Tired of the BS

I must love Aleve because partisan commentary really makes my head hurt. I just read Larry Elder's opinion about John Kerry's statement, "I'm fascinated by rap and by hip-hop. I think there's a lot of poetry in it. There's a lot of anger, a lot of social energy in it, and I think you'd better listen to it pretty carefully, 'cause it's important." Elder then proceeds to highlight his case for the foolishness of such a stance. Now, Larry Elder is not the first person to mention this. I think Kerry was on MTV a few weeks ago, so that's when it happened. I just have time to talk about it now. What all these pundits fail to mention, or perhaps never even took the time to find out, was the context in which the comment took place. Before Kerry was asked the question, the video for Kanye West's "All Falls Down" had just aired. Here are some lyrics:
Man I promise, she's so self conscious She has no idea what she's doing in college That major that she majored in don't make no money But she won't drop out, her parents will look at her funny Now, tell me that ain't insecurrre
or how 'bout
Man I promise, I'm so self conscious That's why you always see me with at least one of my watches Rollies and Pasha's done drove me crazy I can't even pronounce nothing, pass that versace! Then I spent 400 bucks on this Just to be like nigga you ain't up on this! And I can't even go to the grocery store Without some ones thats clean and a shirt with a team It seems we living the american dream But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem The prettiest people do the ugliest things For the road to riches and diamond rings We shine because they hate us, floss cause they degrade us We trying to buy back our 40 acres And for that paper, look how low we a'stoop Even if you in a Benz, you still a nigga in a coupe
and just to close it out,
...We buy our way out of jail, but we can't buy freedom We'll buy a lot of clothes when we don't really need em Things we buy to cover up what's inside... lyrics (c) Kanye West
That's not exactly gangsta, murder-murder-murder, kill-kill-kill material. Yet, if you listen to some folks, the gangsta element is the sum total of hip-hop and that Kerry is pandering or crazy to have even made it seem like there's something of value in rap. Simple-minded reductionist thought like that gets on my very last nerve. It should be obvious that this is not about Kerry. I'm not the least bit interested in what he likes or doesn't like, whether he likes hip-hop as a means to get votes or whether he really copped some CDs. I know I'm not gonna vote for him, so he's immaterial. What gets to me is that some people seem to think the world is binary. Everything is dichotomized and simplified for easy political consumption. And even though I just mentioned Larry Elder, who is a conservative, the same thing applies across the political spectrum. Earlier this week, I read a review of "A Man on Fire" at Africana.com in which the reviewer says that Denzel Washington is playing a "Mr. Bojangles" role. Made me mad. There were elements about the movie I didn't like, but that author missed the whole point. It's even worse to me when people who seem to have no interest in hip-hop or its primary creators/consumers spout off some pith about hip-hop culture or about rap music in general, like they know something. They may know what they heard on MTV, or on the radio, but that ain't much to know. That's like saying all Republicans are old white men because that's all I see on TV and that's what the people I know tell me. Then all that means is that I and the people I know need to get out more and expand our horizons. But I think it's totally disingenuous for a person who has little to no interest in a thing to try to assess the value of that thing. Just had to get that off my chest.