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Ice Cube and Oprah

I dropped a link to this Robert Lashley post over in the comments at basilpsyche's joint, but I think Lashley's criticism of Ice Cube as a destructive poser is precisely on point. Cobb really doesn't add anything major to what Lashley has to say, but then he admits he's just piling on. This is worth remembering, though:
And quite frankly, nobody would miss Ice Cube if he self-destructed. Compare him to Whitney Houston, whose redition of the national anthem still stands as one of the greats. Her downfall is a tragedy. If Ice Cube ate a bullet, the chorus would be, "I told you so", if not "what took them so long?"
The whole rappers v. Oprah thing could be written off as a tempest in a teapot if it weren't for the fact that it's a symptom of the bigger cultural war going on in American culture. I described this once to phoenixalpha as the split between "jazz blacks" and "rap blacks", which like any such description is a gross oversimplification, but there you are. If I were better versed in black cultural history I could probably draw some solid connections between rappers and pimp culture and the divide between field niggers and house niggers, but I don't, so I'm just going to say that the current flap looks like today's rendition of a very old argument.

That argument has implications for the country, of course, because what goes in in Black America inevitably affects a lot of folks who don't know jack about that culture aside from what they see on Oprah and what they hear from the trash Interscope is serving to the whiggers in Bethesda, Eden Prairie, Plano and the OC. A lot of those people are going to leave that stuff behind when they get into the corporate world, because suits and rap don't mix too well. As Jane Galt is fond of saying, that kind of trashy behavior has its greatest effects at the margins, on people who really can't afford to screw up too often or too badly. Poverty in America may be more inconvenient and irritating than anything else, but if the price of keeping people out of it is keeping jerks like Ice Cube and his homies of Oprah, I think it's well worth paying.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
radio_gnome
Jun. 21st, 2006 04:02 am (UTC)
I have NO IDEA of the speifics here, but I just gotta say I'm a big fan of Ice Cube and "that kind of trashy behavior" from Sid and Johnny had a bit more than an affect on the margin. Yeah, yeah, I just said it - the corporate world of today is a LITTLE bit different today because of the Pistols. And Henry Rollins. And Ice Cube.

Go back 40 years. The same people were saying the same things about some guy named Dylan. Why is it that only in retrospect can "extremists" like . . . oh . . . Thomas Jefferson and Medgar Evers, seem like heroes? Wake up America, land of the great experiment, today's so-called finge is tomorrow's reality. That, my friends, is what makes this country great.

Now to go find out why I just made an ass of myself . . . again.
wombat_socho
Jun. 21st, 2006 02:47 pm (UTC)
I don't think you made an ass out of yourself - although comparing Ice Cube to Dylan is more than just a bit of a stretch. Cube has a ways to go before his body of work is even remotely comparable to Dylan's.

Is the corporate world really all that different because of punk and rap? If so, are the changes good ones? Perhaps in those parts of it that can exploit the imagery, but in the office towers of Manhattan, Chicago, Detroit and Seattle the only signs of the punk esthetic are (maybe) the secretaries' piercings. As for rap, and especially the gangsta rap purveyed by Ice Cube, NWA and others of their ilk, that's pure street. There's no room for criminal behavior of that sort at the top of the Fortune 500 - there's a reason things like embezzlement, fraud and tax evasion are called white-collar crimes, after all. They seldom end with nine-millimeter punctuation and blood on the carpet.
(Anonymous)
Jun. 21st, 2006 03:47 pm (UTC)
didn't really mean to compare Cube's music to Dylan's music, just the reaction some people (and obviously not the same exact people) have/had to it (them?). It feels a little similar.

I do think "extreme" popular musics and the related pop subcultures have affected the corporate world, mostly in good ways. It seems to me that extreme and/or eccentric points of view are valued more now than thirty years ago. They may be rarely acted upon directly, but they do sometimes skew actions in a punk/rap kind of way, in an anti-corporate kind of way, which is again, IMO, mostly good and often what is necessary for what we call "innovation".

Agreed, there is no room for criminal behaviour (of any sort) anywhere, and just like the Pistols and the Damned and their "ilk" sometimes went too far, so do some rappers. But it is a message. It's a message that gets discussions going, and isn't that what Art is all about anyway? As I read about what is considered great Art today, I read that at the time of it's creation, there is one word that shows up pretty consistently: obscene.

It seems that there is a pattern we are failing to recognize.

The posts you linked to appear to attempt to rationalize what is essentially censorship. Censorship because someone in power (Oprah) doesn't like what is being said. Yes, Oprah has every right to talk or not talk to whomever she pleases, but please, don't offend me by trying to rationalize this as anything other than base censorship. As we learn from history, whenever a voice is intentionally quietened, that voice usually has something to say which needs to be heard.

Is this merely an ongoing argument? Perhaps, but if so, I wonder why that is? I wonder if it's because the argument never gets played out? I wonder if it's because those in the house find what those in the field are saying is too uncomfortable and just turn a deaf ear? If so, is it much of a surprise that those in the field have little choice but to yell louder and with more extreme subject matter in order to get heard?

Dinna Ken. Maybe.
wombat_socho
Jun. 21st, 2006 04:56 pm (UTC)
OK, I understand what you're saying a little better, and while I don't necessarily agree all down the line I think that some of what you're saying is valid.

I definitely disagree on the censorship point, though. Censorship is strictly a government thing, and what Oprah is doing is exercising her freedom to associate, no more, no less. As is pointed out in the comments to the main article, She's actually had a number of rappers on her show - just not the gangsta rappers. It's not something she wants to be seen approving or encouraging, and obviously isn't something she enjoys.

And I'm okay with that. Just because you're rich and have some clout in the culture doesn't mean you have to approve and endorse everything that's out there. As you say, some of it goes way too far. By the same token, maybe being extreme is one way to get your message heard, and it's certainly easier than producing something truly original and great in terms of quality - but it also turns off a lot of folk who might have agreed with what you had to say. It's a tough row to hoe.
(Anonymous)
Jun. 21st, 2006 06:31 pm (UTC)
we'll have to agree to disagree on whether censorship is strictly governmental. If a private university decides to not allow certain books in their library because of content, that to me is censorship, and no government is involved.
wombat_socho
Jun. 21st, 2006 07:49 pm (UTC)
But how do you justify forcing them to spend money/space on those books, and where does it stop?
radio_gnome
Jun. 23rd, 2006 01:25 am (UTC)
well, if we follow the University libary analogy, which begins to break down fairly quickly, it's not "me" or "you" who is forcing anything, the very nature of the University forces them to spend money and space, and, idealistically, it never stops. And in reality, it often doesn't. Schools are continually expanding existing libraries and building new ones. Square footage of library space is a fairly important aspect of determining prestige among Universities.

At the same time, there are a lot of crap books and not all books should be included. So that would help save resources.

But, again following this analogy, what if the library in question decided to not allow any of the books of a certain genre to be in it, simply because the books are of that genre? No murder mysteries because, well, pick any "rational" explanation. They're all equally invalid.

For example, I think Intelligent Design is, well, it's actually rather funny is what it is, but I would never want a library to exclude well-written books on the positive side of ID, simply because they are about ID. Let folks read them and let them make up their own minds.

In the case of Oprah's show, she has "infinite" floorspace. The shows are going to be done, so there's not really any cost factor in deciding what the subject matter (guests) will be. One could say, "Well, it's her show, she should be able to decide who the guests should be." One could also say, "Oprah has reached a certain status where a kind of journalistic responsibility should be part of this decision, and this doesn't seem like a very responsible journalistic decision, it feels like censorship."

If the articles you linked to stated merely, "it's her decision, end of story", that would be one thing. But they go on and on and on with all of these "reasons" why Oprah shouldn't have Cube or "his ilk" on her show, and, IMO, they are all simply rationalizations for censorship clouded in words that are meant to sound impressive.
wombat_socho
Jun. 23rd, 2006 01:55 am (UTC)
Actually, it's more like they understand the reasons why she doesn't want gangsta rappers on her show and they're agreeing with her. Different color of horse completely. I'll deal with the library analogy later; am feeling under the weather.
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