Jill Scott gives it to me in a real righteous way with the track, the lyrics, and, of course, the vocals in "Lighthouse" from her latest album, Woman.
So a friend told me to check out this one artist whose name escapes me but that somehow lead me to the UK group known as Jungle. I saw the video for Busy Earnin' and 1) really wanted to round up this group of dancers so that I could make their acquaintance and maybe get in on the party and 2) post hastily downloaded their entire debut album. My ears have been beyond pleased for the last week. I mean every song is righteous. My favorite tracks are Busy Earnin', Julia, and The Heat for which the visuals involve some very cool rollerskating. Their sound is a polished and consistent blend of midtempo funk and soul. Get into it.
Saturday, July 9, 2011, was the first of presumably regular annual gatherings to discuss the state of the Black arts community in Memphis. Hosted by Ekundayo Bandele (founder and artistic directer of Hattiloo Theater), the day long event was free and open to the public. First, I have to note how well organized it was. Bandele was well prepared with alternate speakers for those suddenly unable to participate and everything moved along without incident.
The crux of the conversation is that there is no Black arts community present in Memphis. There are a number of organizations including theater repertories like Bluff City Tri-Art, dance companies like Bridging Souls Productions, and so on that are a disjointed presence in the city. I will be the first to admit that several of the organizations I was not familiar with and I'm a native of the city. Yet, that was part of my reason for attending. I want to be a better patron of the arts and this was a great way for to learn more about what's out there and how to be involved.
Now I'll share some take aways from the symposium...
If you're in the Memphis metro area, be sure to check out these organizations:
The Memphis Black Arts Alliance
Collage Dance Collective
Cultural Arts For Everyone
Watoto De Afrika
Bridging Souls Productions
Bluff City Tri-Art Theatre
In light of my last post on the badass female character type, I decided to share my response to a recent assignment for my Contemporary Women's Issues course...
With a resounding yes, I say that pop culture influences violence against women. Gruesome images of murdered female bodies may desensitize viewers to the violent acts that lead to those deaths. Often female victims are portrayed as immoral characters which further compounds the desensitization of the violence committed against them. Then, I think about the number of times I've seen a strong female character on screen raped. It's a sick reminder/warning that she needed to be put in her place and the only way to do so is to put her in a situation where she is physically without control. Brawn over brains it is. As our readings explains, abuse results from “internalized sexism and the right to dominate women” (Lee & Shaw, p. 569). This reminds me of one of my favorite shows and a recent story arc involving the rape of a female doctor. My initial reaction to Charlotte's rape was sorrow then joy as she triumphed in her recovery. Later, I realized that Private Practice had fallen into the formulaic routine of sensationalizing the immoral and the need to break down its strongest female character to show her humanity. Why does victimization equal humanity? Charlotte is hard edged woman and it seems now that this was a way to show that she's not just a cold, emasculating woman. Why is violence against a women used to portray the injection of a soul into her being?
A franchise that's thrived predominantly on its depictions of violence against women is Law & Order. It's even devoted one of its many spin offs to the real life special victims unit which specifically handles sex crimes. These we know that women are historically far more frequently the victim of than men. Again, when people can turn this series on daily as it's in syndication, it slowly but surely takes away the acrid sting of this form of violence and basically makes it seem not so bad.
My husband and I got into a heated discussion several months ago when he was explaining to me the popularity of the rape/revenge film genre in the 70s. My one question was: "Who were these sick, twisted films created for?" Who do those movies' filmmakers consider their target audience? Surely not women. I refuse to believe that women were/are viewing those films and feeling empowered. Men? I can't imagine what men think. I did a quick web search and sure enough the story is that these films have been made to empower women. What's problematic about this is twofold. First, the rape itself is not condemned in this type of film. It's lazy filmmaking because the rape has to be played out for shock value. More importantly, what would empower women is initiatives that prevent from ever occurring not how to get revenge on the attacker. Second, that one act of violence is met with another only perpetuates a cycle of violence thus the system of patriarchy which for intents and purposes a system of domination. Dominating another person does not give one control. It's simply wasted energy and doesn't solve the problem systemically.
As I was doing a bit of web research on this question, I came across a great article by Natasha Walker for The Guardian. She wrote about the high amount of violence against women in movies noting her recent pre-screening of a film titled The Killer Inside Me. The film depicts at least two graphic murders of women. Walker states that in the Q & A with the film's director, Michael Winterbottom, she asked why was the violence so graphically depicted. His response was: “It's more moral to make it unwatchable” (Walker, 2010). I don't think viewers are more disgusted by violence against women. They're shocked for that moment but I think empirical evidence would probably show that this type of depiction has no lasting affect regarding activism or prevention or driving down the number of violent acts. It makes it more fabled if anything.
Shaw, S. M., & Lee, J. (2009). Women's voices, feminist visions (4th ed.). Boston: Mcgraw-Hill Higher Education.
Walker, N. (2010, June 3). Why is there so much movie violence against women? | Natasha Walter | Film | The Guardian . Latest news, comment and reviews from the Guardian | guardian.co.uk . Retrieved April 17, 2011, from http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/jun/03/women-violence-killer-inside-me-feminism
Now, I'm aware that I didn't address music and literature in this as it was to simply be a two page reflection. These were what came to mind immediately. I would like to hear some other clear examples, namely in literature, on this topic. One that I did intend to mention but forgot is Twilight. It's been noted that Bella's almost endeared reaction to the bruises unintentionally left on her body by her beloved Edward romanticizes domestic partner abuse. Yes, Edward is a vampire with superhuman strength and the slightest touch from him could leave a mark, however, it could warp the thinking of young girls who could find themselves in a truly abusive relationship. So, please do share your thoughts.
The Mr. and I just watched Salt starring Angelina Jolie as a CIA agent/ Russian spy. About halfway through the film, he asked me if I felt this type of character was a positive role model for girls/women. Well of course it is! First, I have to note that after watching the extras, it appears Jolie handled many of the stunts herself and shortly after giving birth to twins. That's just badass in and of itself. Now, Evelyn Salt was not just a trained sleeper agent in the way men typically are which is basically as trained assassins. Salt used far more cunning than we usually see from either gender in action films. For her, a gun was a last resort if she couldn't take you down with a good old fashioned beat down and, even then she only used it to wound her opposition. Flat out murder was saved for those absolutely deserving of it. I know, who deserves to die might be totally subjective, but watch the film to catch my drift.
It's stated in the extras by the director, Phillip Noyce, that Jolie was offered the female lead in a Bond movie but instead proposed she have a Bond-like role created for her. So "Salt" was born. For a predominantly male run production, save the one female producer Sunil Perkash, this speaks volumes. Salt's badassness was never undermined or overshadowed by gratuitous nudity or even suggestive garb. Jolie's beauty (I know, again, subjective) was neither overplayed or underplayed. Was this an award snubbed film? No. But it's such a big step in the right direction of the film industry when it comes to portrayals of women. Now we just need a woman of color given a shot at the same type of role sans a sexually suggestive name and nature.
If you're a Zero 7 fan, you'll recognize Mozez's smooth, ethereal vocals as one of their go to guest singers. For those new to his sound, you're in for a treat...
"Every valuable human being must be a radical and a rebel, for what he must aim at is to make things better than they are."