I said I would write a follow-up post to my initial article, so Django Unchained being released on DVD next week gave me an opportunity to return to the topic.
First, the word nigger is the least interesting racial aspect of Django Unchained, so I’m not going to spend any time writing about that issue. As I said in an earlier post, Django has almost nothing to do with slavery. So, I want to focus on what this film tells us about race in contemporary America. Although there is a lot we can discuss, I specifically want to explore what the film tells us about White redemption, Black invisibility, and this culture’s peculiar obsession with Black penises.
Over the coming posts, I will spend a significant amount of time writing about music. For me, music represents this wide-open frontier that shapes and reflects our collective consciousness (s/o to my Sociology people). We, as creative people, map our society, its wonders and its dysfunction, onto this musical plane. This habit can be a useful tool for analyzing cultural practices, while also serving as a means for actualizing social transformation. With that being said, I really want to talk about why this blog has such diverse subject matter, and I will use the notion of music genre as a vehicle to explain our decision.
Often when we think of music, we think of its categories: R&B, Rap, Rock, Classical, Pop, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Nature Sounds, etc. These categories, or genres, make it easier for us to organize our tastes. Culturally, we have structured entire normative frameworks about how each of these genres should sound, and consequently our evaluations of an artist’s musical talent are heavily influenced by the person’s ability to fit into a recognizable genre.
The dominant narrative in news media is that we are in the midst of an economic crisis. The financial market crash, the housing market collapse, the national debt, and unemployment have all been feature stories since 2008. The aggregation of these stories has been used to justify both the austerity (What Is Austerity?) and bailout programs, which leads to the conclusion that the crisis can be fixed. Fox News in its coverage of the 2011 Republican Debate in New Hampshire repeated the economic crisis narrative:
To me, this economic crisis narrative does not fully capture the problem that we are currently facing. So, during this time of “economic crisis” I hope that we can begin to look at this moment as a crisis of capitalism itself.
In Spring 2008, I had a college radio show where I discussed political issues, with a particular emphasis on the presidential election (Shout Out to Brandon, who gave me a break). At the time, I was very critical of candidate Obama, yet I voted for him in the 2007 primary and the 2008 Presidential election.
“Many of the students expressed the belief that Barack Obama is radical. This was something that I thought was particularly interesting (because) to be radical is to affect the fundamental structure of something in a way that is thorough and far-reaching. Barack does not want a far-reaching structural shift in America.”
-My Radio Show Spring 2008
I was really reluctant to write my apologist review of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA). The group’s music is an eclectic mix of violent rants, intricate lyricism, and vulnerable introspection, all arranged over sweeping and dynamic musical compositions. My feelings about this group are difficult for me to explain because there is just so much material to digest and their musical narratives are, many times, intimately human, and therefore very complex. You don’t hear their music, you feel it; not just in their lyrics, but in the diversity of sounds they create as well. The level of personality in their music makes it simultaneously extremely accessible, belligerently alienating, flippantly offensive, and if placed in context, endearing.