Category Archives: entertainment

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

4 Things I Hope For in 2014

new year 2014

Google needs a new artist. (Courtesy of Imgace.com.)

(I’m trying to BuzzFeed this shit.)

As I write this, it is January 4, and millions of New Year’s resolutions have already been broken. People made lofty commitments for the new year in their haste to better themselves, and they abandoned them faster than Netflix and their streaming movie selection.

In the past, I’ve done resolutions and goals, but this year will be different. I offer my hopes for 2014 that are beyond my control, offering the universe the chance to do my bidding. (*insert evil laugh*) As much of my writing and thought process is focused on pop culture, expect to see many in that vein.

ONWARD!

1. I Hope We Figure Out This Racism Thing

Racism will never truly go away–despite all the efforts from clueless people to proclaim American society as post-racial. (If you need evidence of the everlasting fad known as racism, read TheRoot.com.) But I hope–HOPE–that more people realize the power of their bigoted words and actions.

Whether it’s not posting a racist joke on social media or, heck, NOT committing a hate crime despite that nagging urge (no, they’re NOT taking away your white women), go above your horrible base instincts and lay off the acts steeped in belittling a culture other than your own. We really don’t need to know that Asians are supposedly bad drivers, let alone that black people are inferior.

And while we’re at it, let’s re-evaluate institutionalized racism–whether it’s black people shopping at Macy’s and Barneys, affirmative action laws being challenged, or New York City’s awful “Stop-and-Frisk” law.

Stereotypes may be fun to indulge in (especially if you’re an asshole), but maybe find a hobby to better yourself. Minorities don’t need to be on the receiving end of your shit.

2. I Hope We Stop The Shaming Trend

It’s a never-ending cycle: fat-shaming; race-shaming; slut-shaming; SHAME-shaming. “Shaming” joined bullying as a popular form of  psychological oppression in 2013, and it mostly popped up online. (Hi Jezebel.) The term “shaming” sounds so passive-aggressive, and it becomes a reality when internet users latch onto an issue big and small–lashing out at their peers without really knowing the person or the facts.

I’ve gone on record as supporting people to feel and express their feelings, but that comes with a price: being all dicky with their words. (I’m no saint on this topic, either.) Maybe if we acknowledge that shaming is really about people being bastards, we can dig deeper into the issues that set off so many nerves and actually have some good dialogue.

3. I Hope We Get Off Reality TV Shows

If I’ve learned anything from the Duck Dynasty fiasco (besides the racism, the homophobia, and the fakeness), it’s that people will support anything–to the point where they’ll force companies to continue profiting off of hate-filled brands, because money. The investment people have with such a brand is troubling, as is the prospect of audiences with similarly vapid shows.

I know that this form of entertainment provides escapism for folks, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of exposing the troubling undercurrent of hate and carelessness bubbling under the surface. People like yukking it up at dumb folks; I get that. But that crosses a line when you’re writing angry screeds for Cracker Barrel (its name a self-fulfilling prophecy for its customer base) to carry your favorite show’s products (with said dumb folks) OR ELSE.

I hope that with this tipping point reached, people go back to idolizing knowingly-fake shit on television and movies (though The Big Bang Theory doesn’t need any more attention, thanks), actors, musicians or sports stars–four things that are hurting for eyeballs. They have mouths to feed and coke habits to indulge!

4. I Hope The Deconstruction of Celebrity is Completed

The trainwreck(ing ball) known as Miley Cyrus gave pearl-clutchers everything they wanted in 2013: a sneering, tongue-wagging, (faux)-twerking, public pot-smoking, culture-reappropriating, sexual exhibitionist of a monster person. Well clutch those pearls to the point of crushing them to powder: IT’S ALL THE PART OF A CHARACTER! DESPITE CLAIMING IT WAS HER REAL PERSONALITY IN HER MTV “DOCUMENTARY”!

Having now blown the lid off of the fakeness of persona (as I hoped people would sarcastically continue to idolize celebrity), I hope other artists come out as products of a confused, fuddy-duddy music industry. While Lady Gaga’s celeb-deconstruction campaign collapsed on itself last year (the soft sales of ARTPOP hint at this), let’s hope others point out the BS that comes with large promotional campaigns, let alone the persona that comes with selling art for millions of dollars.

Actress Jennifer Lawrence is refreshing in this regard because of her candid interviews and behavior revealing a quippy, almost-human person. While it remains to be seen if people will feel the same in 5-10 years (society disposes of celebrity when they either figure someone out, or they realize they no longer want to fuck a once-hot woman), I hope more artists shake the foundation of plastic promotion and persona by being human–warts and all.

###

While I’m leaving my hopes in the hands of fate, I can at least try to will something to happen in 2014: to travel more; to visit more friends; to have better health; to date; and to get into a great relationship. But that’s all boring stuff. Whatever happens this year, it will be entertaining, and writing about it will be a hope fulfilled.

Duck Dynasty? FUCK (That) Dynasty.

phil robertson duck dynasty

Word finally got out this week that ol’ coot Phil Robertson of inexplicable reality TV show hit Duck Dynasty was a homophobe, laying waste to his monocle and high-society image in a GQ interview. This sparked a sea of outrage, baffling support for the elder duck caller, and damage control by the A&E (not to be confused with Arts & Entertainment, as their programming now has neither one) network to suspend Robertson from new episodes.

This story and outcome has the usual societal tropes that we’ve seen in the past and will see in the next occurrence of such idiocy: outrage; cries of faux outrage; support from the worst people; and the “what did you expect” assholes that are as bad as “devil’s advocate” internet debaters.

Lost in that shuffle were the more disturbing comments, like his thoughts on Southern blacks during the Jim Crow era:

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

And his presidential preference of Mitt Romney through a convoluted analogy because he’d rather side with someone from Salt Lake City (Romney’s really from Boston) than Chicago–because, *SPOILER ALERT* he’s a racist:

“If I’m lost at three o’clock in a major metropolitan area…I ask myself: Where would I rather be trying to walk with my wife and children? One of the guys who’s running for president is out of Chicago, Illinois, and the other one is from Salt Lake City, Utah. [Editor’s note: Romney is from Boston, not Salt Lake City.] Where would I rather be turned around at three o’clock in the morning? I opted for Salt Lake City. I think it would be safer.”

And did you know that he beat up a woman? NO?!? YEP:

“During Phil’s darkest days, in the early 1970s, he had to flee the state of Arkansas after he badly beat up a bar owner and the guy’s wife. Kay Robertson persuaded the bar owner not to press charges in exchange for most of the Robertsons’ life savings.”

I haven’t seen Duck Dynasty; I have, however, seen the boatloads (more like yacht-loads) of themed merchandise (from Christmas albums to neckties and school folders. Its influence is clearly evident in pop culture, as their red state, down-home antics appeal to a wide variety of people–whether it’s genuine interest or hate-watch enthusiasts. It’s tempting to say that the viewers and consumers of their entertainment and goods are lowbrow morons that likely share the viewpoints of Mr. Robertson, and I wouldn’t be surprised, and saddened, to have that confirmed.

But the more frustrating thing is the support drawn to such a negative figure by people that use such opportunities to indulge their selfish tendencies. How? Oh HOW:

  • I bet someone will play devil’s advocate/what-did-you-expect? with these factoids! He’s from the South! He grew up in more racist times! Who hasn’t wanted to slap around a mouthy woman? Well, you’re a dick, hypothetical douchebag!
  • Feel like Robertson’s freedom of speech is being stomped out because others oppose the shit spewing from his mouth-sphincter? Guess what? Freedom of speech comes with the consequences that your words create.
  • Believe that the so-called outrage over this is false and overblown? Wait until some video game system defect or iPhone shortage rocks your feeble world, then tweet about it and IMAGINE ME LAUGHING.

These issues bring out the worst in people, much like the incidents that shine a light on the worst in humanity. But it goes to show that the things that cultures prize are a microcosm of the beliefs and ethics of a society. And that a racist, homophobic testicle of a human being is the latest lightning rod of a nation teeming with racism and homophobia, being pelted and championed at the same time, is more proof that we should be careful about who we worship–forget about who THEY worship.

Future Upworthy Headlines

upworthy logo

Image courtesy of Abcey.com

  • Why Being The Dictator Of A Third-World Country Is The Best Job
  • When A Corporation Worth A Quintillion Dollars Got Tax Breaks To Make A Kajillion Dollars. Crushes It.
  • He Was Told By Doctors That He Would Never Poop Again. Watch Him Prove Everyone Wrong.
  • These Twins Are Giving Away Their Virginity For Free. No Big Whoop.
  • See A Frat Brother’s Perfect Response To Allegations of Being A Douchebag.
  • George Clooney Delightfully Makes Sense of the Higgs-Boson God Particle. 
  • She Wanted To Have A Child. Here’s How She Evaded The Cops To Make Her Dream A Reality.
  • Many Consider Rob Ford To Be The Worst Mayor. Here Are 46 Reasons Why He’s Inspiring.
  • Watch 2 Crackheads Bring Themselves To Climax To A Standing Ovation.
  • Here’s Something To Make You Bawl Your Fucking Eyes Out.

Snuggies Have Hit a New Low

snuggie-harry-potter

Courtesy of Kmart.com

Pretend to be a fictional wizard while marinating in filth and loneliness!

Goodnight Halloween

halloween-blackface

Image courtesy of AwesomelyLuvvie.com

In the great digital rough,

There is the internet

And a collective tough,

And a picture of…

A brown-painted Julianne Hough

And there were morons dressed as George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin

And little kids sold costumes too revealing for a youngin’

And Chris Brown getting arrested near Georgetown

And a title causing obscene for the Town of Bean

And Guy Fieri fought his hairdresser in a measurement of peen.

Goodnight rough

Goodnight Hough

Goodnight brown-painted Julianne Hough

Goodnight spite and the collective tough

Goodnight morons

Goodnight Zimmerman/Martin

Goodnight costumes

Goodnight youngins

Goodnight racists and goodnight satanists

Goodnight Chris Brown and goodnight Georgetown

Goodnight title and goodnight obscene

Goodnight Red Sox

Goodnight Bean

And goodnight Guy Fieri, hairdresser, and measured peen

Goodnight assholes

Goodnight geeks

Goodnight celebrity creeps!

Blacks Re-Appropriating White Culture

miley cyrus black appropriation

Courtesy of Jezebel.com

Miley Cyrus’s controversial performance at the MTV Video Music Awards last week launched thousands of think pieces on the former Hannah Montana star’s co-opting of “black culture”–from wanting music that “feels black” to the overused, misunderstood interpretation of twerking–and general grossness. (“Black culture” is in quotes because the contributions of African-Americans to American society is too diverse in comparison to the limiting viewpoints most people have.) Loads of white people have borrowed from black artists throughout time to gain popularity, from Al Jolson to Elvis, Madonna and Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst. (Some were more talented than others.) This doesn’t mean their endeavors were right, but they were still rewarded.

But let’s flip the script for a second: did you know that blacks have re-appropriated white culture as well? NO?!? Well get out your fainting couches, because here are a few examples–as more than five would literally blow your mind-cages.

  • 1770: Former slave Crispus Attucks proves that white men weren’t the only ones that could be martyrs in the American Revolution, as the anti-slavery abolitionist is killed during the Boston Massacre. His death was not the last time blacks would be wary of being in Boston.
  • 1870: The Fifteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution is ratified, allowing people of any race, color or previous condition of servitude the right to vote. Racists were not happy about this, suppressing minority voting in efforts that continue to this day. But hey, at least we can vote, amirite?
  • 1964: Blacks get caught up in the British Invasion brought upon by the Beatles and take it out on their hair. Some are bringing it back.
andrew bynum hair

Andrew Bynum, channeling the Beatles’ mop-tops. Courtesy of Rollingout.com

  • 1990: Carlton Banks, he of the Bel-Air Banks family, popularizes a dance commonly known among Caucasians as “trying to move in rhythm to the music.”

carlton dance

  • 2005: The Boondocks‘ Uncle Ruckus proves that hating black people can be done by black people, too!

So don’t think for a second that re-appropriating culture only goes one way. While blacks are stereotyped for stealing, the examples above prove that it goes in other directions beyond the clichés. Maybe a brave black pioneer will dance nearly naked onstage with teddy bears and a foam finger as a sexual aid. SOMEONE has to stand alongside the predecessors.

The Most Depressing Captcha

depressing captcha

 

Any captcha that makes you question your life choices and make you weep openly into your keyboard is amazing.

And in a close second: “Is Robin Thicke a pervy asshole?”

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