Listening to Top 40 will save your soul

In actuality, my behaviour past and present would suggest that I am not a messiah so my advice is not going to save your soul. Sorry.

I love nothing more than to dance really badly to rap, hip-hop and R&B, the filthier the music the better. I’m that person that friends tag in Facebook videos that involve a white girl coming in too hot when a beat starts up. I haven’t been able to let loose in a few weeks and a little piece of my soul is screaming at me.

Music is a very important part of this human experience we seem to have cultivated, a component of human happiness. However we have categorised music styles according to whom is involved in creating that music.
Rap music and classical music often do work together in beautiful harmony but when one first thinks of the two categories they seem distinct from one another- not only that, but discordant.
I’m a feminist but I love rap, hip-hop and R&B, which some feminists have written off. They have said we cannot salvage the remnants of the genre and build a less misogynistic future for it.

This separation shows a wider theme: the disregard of anything connected to poorer, less powerful, blacker, younger people. This is accompanied by the exhalation of everything that is done in the ‘proper way’, intensely knowledge based, upper class, material, charitable (under a certain sheen) and predominantly white. I think this is best summarised as an ‘academic sneer.’ Right?

The ‘academic sneer’ allows academics to study popular culture without wanting to become immersed in it. It’s the privilege of being able to look at the macro picture and type hastily from afar “these poor people don’t even know what their lives are ruled by silly inferior activities.”
The separation of institutionalised academia and the pursuit of knowledge from everyday life is unproductive and creates obvious stereotypes. Yes, knowledge can be gained from the internet and technically with all the information out there one could gain as much as they could from a degree. However firstly- not everybody has access to this information. Following the larger pattern, you can guess who does and who does not. Also, with this free information floating around why doesn’t everybody have numerous degrees by now? The amount of time we have is a huge part of the answer but also our own motivation. Can the rich afford to bypass self-motivation? In most situations, yes.

Walter who lives in a poorer suburb of town may not know the third soliloquy in Hamlet (or what the hell a soliloquy is) but he may know how to catch a bus from his suburb to town (and the best time to do so). He may know how to order food at a restaurant in French because his cousin taught him in the summer of 2006. He may know how to solve equations using Frobenius method. Everyone you meet knows things that you don’t.

Basically we all need to get off our high horses and sometimes come to the realisation that you’re not better than somebody else because of how you choose to spend your time and/or the things that you think you know. If you’re writing a paper that picks apart how our cosmetic culture targets women, great! If you’re calling those women vapid and not considering their own agency/identity within the issue then your academic sneer is showing and you might wanna wipe it off before you get caught out.

So make your guilty pleasures known. Stop turning on ‘private session’ on Spotify when you listen to Sean Paul ‘Temperature.’ (Note to self).
Do your thing loud and proud.

P.S: Also a hip-hop loving feminist trying to create a loving relationship between the two parts of yourself? Read Morgan’s piece then try others on Hip Hop Feminism.

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Listening to Top 40 will save your soul

On: positively-stubborn assholes

I’m drawn to people who self-admit to being, what society would call, stubborn. Or in some circumstances, assholes. On the surface it has seemed to me that this is because these people by nature disregard a lot of inherent rules that we hold ourselves to, thereby making them more interesting/fun by default. But I think there’s more to it than that.

If I was reading this as a reader and not as a sweaty wanna-be blog writer reading over her draft for the 10th time I would perhaps be thinking: “Chick, you’re in Timor-Leste and you’re writing about stubborn people who are assholes? I’ve seen your Instagram photos but really I thought some more depth would come out of this experience. Disappointing.”
To this I say: Patience, young grasshopper. One day I will bloom into somebody who may be able to write directly about my experiences without it sounding like a bad sitcom. I also feel kind of weird writing about everything knowing that this might be a reader’s first intro to this country and it’s people (maybe only?) and it’s coming from a little white girl and not from anyone who actually knows the nuances of the many things happening here. But quickly I would like to add: Timor-Leste is BEAUTIFUL and, like any other country, it is extremely complex and riddled with both the light and dark sides of human experience. I would urge any of you who are interested to read up on its history as it has too often been turned a blind eye to by those outside it’s shores: http://adra.tl/about/abouttimor/history/.

RE: The adoration of society’s assholes. I do want to emphasise that the people in question who gain my adoration (WHAT A WORTHY PRIZE) must be positively-stubborn assholes. That is, any action that is taken (and action is the important part) has been/will be directed at people, systems and concepts that are not only oppressive but are simply not working to benefit the largest amount of beings possible. You might be operating within a system, with a construct or navigating behaviours that you know ‘aren’t working’ in this way right now. It’s so much easier to disregard channeling any sort of personal action toward these. More than that, it means discomfort to do so. For most of us, challenging the status quo means loss of cash money, that awful puppeteer that keeps us all in our rightful place and what not. Those who ARE active challengers- in any way- are seen as outliers and the media spoon-feeds us the story that this is so incredibly WEIRD. They’re unstable, temperamental and completely turning their nose up at perfectly good jobs that pay them enough to eat oats and baked beans every day for the rest of their lives. Who wouldn’t want all this MONEY? And this 6 MILLION DOLLAR MANSION THAT ONLY TWO PEOPLE LIVE IN? HIRED STAFF WHO GET PAID BELOW A LIVING WAGE? MTV back me up here.

Just sayin’… We should appreciate the shit out of these people! They’re participating actively for those who can’t (and of course, a lot of us can’t!)

Positively-stubborn assholes use anger to ram a point home. Just as sadness is not inherently morbid and can be cleansing, anger can also be a positive force of social change. Emotional ‘power points’ are not good or bad by themselves, it is the application of the emotion according to circumstance that makes them so. Their output could be dependent on things such as intent and/or personal control and consent of emotional longevity and depth. Demonizing those who choose to use anger is keeping us docile- a sound financial move by (an elite power of your choice) TM.

So, Thank you to society’s positively-stubborn assholes (I’m lucky enough to know many)- no matter where you are in life, how you choose to effect positive change through emotional power points, how ‘big’ or ‘small’ your perceived impact is, whether it’s internal or external to what you are fighting against. Your action is required and I aspire to be you.

On: positively-stubborn assholes