Just A Whole Lot of Hollerin’: A Response to the Response to Jezebel’s White Girl Hip Hop Article

16 Jun

Screen shot White Girls Covering Hip Hop Hits article

On Monday, Jezebel editor Irin Carmon posted a short piece called “White Girls Covering Hip Hop Hits” (obviously) about the apparent growing phenomenon of Caucasian females covering hip hop songs on YouTube. I thought it was decent and intriguing and I was very curious to see what kind of comments people would leave below the article. Because subject matter like that should definitely inspire some interesting comments.

And oh, how it did.

What started off as a discussion over the point of the article in the discussion thread turned into a heated, long-winded, and often confusing internet fight about discrimination, appropriation, reparations and all those other fun race topics. I wasn’t surprised that a heated discussion happened, but I was a bit surprised by how quickly it blew up. When I first read the article earlier this week, I didn’t feel the need to comment (I often don’t comment on random articles because it seems like no matter what you say, someone will pick a fight with you), but after reading through the comments today, I decided to get a few things off my chest here. So here’s what I’d like to address:

The “What is the point of this article?” Question. I wasn’t confused by the article, but I was thoroughly confused by this question. I thought the points Carmon was making were that a.) you don’t see white girls rapping that often, so it’s still a novelty when you do, and there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just out of the norm; and b.) the lyrics, which are at times misogynistic, are reappropriated when they come out of the mouths of white females instead of non-white males. Done and done. Why wasn’t this clear to more people? (Seriously, I really want to know, drop a comment if you have some insight on this. Totally open to disagreement.)

The “New Generation” Sermon. After people got all sorts of pissy, one of the most vocal posters, who goes by the username VisforVanity, repeatedly asserted that she is not racist because she is part of a diverse, aware “new generation” “where racism is watering down.” I’m sorry, but comments like this make my eyes literally roll all the way to the back of my head. I don’t know anything about whoever VisforVanity really is in RL other than the fact that she says she’s 19. But I’m only 28 and not too far removed from this “new generation,” and I’ve had people my age and younger say blatantly prejudice or accidentally racist things to me, and recently. No, my experience with racism is nothing like my mother’s, who went through desegregation; or like my grandmother’s, who was probably called “gal” more times than she’d would’ve liked to admit. My experiences, for the most part, have been a lot more tame. But I don’t believe this “new generation” business. Not yet. I’ll credit this kind of hopeful but ignorant thinking to VisforVanity’s youth. I don’t think she’s racist, just young.

The Tangents. Somehow commenters start going off about reparations and Israel. Seriously? I thought we were talking about YOUTUBE VIDEOS. Yes, I get that the mostly seemingly harmless pop culture minutiae can justifiably inspire larger necessary social conversations, but let’s take it down a notch. ‘Cause you know, THEY’RE YOUTUBE VIDEOS.

I’m going to repeat myself, but I really feel the need to reiterate that in the end, this piece was about novelty. Imagine if Ice-T or ODB or 50 covered “On the Good Ship Lollipop.” Tell me that wouldn’t get seven million hits on YouTube.

The article was also about irony, which Carmon also notes. In the all-girl, a cappella video cover for “Bitches Ain’t Shit,” the chicks are rocking flipped collars, knee socks and tennis rackets. We all know that’s fashion code for WASP. Homegirls knew what they were doing.

Sigh. I feel better, but I’m fully aware that I might need to brace myself for a possible internet fight with someone about this post, seeing as how my blog is so popular (up to four readers now). Let me know what you think y’all.

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2 Responses to “Just A Whole Lot of Hollerin’: A Response to the Response to Jezebel’s White Girl Hip Hop Article”

  1. DolphinedSea June 16, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    I must say I saw a disparity between the article and the comments (VisforVanity is still at it, by the way). The article, the original, seemed to highlight a YouTube phenomenon, which often makes blatantly clear certain highly misogynist lyrics through an ironic shift in voice and presentation, not too far off from The Gourds’ country version of Gin n’ Juice, marked predominantly by novelty value. I didn’t feel the article itself took a particularly strong stance in support or defiance of these YouTube videos, other than generally reporting on a current trend.

    I agree that the “New Generation” idea is naive, uniformed, wishful thinking. As a white male, I am still the inheritor of a long line of prejudices and intolerance, which is itching to be undone, though unfortunately not there yet. As free-thinking or tolerant as I’d like to think of myself, I’ve found myself in a few, “Did I just say that?” situations, or even the more common practice of making excuses for past generations, being ‘just the way they were brought up…’ None of it is remotely acceptable, of course, and as much as I work to reject it in my everyday actions, speech and behavior, I can’t rightfully deny myself immune to the fact that some of this still exists crawling under my skin. It’s not something your birthright affords you in one generation’s desire to differentiate it from its predecessor. And on a societal level, racism, intolerance, prejudice is more akin to a cancer that goes through aggressive and remissive states with the threat always remaining. It’s more problematic when you deny it exists or is somehow anachronistic.

    And once I read the words, “[…] Israel’s right to exist […]”, my eyes glazed completely.

    • Alana June 17, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

      I cosign on all of the above.

      Two things I thought about while reading your first paragraph:

      1.) I forgot to mention that apparently some of the comments made in the discussion thread refer to another commenter fight about some other article on Jezebel, hence the confusing responses.

      2.) It seems that the people who didn’t understand the point of the piece also didn’t get what kind of writing it is either. It’s reportage, which is different from commentary and criticism. Reportage can include these other elements (depending on what you’re going for), but the purpose of reportage is to, you know, report, not to evaluate something or push some grand hypothesis. Reportage leaves that up to the reader.

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