Sunday, March 29, 2009

Beyonce on Racism, in Vogue

"My father had to fight those battles {for me}. I didn’t. And now I’m large enough—I’m universal—that no one’s paying attention to what race I am. I’ve kind of proven myself. I’m past that."

Something about, "I'm large enough...I'm past that" isn't sitting right with me...but ya'll know I don't like her ass, so maybe I'm just reaching too far. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ciara's Love, Sex & Magic Video in Full

Last weekend I posted a preview clip of Ciara's "Love, Sex & Magic" with Justin Timberlake that I found around the net. Here's the video in its entirety, and I'm having a love/hate relationship with it.

On one hand, Ciara is fly and the visuals are stunning. On the other, I'm just not comfortable with her scenes with Justin. Something about the way he's sitting back relaxed, while she's wrapping her legs around his neck,and so forth, just gives the sense that she's playing video hoe in her own clip. Maybe it would have been more appropriate for them to have a little more interaction, instead of taking the extended lap dance angle?

I really like the song though.

I'll stand by my previous argument that Ciara is trying too hard. Four singles and three videos before your album even drops just wreaks of desperation. She needs to stop holding out for a hit, and just be confident enough in her material to take a risk. Then, "Love, Sex & Magic" could have been the perfect rebound single if her first round on the charts didn't go as expected.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Little Weekend TLC

I promise that most of you won't even realize that these two songs were EVER even recorded by TLC, much less released as singles.

The first, "Dear Lie" is from 1999's Fanmail, and the second "Damaged" is taken from their 2002 effort 3D (SO slept on).

I love me some TLC. I don't think there's been a better girl-group since.

Oh, and Dear Arista, NO ONE is checking for TLC anymore, so disabling their videos on YouTube is a waste of time. Ya'll should be wanting this shit go as viral as possible.

Friday, March 20, 2009

This is the Most Awkward Interview Ever

It really annoys me when people aren't prepared for work. It becomes so clear during the course of this interview that Barbara Walters and Joy Behar have no real idea who Keyshia Cole is. They could have at least taken the time to borrow Sherri Shepherd's first season dvds of The Way it Is, and play catch-up. Babs was so clueless that it's almost insulting.

And Keyshia needs more media training. "He told me I was beautiful," is not an appropriate response to "What kind of advice did Tupac give you?". You're on tv, sit up straight and act like you got some sense!

In other news, Whoopi Goldberg always looks like she's on her way to the church picnic, Elizabeth Hasselback continues to birth babies and make me wanna vomit, while Sherri Shepherd stays dipping into Star Jones' old wigs and weave bin.

The View Producers to Sherri Shepherd: "SHE had a law degree, YOU have one line in an episode of Friends, and a membership to Costco. Take this ponytail, and be out."

Ciara Is Trying Too Hard

Here's the preview video for Ciara's latest single, "Love, Sex & Magic," which features Justin Timberlake. This would be the third fourth 1st single from Ciara's Fantasy Ride, but it's also my favorite, so I won't talk too much shit.

It's not that Ciara doesn't look FLY in this clip, cause damn, she does. It just that, something about it is just a little too much. She's working that psuedo-cage like rent is a month behind, and the check she wrote for March is about to bounce too. Some of those positions just look awkward. There's nothing sexy about a "I hope I don't fall" face.

That being said, I really hope Ciara's 3rd album does well. She's one artist that has shown actual growth since her debut; both vocally, and performance-wise. In that respect, I'm mad that she's opening for Britney Spears this summer instead of touring on her own. But it's a recession, and I don't think Ciara tickets are worth downgrading from Ciroc to Absolute for the next 3 months.

Anway, I could be off the mark...what do you guys think?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

EW to Tyler Perry: Do You Care About Black People?

Earlier this week Entertainment Weekly posted an article online that sought to answer the question: Is Madea bad for Black America? In my experience with Entertainment Weekly, it's not too often that they engage social politics, especially as it relates to race, so I think it's refreshing to see the publication exercising a bit of social consciousness. And the article isn't half bad either. I won't pretend like EW breaks any new ground in their dissection of Tyler Perry's films and their subsequent success, but the article does manage to offer one interesting point of thought:

"Tyler Perry understands that much of his audience is African-American women — the most ignored group in Hollywood — so he's doing movies that speak to them. You could see these films as parables or fables. There's a black prince figure who shows up for black women who've been frustrated, unhappy, or abused. That's the real reason critics don't like Perry's movies: They're made for churchgoing, working-class black women."
Most people that know me know that I have a love/hate relationship with Tyler Perry. I've seen Family Reunion and Why Did I Get Married? (Janet!) in theaters, saved The Family that Preys for rental, and watched Diary of a Mad Black Woman on TBS, or something. So yeah, I've put money in the man's pockets. But, without even approaching the argument that Perry's films depict the Black community from a heavily-stereotyped perspective that no white directer could ever get away with, my biggest issue with all of Perry's film had previously been their predictably and overall staleness. You can only witness so many drug-addicted prostitutes find Jesus before you start wanting more from life. However, reading the above quote from EW's article made me realize that Perry's approach to female characterization is much more problematic.

Now, I'm not a "churchgoing, working-class black women," but if I was, I'd like to think I'd be pissed off after watching a Perry film. I remember finishing Why Did I Get Married? and thinking, damn, he just threw all of these women under a bus.

I can't think of a single female character in that film that ever has a fighting chance at coming out of that ski cabin with a slice of self-respect, not even Jill Scott. If Perry's film's are for working-class women, then why would those same women feed into a storyline that belittles their ambition? From Sharon Leal's character, who secretly has her tubes tied without telling her husband so that she might excel in the workplace, to Janet Jackson's, who forgets to properly secure her infant son into his car seat while rushing home from work, Perry makes it clear that these women can't balance a career with the demands of domesticity. Yes, Tasha Smith's character runs a successful hair salon, but she also emasculates her significant other in the process. The only woman not directly at fault for the trouble in her marriage is Jill Scott's character, who is conveniently unemployed.

And if Perry's message is aimed toward churchgoing women, then what about the fact that Scott's character can't even manage to function for a few months after leaving her husband. Instead of seeking comfort in her faith, and herself, she immediately remarries, and any sense of confidence that she gains by the end of the film is in direct relation to the amount of love she is shown by her new husband.

The only woman with any real agency in Perry's films is Madea, and she's played by a man.

The gender politics in Why Did I Get Married? are handled irresponsibly, and ultimately just cast modern women in a unflattering light, as if any sort of personal or professional advancement must come at the expense of a happy home. The notion that a woman can't pursue her individual goals without falling short as a wife and mother is so dated at this point, that Perry should be taken to immediate task for just being plain lazy.

And if Married isn't enough, check any of his other films. Sanaa Lathan plays a self-centered career woman in The Family that Preys, and her storyline even comes with the assumption that she would not have made it nearly as far in the workplace without engaging in a long-term affair with her boss. I'm sure the same churchgoing audience that was left gasping when Blair Underwood's character slapped his fiance in Family Reunion, was cheering when Lathan's character was backhanded over a serving counter by her husband in Preys. Even his casual approach toward domestic violence would seem to suggest that Perry doesn't have the best interest of his female characters in mind at all, but instead would rather go for shock value in pursuit of a stronger box office performance.

The fact that Perry is on his way toward surpassing John Singleton and the Hughes brothers as one of the most financially successful contemporary Black filmmakers is disheartening, to say the least. Films like Higher Learning may not have been perfect, but they were far more socially ambitious and responsible; and you know, good.

I get so tired of hearing people say that one shouldn't knock the man's hustle, when in reality, his hustle is only perpetuating the marginalization of Black Hollywood. You can't tell me Angela Basset had any business starring in Meet the Browns. Our Black actresses are taking these roles because they don't have any other options, which would be fine if Perry actually presented them with material that matched their talent. But it doesn't matter how many #1 films Perry produces, he still won't be able to carry his actresses to mainstream, Halle Berry fame; not because they don't deserve it, but because he's not opening any new doors in his quest for millions. The players in Perry's world are circumstantial. Gabrielle Union is interchangeable with Kimberly Elise as far as mainstream audiences are concerned, and Tarij P. Henson received a career boost from Benjamin Button, with Preys acting as more of a side-hustle. It's hard to respect a hustle that leaves its supporting players in the dust, and while it may not be entirely Perry's fault that his actresses aren't achieving mainstream sustainability, I don't think he's too concerned with giving them the films to get them there either.

Tyler Perry is in a unique position to sell Black films to diverse audiences, but what good is that increased exposure to the Black experience if it's presented through such a predictable and limited lens?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Was This At All Necessary?

Dora will be getting a To Catch a Predator sponsored makeover this fall, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. But on the plus side, looks like Nick Jr. finally realized that the bowl-cut bob is so 2007; and trading in strappy shoes for ballet flats....always a plus (or at least a lateral movement toward maturity?).

But I'm wondering how Dora's gonna go exploring w/o her over sized backpack? I smell an Hermes Birkin upgrade! (Swiper, no bootlegging)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I'm Back

I won't address my absence. There's no real excuse for it, other than I'm also a full-time student, and between trying to graduate, and trying to throw together a post-graduation career, free time has been minimal. That being said, I'll use this post to catch-up on some things I've missed, and you can expect a longer post sometime soon (probably after finals week).

So, I'll proceed with the randomness.

  • It was my intention to write full review of The-Dream's Love v/s Money, but after so much procrastination, it's no longer timely. Still, I can more or less paraphrase my entire review in this tiny space: The-Dream delivers more of the same, and that's okay because it works so well; but in another album or two not even the hood will be able to overlook his consistently predictable production, lazy lyrics, and lack of actual vocal talent. When I ranked my favorite male R&B singers awhile ago The-Dream topped the list because Love/Hate was so refreshing. Love v/s Money isn't...but he's still running the show.
  • I'm NOT commenting on Chris and Rihanna anymore...after this. The whole notion that Rihanna is expected to exercise more responsibility toward being a role model than being an actual person is ridiculous. The reality of mothers asking their daughters to erase Ri's music from their iPods because she may have gone back to Chris is as foolish as actually purchasing her music in the first place. It seems to me that those same mothers are less concerned with Rihanna's actual well being, and more eager to boost their own egos by exploiting her in a moment of (arguable) weakness. In reality, nothing about domestic violence is as cut and dry as it seems, and whether Rihanna leaves Chris today, next year, or spends the rest of her life with him, her only responsibility is to herself, not America's pop-culture-parented youth. Leave it to dedicated fans to kick a girl when she's down.
  • Mariah, Nick Cannon, and The-Dream ALL need their asses cold-cut kicked for letting Mimi look the way she does in the video for "My Love." Hair half-braided, crotch length jean shorts, with a fitted hat and some J's? What in the Ja-Rule/J.Lo circa 2003 hell? Storyline or not, Mariah is too fly (and grown?) for that shit. And why the hell does a 38-year-old woman have magazine pictures of The-Dream on her wall? Love the song though.
  • Kanye's new side-hustle is trying too hard. It's like, we get it: You're fly and fashion forward. But when you start rocking neon cut-out tights, and zebra prints...I can't. Amber Rose, you can find that same shit on any 10th-grade girl with access to a Dots, Citi-Trends, or your friendly neighborhood Wigs/Grocery/99-cent store.
  • Is Beyonce the example of full-figured beauty now? I've been hearing that a lot over the past week or so (magazines, blogs, television), and I'm not sure that's fair to all the legit full-figured girls out there.
  • Speaking of Janet, Why Did I Get Married 2? Hmm, maybe this time Tyler will put some of the responsibility on the men. No, really. Ladies, ya'll got hosed last time around.
  • What exactly qualifies Lady GaGa for urban radio? I kind of understood "Just Dance" (the Akon feature?),... but "Pokerface?" No.
  • How creepy is this video? (Ginees?)