Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Christopher Maurice Brown

Chris Brown, for better and for worst, is one of the most prominent artists and performers of my generation. He made his debut at the ripe age of 16, and he has consistently been making tracks ever since.

However, what many people think of him as is not a singer, or a rapper, but a person who beat Rihanna. As many people know, Chris Brown pleaded guilty to felony charges against then-girlfriend, Rihanna. Since then, Chris Brown's musical career has taken a nosedive, and his Graffiti album, which came out in the same year as the incident sold poorly and had generally negative reviews. He has since apologized profusely and been understanding about his charges.

Since then, he has bounced back with a collaborative mixtape with Tyga entitled Fan of a Fan and his fourth studio album, F.A.M.E.

Chris Brown has also taken up rap fairly recently, and in my opinion, he's extremely adequate at it, having a nice flow and some nice beats. Although, it is slightly awkward to hear him talk about braggadoccio and getting girls even three years after the incident.

Do you feel like Chris Brown deserves a second chance and has atoned for his sins? Do you think Chris Brown is a good RAPPER?

*Picture from Chris Brown's remix music video of Jay-Z's and Kanye's "N****s in Paris".

Monday, February 27, 2012

Beauty as a an Advantage

I was watching Charlie’s Angels this weekend, and it reminded me of the concepts we have been talking about in class. Drew Barrymore’s, Cameron Diaz’s, and Lucy Lu’s characters don’t have magical superpowers, but I still consider martial arts trained female super-spies as superheroines.

The Opening monologue by Charlie says how these three very different and beautiful women work for him. We talked about what we would want to look like as superheroines, and beautiful is in everyone’s minds. There is a general consensus of the world that these actresses are all beautiful, so obviously they would be top choices for superheroines. The three are always in heels, I even noticed Lucy Lu wearing them as she was scaling up the side of a cliff, wear awesome outfits (usually with cleavage), have perfect hair and makeup, and even do this ridiculously dramatic hair flip each time they take a wig/hat off.

There is, however, an important distinction between the Angels and the other characters we have talked about in class. Their beauty is a major plot point. We either mentioned in class or in another post that these skimpy outfits could be used as distractions. But in the comics we’ve read so far, this has never been shown. The Angels on the other hand, use it all the time. Their plans would not have been able to succeed as well without the use of their ability to distract the men. And when I say do this all the time, I mean almost every stage of every plan involves at least one of them in a skimpy outfit dancing or flirting while another bugs the car or steals a bottle with some fingerprints.

Then on the idea of villains, I think there is a balance. In this movie, there is a girl fight with Cameron Diaz and the second in command of evil, but otherwise the Angels fight guys. There may be a weird message in still the male the dominant villain, but I don't think it is a huge deal. (plus, that is fixed when Demi Moore is the main bad guy in the second movie) There is girls fighting guys and fighting girls in an almost balanced way, which is pretty cool. 

So with that, I pose a question. Is it wrong for them to take advantage of their beauty to make them even more kickass? Is it bad for society to assume a “look” of superheroines, when, at least in this case, it helps make them be superheroines? I don't think it was necessary for them to be naked/almost naked in some scenes, but I think that if their looks make them more suitable for the job of spy, then they should use it. It may not be great for society to impose a standard of beauty on superheroines. But really, can anyone picture ugly Charlie’s Angels?

All About The Beat

I am as big a fan of hip hop beats as I am of rap and hip hop vocals themselves. Whether other hip hop fans share my opinion or not, there is obviously a strong connection between vocals and beat on just about any track. However, whether they mesh well or contradict each other is another story (Nate Dogg?).

For anyone else who has ever thought or wondered about the kind of impact a beat has on rap lyrics, I decided to put up a side-by-side comparison of Yung Joc's "It's Goin' Down" with a remix of the track by mashup duo The White Panda. The track starts with the instantly recognizable synth riff of Owl City's "Fireflies" before the rap intro starts with producer Nitty introducing us "to another motherfucker out my squad...go by the name of Joc." Already there is a disconnect*; it grows further especially during passages such as:

"Catch me in the hood posted at the sto
Pistol in my lap on the phone counting dough
If a girl choose let her do her thang
Just like her mama nice ass, nice brain"


"If ya got a problem say it to my face
We can knuckle up any time any place"

The Owl City sample is perhaps the polar opposite of Nitty's original beat: innocent and full of poppy synths and bell chimes. The first casual listen to "Fireflies Goin' Down" gives the listener that impression as well, until he or she really pays attention to Yung Joc rapping about how much swag he has--at that point the song just becomes comical. Anyone else have similar or opposing thoughts on the relationship between beats and vocals? What kind of value do remixes and mashups like this have in the hip hop community, if any?

Song links:

Yung Joc - It's Goin' Down (original)

The White Panda - Fireflies Goin' Down (Owl City vs Yung Joc)

*Props to White Panda for a mashup that is fun to listen to, albeit doesn't make much sense from a lyrical/musical perspective.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hot Dogs & Tacos

A curious thought was born into my mind the other day shortly after my friend took a huge bite of a dripping, beefy cheeseburger. Instinctively, I asked, "How is she?" I wouldn't have thought anything of my words prior to taking this class, but something about that phrase caught my ear as it left my mouth.

Why do we classify inanimate objects as feminine? It's widely socially accepted, and has been since gosh knows when. Is it flattering to the female population that a sexy sports car is a "she," or offensive that a dump truck is as well? How about a beautiful forest or a landfill? Or is the problem here simply that, because we classify things as female, we're gradually conditioned to classify females as things?

Perhaps this contributes to men rampantly objectifying women. Should I stop making mouth-love to my burrito and saying things like "she's so... *sob* beautiful..!"?

I'm also currently in Spanish 1230. It's hard not to notice that Spanish has some feminine inanimate nouns while others are masculine. Could this possibly be connected to the different social positions that Spanish and American females have? In this light, could Spanish women be considered heroines simply due to their culture?

My main question is, should I completely stop referring to objects as female? Or should I call some objects "he" and others "she," depending on their phallic qualities? (i.e. Mr. Hot Dog & Ms. Taco)

Uncle Sam Goddamn Analysis Part III

In this third section, I will delve into the third degree of inquiry: structural. This involves analyzing the
symbolism, power structure, form, content, and systems of knowledge in a given lyric.

Smoke and mirrors, stripes and stars
Stolen for the cross in the name of God
Bloodshed, genocide, rape and fraud
Written to the pages of the law, good lord

A third degree of inquiry involves many of the topics I’ve already discussed, thus, here is a short summary of the key concepts: Brother Ali connects various words and phrases to elicit a response from the audience. By connecting words like “smoke and mirrors”, “stripes and stars”, to religion and morality, Ali forces the audience to realize that American history is steeped in violence and deception. Our laws and religions should never be compared to violent acts and mysterious, hazy, magic tricks but that’s exactly what Ali introduces in these opening lines. He uses metaphors and symbolism to represent certain ideals in American society, like “pages of the law” and “stripes and stars”, but subsequently tears them down with connections to the violence and confusion I described earlier. Brother Ali utilizes specific sentence structure to achieve this comparison by using the descriptive nouns in one sentence to address misconceptions about American society in the following (it follows a scheme that goes nouns, misconceptions, nouns, misconceptions). But when all of these traits are integrated, Brother Ali’s philosophy begins to shine. This text acts as a system of knowledge because Ali takes the entire history of American success and turns it around to shock the audience into listening even more closely to his philosophical understanding. In this realization, the fourth degree of inquiry reveals itself.

Hip-Hop Therapy

In her program Healing Young People Thru Empowerment (H.Y.P.E.), counselor Adia McClellan Winfrey helps troubled teens by incorporating hip-hop into therapy.  In a typical session, participants recite the H.Y.P.E. creed, briefly discuss the topic of the week, turn in their journal reflections from the previous week, and then begin listening to music. After listening to each track, the participants discuss the message behind the song’s lyrics. The participants relate this message to their own lives, using the music as a way to reflect on their problems. According to one of the participants, “the music makes me feel like opening up because I know what [the rapper] went through and where they’re at today. It makes me feel like I can make it through too”.

I think that hip-hop therapy is an excellent idea, and I truly believe that this program can help many teens today. It is often difficult to open up and talk about personal issues, but I think that listening to somebody else do this in a hip-hop track can definitely make it easier. When you hear a song and can relate to the artist’s problems, it encourages you and makes you feel less alone. This is why I think that hip-hop is definitely a great tool that people can use to help them discuss and ultimately work through their issues.

Here is the link to the website for H.Y.P.E. The article that I read is in the middle of the home page. Enjoy!

Brotherly Love and Sam Lachow: Little Man Big City

Hailing from Seattle Washington, Sam Lachow is young, Caucasian, (and not to mention devastatingly attractive), and seems to be catching on quickly in the hip-hop industry. While his beats are still relatively unknown by the majority, his tracks have a genuine vibe and speak to a comprehensive audience on everything from providing advice to spitting vernacular on partying and drugs.
In his track “Little Man Big City” Lachow raps to his little brother, and gives him guidance on how to survive the woes of middle school; this track also shows that he continues to be there for his younger brother even in the thick of his rap career. Lachow’s wisdom is reflected in this song through content and form: he informs his brother about the difficulties that he might face, as he reflects back on his own experiences as a child. This is mirrored in the line: “Sixth grade: I’ll tell you what those were the best days, thinkin’ about girls and writin’ raps instead of essays”. Through form, Lachow’s raw wholesome rap voice is contrasted against a simple backbeat, which contains a hint of piano and a dash of saxophone. His tone is truthful: he isn’t telling his little brother not to smoke or drink, but rather he tells him to have fun as he makes his brother promise “not to grow up to fast”.  Lachow also references childhood motifs such as “green eggs and ham”. The message of this song is enforced through these nostalgic elements and familial references.
Lachow pulls at the heartstrings and wisdom of older siblings and exemplifies the strength in the bond between siblings (when I first heard this track I posted it on my sister’s wall because it seems like Lachow and his little brother have a similar bond to my sister and I).
Another notable quality about Lachow’s rap style is his ability to connect with a variety of different audiences. In this track he claims: “I got my gangster friends, I got my hipster friends, I got my valley-hood friends that’ll lick your friends, I got my Ivy League homies and my pot head homies, and I got a couple clicks of bitches…” and so on and so forth.

Anyways, I would like to know what you guys think! Here you go: 


A Finger, Two Dots Then Me

I'm not usually the kind of person to listen to poetry, but this video is definitely an exception. The short film "A Finger, Two Dots Then Me" is an award winning film that first appeared in 2010 at the Miami International Film Festival. The short film is a spoken-word piece of the popular poem by Derrick Brown.

When I first came across this video I was very hesitant to watch it, and when I started I almost turned it off because I thought it was going to be cheesy and boring... I was very wrong. I'm not sure if it's the lyrics or the passion Brown expels through his voice, but the climax of the video is incredibly emotional and mind opening. It's difficult to explain, but Brown turned the simple idea of life, death and afterlife into a completely different level of consciousness.

I encourage everyone to watch the entire film. It's only about 8 minutes and completely worth it!


I don't know if any of you have ever watched Def Jam Poetry or heard of it. I believe that it can add a lot to our discussions; each poet writes beautifully and purposefully, reciting their original poems in front of millions of people. The show is now cancelled, however its legacy lives on. For these poets, memorizing their lines is unnecessary and these lines are ingrained in them. You can hear the power and pride in each of their voices.

These two poets both speak about their fathers, 
and the emotional void that was left in them after their fathers left. This here is the poetry I have always missed.  I remember watching this show in my 7th grade class and just loving it. Each poet brings a new issue to the table and each captivates your heart. J. Ivy (the second video) says "I try to get you out of my mind, but I cant get you off of my face". His father leaving broke him emotionally and even though he tries to forget his father he knows this is impossible. His father is in his blood. 

 I recommend you all to watch a few of these videos on youtube and fall in love with it like I have.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A More Realistic and Relatable Superheroine

Towards the end of October last semester, the new TV show Once Upon a Time premiered. From the first episode and on, I became more and more engrossed in the show. The storyline is quite riveting, yet another aspect of the series has more of an impact on my interest: the characters and their diverse personalities. The character that I find most personally inspirational is Emma Swan, the biological mother of Henry, Storybrooke’s new sheriff and, most importantly, the only person capable of freeing the fairytale characters stuck in Storybrooke.
            I don’t find Emma Swan inspiring simply because of the fact that she holds the key to saving everyone in Storybrooke. Instead, she is motivating because of her weaknesses and her distinguished sense of style. First off, she has the uncanny ability to “know when someone is lying”, yet this “superpower” is also what gets in her way of love and truly “feeling comfortable in her skin.” Since Emma is constantly skeptical of everyone and everything around her, she misses out on opportunities, such as falling in love with the original sheriff before he was killed off, as well as fulfilling her destiny of saving Storybrooke. However tragic this may seem, in the end, I feel more of a connection with her character. This flaw humanizes her and doesn’t place her on a pedestal that will disappoint many viewers if she makes a simple mistake. This imperfection is present in all of us, to a certain extent. Also, this fault is neutral in terms of a specific gender. In class, we spoke about what truly constitutes a characteristic as either masculine or feminine and we managed to agree that there is a gray area. As for being skeptical about people and situations, I think most would agree that this trait is pretty androgynous. Thus, the writers of Once Upon a Time didn’t frame Emma Swan as this woman with the flaw of lust, such as the Dark Phoenix or the 1940s Wonder Woman. This unique characteristic gives Emma Swan a negative spin that is appealing and atypical for most modern super heroines.

             Secondly, I would like to point out the iconic outfit that Emma Swan wears most in Once Upon a Time. Instead of wearing incredibly revealing clothes, such as a deep V blouse or short skirts, she wears simply a red jacket with a white top underneath and dark wash jeans. She has been shot wearing other clothing but this is what she mainly wears. So instead of using a cheap strategy to “attract more men” by exploiting Emma, the writers, directors, and producers decided to make Emma Swan’s strength and cleverness as the main focuses of her character.
            While Emma Swan is still a character in a fictional supernatural TV show, making her only so realistic, the setting is placed in a modern day town in Maine. There are other problems that occur in this drama, but not all of them are as far-fetched as some fairy-tale drama. Therefore, Emma, who is mainly a character of the real-life Storybrooke, embodies a woman who is idealistic for her wits, charm, passion, and determination yet also admired for her weaknesses that civilize her. 

The Powerpuff Girls: Super heroine Infantilization

Last week in class we discussed how super heroines are often infantilized, as such with Kitty Pryde in “Days of Future Past”. From her conservative costume, to her clueless, “cutesy” facial expressions, Kitty evokes sympathy from her fellow X-men. However, because of this she is also babied and viewed as weaker. Another example of infantilized super heroines is the Powerpuff Girls.
Upon further research, I discovered that the author had originally named the Powerpuff Girls the “Whoopass Girls”. However, the title was changed to better suit the audience of young girls. I personally would have enjoyed the latter title more because it describes their powers and abilities to fight evil a bit more accurately. Though I do find the current title cute and endearing, it does to some extent give them less credit than they deserve. In fact, it’s hard to say that this is the only thing that does so. From the doll-like limbs to the cute voices to the big, round eyes, the Powerpuff Girls are the definition of infantilization in super heroines.
In the video clip attached, Mojo Jojo has an ingenious plan to build a machine to turn the Powerpuff Girls into giantesses. By being so big, the Powerpuff Girls can’t help but destruct anything they touch. The episode features them unknowingly breaking buildings and telephone wires. Their clueless expressions and emotional reactions make them seem even more helpless and incapable. In the end, the problem can only be solved by the Professor stepping in to fix the machine that turned them into giants. Without the aid of an older, male figure, the girls would have been rendered helpless despite their supernatural powers.
This is seen a lot in comic books. Though super heroines are not necessarily school-age children like the Powerpuff Girls, they are still treated like they are the ones who need to be saved. Whether it be a love interest or a fellow team member, it seems as if men are always the ones to swoop in and save the day.


Lyrics Versus Melody

As previously discussed, rap has undergone a change. It began in the "La Di Da Di" style by Slick Rick, with a simple beat-boxing background, and evolved to works like Warren G's "Regulate" where the melody was arguably more important than the lyrics. 

Today, rap exists in many forms. In some cases, the lyrics become the focal point, and in others, the melodies and beats are more important. The argument in many of these posts have been over what the artists specifically say in there songs. While some times it is true that the meaning comes from the specific words, often times, however, the purpose of these songs come instead from the the overall feeling that the listener comes away with at the end, frequently, given by the beat. In fact Christopher Lirette himself said that sometimes when poets listen to poems they do not over analyze them; instead, they listen for enjoyment and at the end say that was a good poem. If poets do that for poems, a form of lyricism that is usually read slowly and dramatized, tempting people to look at each work and phrase specifically, why then can we not use this same technique for rap music, a form of lyricism that is usually spoken rapidly making it nearly impossible to even understand each word unless you have the lyrics. It is very difficult to argue that Sean Paul wants anyone to focus on each specific word in his song "Temperature" as they are nearly incomprehensible. This song/video can be viewed here:

Yet, this same song makes me want to dance. In "Temperature", Sean Paul could have been talking about drugs, sex, or violence. Were it not for the music video, I probably would have had no idea But at the end of the song, I am left with an excited feeling as my heart is pumping and my feet are moving.

Furthermore, according to stress-and-relief.com, the sixth best way to relieve stress is to listen to music, not necessarily the suggested calming music, but the music that is soothing for you. The cite goes on to say, "Playing music in the background, even though you are busy in some other activity and are not aware of the music, also reduces stress." This is probably why so many people listen to music while they are doing homework and spending time with friends. In a specific case, when I listen to rap music and do my homework, I must be focused on my work for any of it to get accomplished. Therefore, I cannot be focused on the specific words of the song and I end up swaying to the rhythm of the song while focusing on my homework. I am sure that this is not an isolated case. In these cases, the student is not worried about whether the rapper is talking about smoking or pillaging villages, or even raping, because the words are not thoroughly being thought about. In these cases, what becomes important is the melody.

While I do not feel that the lyrics of rap song should be discredited, as they hold importance, there are certain situations to pay more attention to them than others. For instance, in class, and on assignments, the lyrics should be closely discussed and thought about. Furthermore, when the lyrics become the focal point of the song by a less important melody, similar to Slick Rick's "La Di Da Di," the lyrics hold more importance. However, when the melody becomes stronger than the lyrics, or when the songs are used as background for another activity (i.e. dancing, homework, sports) it is not the lyrics that are as important, but the melody and the overall feeling that the listener comes away with at the end of the song.

Queen of Naboo by day, Kickass heroine by night.

Let's talk about Star Wars. I mean, how has this not come up before? This series is one of the most popular, spanning at least three generations, maybe more. Star Wars has been recreated in many different medias. First there were the books, then the movies by George Lucas, then Lego Star Wars, Star Wars comic books, and a Star Wars cartoon on Cartoon Network. I've grown up watching these movies, and while I still don't understand the details, or even the politics within the stories, there's no doubt that this futuristic battle between good and evil will be talked about for many generations to come.
I want to talk about Padmè, or Queen Amidala. She is one of the strongest and most witty characters in episodes 1 to 3. First of all, she became queen of Naboo when she was just 13 years old (according to Wookiepedia) and then became a senator within the Galactic Senate. She ruled with charisma, and was diplomatic in her decisions while ruling over Naboo. She was smart and knew how to gain trust with her allies as shown by her kneeling before Boss Nass (this is a video), the leader of Guangan. She isn't afraid to be in the middle of battles, whereas other leaders would be hidden away safe from harm.
Let me just say that Padmè is a badass. During the Battle of Geonosis (refer to the video below), she, Anakin, and Obi Wan, are tied up to poles, in the middle of a death ring waiting to be eaten alive by crazy creatures. Now Anakin and Obi Wan, the Jedis (I mean really, you have the force but you can't get out of the shackles?), just sit there for several minutes trying to figure out what to do, and Padmè quickly gets out of her shackles and starts planning how to get out of the ring. She's smart and basically has a plan even before she is tied to the pole. This is an amazing portrayal of her wits and quick thinking, as well as female empowerment.
Lastly, Padmè is full of compassion, when she first hears of Anakin's transformation into Darth Vader, she does not believe it and searches for him to try and save him from the dark side. Once she realizes that he has become the Sith Lord, she is heartbroken, and soon dies in childbirth, but makes sure that her twins are safe and hidden from Anakin. Padmè is an amazing role model, as a tough, warmhearted, brave heroine, who fights for what she believes in.

Violent Women, An Unusual Sight

The creation of superheroines brought to light discomfort around the notion that women can enact violence. Seeing women bloody, strong and violent seemed unusual to many, and created controversy as a result. While I believe women reserve the right to portray themselves and other women in any manner they feel appropriate, the confusion around women and violence is somewhat justified. 71% of physical acts of violence are executed by men on men, and men are 4 times more likely than women to be murdered, two times as likely to be beaten or punched, and ten times more likely to commit murder than women. These statistics show that an overwhelming portion of violence in the United States is created and maintained by men.
To a certain extent, a violent portrayal of women is unusual because of the gendered nature of violence- women are much less likely to be violent, so why should they be portrayed violently?  On the other hand, violence is strongly correlated with strength and agency, something that women have been fighting to maintain in the United States for centuries. While men may be more violent, it is necessary to portray women performing acts of violence in order to give them the power to protect and persevere. To often women are damsels in distress, the Achilles Heel for the team, and the weakest link. If we portray women through the socialized characteristics of masculinity, regardless of the controversy that surrounds violence, it will equalize women in mainstream society. Even if women do not embody violence, it is important that women are seen with masculine characteristics in order to blur the line between men and women. Having distinct categories for gender runs the risk of creating prejudice against men and women, and alienates everyone who falls between the line as well. That being said, it is important than we blur the line for men as well. It is important that we show men with feminine characteristics in order to familiarize ourselves with diverse gender expressions and to humanize those that fail to fit in between the two genders. We need to see women being violent, and we need to see men who refuse violence. We must become comfortable with a variety of gender expressions so as to create  equal and just gender relationships.

Statistics from:http://www.socwomen.org/web/images/stories/resources/fact_sheets/fact_12-2009-gend-violence.pdf

The Real Superwomen of Television

Over the past few years, there has been a rise in the number of television shows that have a professional woman as the star character. If you turn on any of the popular channels such as TNT or USA networks then you will see commercial after commercial advertising television series that focus on a woman and her high level career. I thought I would highlight a few that I believe to be important in showing off the real super powers of today’s women.

TheCloser_300x300.jpgThe Closer (TNT):
Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson is a Georgia police detective that gets promoted to the head of the Priority Homicide Division in Los Angles. She shows off her prime investigation skills and interrogation tactics in the process of locking up brutal killers. Deputy Johnson has a special ability to read people and draw out confessions from the most hardened criminals. She gains respect from her team by using her unique case closing techniques to get results. In this position of power, Deputy Johnson maintains her style and stays true to herself even in the face of opposition.


In Plain Sight (USA):
Mary Shannon is a U.S. Marshall assigned to the Federal Witness protection program. Her job is to protect relocated federal witnesses and help them change into their new identities. Some of the witnesses are innocent people while others are criminals that are being protected by the law. No matter their background story, Shannon has to do her job right and protect the hunted witnesses from their pursuers. Shannon is tough woman; she not only takes on the challenges of her high-pressure career but also deals with her dysfunctional family members.

slide1.jpgBones  (FOX):
Dr. Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist who has a unique ability to solve crimes by finding evidence from the victim’s bones. Law enforcement calls upon the brilliant Dr. Brennan when the clues in the remains are too difficult for the FBI forensic team to extract. The rotting dead bodies that she is required to work with on a daily basis never faze her. Dr. Brennan is an extremely intelligent woman who remains focused and dedicated to her career.                

These television series portray modern day women in a positive light and show the vast strength of the 21st century woman. We get to see women demonstrating leadership and holding positions of power. They are capable of fighting crime and solving problems without magical superpowers and revealing costumes. Are there any others that you feel are important and need to be added to this list?     

More on hip hop and drug use

Mike had an interesting post on the connection between rap and marijuana/other drugs and I thought the topic could use a bit more discussion or at least an analysis of a particular song or two. 
"Tommy Chong" takes a very matter-of-fact stance on the use of marijuana, delving into the history of the drug and its use (all the way back to the "jungles of the Ganges river: 2000 BC."The second verse details the steps that marijuana users should follow in order to avoid legal consequences. Although semi-humorous, the verse ends with a provocative thought: 
"This law’s so flawed, the foundation’s done
The more things outlawed, the more outlaws run
George Washington himself probably puffed the chronic
Now his face get exchanged for this shit, ironic."

It's interesting to think that marijuana use is against the law when there are other things out there--perfectly legal things--that arguably put prospective users at higher risk.

As far as the connection between drug use and hip hop is concerned, people may argue that hip hop artists are not meant to be role models and thus shouldn't have to censor their lyrics or subject matter of certain content. I would mostly agree there, but there is no denying that they do have an influence on the minds of listeners. I can speak for myself; personally I admire not only Macklmore's lyricism, but also his message in this and other songs. From his lyrics one would gather that he is a casual smoker who views marijuana differently from many of his contemporaries:

"I’m not against legalization, not at all.

I’m against glorification, you are not Snoop Dogg.

Moderation, that’s the key

But the door’s unlocked.
It’s up to you how you use it. 
Make the call, c’mon."

I myself am not a smoker, but that fact doesn't give me any sense of entitlement; I would never look down at all on those who do. Similarly, if I did smoke, I would feel no differently about those who don't. Anyone else have any thoughts on how drug use has shaped hip hop culture and vice-versa, (or your opinions of each)?

Young Female Empowerment in Spy Kids

One topic of particular discussion during class was how women characters tend to be infantilized in comics. In particular, Kitty Pryde entered the X-men as a young teenager, and continued to be seen as younger than the other male parts of that group. Although her power was strong, she still was portrayed as less powerful, which may have been a product of her gender. With her always receiving commands from other characters, it made it seem as if her character was infantile—the character that always needed to be watched over like a child.

Although this seems like a stereotype that would exist in many places, I remember really enjoying the movie Spy Kids when I was in elementary school. This movie defied the stereotype that women should be portrayed as younger than male characters by constantly being the character to take commands from the male leader. Although these stereotypes were quite prevalent in the Kitty Pryde comics we read, the main characters of Spy Kids countered these quite strongly. In this movie, two young children, Carmen and Juni, discover that their parents are spies. When one day they find that their parents are in danger, they must go on a mission to find and save their parents, fighting robots and other fanatical characters along the way.

The mission that these two children go on resembles a superhero comic in the fact that they are fighting beings with super human like powers while using gadgets that give them the abilities to do things that are not possible in the actual world. However, unlike many super heroine comics that portray women as infantilized, this movie gives power to children, and unexpectedly even more power to the female child. The parents need saving, so the children must step up to fight and rescue their parents.

In the movie, Carmen is the older, stronger, wiser one of the other two kids. Her younger brother is always scared and anxious. Therefore, she always acts as the leader of the two. In addition to countering the stereotype that children cannot be as powerful as adults, by giving Carmen the leadership position over her brother, it also counters the idea that women are portrayed as infantile.  These two children, led by the female sibling successfully beat many adult characters in order to save their parents—giving power to children and even more power to female children. Contrasting Kitty Pryde, who is a female portrayed as infantile in comparison to the other X-Men, Carmen in Spy Kids has command over her brother and also has the strength and power to defeat many enemies of all ages, giving maturity to her child-aged character.

Picture: http://www.moveablefest.com/.a/6a00e54efa4f97883301543771ad4a970c-800wi
 Movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rl0rXHWtbQ