it often fails to be nothing but offensive when it is appears in media platforms.

Brown, Kara. “The Problem With Baby Hairs, ‘Urban’ and the Fashion Industry” Jezebel. 17 September 2014.

Young, James. “What is Cultural Appropriation” in Cultural Appropriation and the Arts. Wiley Blackwell, 2010.

Young, James and Conrad G. Brunk. “Introduction” and “‘Nothing Comes from Nowhere’: Reflections on Cultural Appropriation as the Representation of Other Cultures” in The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation. Wiley Blackwell, 2012.  

RACE/GENDER

 

“When the content of the media plays on negative racial images, even if these themes are ridiculed, prejudiced persons interpret the message as supporting their bigoted attitudes rather than rejecting or changing them.” (Wilson et al., 48)

Prejudice and racism will always be depicted in the news and media no matter how much society has progressed. When the news offers coverage on minorities instead of the White majority, the term “non-whites” take place as “problem-people” conveying the false reality that every problem in society is due to “non-whites” (Wilson et al., 136). Throughout news history, any threatening issue against White-America is broadcasted and delivered to audiences who already have absorbed the idea that non-whites, such as Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asians are a threat. Attitudes amongst these racial groups are unfairly insensitive and very racially depicted on the news.

Over the weekend, many people were either devastated or ecstatic over the Bronco’s win of the 50th Super Bowl, as well as keeping this year’s half-time performance on the tip of their tongues. There is never a time Beyoncé is afraid to dominant and shine on stage. She took stage during half-time to perform alongside Coldplay and Bruno Mars, but it was her performance alone that created such uproar for right-wing conservative media outlets, such as Fox News. Beyoncé’s newly released single “Formation,” which depicts an empowering image of the brutality of police towards Blacks. The song contributes to the hashtag movement #BlackLivesMatter (Kerr-Dineen) as well as her own pride and self-love of being an African-American woman. Despite the fact that February is Black History month (or the fact that Beyonce has a great PR team), Fox News deliberately bashed her feministic and empowering performance stating that it promoted oppression towards police (Kerr-Dineen) whom only protect lives and ensure safety. In America’s history, Blacks were the definite objects of fear and threat despite how brutally harsh they were treated for the ways in which they attempted to fight for full civil rights. They insist that the performance was offensive and politically afflicted with the Black Panthers Party and its strong militia due to the way Beyonce and her back-up dancers were dressed. Fox News reporter states that “Beyonce dressed up in a tribute to the Black Panthers, went to a Malcolm X formation. And the song, the lyrics, which I couldn’t make out a syllable, were basically telling cops to stop shooting blacks!” (Kerr-Dineen). Not only that but Fox News, notorious for being racially biased, contributed to their existing platform stating that Beyonce’s performance was a “rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement” (Kerr-Dineen). Fox News inaccurately portrayed Beyonce, a strong, proud Black woman, as misusing her fame to send a message about the ongoing issue of racism in the news media during a weekend where it should have been about football, and only football.

Kerr-Dineen, Luke. “Fox News Slams Beyoncé’s ‘outrageous’ Super Bowl Performance.” For The Win. USA Today, 09 Feb. 2016. Web. 11 Feb. 2016.

Wilson, Clint C., Félix Gutiérrez, and Lena M. Chao. Racism, Sexism, and the Media: Multicultural Issues into the New Communications Age. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 2013. Print.

Beyoncé’s Superbowl Controversy in the Media

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Beyonce during Super Bowl 50, at Levi’s Stadium. (Matthew Emmons / USA Today)

 

A controversial issue in the media right now is that of Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Sunday performance this past weekend. The superstar performed her brand new song “Formation,” which references the “Black Lives Matter” campaign as well as gives a tribute to the Black Panthers with similar looking costumes. She received major backlash from many media outlets, a major one being FOX News, in these past couple of days. One of the most noted adverse reactions was from former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani criticized Beyoncé for calling out the very cops who protect her everyday. He said because she is someone of such stature and fame, she is heavily reliant on outside forces such as the police to keep her safe and therefore should not be turning her back on them. The “Black Lives Matter” campaign rides heavily on the issues of police brutality and the shooting of harmless African American people just because of the color of their skin. Much of their crusade is to defeat racist ideals within law enforcement and politics. I commend Beyoncé for using her immense power across the nation to highlight a real world issue of today. She will not be the one to stand back, she feels the need to advocate for what is right because of the immense fame and platform that she possesses. “The media often disregards women as leaders and are more likely to portray them as individuals rather than groups, victims instead of heroines, and sexual figures as opposed to thinkers” (Wilson, Gutierrez, Chao, pg. 145). After her performance, Beyoncé was seen as an individual standing out for a certain cause, while she is not the only one speaking on this matter. What made her performance so controversial was that she is not usually one of such fame to take major stands on controversial issues. Because she is such a megastar, someone that virtually people of all cultures like and listen to, her stance on the topic made her different to other superstars. Also, because of Beyoncé’s immense beauty and physique, she is not often seen as a political activist and thinker of today, she is seen as a hyper sexualized woman, not capable of any real and deep thought. Society thinks that someone with that mount of beauty cannot be capable of critical thought and activism.

While many did not feel it was her place to advocate her stance on such a controversial matter, I think that her usage of the Super Bowl halftime show stage was an ideal place for her message to be seen across not only the nation, but all around the world. With more than one million viewers, Beyoncé’s timing was perfect. As she released the very powerful music video the day before the Super Bowl it set the stage for what she would be doing next. The timing of her performance and videos were remarkable, because she had surprise released the music video the day before it was something that was already influencing the media heavily.

Although she is using her extremely powerful image and persona to stand up for a good cause, many people are not happy with they way things went about. The performance was viewed to more than one million people in the world, and many do not agree that what she did was all right. One woman who is married to a police officer posted on Facebook that she felt that Beyoncé’s call to action was unnecessary and that she was offended by her actions of calling the police force out on such a large scale. There has even been a hashtag going around the Internet calling for a Beyoncé boycott. But I think the real problems of their argument are that Beyoncé is not calling out the policemen in a militant way. She is stating that they are held to a higher standard of protecting people and the peace. She is pointing out that there is corruption that needs to be fixed within the problem. All Beyoncé is doing is asking the police force to do their job of protecting people. Just because she is telling them to do their job does not mean that she hates all police force and wants them gone forever, it means that she wants them to do their job just as she does on a daily basis. But where people do not understand is that she is not attacking the police force. They are making her out to be a violent extremist ready for war. But that is simply not the case, the Black Panthers, which she paid homage to were not bellicose either. The Black Panthers were there to protect their own selves from the harm of others. I believe the real reason that many media outlets portray Beyoncé and the Black Panthers in this derogatory way is just simply because they feel threatened by a force unknown to them. By militarizing both the Black Panthers and Beyoncé in the media, certain media outlets like FOX news are trying to cast a certain negative light on the two. Mayor Rudy Giuliani said “I think it was outrageous … The halftime show I thought was ridiculous anyway. I don’t know what the heck it was. A bunch of people bouncing around and all strange things. It was terrible.” But while Giuliani claimed to not know what was happening during the performance, why is he alleging that she was trying to tell cops to stop shooting blacks. If he could not understand the performance, how does he know that that is what Beyoncé was expressing through her production.


 

Sources:

Kerr-Dineen, Luke. “Fox News Slams Beyoncé’s ‘outrageous’ Super Bowl Performance.” For The Win Culture. USA Today, 09 Feb. 2016. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.

Wilson, C. C., Gutiérrez, F., & Chao, L. M. (2013). Racism, sexism, and the media: Multicultural issues into the new communications age (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

 

Week 5

“Mass-media debates often revolve around sensational accusations of personal racism; the accusation and the defense are framed in individual terms…The usual sequence in media accusations of racism, similarly, is that the racist statement is made, offense is expressed, punishment is called for: all of which provokes a series of counter-statments — that the person in question is not racist, that some of the person’s best friends belong to the race in question, and so forth.” (1994, Shohat, Ella, and Robert Stam, p. 201)

I found some of Iggy Azalea’s old tweets because I think it really represented this quote from the reading. I’m sure there are a lot more examples of this, including the Bush incident the book gave, but this was the first one that came to mind because it’s relevant to today’s popular culture. Iggy caused major controversy over many of her tweets and this was just one of the name. When she received a lot of hate, with people proclaiming her to be a racist, she responded with the tweet in the image below. If Iggy were a college student I would definitely recommend this class to her. She attempted to try the “I have a (*insert race) friend so I can’t be racist” tactic and many people reacted to that. In my opinion, I think that’s just being ignorant and falls into the category of internalized racism. This goes for everyone but especially to someone in the public eye, you really need to be careful of what you say. I admit, it is hard to break away from stereotypes but it isn’t so hard to just not tweet anything so offensive.

Race and Ethnicity in Marketing and Advertising

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“The stakes are higher in the current political climate, but Latino’s, Inc.‘s original lesson remains: to keep matters of politics, economics, and power in the foreground and never hidden behind the flashy and seductive images that tantalize us all.” (Arlene Davila, 2012, pages xxxvi-xxxvii)

#marketing #advertising #kendricklamar #topimpabutterfly #notyouraveragegrammyperformance #Ledezma