Archive for September, 2009

Bamboozled – Why Is It Cool To Be Dumb in 2009?

Posted in Life Lessons, Music Industry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2009 by djvinceadams

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Bamboozled Cropped

I often times post questions on my status-line in my Facebook account.  One of my recent questions was about movies and the answers brought me to think about how the landscape of Black movies is totally different in 2009 than it was in 1999.  That thought quickly lead me to reflect on the email that I recently read from Andreas Hale who was relieved of his duties as the Executive Editor of Music for Black Entertainment Television (BET.)  In the email Hale expresses the resistance that he was met with by BET Executives in bringing about a “positive” change within the programming of the station.  These thoughts then lead me to revisit thoughts that I frequently have regarding the lack of creativity and skill that is attacking Black music today.

In 2000 Spike Lee released a movie “Bamboozled” which was a satire about the effects of essentially turning Black entertainment into a literal “coon show.”  Although the movie was met with mixed reviews, in my opinion the movie has been prophetic when we look at the state of where Black mainstream media/entertainment is today.  A good friend of mine, Andrea, has expressed that “instead of art imitating life, life starts to imitate art and they [some individuals in the African-American community] believe that whatever these ‘artists’ talk about is real and try to live those things.”

I have a question for everybody 21 years old and older.  Regardless of how much you do or don’t like the current state of Black entertainment, do you feel that Black radio, Black television and Black movies were more provocative, mentally-engaging and intelligent 15-20 years ago and are we at an all-time low when it comes to Black entertainment? I think that it’s fair to guess that I am of the opinion that we are at an all-time low when it comes to the level of creativity and quality of Black entertainment.

I could get into the financial aspects of how the record labels and tv/movie executives only put money behind projects that they feel will produce revenue, but that’s a given at this time.  Additionally, I could say that there is a type of systematic racism that is taking place by “the powers that be”, but I feel that would be absolving the listening/watching/buying public from the role that they play in the caliber of entertainment that is being produced today.

The bottom-line is that it would appear that media outlets (tv networks, record labels, etc.) are developing and marketing media for the “lowest common intellect denominator” among African-Americans.  Of course there has always been “mindless entertainment” throughout the history of media, but the difference today is that “mindless” is now the new mainstream where it used to be more underground.  “Mindless” is the new rule where it used to be the exception.

I think that somewhere along the timeline that parents and adults forgot that entertainment is at times mindless fun, but at other times it is art.  There was a time that there was a fair balance of entertainment that inspired creativity on a higher level, inspired thought on a higher level and added a sense of “beautiful escape” from the world that we’re living in.  The caliber of entertainment today is so marginal, so beyond mediocre, at times so horrible that it doesn’t inspire it actually relegates the viewer or listener to a lower level of being.

The reason that I single out parents and adults is that there should be a certain level of maturity in this group of people that work out of a conscious position to expose themselves and their children to more than what the media executives are offering.  There was a time that if you wanted to let the TV/radio/movies raise your child that there were some options (does anyone remember “Teen Summit” on BET) that attracted younger minds and discussed/approached issues that inspired greater esteem and elevated the viewers’/listeners’ thought as it related to handling life from a more mature perspective.

I really don’t think that people in general realize what effect this “entertainment environment” has on young children.  Actually there are many people that are 20+ that don’t understand that much of their “socially accepted behavior” comes from the influences of the movies, music and television that they are watching.  Again, it would be very easy to point the finger at “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”, Tyler Perry’s tv shows and movies and recording artists like Gucci Mane and Soulja Boy (who make music of no socially redeeming value) and say that they are THE REASON that everything is the way that is today.  Once again, that in my eyes would be absolving US of the role that we play.

I think that through the history of time there has been controversial music and entertainment that created a stir.  I can remember DJing in college playing Luke records and other music from Florida that was 50 times more lewd and outrageous than the music that I play today in the clubs.  However, I think that there is a huge difference today in the people that attended the parties that I DJ’ed in college 20 years ago and the parties that I DJ in the clubs now in 2009.  It appears to me that the party-goer of 1989 had interest and likes beyond “party music” which allowed them to go out and have a good time and leave the party behind.  The party-goer of 2009 in many instance look to imitate the lifestyle of the music/musicians and the music itself and many of them practically identify and live within the vein of party music virtually 24/7.

That’s not to say that 20 years ago there weren’t fads and things that people did outside of the club that were representative of club life.  There were “high-top” fades like Big Daddy Kane or Kid from Kid ‘N Play.  There were gold ropes like LL Cool J and Rakim.  As much as people were trying to look like a rapper or party like a “rock star”, they weren’t looking to emulate that in their actual lives.  Although there were people who did, again, they were the exception, not the rule.

Of course it’s easy for me to sound like I’m casting aspersions on the party-goer of today or the people that are fans of today’s “pop culture”, that is not what I’m looking to do at all.  My only point in this submission is to identify that there is a growing “pop culture” in the music, TV and movies today that is very dumbed down, unintelligent, if not “coon-like” that is becoming a way of life not only for the reality TV stars, rappers, “wanna-be” singers and the less than engaging movies that are being created, but for the people that are entertained by this media.  In many communities and social circles it has literally become cool to not care about one another, to not have a positive presentation of yourself by appearance or by the way you speak and it is cool to “not care” about much of anything.   Without creating a balance in the things that are being presented as entertainment, we will have a more difficult time restoring entertainment (and our communities) to a place that moves us to higher states of creativity, intelligence and consciousness.

As much as the TV, movies, music on the radio or even the music that the DJ plays at the club contributes to this – morality, virtue and ideals start in the home and its my opinion that we in our everyday lives need to be each others heroes and role models.  I think that the continued domination of mindless music, sex/drug music and less than intelligent TV/movies will continue to be that way until WE as individuals begin to want and gravitate to entertainment that is more in the “art/creativity/intelligent” category than programming that is a perpetual “guilty pleasure” with no intelligent or redeeming value.

That does not mean that I am taking a shot at an entire group of people or an entire time period.  I’m very proud of my frat brothers from Rainforest Films that produce high quality movies such as “Stomp the Yard” and “This Christmas.”  I applaud artists like John Legend and Alicia Keys for always bringing a positive, showing class and a talented presence in their music and on television.  I am stating that there used to be a balance of positive imagery and “guilty pleasure” imagery and I am of the opinion that balance is broken.  Just as important, I feel that the people who do not try to imitate this lifestyle, who see these “Stank Leg-isms” as pretty meaningless are themselves turning a blind eye to the disparity that exists in today’s music.  Understanding and consciousness are the things that will help re-establish the balance in Black “pop culture.”

In the past there was a balance: for every “N.W.A.” there was a “Public Enemy”, for every “Ice-T” there was a “Heavy D”, for every “Geto Boys” there was “A Tribe Called Quest”, for every “Friday” movie there was a “X” or “Do The Right Thing” and I can’t count the numerous TV shows including “A Different World”, “Living Single”, “NY Undercover”, “Roc”, “Soul Food” and “227” that were entertaining, good for the family and produced in a way that didn’t consistently have buffoon-characters “jive talking” ever episode.  I’m not calling for an elimination of anything from today, just restoring the balance that used to exist.

As I’ve said in other writings, if you have cousins, nephews, nieces, students or children continue to be a positive influence for them by not only being an example of how to live a balanced life, but also expose them to quality/intelligent/creative entertainment (from the past and present) that lets them know that there is a difference and that allows them to become an agent for change in the caliber of entertainment that’s being offered.  I know that for me personally, as a DJ, that I will play classic feel good music in the middle of a party to show people that there was a time music held a different feel and was made in a way that can stand the test of time.

I think that what’s happening right now in the first decade of the 21st century with Black entertainment is simply a phase.  I think that things go in cycles and that there will be a better day soon when we see more of a balance in “pop culture” that represents a higher standard of living and deeper grade of thinking.  For now the true change must be ignited from the inside (the people) to the outside (the media.)  It can definitely be agreed that companies have a large influence on how people think, but we can’t be so lazy that we just throw our hands in the air and say “there’s nothing we can do about it.”  It is possible for all of us to be agents for change and if we took a fraction of the awareness, the gumption and the initiative that our ancestors did to erect change then we would begin to turn the tide in a better direction.

As an answer to “Why is it cool to be dumb in 2009?”, I think that it has become a social norm in many African-American communities to live down to the example that’s being presented in much of our entertainment.  Moving to a better, more elevated way of thinking starts with everyone in their everyday life looking to affect change positively for not only themselves, but for the peers and younger people that they may influence.  Not only is it cool to be “dumb,” but it has become cool to not care.

Let’s make a change to care and display a positive alternative for people that allows us to continue to advance as a people and not take the years of social progress from the 1860’s, to the 1960’s, to the election of an African-American President and essentially relegate ourselves to a place where we are essentially out of control.  Originally the control was taken from us, this time we are consciously giving it away and that in essence is “dumb.”  Don’t be Bamboozled, we have a lot of power, let’s put it to good use.

Much love and take care of one another – “we all we got”…VA

Additional Info:

Andreas Hale Letter Re: Conditions at BET: http://www.bvblackspin.com/2009/09/08/bet-ex-employee-e-mail/

Top 25: Black TV Shows of All-time (ranked by Ebony Magazine 2007)

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1077/is_12_62/ai_n27391446/?tag=content;col1

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Be Careful What You Wish For…What’s On Your List??

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2009 by djvinceadams

TO ACCESS PREVIOUS BLOG ENTRIES USE THE LINKS AT THE TOP OR CLICK “THE BLOGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE” TITLE TO ACCESS THE HOME PAGE…

candle wish

Quick Addendum: I would like to thank “Kim” for her early comment.  I am personally not a fan of using lists today.  However, I do believe that its a big part of many people’s approach to moving forward with a relationship that I would address some aspects of designing how to look for your ideal match.  Regardless of a “physical” list or not, everybody has basic qualities that they are looking for and that overall is what is being addressed.  Thanks and enjoy…VA

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since the last blog and believe it or not, it takes a lot of thought and consideration to decide what I would like to share with people related to whatever subject I’m writing about. It has really been interesting sharing my thoughts and ideas regarding life, but it seems that the topic of relationships is definitely one that people are interested in getting more information about.  So, as the old saying goes – ask and you shall receive.

I mentioned in the last blog that I was going to come out with a two-part blog series addressing “The Art of Dating” and “The Art of The Breakup.”  I have given that idea a lot of thought and I’ve determined that there is a step that is missing with regard to moving into a relationship or even being open to a relationship and that is the proverbial “wish list of wants” that people have when deciding who they would like to date.  The list, the damn list – LOL.  Why do I call it “the damn list?”  I think that my list has gotten me in trouble in the past and if you think about your past list(s) you may say that yours has lead you down the wrong path a time or three as well.

I can say that in all of my unsuccessful relationships that I have for the most part (if not completely) gotten what it is that I asked for in the person that I was dating.  The problems/issues in the relationships weren’t necessarily in the items that were “checked off” as completed or attained on the proverbial list.  The problem was in the items that I did not specify that I really should have paid more attention to.

HOWEVER, and this is a big however, I am moving more to the position that the list can be a recipe for disaster when it is not developed in the proper way.  Let’s look at the attributes that you may find on a woman’s list.  Now, before we go into the women vs. men thing, I am speaking to each sex equally here – there is no fault, no bearer of ill-doing, etc.  I think it could be said that although men have their “virtual list” of what they want in a woman that it is probably more likely that a woman would have the list committed to writing.  With that being the case, let’s look at 10 qualities that a woman may have on her list for the sake of discussion:

  1. Believes in God
  2. Educated (at least a college degree)
  3. Earns a good-living (at least $XX,000)
  4. Doesn’t have kids
  5. Loves me unconditionally
  6. Is at least 5” taller than me
  7. Has a good relationship with his mother (however, isn’t a Mama’s Boy)
  8. Loves to travel
  9. Will respect me and my family
  10. Will be honest and communicate openly with me

Now, this list was drawn up randomly, but it does encompass many of the things that we “hear” that women would like in a man if not many, many more.  Although this list has 10 qualities it is possible for these physical and virtual lists to have more than 25 items on it and can actually be upwards of 50 items.  Some people may be reading this and presuming that it is absolutely impossible to get all of the qualities on the list or that you have to “settle” for only 80% of your needs being met and 20% of the qualities are things you’ll just have to live without because you can’t have it all, right?  More importantly, some people make “80%” lists and leave off very important qualities with the thought that you can’t have it all.  We’ve all heard about the 80/20 rule and I’m not going to talk about that either.

So what exactly am I talking about?  Let’s presume that you can attain 100% of what you wanted on your list.  I personally believe in the “ask and you shall receive” law of the universe that allows you to attract what it is you say/think that you want.  Although it’s a challenge, let’s again presume that you attained your goal of having your ideal list of qualities in a potential boyfriend/girlfriend.  Does that really, really make you happy? Let me ask this in a different way – have you ever really wanted a job, vacation, car or anything that was a goal and found that you were very underwhelmed, maybe even very discontent once you received it.  If you’re over the age of 18 I am willing to guess that you’ve experienced this at least 3 times in life, if not many more.

So, if I believe in lists, believe that you can essentially get what you want on the list and believe that the attainment can be unfufilling – what’s the catch?  The catch is actually a two-parter:

  1. As I’ve stated in other blogs, but it definitely needs to be addressed within this topic – another person cannot make you happy.  If you are not happy with yourself and by yourself the chances of something/someone making you happy are close to slim and/or none.
  2. The missing piece of the puzzle is this – you have to begin your “Wish List” with the end in mind. You have to ask yourself what feeling is it that you want to have once your have attained your mate and what qualities/items on your list should be connected to that end position.

Let me offer some examples.  Let’s say that you are a man who on the surface feels that you want a woman who is respectable, classy and handles herself “well” in public.  Along with those qualities you feel that it’s important that due to your “status” that your ideal mate should have a college degree. It’s possible that you can date a woman who has these qualities along with other qualities that are important to you.  However, there is a possibility that there is a woman with a college degree that you find very classy in public and you find her to be very “unadventurous” away from formal settings in a way that could be a turn-off.  On the other hand there could be a woman that doesn’t have a college degree, who is very classy in the situations that you find class is needed, however she’s adventurous and the life of the party when the time is right.  The question is, is that guy not going to pursue a relationship with the woman because she doesn’t have a college degree?

The answer to that question should lie in what is his ultimate desire (or end result) for starting a relationship.  If the ultimate desire is to be in a fun, progressive and fulfilling relationship then what place does the college degree have on the list.  This may sound like very elementary thinking, but ask yourself how many relationships you know of or have been a part of that “looked good on paper”, but were unfulfilling for the people in it or even miserable on one or both people’s parts.  That’s the importance of crafting your list from the right place.  This is also akin to the point I’ve made in previous blogs that it’s important to ask the right questions more so than focus on the answers. The end result of what you want from the relationship is the question, the items on the list are the answers.  If you don’t focus on the end result, you’ll come up with a bogus list of unsatisfactory qualities.

Another example is that there may be a “successful” woman whose end result is that she would like to be in a progressive, fulfilling and exciting relationship.  It may show up on her list that she wants a partner who makes as much, if not more money than her because men in the past have been “intimidated” by her earnings/success.  It’s possible that by focusing on the earnings of the guy that she’s missing a bigger picture.  Wouldn’t it be a better approach to want a guy who was taking care of himself financially and was secure with his earnings, as well as hers versus specifying what his earning power was?  Now, if her end desire is to build a “power couple” dynasty that will buy up the world, then her mate’s earnings make a difference.  If she wants to simply be in fulfilling relationship then maybe the focus should shift to his security rather than his earning power.  Isn’t it true that there are men who are insecure regardless of how much money they make??

There are two big caveats for this train of thought though.  It is always possible that there are multiple “end results” that you would want to achieve in your relationship.  Whatever the reasons are a person should just make sure that the items on the list are related to the end desired result for the relationship.  The second caveat is that there are always “deal breakers” for everybody.  I won’t go into what “deal breakers” are because they vary from person to person.  Its just possible that regardless of how the individual list items add up that there can be a factor that makes the situation something that you would choose not to pursue.

Another aspect of developing your wish list is that the list is a “living document.”  There are many times that people set their list in stone from relationship to relationship and they become so committed to their “ideal” of what they want in a person that they don’t allow for modification or adjustments to their list.  Different situations/relationships should call for some amount of human “factoring” that may re-sort the order of importance or weight of qualities from relationship to relationship.  Also, as we achieve some of these qualities in a partner in a relationship, the list should be reevaluated to insure that those attained qualities (or at least how they were presented in that relationship) held the level of importance they initially seemed to have.

The bottom line for all of these considerations is that we really shouldn’t “block our blessings” by “majoring in minors.”  Don’t get caught up on individual “nice to have” items that could prevent you from finding a close alignment with someone more suited for you.  Additionally, don’t focus on items that ultimately may lead to you being in an unsatisfied, unfulfilling relationship by paying more attention to fringe “list items” rather than your core needs.

As with all of my blogs (especially on relationships) the focus here is on you internally and not what other people do to you or for you.  If you properly align your “Wish List” with your needs, the chances of you achieving your true end result grow exponentially as opposed to throwing a bunch of non-tangential qualities on a sheet of paper and thinking the attainment of this collection of “things” will lead to your happiness.  You and your God are the source of your happiness, craft the life and associations that compliment your self-happiness and the rest will work itself out.

How many movies have we seen where the girl leaves the “perfect guy” (the list guy) for the guy that captured the essence of what she REALLY wanted in a man?  I would strongly suggest that you give some serious thought to your core values/desires to create a collection of qualities that speaks to what matters to you in the essence of a mate and not just superficial “nice to have” qualities.  Again, those qualities should ultimately be essential to the desired result.  Before you make a wish and blow out the candle, be careful what you wish for – you just may get it.

Much love and take care of one another – “we all we got”…VA