RIP MCA aka Adam Yauch (and RIP the Beastie Boys)

Mark Richardson:

The Beastie Boys turned curiosity into a form of art. They wanted to know more about what was around them and learn everything they could about what wasn’t. Forget about Kurt Cobain for a second: For kids like me, the Beastie Boys invented the 90s. Technology was changing fast and the world was shrinking rapidly. Between their music and label/magazine Grand Royal, the Beasties showed how to reach out and scoop up all the best parts. New York hip-hop and punk rock, Japanese pop, Jamaican dub– all of it could be gathered and re-assembled into something that reflected who you were. This sort of cultural mixing was nothing new, but the Beastie Boys brought it to the mainstream. They were ambassadors, but their hipness didn’t look down on anybody. It felt inclusive.

Related: Forrest Wickman on Adam Yauch’s legacy as successful NYC indie film mogul; Jen Doll on how, for her generational cohort, the Beasties provided “a form of musical New York PR—at least, a “PR” based in coolness, a new style of music, a new form of flouting the rules, a new kind of joy and energy.”

Flashback: NY Mag’s outstanding oral history of the Beastie Boys.

Update: Sarah Seltzer notes how Yauch and the Beasties addressed, renounced, and tried to make amends for their infamously regressive past:

When I think about the Beasties, I think first about the rebellious, obnoxious kids who first became famous. Then I inevitably remember their ability to move forward way past that phase, with rhymes like this one from MCA in the song “Sure Shot”: “I want to say a little something that’s long overdue/ The disrespect to women has got to be through/ To all the mothers and sisters and wives and friends/ I want to offer my love and respect to the end.

They also changed their offensive lyrics in concert and began to chastise regressive content in music — even their own.

[...]

As Ana Carey wrote last year, the Beasties prove that “being a sexist idiot in your youth … doesn’t mean that you can’t grow up and learn something.”

Northlanders Book One: ‘Vikings Fucking Shit Up’ = WIN

by matttbastard

On the recommendation of my partner-in-crime, Sarah Jaffe (who, when not shaking the political power structure by the lapels, is writing up a storm about comics over at Newsarama) I recently picked up the TBP of Northlanders Book One: Sven the Returned.  This evening, I finally disconnected myself from the electronic umbilical for several hours and sat down to read it, cover to cover.

Consider my mind fucking blown.

Sarah described the series as ‘vikings fucking shit up’, a summation I won’t even attempt to improve on. Writer Brian Wood and artist Davide Gianfelice have expertly crafted a lusty, almost Moorcockian tale of blood, revenge, and sex–universal pillars that have provided the foundation for story over the aeons.  But Wood also cannily subverts traditional notions of honour and glory, using his unrelentingly (but not gratuitiously) violent, historically-based tale of warring Norsemen to illustrate the inherent futility of war and how vengeance is ultimately a hollow response to lives lost.

Also, there are cool-ass decapitations–loads of them.

Highly recommended for those with a strong constitution and a taste for thoughtful introspection amid a bit (ok, more than a bit) of the old ultraviolence.

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Trying Not To Freak Out

by matttbastard

Is this what they call ‘baffling them with bullshit?’ Cos, brother, consider me baffled:

In a recent paper I [Steven D. Levitt] co-authored with Roland Fryer, Lisa Kahn, and Jorg Spenkuch, we look at data to try to answer that question. Here is what we find:

1) Mixed-race kids grow up in households that are similar along many dimensions to those in which black children grow up: similar incomes, the father is much less likely to be around than in white households, etc.

2) In terms of academic performance, mixed-race kids fall in between blacks and whites.

3) Mixed-race kids do have one advantage over white and black kids: the mixed-race kids are much more attractive on average.

The really interesting result, though, is the next one.

4) There are some bad adolescent behaviors that whites do more than blacks (like drinking and smoking), and there are other bad adolescent behaviors that blacks do more than whites (watching TV, fighting, getting sexually transmitted diseases). Mixed-race kids manage to be as bad as whites on the white behaviors and as bad as blacks on the black behaviors. Mixed-race kids act out in almost every way measured in the data set.

So how does Levitt manage to apply economic theory in explaining the shockingly stereotypical results produced by his oh-so-rigourous study of teh mulatto “plight”?

We try to use economic theory to explain this set of facts. I can’t say we are entirely successful. If we had to pick an explanation that best fits the facts, it would be the old sociology model of mixed-race individuals as the “marginal man”: not part of either racial group and therefore torn by inner conflict.

“I can’t say we are entirely successful”–Steve, buddy, when did you of all people become so proficient in the fine art of understatement? Look, thanks for the, um, concern, pal– though my experience is, of course, purely anecdotal, I must confess that the only “inner conflict” this (undeniably attractive) mixed-race individual currently faces is the eternal struggle between waffles and crepes (What? Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially after an evening of alcoholic indulgence *cough*). However, in moments like these it seems all-too-apparent that there comes a time when every buzz theorist reaches the limits of what can be pulled out of his or her ass before the ‘hu-whut?! effect becomes just too overwhelming.

And trust me on this: you ain’t got no more pseudo-intellectual dingleberries left to pluck.

h/t Latoya Peterson

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Quote of the Day: With Eyes Wide Open

by matttbastard

I know that we use media to anaesthetize our selves from the daily strain of this mortal coil however, a release should not be achieved by watching or listening to someone else be degraded.  The media is not the benign lifeless force that we construct it to be.  It helps to frame morals, and is a reflection of our social discourse. When we sit there blindly consuming these images without giving pause to understand that some of these images are a reflection of the ugliest parts of humanity, indeed we are embracing the darkness.  There are just some things that will never be funny.  When we sit there and laugh at things like rape, domestic violence, or the sexual objectification of women we are colluding with patriarchy in our own marginalization.  This has real world effects because it normalizes this behaviour therefore reducing the possibility that such crimes will be taken seriously.  Just because it is not happening to you does not  give you the right to assert privilege, and demean the life experiences of others.

- Renee, Feminists Have No Sense Of Humour

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Invisibility and the ‘Double Burden’

by matttbastard

(image originally uploaded by My Hobo Soul, posted under a Creative Commons License)

Attorney Sophia A. Nelson on Michelle Obama and being an accomplished black woman in contemporary American society:

Sad to say, but what [Michelle] Obama has undergone, though it’s on a national stage and on a much more prominent scale, is nothing new to professional African American women. We endure this type of labeling all the time. We’re endlessly familiar with the problem Michelle Obama is confronting — being looked at, as black women, through a different lens from our white counterparts, who are portrayed as kinder, gentler souls who somehow deserve to be loved and valued more than we do. So many of us are hoping that Michelle — as an elegant and elusive combination of successful career woman, supportive wife and loving mother — can change that.

“Ain’t I a woman?” Sojourner Truth famously asked 157 years ago. Her ringing question, demanding why black women weren’t accorded the same privileges as their white counterparts, still sums up the African American woman’s dilemma today: How are we viewed as women, and where do we fit into American life?

“Thanks to the hip-hop industry,” one prominent black female journalist recently said to me, all black women are “deemed ‘sexually promiscuous video vixens’ not worthy of consideration. If other black women speak up, we’re considered angry black women who complain. This society can’t even see a woman like Michelle Obama. All it sees is a black woman and attaches stereotypes.

Black women have been mischaracterized and stereotyped since the days of slavery and minstrel shows. In more recent times, they’ve been portrayed onscreen and in popular culture as either sexually available bed wenches in such shows as the 2000 docudrama “Sally Hemings: An American Scandal,” ignorant and foolish servants such as Prissy from “Gone With the Wind” or ever-smiling housekeepers, workhorses who never complain and never tire, like the popular figure of Aunt Jemima.

Even in the 21st century, black women are still bombarded with media and Internet images that portray us as loud, aggressive, violent and often grossly obese and unattractive. Think of the movies “Norbit” or “Big Momma’s House,” or of the only two black female characters in “Enchanted,” an overweight, aggressive traffic cop and an angry divorcée amid all the white princesses.

On the other hand, when was the last time you saw a smart, accomplished black professional woman portrayed on mainstream television or in the movies? If Claire Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” comes to mind, remember that she left the scene 16 years ago.

The reality is that in just a generation, many black women — who were mostly domestics, schoolteachers or nurses in the post-slavery Jim Crow era — have become astronauts, corporate executives, doctors, lawyers, engineers and PhDs. You name it, and black women have achieved it. The most popular woman on daytime television is Oprah Winfrey. Condoleezza Rice is secretary of state.

And yet my generation of African American women — we’re called, in fact, the Claire Huxtable generation — hasn’t managed to become successfully integrated into American popular culture. We’re still looking for respect in the workplace, where, more than anything else, black women feel invisible. It’s a term that comes up again and again. “In my profession, white men mentor young whites on how to succeed,” a financial executive told me, but “they’re either indifferent to or dogmatically document the mistakes black women make. Their indifference is the worst, because it means we’re invisible.”

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

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The Representation of White Perfection

by matttbastard

Professor, What If has embarked on a series of posts exploring how a consumption-obsessed culture in the US has continued to perpetuate the all-encompassing notion “that whiteness (in food, bodies, clothing, etc) is ideal”:

What if we woke up to the fact that white is not right, that brown bread is healthier, that teeth naturally yellow, that white t-shirts are boring, that, for god/dess sake, a white anus is darn right unnatural and unnecessary? Whiteness doesn’t do a body good-what it does is confer white skin privilege-a privilege that allows those with white skin to walk through the world with many advantages through no actions of their own. But [these] privileges are not good in the entire scheme of things for white skinned people either because what they perpetuate is a racist, colorist world that harms everyone-white people included.

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

h/t Renee

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