Posts tagged #MeToo
Will #MuteRKelly be the change Hip-Hop and Urban Pop Culture needs?
Prince Williams

Prince Williams

Over the past year we have seen the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements out many pop culture icons as predators. One of the giants to fall was Bill Cosby, who before the digital takeoff of the aforementioned hashtags faced several accusations and trials for drugging and raping women. Cosby, who has since been found guilty and awaits sentencing, has caused many to explore the effects his behavior has on his life work.

Especially in the Black community, Cosby was heralded as a generational father by many, serving as a guiding role model through his television persona.  Many have responded to the accusations with outlandish conspiracy theories, and showed sympathy and even remained on the convicted rapist's side. Why is it hard for urban pop culture to cancel problematic faves?

Similarly, the music industry has had several artists, producers and executives both young and old, male and female engaged in predatory behavior. With or without convictions, testimony, statements and evidence pointing to the true lifestyle of these individuals are on display for the world to see, and yet these people continue to succeed unscathed.

R Kelly and The #MuteRKellyMovement exist as examples of a man whose predatory behavior has terrorized, conditioned and trained young black girls for decades. Meanwhile he’s led profitable tours, sold millions of albums and garnered support against these claims, with damning evidence against Kelly in many of them.

Recently music streaming services Spotify and Apple Music announced they will be removing R. Kelly’s music from their featured playlists for his abusive behavior Many have exclaimed their new policies are unfair unless all artists of all genres, races and accusations are held to the same standard. Rap music, currently reigning supreme as the most popular genre in the country, has a long reputation with negative connotations surrounding its artists, lyrics and lifestyle.

Will the #MuteRKelly movement and Spotify’s announcement launch a spring cleaning of the Hip Hop world?

While not unique in housing abusers (artists and professionals of all genres have been found to be problematic) hip hop's relationship with domestic abuse, rape, and other problematic behavior is finicky. Often times, lyrics, videos and other mediums of the culture mock abusive behavior, celebrate and encourage rape and sexual abuse.

For example, think about the number of lyrics you can recite referencing the domestic turmoil between Ike and Tina Turner. The abuse Tina faced at the hands of Ike, leading her to fight back, has turned into a metaphor for rough sex, proposed as an “A-HA” moment. Countless other simple yet violent bars exist. Is this example indicative of why men such as R. Kelly remain only slightly impacted by extraneous claims?

It seems we are on the cusp of the “R Kelly Reckoning” where he will finally be held responsible in the public eye for his behavior. Could this be the precursor to an overhaul in Hip Hop and the Black community to report sexual violence and shun those responsible? For musicians like Kelly, the need to protect our own in celebration of our gifts and talents has existed for too long.

In the same breath, a family knows which Uncle not to leave their nieces alone with, but they'll still invite him to the cookout. The overlooking of sexual trauma and marauding behavior in our communities on a familial and professional level continues to exist.

The digital age has created a space for movements like #TimesUp who continue to fight for men, women and every representation of people who have been victims. The hashtag, among others, has amplified many to courageously share stories that would have otherwise been ignored until time to pass down the generational trauma.

Recently more women are coming forward to share their encounters with predatory behavior in the Hip Hop & R&B community. When revealed producer Noel ‘Detail’ Fisher was accused of physical and sexual abuse, rising vocalist Jessie Reyez shared details of her encounter.

During a segment on daytime television show The Talk, co-host and rapper Eve shared the story of how pop icon Janet Jackson came to her rescue when she was drugged at an industry party.

Even Cardi B has called out the abusive treatment of women in Hip-Hop and how these voices are ignored when vocalizing her opinion on the #MeToo movement.  Her cover story with Cosmopolitan shared a personal interview where Cardi B reflected on the uncomfortable situations she herself has experienced.

"A lot of video vixens have spoke about this and nobody gives a fuck,” she says. “When I was trying to be a vixen, people were like, ‘You want to be on the cover of this magazine?’ Then they pull their dicks out. I bet if one of these women stands up and talks about it, people are going to say, ‘So what? You’re a ho. It don’t matter.’” As for the guys who have publicly embraced #MeToo, Cardi has her doubts. “These producers and directors,” she says, “they’re not woke, they’re scared.

With the support of #MuteRKelly rising, many are hopeful that whether woke or scared, urban pop culture grows out of stagnant abusive conditions and grows to a place where creativity and talent continues to thrive.

The election of Donald Trump and its effect on media
White House/Shealah Craighead

White House/Shealah Craighead

President Donald Trump’s omnipresence in today’s culture is something to be marveled at. While most presidential nominees fade into the wind during the process of an election, Trump continued to grapple the conversation on radio waves, television, and the internet 24/7. Think pieces were published from the NYTimes all the way down to social media blogs.

Everyone has an opinion on him whether it be his racist, divisive ideology or his abrasive, ego-maniacal personality, they were compelled to share their thoughts of fear, humor, and in darker cases, joy. Now that his vision of becoming the President of the United States of America has come to fruition, his stronghold on popular culture has only increased.

Trump has given comedians more material than they could have ever asked for and they are running with it. His proclivities and childish behavior propelled Alec Baldwin and SNL to an Emmy win, and gave Dave Chappelle enough ammunition for four Netflix specials. Musicians like A Tribe Called Quest have also gifted us with anthems fine tuned for the resistance.

While movements like #MeToo are dominating the presses and striking up a much needed public conversation on sexual assault and harassment, the President continues to be an undertone because of his own acts of sexual misconduct. Whether on purpose or not the presence of President Trump will be felt. His election mobilized those all over in media from SportsCenter anchors like Jemele Hill to filmmaker Jordan Peele. Trump has found a way to bend the energy and attention towards him. He has become a nucleus for America today.

Trump in his own right is a media entity. Through his Twitter account is how he disseminates information and that is the main source of truth for his followers. He uses that to his advantage while enlisting the help of companies like Fox News who will bend the truth or completely hide it to remain in his good graces. Their agenda to control the narrative without a free-flowing of the truth.

Since his election he has become embroiled in an ongoing battle with mainstream media. News organizations have had to find a way to navigate the hostility. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Washington Post and The New York Times have established that they will continue reporting the truth and fight for the right to do so. To show their commitment to open and honest reporting the New York Times has aired a set of ads aimed to show their commitment to the truth. “The Truth Is Hard” is the name of one of the ads, alluding to the Trump administration’s reluctance to tell it or accept it. Their intention of deterring these news organizations has had no effect.

Gambits like handing out the Fake News Awards, on Twitter for that matter, are hilarious but don’t seem like something a self-proclaimed “stable genius” would participate in. The reluctance of Trump and his counterparts like Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Sanders to tell the truth and be transparent has led to an increase in grassroots organizing. Podcasts are being started that examine every aspect of this administration, such as “Pod Save America” and ”Can He Do That?”. Journalists and the common person alike are keeping their Twitter timelines flooded with information and analysis.

His political presence has even emerged in sports media. The old adage of “sticking to sports” has become a token phrase of choice for those angry with sports media personalities using their platforms to speak out on the president. Athletes are also actively advocating for the betterment of our country. Coaches like Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr have openly added their own commentary on the political climate we are in. The ramifications of Trump’s decision, conscious or not, to behave in the most un-presidential manner fathomable are the passions he has flared. Cable news anchors calling out our commander-in-chief on live TV, athletes voicing their displeasure through protests and advocacy, and sports commentators calling the President a white supremacist is something historically unheard of. And with the boom of the digital age, the voices of the forgotten will echo as loud as those walking the red carpet.

Film, television, and music have always been a reflection of where we are as a society at any particular moment in time. These works of art encapsulate more than their subject material, but also the context in which they were released. Get Out, the prime jewel of 2017, was in essence a modern day black horror story, and is a good bet to take home some Oscars. Hulu's The Handmaid’s Tale, winner of four Primetime Emmys, dealt with themes of patriarchy and sexual assault in a dystopian future. YG’s anthem FDT (Fuck Donald Trump), a scathing rebuke and criticism of Trump, was called in the Los Angeles Times, “the most prophetic...and unifying song of 2016). Intentional or not the connection of these works of art are something that will follow them all for decades.

While much of the original content of the last few years was filmed before Trump was elected - in some cases before he was even a nominee - speaks to his gravity to command that connection. Creators must continue to spark public discourse in relation to the president. The job is to be nuanced and be cognizant of the “Trump Fatigue” that is plaguing the country, incorporating relevant themes and true emotion in intriguing fashion.

Donald Trump’s fascination with being the center of attention has a created a whirlwind in content creation. The lack of nuance and thoughtfulness emanating from the Oval Office has forced the hand of those usually reticent to speak on these issues to lend their voice to action.