Open Thread: The American Music Awards

Jennifer Lopez performs at the 2013 American Music Awards

Pitbull hosted, 39 year old rap star of my childhood Nelly proclaimed his love for 19 and 21 year old girls while performing Ride Wit’ Me, TLC continued to make me sad by insisting on continuing to perform sans Left Eye, and Jennifer Lopez gave a killer Celia Cruz tribute, but the American Music Awards were still plagued with overt racism, troubling moments, and a grim glimpse into what this year’s Grammys are going to look like.

The show opened with this gem of a performance from Katy Perry:


A quick check with Twitter confirmed that I was indeed seeing what I thought I was seeing (Katy Perry performing a song that has nothing to do with Japan, it’s people or their culture, while wearing a kimono and possible yellow face surrounded by others doing the same? Check.) and that it was, yes, as problematic as I thought it was. Unfortunate, but not entirely unsurprising given the legacy handed down by other pop artists like our friend Gwen Stefani.

The shtick is doubly creepy when you consider how Perry’s supposed love of Japanese people manifested itself during an interview on the Jimmy Kimmel show back in 2012:

“I am obsessed with Japanese people, I love everything about them and they are so wonderful as human beings. I’m so obsessed I want to skin you and wear you like Versace.”

By any means necessary, eh Katy?

The second biggest “Yikes.” of the night came when Macklemore beat out a slew of Black artists in the favourite rap/hip-hop album category and proceeded to make a Very Special Comment about Martin Luther King Jr., Trayvon Martin and racial profiling. A comment that I might have found more sincere had he mentioned the names or cases of any of the numerous other cases since Trayvon Martin’s; Renisha McBride, perchance?

It may have also been more meaningful coming out of the mouths of one of the other nominees in the category (Kendrick Lemar or Jay-Z), but that could just be my own cynicism. In a year filled with the Macklemores, Lordes, Justin Timberlakes (he picked up two televised AMA wins), and Robin Thickes of the world it looks like Black artists will have to continue fighting for wins in the hip-hop, rap, and RnB categories as we move into Grammy season.

I tuned in and out of the show (because 11pm is late for anything to be ending, I just started a Charmed rewatch on Netflix, and it’s not like these are the Oscar Awards of music or anything), so I invite y’all to discuss  anything I may have missed (and/or the sad state of popular music) in the comments below.

Undo Process: The Racialicious Review For Doctor Who: The Day Of The Doctor

By Arturo R. García

The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith, left) and the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) find themselves confronted by their past in “The Day Of The Doctor.”

On Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary, Steven Moffat decided to give the Doctor a birthday gift. But as with all things Moffat, it comes with strings attached.

SPOILERY-WOILERY UNDER THE CUT. And since enough of us here watch the show (often despite itself), call this a weekend special.
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Table For Two: American Horror Story: Coven and The Originals in Brief

american_horror_story_coven_cast_a_l

Angela Bassett, Jessica Lange, and Kathy Bates in American Horror Story: Coven. If nothing else, the show is a master class from some of the grande dames of acting.

With Jordan St. John and Kendra James

My distaste for The Vampire Diaries and its selective racial memory are well documented. When I heard that The Vampire Diaries spinoff featuring the ancient ancient vampire family, The  Originals, would be set in one of the most racially complex and interesting locals in the American south, New Orleans, I did not have high hopes. I was more intrigued when it was announced that American Horror Story: Coven, the third season of the campy horror gorefest would also be taking up residence in New Orleans Garden District. Now that both shows have a couple eps of painful exposition and audience baiting twists and turns behind them Kendra and I are sitting down to see how both are handling history, witches and race in the Big Easy.

Editor’s Note: This was finished before the 11-20-13 episode of AHS: Coven, so we know now that, yes: Queenie did the right thing. Spoilers for  The Originals and American Horror Story: Coven to follow!

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The Racialicious Links Roundup 11.21.13: The Best Man Holiday, Orange Is The New Black, Nelly, ENDA and more

Cast of “The Best Man Holiday.”

The Best Man Holiday is a success. That is not particularly a “surprise.” It did not “over-perform,” nor did it soar for a “race-themed film,” as USA Today originally wrote. To speak of it in these terms reduces The Best Man Holiday to thousands of frames of low expectations. It existed and won. As a film, it was 50% an above-average comedy and 50% an abysmal drama. But financially—the only metric that matters to studios—it was a knockout. Set in the present. Not filmed by Tyler Perry. Of which you can expect to see more.

Malcolm D. Lee’s movies, in fact, have nearly all been significant earners, from Undercover Brother toScary Movie 5. Only one—Soul Men, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac—did not perform well. It was also Lee’s most expensive movie, and was released three months after Bernie Mac died.

The Best Man Holiday, the director’s seventh film, cost $17 million and has already earned just north of $30 million on its first weekend. It premiered to an audience that was 87% African American and 75% female.

Again I think it’s very truthful to the world we live in. There are Latino people in our world who believe strongly that if you are Latino you should speak the language, you should eat the food, you should listen to the music, you should be proud. And when you don’t do those things, some people will look at it as if you’re neglecting who you are. But in the case of Daya, which is a wonderful character, look at the background that she has. Her mother isn’t exactly the mother of the year but she has heart. She hasn’t been the best mom so of course her kids aren’t going to speak the language, she wasn’t at home teaching them like my parents did. My parents made it a point that although I was born and raised in New York City I needed to speak Spanish because they wanted me to be able to communicate with my elders when I went to Santo Domingo [or] when my family came to visit from Cuba. So we have some people who place a lot of importance on that and a lot who don’t.

But you know I’m not one to criticize someone for speaking it or not. I, for one, do believe that we should speak the language of our ancestors and that’s why my daughter speaks fluent Spanish.

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Race + The Netherlands: Resistance, Lost in Translation

By Guest Contributor Marly Pierre-Louis

I’m an activist and, one way or another, wherever I am, I always find my way to movement work, or it finds me. So when my partner and I uprooted our lives in Brooklyn for him to pursue a job opportunity in Amsterdam, I was excited to get involved. I figured since we’d be living here for the indefinite future, might as well jump in the mix. What were the issues? Who were the oppressed? And what were they fighting for? I met with organizers and did my research. Initially, I was disappointed at what seemed like a lack of collective struggle and as a result a lack of movement work. I didn’t detect a culture of resistance. But surely there was conflict in a society that celebrated a figure like Zwarte Piet.

In fact, there’s been more activity than ever before concerning Zwarte Piet, particularly in the last couple of months. In the Dutch mythology, every year Sinterklaas, more of a religious figure than our Santa Claus, rolls through the Netherlands from his home in Spain. Accompanying him are his servants known as Zwarte Piets or Black Piets. These characters are white adult men and women with their faces painted Black, red lipstick, gold hoop earrings and a black curly wig. Zwarte Piet is clumsy, subservient and unintelligent; a regular coon. In October, Quinsy Gario, a prominent anti Zwarte Piet activist who was arrested in 2011 for protesting the Sinterklaas parade (Trigger Warning: Police violence) while wearing a T-shirt that read, “Zwarte Piet is Racisme (Black Piet is racism)”, publicly denounced Zwarte Piet on a popular Dutch talk show, as racist and hurtful. Dutch Twitter went MAD, and an ugly, racist underbelly of the worst kind was revealed:

(Trigger Warning for pictures under the cut)

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Quoted: OC Weekly On The Latin Grammys Marginalizing Mexico

Latin Grammy nominee Aleks Syntek, via Facebook.

First, the caveat: ANY entertainment industry awards show never gets anything right and really serves as an excuse for bigwigs to have one giant, self-celebratory circle jerk honoring the biggest sellers and most influential labels. That said, here’s the Latin Grammys’ dirty little secret: the vast majority of Latin music sold in the United States is Mexican regional music: banda, mariachi, ranchera, norteño, narcocorridos — all of it. It constantly counts for more than half of all Latin music sales in el Norte, per the figures of the Recording Industry of America, and is what has driven Spanish-language radio’s rise across nearly all the United States. Its artists are the ones continually, easily selling out Madison Square Garden and performing in the Rose Bowl at the same time they’re taking a bus to perform in tiny towns across the Midwest and South. Mexican regional’s reach makes it el rey of Latin music in the United States–no contest.

Yet the Latin Grammys always insults its industry’s biggest moneymaker. Case in point: the Mexi performers I mentioned earlier count as only three of the 15 scheduled performers for the evening (and if you take out Lafourcade, who’s not technically of the Mexican regional genre, it’s only two), accounting for a pathetic 20 percent of all performances in a country where people of Mexican descent make up more than 60 percent of the total Latino pozole pot. There are only five awards categories devoted to Mexican regional music — sh-t, more than five distinct musical genres exist in Mexico City alone, from sonidero to rock urbano — while seven are given to Brazil, a beautiful, sonically rich country that nevertheless sells sells as much music combined in the States as Vicente Fernández can sell in one night from a street corner in Huntington Park.

– From “Why the Latin Grammys Remain America’s Biggest Anti-Mexican Sham,” by Gustavo Arellano

[h/t Sara Inés Calderón]

Young Lakota Premieres Nov. 25 on Independent Lens

“Young Lakota” Official Trailer from marionlipschutz/roserosenblatt on Vimeo.

Young Lakota will air at 10 .m. EST, Monday, Nov. 25, on PBS’s Independent Lens. The film chronicles Tribal President Cecelia Fire Thunder’s challenge to a proposed abortion ban in South Dakota, and the political awakening she inspires in Sunny Clifford, a young Lakota woman living on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Young Lakota was an Official Selection at the Big Sky Film Festival, the New Orleans Film Festival, the American Indian Film Festival, and won Best Documentary at Cine Las Americas and the Smithsonian Showcase.