by Ellen Gillingham
Reading Title(s) (Author, “Title”):
Bryon Hurt, Hip-Hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes
Bill Yousman, Blackophilia and Blackophobia: White Youth, the Consumption of Rap Music, and White Supremacy
Mireille Miller-Young, Putting Hypersexuality to Work: Black Women and Illicit Eroticism in Pornography
1.) What is this week’s readings major arguments/points?
The film’s major arguments are about how Hip-Hop culture is centered on drugs and violence. The film is a documentary that explores the issues of masculinity, violence, homophobia, and sexism in hip-hop music. The main point is about how manhood is about conquering and violence. Byron Hurt’s Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, shows that representations of masculine standards of hardness create issues in popular culture, so it is important to make sense of the desire to “be hard” (Hurt). In Urban America, being hard is an expression of black masculinity and an active mechanism in black men’s lives. It means performing gender identity as truculent, but in a ritualized form (Hurt). It is a complex part of oneself composed of pride, strength, and control. One may make sense of the desire to “be hard” by analyzing some of the reasons behind this desire civilization, gender identities, and scripts in popular culture. The film looks at Spring Bling Weekend in Daytona Beach, Florida. This reveals that dozens of aspiring rappers gather for a chance to share their skills. There are also women in short shorts and bras who are assaulted by men with video cameras, some even think the women deserve this for dressing in that way. Hurt also includes Nelly’s “Tip Drill” video to show how hypermasculinity has manifested itself in violence and the reinforcement of stereotypes. The video indicates that these music videos and actions give the men a false sense of power. “In the video, Nelly is seen swiping a credit card down a women’s backside” (Hurt). Hurt points out how it is funny how women do not think the video is talking about them. Hypermasculine behavior, objectification of women, and issues of race, gender, violence, and sex are important points in the documentary. The filming from Florida during Spring Bling Weekend emphasizes the way media distributes monolithic images of black masculinity. Hurt shows how society goes along with it, especially by interviewing new rappers. He also looks at how homophobia in hip-hop is portrayed through hardness. “The only way that you can be a man… is to be hard to denigrate women to denigrate homosexuals, to denigrate each other to kill each other” (Hurt). Overall, this documentary is a complex look at issues of race, gender violence, and the corporate exploitation of youth culture through hip-hop.
2.) What are some things that you did not understand? Or, are there questions you have for Professor McCune, or the author?
What if the documentary were redone today? Would the focus of gangster rap show a shift to erotic rap? How would the documentary be different?
3.) What did you learn about Gender and Spectacular Consumption?
Byron Hurt’s Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, shows that representations of masculine standards of hardness create issues in popular culture. In Urban America, being hard is an expression of black masculinity and an active mechanism in black men’s lives. Spectacles in hip-hop are consumed by the public and become the normative way of understanding identity. Hurt demonstrates this with examples of the policing of masculinity in hip-hop. Civilization and systemic structure “set the standard and teach men how to perform” (Hurt). They are based on heteronormativity, so men cannot seem deficient in this cycle of dominant patriarchal society. Men act hard to protect their family and community. popular culture is an influential mechanism behind hardness in Urban America (Hurt). Representations in the media are not a reflection of all black men. They can hold back the understanding of black masculinity. These representations are limited to stereotypical images of athletes, gangsters, or rappers. Hip-hop produces meanings, for example, Rappers make songs around consumption, like “Pass the Courvoisier.” This allows listeners to feel part of the cool by buying into and becoming a part of hip-hop. The hip-hop context speaks through its dialectic with rap to create meaning. This is one reason that consumers consume what they do.
4.) How might you apply the author’s ideas to other examples, beyond what is presented in the essay?
Hip-hop sends out as messages to its listeners. The film explores many negative messages from hip-hop culture that is picked up and repeated by listeners. However, the rapper Lupe Fiasco sends positive messages to his listeners. On his mixtapes “Friend of the People” and “Enemy of the State,” he tells his listeners to fight against sexism, learn about their roots, and to follow dreams. In addition, his ability to make commercially viable songs allows his songs with more depth reach a broader audience. Lupe balances fun storytelling and political and social issues. For example, his single “Daydream” is a powerful satirical critique on the current state of hip-hop. Another song, “Words I Never Said,” from Lupe’s album Lasers, is a song that looks at the media, the school system, and other institutions for being prejudiced and discriminating.
5.) If given visual/performance material to review, how are these in conversation with essay(s) read for this week?
The film connects to the readings “Blackophilia and Blackophobia: White Youth, the Consumption of Rap Music, and White Supremacy” and “Putting Hypersexuality to Work: Black Women and Illicit Eroticism in Pornography.” In moments of spectacular consumption, there is a reemphasis on the individual and a negation of the collective community. Yousman is talking about capitalism and the emphasis on earning money. Capitalism drives individual rap artists to help their own good instead of the collective. The system of inequity drives the need for race. Inequity produces emerging understandings of race. When people need to make ends meet, they have need, suggesting there is an inequity that is straining you and defining who you are in American society. The individual struggles both with moral and systemic problems. People battle against these problems.
“It [advertising] addresses us not as members of society talking about collective issues, but as individuals. It talks about our individual needs and desires. It does not talk about those things that we have to negotiate collectively, such as poverty, healthcare, housing and the homeless, the environment, and so on. The market appeals to the worst in us (greed, selfishness) and discourages what is best about us (compassion, caring, and generosity)” (Yousman 70). Society is highly segregated. People may consume otherness because they never encounter it. “”It appeals to our sense of learning about other cultures and wanting to know more about something that we will probably never experience” (Hurt). Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes shows how media gives us the images and pictures of the other by examining “Tip Drill” and Spring Bling Weekend. It makes society think that they are getting to know men, women, and gender identities. What society learns through the media is accepted because they usually do not have close encounters with what we are learning. The documentary goes far analyzing this concept to show how it is problematic. When a member of society does not know black gender performance, he or she may see markers of class and communities. Then the first place the member of society may go is to make associations with music videos. He or she makes connections unconsciously. Society and the media perpetuate ideas, so that inequalities in society are inseparable from the media. Inequalities assist society with making sense of circumstances.