Our examination of Hip Hop gets a little deeper today as our traveling correspondent Franchesca Benzant presents the dilemma of Hip Hop’s overwhelming power to mislead. When cultures outside of the U.S encounter African Americans things get interesting. Take it away Frankie….
Wilkine Brutus, blogger of The Vanguard Element, brings enlightenment to pop culture of African American media and its effects across the globe. In this cognitively stimulating video, Wilkine describes his experience at a movie theater in Korea as the only African American in the room while watching a racially stereotypical preview but true story of “Machine Gun Preacher”. The Korean audience glanced his way as this preview flashed across the screen, possibly wondering if he had a cousin in that film. The portrayal of certain media and the influence they have on other countries overseas may leave anyone that is socially ignorant to believe what they see. People other than said race or ethnicity may learn behavior and characteristics of black people from multimedia. That begs the question “What are we putting out into the world for people to believe us to be?”
Looking at this from a hip hop culture’s global influence perspective, it is becoming all too prevalent for most tastes. Simultaneously it is becoming more tolerated as it does exhibit a form of a socially conscious people. This same negative or positive portrayal of African American, Latino, Asian etc. can be seen not only in films but throughout the Hip Hop music industry as well and from what Wilkine states creates a “double consciousness”. We as the Hip Hop professionals in the business do carry a responsibility of how we are viewed from the outside, whether they take that responsibility seriously is ultimately up to them. The Hip Hop or African American influence creates a bigger responsibility or burden for us in the expectations that others have on us.
How many of you have walked into a room filled with people from another race and thought “Ok the next actions that I make will make or break the perception of my people.”? It’s as if you are the walking ambassador of your race. How much power does the music industry have on a society more specifically the Hip Hop industry? We know from the previous articles that it’s strong enough to find its presence overseas in Europe and Asia. It’s also strong enough to make people think that tattooing their face and testicular restricting pants is “what’s poppin’ in the streets”. There is an underlining fear that our generation’s future will reflect the impotency of American Hip Hop. In response to the video Jean- Pierre Cherry, Member of Nomad•ness Travel Tribe, states “People in Sydney, Australia were asking me if places like Oakland were as rough as they seem. How the hell would I know? I’ve never been to Oakland.” Thank you Tupac, Too $hort and Mac Dre.
With any individual, if one stays in their own environment, speak the same vocabulary and live the same way they convince themselves that is the reality. It’s no surprise that Hip Hop’s heavy global circulation would produce such imputation if what’s produce is, well for lack of a better word, garbage. However, Wilkine brings up the positivity of African American media in his story through the works of Will Smith. Smith’s pliability reinforces the cocksureness of African American media that African Americans can be relevant, civilized, not criminals and be just like you. Not all African Americans or Latinos come from ghettos, brought up on welfare or were crack head babies raised in a gang. It’s an old timey way of thinking but we must be aware of who or what we are portraying to the world.
Then there lies a thin line between a deep appreciation for the African American Hip Hop culture displayed by other races and just plain questionable sub cultures created from this appreciation. “Ali G” the over sensationalized hip hop loving Brit character created by Sasha Baron Cohen humorously pokes fun at Europeans who “go hard” in the Hip Hop industry and what others less socially aware would think was “acting black”. An all too familiar subject is “what does acting black mean?” That can lead to a myriad of answers. Japanese previous sub-cultures such as Ganguro or Ko Gals would leave you rocking black face make- up along with pale lips but the increasing popularity of Japanese Reggae Dancehall is getting the attention of the masses. The Japanese of this culture can give you a run for your money on the floor. However, the heavy tanning, braid extensions and “bling bling” wearing can still be viewed on the scene. Should one feel appreciated or offended? All on personal taste I guess.
Ultimately, as Mr. Brutus states for one’s own peace he approaches it with an existential methodology. He states “everyone that surrounds me I grant them the benefit of doubt that of which allows me to navigate the world freely from unwarranted paranoia.” Allowing us not to be seen as victims and encountering others from another race as just one human being seeing another human being. We must not look at the situation subjectively. I definitely encourage you to see his video. At the same time we must improve the influence we have on other cultures through Hip Hop. The love of Hip Hop is definitely felt worldwide so let’s expound on that love and improve the image that we must uphold.