We hope the logo hasn’t thrown you off, Racializens. It’s our big reminder that Jarreth Merz’s documentary on Ghana’s 2008 election, An African Election, premieres next Monday, October 1, on PBS’ WORLD Channel. The movie begins at 8:30PM.
We’re also thrilled by the pre-premiere panel line-up! Scheduled to appear are:
They will discuss the parallels between the voting issues that faced Ghana during that momentous election and the voting issues that marginalized, disenfranchised people are facing in the US during this presidential election. The panel starts at 8PM on on the same night and channel.
To gear up for the Big Night, we’re having a tweet-up–our last, alas–today at 11AM EDT (4PM in Ghana). Our guest tweeter is Ghanaian feminist Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, who works as the Communications Officer at African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) and co-runs the incredible blog Adventures From The Bedrooms Of African Women, a which collectively gathers information and discusses safer-sex practices and sexuality with African women and progressive African men. She’ll give her on-the-ground perspective on whether Ghana’s 2008 election affected the lives of women in the nation.
By Guest Contributor Jea Kim (aka Onsemiro), cross-posted from My Dear Korea
What the Heck Is Gangnam Style?
PSY finally set the world on fire with a song, Gangnam Seutail (강남스타일, “Gangnam Style”), written and performed by himself. The song is the title track of his sixth studio album, Yukgap (육갑), which can be interpreted two ways: (i) the word originally means “the sexagenary cycle;” but (ii) it is mostly used in a derogatory way as meaning “a total retard.” However, PSY chose this word to express his hope that his sixth (육(六), “six”) album would be the best (갑(甲), “best”). He made a wish and his wish came true. In fact, the song turned out to be a greater success than he had hoped; it became an instant YouTube, and iTunes hit upon its release and also has immediately become a worldwide phenom. And people are beginning to wonder what the heck is “Gangnam style.”
Generally speaking, “Gangnam” is the south of the Han River in Seoul while “Gangbuk” is the north of the river, in which gang means “river” (that is, the Han River); nam is “south,” and buk is north. More specifically, though, it refers to the areas that include Gangnam-gu and Seocho-gu districts as seen below. (Note that Songpa-gu can be considered to be part of Gangnam in a broader sense.) Continue reading →
Kajol (l) and Shahrukh Khan in Dilwale Dulhania le Jayenga. Courtesy: planetradiocity.com
When they’ve tried to make realistic pictures about the poor and the middle classes, they get miserable attendance…People don’t want to see problems on the screen.
So says a 2001 article from Smithsonian magazine about the rise in popularity of the Indian movie industry, a.k.a. “Bollywood,” in the West during the 1990s. And this is the general assumption many in the First World like to make about Indian film: that it is an escapist genre, and that all the poor people of South Asia need to be happy is three hours of brightly colored fantasy.
Indian films have been the main source of popular culture for all of South Asia and popular in many other countries throughout the world since the 1950s. The first international hit was Raj Kapoor’s Awaara in 1951, followed by Shree 420 four years later. Although the 50s are generally considered the “Golden Age” of Indian film, the Indian film industry had been around for 40 years before that, with the studio system already thriving within 20 years. Although the West, especially America, likes to pretend that they invented the movies and every other country is merely imitating them (as is implied in the very name “Bollywood”), in fact India has been making movies in its own style since the advent of the artform.
The West didn’t suddenly make a Columbus-like discovery of Indian film in the 90s; it was a result of a calculated strategy on the part of the Indian industry. A series of political shifts in Indian government had led to weakening import/export regulations as well as the legalization of investments in the Indian film industry. Therefore, there was suddenly more money around to make these globe-hopping song- and dance-filled extravaganzas. And that money could be turned into even more money by making plots that were universal and of interest to Desis and others living in the First World. What is more universal than romance?
by Guest Contributor Annita Lucchesi, originally published on Tumblr
**Video Slightly NSFW***
Perhaps distracted by the picturesque scenery or the flash and glamor of Carnival, music critics have yet to say anything substantial on Nicki Minaj’s new music video, “Pound the Alarm.” Indeed, the overwhelming response has been to dismiss both the song and video as “virtually indistinguishable” from her previous single, “Starships,” and nearly all reviews have nothing to say other than run-of-the-mill comments on the beauty of the setting and Minaj’s physical attributes (see: MTV, Billboard). Fuse even went so far as to describe Minaj as a “bikini wearer extraordinaire” who “made sure her goods were front and center,” and Perez Hilton’s first comment was to tell Minaj, “pound that alarm with your bombastic bosom!”
While Nicki Minaj is obviously exceptionally beautiful, these reviews are as vapid as they are repetitive. Minaj is routinely overlooked as a ‘conscious artist,’ despite the fact that many of her songs, as well as her carefully curated appearance, are politically charged. The vast majority of the narrative on her fame is centered on her body and relationships with male rappers, as if she isn’t an intelligent artist who is very intentional about her image and her work (much less one who attended performing arts school!). Anyone who has heard her more directly “conscious” tracks like “Autobiography” or her remix of “Sweetest Girl” knows that she can be a passionate performer and talented poet. Despite this, Minaj constantly gets criticized and dismissed as lacking substance, which I believe has more to do with the combined forces of racism and sexism in popular media and consumer consciousness than anything else. No matter how gorgeous you are, it can’t be easy to be a young Black West Indian woman in the US media, much less one who is so confident in her ownership of her body and sexuality as Nicki Minaj.
There is also a not-so-subtle unwillingness on behalf of many of her critics to dialogue with Minaj’s work on her own terms, which the “Pound the Alarm” reviews each fall prey to. Though most of them acknowledge that Minaj was born in Trinidad, the video’s location, none of them attempt to place the video within its context—Trinidadian party culture and national politics.