Basic Bitch, Bros, and Bias

basic bitch

Image courtesy of (sigh) makeameme.org

On Friday, feminist (and fashion-catty) blog Jezebel posted a takedown piece on the “basic bitch” trend, equating it to yet another fad white people are ruining. They used examples and video to cite their thesis that your annoying coworker that genuinely gushes about Keeping Up With the Kardashians and red velvet cupcakes in a vocal fry with abbreviated terms is a basic bitch. (And sure, it’s proven that white people co-opt things when other cultures have used them up.) While they’re about 5 years late to the party (an Urban Dictionary poster, happy to hear the latest Lil’ Duval and Spoken Reasons hip-hops, got people up on the term in a grammatically incorrect way), they’re acknowledging that hey, it’s something to talk about!

For those of you that don’t know, a “basic bitch” can mean a variety of things: a woman that likes popular, bland things (pumpkin spice anything, Orange is the New Black, Jason Mraz); a girl with a lack of personality (i.e. not edgy, unique, dynamic); a lady that does wrong by their man (from cheating to wearing unattractive clothes); a female that can’t be themselves around said man; a dame that thinks she is better than her contemporaries; and so on. Notice a trend here? The term “basic bitch” encompasses traits that an extroverted, diverse, masculine-focused society shames women for having.

The basic denominator (see what I did there?) is that you can be called a basic bitch simply for being a woman. NO WOMAN IS IMMUNE. And yeah, some trends (pumpkin spice and red velvet things) are annoying and rampant, but it’s no excuse to apply a generic term that has sexist overtones. The fact that the phrase came from the hip-hop scene does its chauvinistic image no favors–though really, all music has an inequality towards women.

But what about men? What is the male version of a basic bitch? A “bro?” I think so. So-called cultural mavericks Vice did an exhaustive article (and I mean “exhaustive;” it’s a tedious read) on the American bro, which nails the mindset and behaviors of the generic male dickbag. (Their argument loses a little bit of respect when they come to the bro’s defense a week later.) But the takeaways and comments in both articles are valid: the Miller Lite-swilling, boisterous, ego-fragile, homophobic and sexist go-getter is the bland trope of masculinity; the braggadocios nature of the bro, egged on by and marketed to a male-dominated society, is the standard of American manliness; and MAN UP AND DON’T BE A BITCH!

So the basic bitch is reviled in its femininity but the bro is the standard bearer of manhood. Right. Never mind that the same arguments raised railing against the former (liking popular, bland things; not having a true personality; doing wrong by their partner; not able to be themselves; feeling superior to their peers) are championed in the latter. I may be an armchair sociologist (that’s DR. Genial Black Man to you), but that seems biased to me.

But is there anything we can do about this troubling trend, this reminder that the battle of the sexes wages on in favor of men? Well, sure! First, we can stop denigrating ourselves with and by negative words. We can dig down deep into their meaning  on a personal and cultural level. Another thing is to stop taking social advice from morons (Lil’ Duval, the Kardashians,  etc.) and think for ourselves. But more than that, maybe we can stop defending behavior that is detrimental to ourselves and others–through articles, music, and whatever else is around the corner–and think about what we’re expelling from our cultural consumption. But that’s wishful thinking from a non-basic bitch bro.

 

The Ballad of James Franco (NSFW)

What Are YOU Doing For April Fools’ Day?

april fools day

“Hey bro, ready for the weekend?”

hey-bro-ready-for-the-weekend

 

Bros! BROS.

So check it. I get an email with this subject line “Hey bro, ready for the weekend?” And I’m all “SHIT YEAH! That’s gotta be my boy Franklin about to drop some choice Fri-Sat-Sun nugs of fun, yo! Maybe some brews at Twin Peaks watching the UFC fight and oglin’ some waitresses, or our Pussy Posse strollin’ the streets of Old Town Scottsdale on the hunt for cunt–AMIRITE?”

But TWIST! (And not the sweet kind, like when two chicks in the hotel hot tub start making out.) It’s some company called Lord & Taylor, trying to sell me some fucking linen shirts! (I don’t even know I got on their list!) Now, I have no beef with linen shirts; they’re SO choice when you’re up in the Hampts with your shirt open, surveying the family land like you’re fucking Christopher Columbus and shit, breezes blowing that soft, silky material in the wind like Lion King.

But when you’re ready to get your weekend on, you don’t want to be let down! You know what I’m talkin’ about! So it’s disappointing when you’re ready to bring on the party and the pussy, but you get fooled like a bitch the morning after. Whaddap with that, Lord & Taylor? Whaddap with that.

 

Chasing the ‪#‎Mcconnelling Trend

mitch mcconnell

Image courtesy of Salon.com

http://www.youdubber.com/index.php?video=nrdTX8m5G98&video_start=1&audio=Hoh3i03ncZ4&audio_start=0

The Word “Hipster” Has Lost All Meaning

gilt-hipster-bed

 

I’d think that a hipster bed would have plaid sheets and a Pabst Blue Ribbon can on the nightstand. /hackyhipsterjokes

35 Words Worse Than “Moist”

moist

Image courtesy of sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

As a self-appointed commentator on American society, I have the privilege of observing and dissecting what people like, hate, and rarely anything in-between. (Hyperbole is another common popular trend.) The prevalence of social media can color our opinions, influence decisions and motivate actions, as it is the 21st century method of keeping up with the Joneses.

So what does this screed have to do with the word “moist?” you ask. A lot, actually; somehow, pop culture has come to a silent consensus that “moist” is the creepiest, worst word to hear. Considering that we live in a world where we are bombarded with news about violence, sexual exploitation and music artist Pitbull, there are millions of words worse than one meaning “moderately or slightly wet.”

So why does that word creep people out? Is it what their imaginations conjure up (a damp sponge, saturated panties–HEY, I discovered ANOTHER word that people hate!)? The sexual connotation (see “panties”)? The pronunciation? Or is it that, like the general, unimaginative consensus proclaiming bacon the “best thing ever” or Nickelback/Creed as the “worst band ever” (are we forgetting Far East Movement so easily?) it is something that people say because they’re not that interesting? Beats me!

So here’s a public service: 35 words worse than “moist” (and “panties”) that should make your skin crawl due to the imagery and history they contain. You’re welcome.

  1. Hitler
  2. Pedophile
  3. Murder
  4. Nickelback (sorry, but they’re a terrible band)
  5. Bloodletting
  6. Genocide
  7. Lynching
  8. Waterfall (forever ruined by Golden Corral’s Chocolate Waterfall)
  9. Molest
  10. Behead
  11. Redonkulous
  12. Fecalpheliac
  13. Watersports
  14. Urophilia
  15. Leto (basically Jared Leto)
  16. Asshole (the body part, the type of person)
  17. Bootstraps (its adoption by conservative politics)
  18. Bro
  19. Neckbeard
  20. Toyotathon
  21. Ratchet (the behavior)
  22. Hubby
  23. Wifey
  24. Viral (it’s overused; shut it down)
  25. Makeunder
  26. Glamping
  27. Kardashian
  28. Gutting
  29. Assault
  30. Epic (unless it’s in reference to music label Epic Records)
  31. Cyrus (Miley, Billy Ray)
  32. Vomit
  33. Peed (like “I peed a little” like a disgusting person)
  34. N-word (any form, really)
  35. Creed (see “Nickelback”)

Go forth and add to society’s creepy language!

Disbelief and Minorities

Image courtesy of grammarparty.wordpress.com

I walked into my local doughnut haunt, Barb’s Bakery, with a mission: to get several chocolate-frosted cake donuts to ring in my 34th birthday. The first disappointment of the day came when I quickly learned that they had sold out of my coveted treats. I settled on some other (and delicious, as I later experienced) fried goods and went to check out. The cashier, the somewhat smarmy chipper and genial guy I dealt with in sporadic meetings over the past year, rang me up and wished me a good day.

The doors were closing and I was almost out of there, almost ready to enjoy the sugary spoils of the day, when I heard something that baffled me:

“Put it down, homey!”

I looked around the parking lot and saw no one. The store had been empty aside from a guy that looked ripped out of a MMA class, that counter employee, and the workers cranking out the goods. My mind went into overdrive. Did I imagine that hackneyed saying? Was that somewhat racist outburst real? Was it that smug-looking cashier? The MMA reject?

I determined that I would not let that incident ruin my day. I would not walk in and confront the person who may or may not have said that idiotic thing–for doing so would lead to a he said/he said exchange that might make me look insane.

But these incidents of disbelief are nothing new for me. Having been a black man in America for the majority of my 34 years (I had a brief experimental period in college as a reverse Soul Man), I’ve learned to expect to be treated differently because of my race–whether it is a sour look in my direction, an embarrassing comment in my direction, or lofty expectations of my dancing abilities.

Despite evidence to the contrary, there is a part of me that believes that people are inherently good, that hatred is an expression of fear and helplessness. And yet, it conflicts with my generally optimistic viewpoint of life, as such incidents still mystify me and make me wonder if I’m experiencing the worst of humanity as it’s happening. I’ve chronicled my run-in with a police officer in sixth grade, which indoctrinated me into the institutionalized racism of American society. Within that same time period, an increasingly troubled classmate I had known since first grade yelled the n-word at me and my brother as we passed her and her sister in the street–not a block from home. The onset of my puberty had brought out the prejudicial tendencies in society’s bigots.

One of my friends noted that (WARNING: POLITICAL COMMENTARY ALERT) liberally minded people are more likely to believe in the greater good of society over individual actions, and conservatives are the opposite–to favor acts and results that benefit them over collective citizens. I wonder if those ingrained beliefs are at work in the recent state legislation seen in Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee, Kansas, Utah and Arizona regarding the “exercise of religion” in anti-gay bills.

Days after a controversial Kansas House of Representatives bill was defeated in the Senate that would have prohibited “government sanctions or lawsuits over faith-based refusals to recognize same-sex unions or to provide goods, services, accommodations or employment benefits to couples” (essentially letting the religious beliefs of business owners discriminate against gay couples), Arizona’s House of Representatives and Senate went and did the same damn thing with Senate Bill 1062.

Gay rights is an equal rights issue, and the slow acceptance of same-sex unions across the country has traditionalists scared–so scared that they’re using politics to bully those that want to have their love legally recognized. Christianity is the most widely recognized religion in the US, and my fuzzy math determines that there are more heterosexual-identifying Christians in America than there are non-Christian believers with sexual orientations that would anger up the blood of a Fox News zealot. And yet the powerful, in full-on victim-mentality mode, want to turn away the outnumbered. Know who else was an oppressed minority with radical leanings? JESUS.

If Governor Jan Brewer signs SB 1062 into law, basically allowing businesses to segregate themselves from those that differ only in their sexual preference, the mandate of segregation will expedite a slippery slope of prejudice against those that differ from the people creating these backwards laws. It will also call into question who is being oppressed: the minorities that frighten the majority because of their diversity, or the people that blindly and wrongly use their religious documents to persecute the people they believe are not in line with their faith and teachings.

That is disbelief on a macro level, a level I would never wish on anyone nor tolerate.

How Will Your Partner Disappoint You This Valentine’s Day?

valentines-day-partner

Macklemore, Civil Rights, and Good Intentions

macklemore

Image courtesy of picstopin.com

You would have to have lived in a cave or under a rock for the past 2 years to not have heard of Seattle rapper Macklemore (and Ryan Lewis, the mute Teller to Macklemore’s boisterous Penn). I’ve inhabited a weird plane where I’ve been aware of his existence but did not hear the entirety of one of his songs–including the anti-consumerism smash “Thrift Shop” and gay rights anthem “Same Love.”

The latter song is an interesting craw that stuck in my mind-vice. As a gay rights supporter, I was intrigued that young Mackle of More tackled a subject taboo in the hip-hop community. And as millions heard his LGBT-championing hit during the Grammys a few weeks back, the soundtrack of 33 couples getting married at the ceremony by Queen Latifah under the watchful eye of Bishop Don Juan Madonna, I wondered if the song deserved such praise.

madonna queen latifah

Bishop Don Juan Madonna and Queen Latifah. Image courtesy of peoplestylewatch.com

Fast-forward to today: I still have not heard the song, but I was reminded of its existence by comedian Cameron Esposito via the podcast “My Brother, My Brother and Me” during a discussion of pop culture. Her wonder about the tune’s ascension in the gay community centered around the homophobia in the song’s first eight bars, a young Macklemore frightened of being–GASP!–a gay! She sold it by the following:

“Any song saying that is in favor of you having rights that starts with a, like, one-minute explanation of how that person thought they might be like you, they cried A LOT, is REALLY tough to get behind.” 

So now I was intrigued: not intrigued enough to LISTEN to the song, but intrigued enough to Google the lyrics. And WHAT lyrics! The gay panic of the song’s narrator could fuel 20 sitcoms from the ’90s. Here’s some food for thought:

When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay,
‘Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
She’s like “Ben you’ve loved girls since before pre-k, trippin’ “
Yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she?
Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, “Yeah, I’m good at little league”
A preconceived idea of what it all meant
For those that liked the same sex

His youthful confusion about his sexuality based upon his drawing skills, his cleanliness and his uncle’s proclivities for men, while somewhat understandable, seemed a bit misguided to show empathy for a maligned portion of society. (Good thing his mom was there to play down her boy’s fears, leading him to realize, “Oh, I’m good at sports! GAY PANIC OVER.”) It is like trying to identify with a homeless person by griping about your parents cutting off your trust fund.

(The rest of the song is marginally better, though it ranks along Lily Allen’s “Hard Out Here” video and Lorde’s “Royals” as recent pop-culture lectures of black stereotypes–including homophobia and materialism. It’s been a banner year for racial tut-tutting.)

Whatever inspired yon Macklemore to create the song, its message is now in the public’s collective consciousness. But what if an artist like Macklemore of the ’60s supported civil rights for African Americans through song? Would people have propped up a song with lyrics like this?

When I was in the third grade I thought that I was black,
‘Cause I could play basketball and liked fried chicken as a snack.
I came out to my mom, tears streaming down my eyes
She said “Ben, you’re as white as mayo on fries”

Or, hell, if Italians had their own Macklemore rooting for them during the mass immigration to the U.S.–and resulting discrimination and violence they faced?

I suppose my mother had a point
An assortment of preconceived notions in my head.
I remember adding with my fingers, “I’m not a Mafioso and I’ve never had pasta”
A trivial though of notions misspent

And ladies! Could Macklemore the first have been an honorary suffragette?

When I was a young lad I thought I was a lady,
Unable to vote and a desire to look pretty.
I ran to mother, tears flowing down my cheeks
She said “Ben, you’re a boy, not second-class like me!”

Basically, I have two points: one, good intentions, while admirable, should be examined for their content as well as their emotional desire; and two, let’s calm down about anointing minority groups with labels and things because a majority member endorses it. Reverend Jesse Jackson does not speak for all black people, despite the belief that his camera-hogging nature suggests otherwise. And maybe we should slow our roll before crowning a possible 9/11 truther as a civil rights champion.

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