Friday, February 4, 2011

bell hooks on rap music, new caste system and commodified blackness

She really hit the nail on the head with this one. I have always looked upon young white males that consume rap culture with a hint of suspicion. Though some may try to explain it away as an authentic interest in the music what she said seemed more profound and fitting to me. That these very consumers see 'rap' as a kind of "third world country" and the performers of this art a mere trasngression from the norm thus making them exciting, radical, different, cool and unique. In this sense, the act of exociticizing and othering takes place. Something distinctly different from perhaps the ability to engage with another's culture on a level where you become one with it.

Again, my mind is drawn to episodes of 'Jersey Shore' which I watch in a mixture of horror, amusement, surprise and sadness. Mike 'The Situation' and his pals often refer to women they perceive as unfitting to their tastes in animalistic and onjectifying terms. They will be referred to as "grenades" or "gorillas". It's not surprising to see the same individual using colloquial terms derived from hip-hop culture. He likes to "creep", he says in reference to his player persona. This seems to me a lucid example of what bell hooks refers to in her explanation of the otherizing and commodifying nature of a capitalist society when it comes to hip-hop culture in the US. They will readily absorb and buy the fruits of these artist's labour while never fully closing the gap, always standing at a distance looking into fields the way a slave owner would watch his slaves toil in the sweltering sun, profit from the fruits of their labour while continuing to otherize them to the point where their humanness would cease to exist in his mind.

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