Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

You ask, how did I manage to stuff my entire fist in my mouth?

Well I shall tell you, children, so sit down.

I said about a week ago that Bob Dylan did not deserve a Nobel Prize in Literature. I still stand by that statement. I also mentioned a class that is taught on the Poetry of Dylan here at Dartmouth. Personally, I think there are many more skillful songwriters out there, that don't get the respect they deserve because they were not mainstream enough or happened to be african american, female, or some other oft-maligned minority (not that women are a minority, but maligned, yes).

Apparently I spoke too soon, because I found out from this article that not only are universities across the nation rectifying this issue, but are completely going gung-ho in the most horribly wrong direction imaginable. Yes, there is a class being taught on the lyrics of Lil Kim at Syracuse. Lil Kim, if anyone doesn't know, is a short chesty african american female that doesn't really sing or rap. Her fame is founded on the perkiness of her chest, which must have been a great experience for the Syracuse students who were present for her guest "lecture".

"Hi mom. Yeah, I'm taking a class on Lil Kim this term? Yeah, Lil Kim. No, not the Rudyard Kipling book. Lil Kim. Yes, she nearly flashed the nation a few years ago. No, I'm not joking. What? Yes, I'm getting a real education. Mom, her lyrics are poetry, the prof says so!! Man, you're so close minded . . . "

My point a week ago was not that there should be classes dedicated to popular artists. Contrary to that, I don't think there should be any English classes dedicated to studying the repetitive lyrics of pop music, of which Dylan falls into the category. But if you do give Dylan a class, you should give someone like Lennon a class. I did not mean that there should be a Lil Kim class. If this is Syracuses idea of killing two birds with one stone (satisying some invisible racial and gender class offering requirement), then they should be ashamed of themselves.

Incidentally, the class in full is called "Hip-Hop Eshu: Queen Bitch 101" No joke. Other female specific courses in African and African American Studies? Harriet Tubman. No one else. Now, there are plenty of African American female writers or poets or admirable figures that you can study. Toni Morrison, Rita Dove, Gloria Naylor (wrote Women of Brewster Street - Gloria Gaynor wrote "I Will Survive") and a couple of others stand out pretty quickly. Instead, they will study her lyrics, and "videos and performances to analyze her iconography". Why not just say "ogle her boobies"? I guess in that respect, Lil Kim is an admirable figure. In that she has one.

I mean, she's just another repressed African American woman who instead of writing real lyrics, sells her body and her voice and calls it feminism. Because she can swear while half naked? Because she get so much money for appearing next to nude that it has overcome her guilt complex that emerges from selling her body? There's a wonderful essay by Audre Lorde, I think, about the psychological absence of father figures in African American households (because how can a man be a man when in his country they dismember and castrate him in terms of power and economic capacity?). I think that applies here somewhere. If that's where this class is going, more power to it. I don't give it that much credit though.

In any case, how do you even analyze her lyrics? Hip Hop lyrics have shout outs and credits all over the place. Samples and guest stars galore. Might as well study Missy Elliot, Jadakiss, Pat Benetar and whoever else she samples/gives writing credits to/sucks off. Ok, that was inappropriate. But that is the image she sells. I guess since the class goes over the emergence of Hip Hop as a culture they'll study that at some point. Week 6: East Coast vs. West Coast (aka. how does Tupac keep releasing records even though he's dead?)

Next time, I'll give an overview of "Britney Spears: Hit Me Baby One More Time, a Study of How to Grow Up to Be Battered Wife". I mean, where do you draw the line? Start studying Britney videos to analyze the growing fetishism of the lolita figure in mainstream music? I bet I can fill up that lecture hall quicker than you can say "silicone"

There are no words left


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alright this really isn't anonymous, because I don't have an account and this is a lot easier. It's Jeff. Anyways, I read what you wrote and I agree. I don't think Bob Dylan should be as revered as he is, I think he wrote some of the most amazing songs. But a class on his lyrics (whoops! I'm sorry his poems) is rather ridiculous. If you give Dylan that much respect then you have to do the same for Jim Morrison and create a class for his work. Can you imagine what that class would be like.

2:53 PM  

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