Tupac Shakur- “Changes”

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Although Tupac Shakur is oftentimes painted as a deviant, he was in fact a political activist who spoke out for people in disadvantaged communities. His outcry can be heard in the lyrics of “Changes,” a song which outlines a few of the many challenges that black people must face in America. Shakur explains in his song how violence and drugs have become such a problem in disadvantaged communities: “give the crack to the kids who the hell cares/ One less hungry mouth on the welfare/ First ship ’em dope and let ’em deal the brothers/ Give ’em guns step back watch ’em kill each other.”  By including this in his song, Shakur is calling on people in authority and accusing them of not supporting poor communities. In fact, he is claiming that the reason no one is helping these issues is so that these communities effectively kill themselves. Shakur’s claims here are strong and seemingly radical; however, they are not unsubstantiated.

At first glance, “Changes” seems to be an angry anthem about the lack of changes in society, but at closer examination one can see that Shakur offers solutions. He states, “[the] only time we chill is when we kill each other/ It takes skill to be real, time to heal each other.” In these lines, Shakur is expressing his belief that with time and effort the race relations in America can heal.

Karin L Stanford says of Tupac that he became “[the hip-hop community and urban youth’s] political advocate, educator, and motivator” (20). This claim rings true in the lyrics of “Changes.”


Photo Source: https://www.biography.com/people/tupac-shakur-206528

Works Cited

Stanford, Karin L. Keepin’ It Real in Hip Hop Politics: A Political Perspective of Tupac Shakur. Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 42, No. 1. JANUARY 2011, pp. 19.

Ohio-Neil Young

KENT STATE SHOOTINGS

On May 4, 1970 the Kent State campus in Ohio became the site of a tragic shooting. The National Guard opened fire on a crowd of students who were protesting against the war in Vietnam and the presence of the National Guard on campus. It is calculated that over 70 shots were fired in total. 4 students were killed and 9 were injured.

The song “Ohio” by Neil Young is a reaction to the events at Kent State.

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.

In the first stanza, Young is referring to the National Guard as “tin soldiers” and specifically blaming the president for the death of the students. By stating “we’re finally on our own” he is claiming that the American people have been abandoned by their government. Young’s lyrics are raw and do not hold back. It is clear that he is angry and is speaking in defense of the American people.


Bibliography:

History.com Staff – https://www.history.com/topics/kent-state-shooting

Photo Source:

timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/kent-state.jpeg

Hack #3

 

Deborah Root explains in her book, Cannibal Culture, that appropriation when “commodification and use that overlook both the cultural context and the desires of the people of that culture” (76). One example of appropriation is when people apply jewels to their face, specifically above and between their eyebrows, as a trend to where to music festivals and concerts. This look actually originated in India and is called a bindi. Bindis have many meanings which include wisdom and honor. They are also used to signify that a woman is married. Although the bindi holds deep spiritual meanings when worn, it has become a trend in America by non-Indian women. When women in modern day America wear bindis, they do not recognize the cultural context of it. In fact, the jewels are often worn as a sensual piece of boho jewelry.

I have personally never worn a bindi, but I have seen many friends post photos of themselves with jewels applied to their faces. When I first noticed this trend, I thought it looked beautiful and mesmerizing; however,  I have  since become informed on the offensiveness of such appropriation.


Photo Sources:

https://macaulay.cuny.edu/eportfolios/whatwewear/bindi/

http://thedailygypsy.net/festival-trends-face-jewels/

Works Cited

Root, Deborah. “Cannibal Culture: Art, Appropriation, & the Commodification of   Difference” 1996.

Early American Cinema Project: Nothing Sacred

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The interwar years were filled with dramatic changes in America. The American people had experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows; film quickly became an outlet for these experiences. During the height of the Great Depression, feel-good comedies were trending. These comedies acted as a relief to the dreariness of everyday life. In 1937  the first comedy was released in full color, Nothing Sacred. The movie, starring Carole Lumbard and Frederic march, reveals a great deal about the society that led up to World War II both through what is explicitly displayed and what was clearly absent.

The comedy, Nothing Sacred, follows a star journalist, Wally, who has recently been demoted due to publishing false stories. Wally seeks out a woman who is said to be stricken with radiation poisoning in order to write a story which will hopefully rehash his career. The woman, Hazel, was actually misdiagnosed and was in fact healthy as can be. When she is approached by Wally to be involved in this story, though, she is dazzled by the possibility of fame and omits the fact that she is not ill at all. The irony of the situation is clear and propels the plot forward. Rather quickly, Hazel becomes New York’s it-girl who is praised by the entire city based off of her escapades presented in the newspaper by Wally.

Interestingly, the plot of the story is actually quite “meta” because it discusses the rise to fame that a young girl experiences simply because she was willing to be let into the spotlight, even if it involves an intricate lie that involves making herself look like a courageous hero. In her book Celebrity Culture and the American Dream, Karen Sternheimer discusses how celebrity culture is propelled by the “American belief that both hard work and luck can lead anyone to rise above their beginnings” (8). In this movie, Hazel embodies this concept to the public which is why the city is so attracted to her. However, much can be said for the fact that the plot is driven by a series of lies and exaggerations in the newspaper. Just like Americans now must sift through “fake news” on Facebook, Americans in the early 20th century were presented with propaganda to popularize specific ideals.

Just as the more obvious aspects of the film shine a light on the issues of the 1930s, what is missing from the film also speaks loudly about the culture of the time. For instance, the only people of color in the film was a black man who lies in the beginning of the film causing Wally’s career to be at stake and his family. The man reappears again in the film and each time is presented as an unintelligent, crooked character who lies and steels. The character was clearly created to be a source of comedic relief, which speaks volumes for the expectations that the consumers had for films of the time. The film also had an extremely distasteful scene in regards to women and various cultures globally. This scene takes place at a fancy restaurant that is honoring Hazel alongside other “Heroines of History” (Nothing Sacred). These women that were presented were each dressed scantily and in culturally insensitive garb. Aside from Hazel, the only women of not represented in the film were the women in this scene.

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The film itself was not received necessarily well nor unwell upon release. Despite its rather average box office performance, the film clearly shows that the the media dictates what the society at the time appreciates and values. It is clear that the value is placed in heroism and courage, but only if those exhibiting these attributes are white. Although the women of the time did  were considered and represented much less

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than men, there was only place for white, sexually attractive women in film. This early 20th century comedy shed a light on the values of the people consuming such a comedy.

 

 

 

Film: Nothing Sacred

Director: William A. Wellman

Photo Sources: 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing_Sacred_(film)

2. Screenshot from Kanopy

3.Screenshot from Kanopy

Works Cited

Sternheimer, Karen. Celebrity Culture and the American Dream: Stardom and Social Mobility. Routledge, 2015.

“Nothing Sacred (1937) Starring: Carole Lombard, Fredric March, Charles Winninger – Three Movie Buffs Review.” ThreeMovieBuffs.com, 15 June 2010, http://www.threemoviebuffs.com/review/nothing-sacred.html.

Kanopy, 1937, sdsu.kanopy.com/video/nothing-sacred

 

A Farewell to Arms Hack

800px-Poster_-_A_Farewell_to_Arms_(1932)_01The 1932 film, A Farewell to Arms, is based off the  best selling novel which shares the namesake. The film portrays the whirlwind romance between Lt. Frederic Henry (Gary Cooper) and Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes). Both of these characters are Americans stationed in Italy during the peak of World War I. The passionate love between the two leading characters is juxtaposed by the gruesome nature of the war and the preexisting, conservative customs of the time.

The roles and pressures of the leading characters reflect the attitudes towards male and female roles in relationships. The opening scenes of the film contrast each other. Henry makes his appearance by drinking with his best friend and talking about women; on the other hand, Catherine is presented in a room filled with other nurses as they gossip about a nurse who has gotten pregnant. Catherine is the only nurse kind enough to withhold her judgement and help her pregnant friend gather her things. These two scenes set the course for the rest of the movie. Another vital scene in the movie that reveals gender differences of the time is during Henry and Catherine’s first encounter. Catherine said “no” to kissing and sexual intercourse, whereas Henry decides to ignore her protests and take her virginity. His blatant disregard for her “no” would, in modern times, be considered rape. However, in the movie her refusal is treated as a cutesie sign of her innocence and his choice to have sex with her would prove to be the correct move that would lead to their eventual marriage.

In Linda Williams’ essay “Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess” she describes movies like A Farewell to Arms as “melodramatic weepies” (4). Williams argues that “there is a strong mixture of passivity and activity” in melodramas which are a product of the excess bodily emotions (8-9). Interestingly, I can see this exact mixture in the aforementioned scene above. Catherine even takes the active role of slapping her aggressor/lover and passionately cries after he takes her virginity. However, she passively states that it is okay, and that she loves him even after just meeting him.

The portrayal of both Henry and Catherine in A Farewell to Arms speaks volumes about the roles of men and women within a relationship.


Full title: A Farewell to Arms

Director: Frank Borzage

Date of release: December 8, 1932

Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Farewell_to_Arms_(1932_film)

Bibliography:

Williams, Linda. Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess. Film Quarterly, Vol. 44, No. 4

(Summer, 1991), pp. 2-13

 

The Circus: Agency or Exploitation?

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The process of “Othering” people is an integral part of America’s history. The colonist effectively othered Native Americans upon their arrival to the New Land, and Americans have perpetuated this theme since. An American tradition of sorts, the circus adds a complicated narrative to the Others in society. Chapter six of “Encountering the Other” explains that “the Other must seem not only terrible or inferior but also alluring.” It seems that the circus walks this fine line ever so carefully. In fact, upon first glance many assume that the circus is an opportunity to empower those who would otherwise be enslaved or institutionalized. However, the circus has been used as a tool to exploit many. Specifically the exploitation of people of color as the “missing links” from human to animal has been so damaging that American people are still suffering the consequences of this portrayal. On one hand, many people choose to believe that circuses and shows like them were an opportunity for the Others of society to make money, be themselves, and intertwine with elites. On the other hand, many people of color were put behind bars for the viewing of others and were forced to have their bodies touched, prodded, and observed. Many people choose to reminisce on the circus as a place of joy and inclusion (as can be observed in many movies), but the circus was also a place of exploitation of the Other.