Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Stickin' it to 'em
^The Turks occupied Hungary for 150 years. One of the things they did was to vandalize i.e. deface three-dimensional objects representing people. As Muslims, they considered statues of people to be idolatrous. Hundreds of years later, a casual tour of the Hungarian countryside will produce gravestones and church statues with heads missing, or the face filed away. Whenever I see the statue of Florence Nightingale in Lincoln Park, I imagine that it was a Turk with a scimitar who chopped her hands off. Recently, someone rehabilitated her with prosthetic hands. Good for them.
^^Ironically, Florence Nightingale worked as a nurse in Turkey. You gotta wonder if it wasn't a Turk, after all, who chopped off her statue's hands. Next time I go birding at Lincoln Park, I'll keep my eyes open for anybody in a turban, carrying a scimitar.
^^^Looking at the grafitti on her statue, I just realized that the idiot gang member who defiled her marked up the two parts of the female body that everybody talks about, including Ben Folds.
^^^^A friend took me out to lunch, recently, and when we got into his car, he said, "You gotta hear this."
OH MY GOD.
^^^^^This guy Ben Folds, whose albums sound like Bruce Hornsby got drunk, and wrote what was really on his mind, sings a Gangsta Rap song from the early 90s titled "Bitches Aint Shit", but his treatment of the song is brilliant. Folds takes what is quite probably the most offensive, misogynistic song ever released, and sings the entire song with the heartfelt, melancholic voice, piano, and background vocals of a Bruce Hornsby ballad. This ultimate white guy from the suburbs cover of the song serves not only as a parody of gangsta rap, but the irony of singing the song as if it was the theme music to a Hallmark Made-for-TV Special delivers a death blow to the hatred and nastiness of the original.
^^^^^^^For me it isn't the language of the song, itself, that offends me, so much as the concept presented of women being sexual property who should remain faithful to their man, while it's okay for him to have multiple sexual partners.
^^^^^^^The cliche of angry young African-American men singing misogynistic lyrics was one of the topics discussed yesterday with Larry Mantle's guest, Tom Burrell, who discussed his new book, Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority. Burrell states that Gangsta Rap is the legacy of centuries of slavery, when Black men could not legally marry, and their 'wife' and children could be hauled away at a moment's notice, to be sold off individually. Slave owners, and other white men routinely raped Black women. Burrell concludes that Gangsta Rap is an attempt to take ownership of these power structures--an ironic repetition of the slavemasters' sins, visited upon the same victims: Black women. A particularly ugly version of the Stockholm Syndrome. Listen to the whole interview, and come to your own conclusions.
^^^^^^^^All of this sounds like fodder for the next cocktail party, when we can stand around in sophisticated poses, drinking adult beverages, and discussing the world; but there are real-world consequences. This morning I walked from the bus stop to the office, and took the shortcut through the hospital parking garage. Dressed like a middle class guy, wearing my cheapo Costco backpack (that green backpack is the Toyota Camry of backpacks: they're everywhere), I was power-walking through the concrete structure, ignoring the nasty exhaust fumes, and watching for panicked employees driving too fast who need to park, run inside, to clock in on time. I turned a corner, suddenly coming upon a car with its trunk open. The car's owner appeared from the front of the car at the same time I did. She was in her late 30s, and I saw the panic in her eyes. Here was a large man, appearing out of nowhere. By making eye contact with her, I frightened--rather than reassuring her. Resisting the sudden urge to assuage her fears by saying "Good morning," I looked away, and kept on walking.