Tag Archives: Justin Timberlake

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[Open Thread] The 2014 Grammy Awards

by Kendra James

While I was less than impressed with the whole broadcast, here are a few stray observations from last night’s Grammy Awards.

*Last night Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won three Grammys for their achievements in Rap and Hip-Hop that, we are to believe, surpassed the efforts of other nominees like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Kanye West. So whether or not we think the Grammys actually mean anything, this is a fact we’re going to have to live with as a society.

*Justin Timberlake also did his part for white artists in the urban markets, winning Best R&B song for ‘Pusher Love Girl’ against other nominees Anthony Hamilton, Tamar Braxton, Kelly Rowland, and Stevie Wonder. This is a good time to remind everyone that both Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke are nominated for NAACP Image Awards this year as well.

Madonna and her son David

*Madonna walked the red carpet with David, her adopted son who happens to be Black. I have never seen this child before (note: I know what each and every Jolie-Pitt kid looks like; I couldn’t pick one of Madonna’s kids out of a crowd), and I doubt we would have seen this child in such a prominent place had Madonna not been in such hot water for calling her other, white, child “#disnigga” on instagram the other day.  I’m a cynical creature.

*Personally, I thought the broadcast played their hand early by having Beyonce and Jay-Z open the show with Drunk in Love, but Twitter  seemed to be very much in love with the Imagine Dragons/Kendrick Lamar collaboration that followed later in the show.

*Speaking of Jay-z, he threw in his hat for Father of the Year during his acceptance speech for best rap song collaboration.  Turning the award to the side he said, ”And I want to tell Blue, ‘Look! Daddy’s got a gold sippy cup for you.’” I have no doubt that that is exactly what happened to that award and that there will be pictures of the entire thing on Beyonce’s tumblr no less than twelve hours from now.

*Macklemore may have swept the rap categories, but when it came to producing, album of the year, record of the year, and duo/group performance,  it was the year of Pharrell Williams (and Daft Punk, but since I still don’t know what they actually do, and since ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Lose Yourself to Dance’ carried that entire album, I’m giving most of the credit to Pharrell and Nile Rodgers). Pharrell, who’s been doing this since the early 90s despite appearing to have been born during the Regan administration,  is also nominated for an Oscar this year for the song ‘Happy’.

*The entire affair ended with a wedding (of gay and straight couples) officiated by Queen Latifah with a soundtrack by Macklemore, Mary Lambert, and Madonna. This was appropriate, because I imagine wedding and bar/bat mitzvah dance floors are the only places where Macklemore’s songs are played in earnest. It’s hard to be cynical about this blatant PR stunt (okay, maybe it’s not so hard) due to Mary Lambert and Queen Latifah’s participation, but it is a great time to revisit Hel Gebreamlak‘s post on Macklemore’s straight white privilege!  

That’s all from us, but remember this is an open thread. What did you think of last night’s show? Let us know in the comments!

The Racialicious Links Roundup 4.4.13

Step 3: Play the ‘Middle’ Between Rational and Frothing Racist

You know how mainstream news shows discuss global warming by pairing an actual scientist who points to decades of consistent research with an oil-company shill who says global warming can’t be real because Al Gore said something dumb once? And you know how the news anchor moderating the discussion gets to occupy the “rational” “middle” ground by saying “more research is probably needed”? You’re that guy now. Crackpots don’t get people fired, people who validate crackpots do, so get to work.

Let me get you started on your “common-sense” blog post, article or mainstream interview: “We can all agree that the behavior of these Internet trolls is unconscionable. However, let’s not discount their concerns because of a few bad apples…”

You’ve got some primo poli-sci Overton Window triangulation going on now! By assigning the Internet trolls one end of the alignment spectrum, you’ve successfully shifted the terms of the debate from, “What can be done about rampant unjust outcomes for women and people of color?” to “How many racial epithets is it OK to fit in a tweet?” Also, don’t moderate the comments on your blog post, even if they overtly threaten women and people of color. That would be, like, censorship.

Hun Loo “Lincoln” Gong, a self-made billionaire who designed the first chip that enabled laptops to automatically read both Apple and PC software in Chinese and English, was rejected from Harvard in 1981.

He has never forgotten that, nor the fact that it’s impossibly difficult for Asian Americans to get beyond the limitations of top institutions with increasingly high percentages of Asian American students.

“Schools just don’t want to go beyond 30-40 percent Asian,” said Gong. “It’s true for private schools like Harvard or even public schools like UC Berkeley. But think what kind of student body you can have with all those Asian American rejects.”

That’s when the light went off in Gong’s head.

“I never forgot when I was rejected from Harvard, I got a scholarship to attend Lincoln University in Pennsylvania,” Gong said. He didn’t realize it was a historically black school at the time, but applied because his immigrant father would only let him go to a school named after the family hero.

One has to wonder why mainstream black music, once rich with R&B that promoted love, tenderness and substance, now includes one of two types of songs: vapid pop numbers by artists who sound more like robots than real people, and commercial rap tracks that glorify violence, materialism and misogyny. It’s hard not to conclude that this shift in style, one that minimized music of positivity and substance, was orchestrated by record label and radio executives in an effort to re-shape the sound of black music, and perhaps the perception of black people.

So Timberlake’s success, while well-deserved, inherently speaks to the limitations and pressures placed on black artists in comparison to the artistic freedom granted to white artists. It forces us to question whether Timberlake, if he was black, would be given the latitude to explore pop, funk, rock, soul and R&B, all while blending retro elements with futuristic sounds, or if he would be pressured by label bosses to conform to the same watered-down, generic pop standard so many one-time R&B artists now call home because “that’s what listeners want.”

On what he has risked by coming out. A lot. I miss being private.

On being more closely identified with Latinos than Filipinos. I really am grateful that my name is Jose Antonio Vargas. I could have been named something like…I have family members whose last name is Batuyong. That’s very Filipino. But my name is very Hispanic, Latino. The Filipino community was like is he not proud of being Filipino? I got a lot of that. I am adobo- cooking, TFC-watching, Sharon Cuneta-Vilma Santos listening (Filipino). I’m as Filipino as they come. I speak Tagalog fluently. I understand Sambal, which is the dialect of Zambales where my grandparents come from. So if you think I’m not Filipino that’s your problem. That’s not my problem.

It was here that a group of Indian activists aired their grievances against the government with a forcefultakeover in 1973 that resulted in protests, a bloody standoff with federal agents and deep divisions among the Indian people.

And now the massacre site, which passed into non-Indian hands generations ago, is up for sale, once again dragging Wounded Knee to the center of the Indian people’s bitter struggle against perceived injustice — as well as sowing rifts within the tribe over whether it would be proper, should the tribe get the land, to develop it in a way that brings some money to the destitute region.

James A. Czywczynski of Rapid City is asking $3.9 million for the 40-acre plot he owns here, far more than the $7,000 that the deeply impoverished Oglala Sioux say the land is worth. Mr. Czywczynski insists that his price fairly accounts for the land’s sentimental and historical value, an attitude that the people here see as disrespect.

“That historical value means something to us, not him,” said Garfield Steele, a member of the tribal council who represents Wounded Knee. “We see that greed around here all the time with non-Indians. To me, you can’t put a price on the lives that were taken there.”

Speaking on HuffPostLive, Martin–who was recently let go by CNN–said that he had come to the network with every intention of getting his own show. He added that it was never made clear to him why that wasn’t happening, but that he suspected race had something to do with it.

“You have largely white male executives who are not necessarily enamored with the idea of having strong, confident minorities who say, ‘I can do this,’” he said. “We deliver, but we never get the big piece, the larger salary, to be able to get from here to there.”

Martin said that he hosted highly-rated specials for CNN, so he didn’t understand why he wasn’t rewarded.

“If it’s a ratings game, and we won, how is it I never got a show?” he said.

An Uncomfortable Silence: Why Is Geek Media Keeping Quiet About The AKIRA Remake?

By Arturo R. García

In the post-Airbender era, it’s more important than ever to talk about questionable casting decisions, and outright white-washings like the Akira remake is shaping up to be.

But it’s also important to keep an eye on who’s not talking about it.

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Monday Morning Music Video Thread: Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake and Wayne Brady

By Arturo R. García

Just because you enjoy something doesn’t mean you’re able to do it. Example: I’m an NCAA basketball fan. Doesn’t mean I’m qualified to run the point at Cameron Indoor Stadium anytime soon.

By that same token, though I’m willing to believe that Jimmy Fallon sincerely enjoys hip-hop, well, somebody should’ve stepped in before this Late Night With Jimmy Fallon sketch made air:

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The Race™-Approved White Guys [Humor]

By Sexual Correspondent AJ Plaid and Guest Contibutor (and regular commenter) Fiqah
robin and rihanna

After re-reading some of the responses to the Ciara/Justin Timberlake post and extensively confabbing over brunches about it, we finally figured out that the greatest transgression Ciara committed wasn’t the BDSM imagery (though some wanted to switch the argument from that to “this is just racist!” or otherwise dodge-the-discomfort comments and conversations) or that she and her gurls were doing their private dance for a white guy.  It was the white guy himself.

Then we did a bit of snooping. Thanks to our gal-pal in the sex & relationship scene, Twanna Hines of Funky Brown Chick, we found an Essence listing of white guys who have paired with Black women.  We looked at the posts—and at each other—and decided that they didn’t go far enough.

Therefore, in an effort to make sure such a pop-culture faux-pas don’t happen again, we’ve composed a list of white guys who are deemed The Race™-sanctioned—any Black female performer can be seen with these white performers and know she’s doing right by Us™. Our criteria:

  1. We know they’ve dated, are dating, are married to, have and/or have babies by Black women. (Having Black or Black biracial daughters, adopted or biological, is an added bonus. ‘Cause, as some of us wanna believe, if the white guy can touch/sex up/adopt/father a sistah, they can not possibly be…well, you know the rhetoric.)
  2. They can actually have performing-arts skills. (This leaves out Kevin “K-Fed” Federline.)
  3. They’re famous in their own right. (This kinda sorta leaves out Gabriel Aubry. Some early men-watchers know him as a model. But many more know him for siring Halle Berry’s baby. If you don’t believe us, say Aubry’s name and “model.” Then say Aubry’s name and “Halle Berry’s baby’s daddy.” Record the results.)
  4. We get the 6th Sense* that they’ve been with sistahs but aren’t talking about it.
  5. We sistahs have sensed the sexual tension between these dudes and the sistahs on-screen.
  6. They’re not Justin Timberlake.

So, in some sort of brunch drink-induced order, and with some of the sexiest snaps we can find on Google (oh yeah, the numbers correspond to the criterion/a we believe these guys fit. We assumed points 2, 3, and 6 for all of them):

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Relationship or Rorschach Test? Interracial Relationships and Societal Self-Projecting

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Wendi Muse

In a recent discussion about the content of Ciara’s video “Love, Sex, Magic,” in which the songstress collaborated with Justin Timberlake, many readers commented that the video itself served as a classic example of race baiting via sex and sexuality on the small screen. The video demonstrated what some considered a clear example of exotification and sexual exploitation of black women for the fodder of a white male audience. And again, in recent weeks, came the criticism of comments made by Kate, of the TLC show about adventures in parenting Jon and Kate Plus 8, who declared her attraction to, and arguably, fetishization (in the connotative sense) of Asian and Asian-American men.

These accounts garnered considerable attention from tv audiences, gossip column connoisseurs, and critical race theorist alike. Yet despite the aforementioned controversy, few considered the experiences of the interracial couples “on the ground.” In many instances, interracial relationships exist as some conversation piece or pivotal point for people who talk about race, but there is little attention paid to the simple fact that, like any other relationship, interracial relationships deserve the respect and courtesy of same-race relationships, respect in this sense meaning the right to exist sans accusations of racial essentialism and an excessive amount of societal self-projecting solely on the basis of the relationship being interracial.

In simply beginning an interracial relationship in the United States, one often suffers a considerable amount of social pressure, be it from family members, friends, or co-workers. When the presence of an interracial relationship is noted, its very existence at times solicits a barrage of questions in the minds of onlookers, one firing after the other. The questions range from the simple, “how did they meet?” to the complex, “do they really love each other or are they just together because they wish to rebel against social norms?” to the intrusive, “how is the sex?” Some of these questions are customary when considering any relationship, yet with interracial relationships, there seems to be an exceptional increase in curiosity, one that certainly rivals that of intraracial pairings.

And while there are plenty of unuttered questions, there is an equal, if not greater, number of unspoken answers, guesses and assumptions as to the many aspects of the relationship. In relation to interracial couples, the participants are rarely given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their reasons for being together in the first place, at least not in the same way as intraracial couples. For example, if one were to date someone of the same racial background, the issue of essentialism, the idea that one has chosen his or her partner solely on the basis of race and the characteristics one attributes to said race, is rarely considered. Thus we have the double standard. People of the same race could very well be dating each other for calculated reasons, one of them being race, yet this is rarely considered and applied to such couples. Only interracial couples fall victim to such assumptions.

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Your Sex Acts–And Partners–Aren’t Uplifting the Race

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea Plaid

My gurl S., who followed the Justin Timberlake/Ciara post and thread very closely, just about fell out while we talked on the phone.

She was apoplectic over Timberlake pulling Ciara’s chain in the video, of that salient image of BDSM (and possible race play) as well as the article about race play I linked to in the comment thread. Too through, she told me she “had to get up from the computer when I read about race play.” “I mean, I knew about it, but I never read about it in detail. I just can’t believe it!!”

“I know,” I told S. “I know.” ‘Cause I’ve heard this reaction to race play before. Talking to another blogger, she flipped out pretty bad about it. I had to calm her down by saying, ‘I feel you. Personally, I think of race play and, yeah, I feel the body memories of slavery, too. And, yeah, I even felt a negative undercurrent in Hernandez’s piece, one of ‘This isn’t uplifting The Race!’ But, S., I’ll tell you what I told the blogger: the reality is–whether we like it or not–people are into it.”

“And, I added, “you can’t flip out about race play [with the Racial Uplift] argument because some folks can use the same argument about your liking anal beads: ‘The slavemasters–and white men–have stuck all kinds of objects into us to violate us. Why would you want to do something like that? That’s not uplifting the race!’”

S. got quiet. “Yeah, you’re right.”

Unfortunately, this argument gets whipped out among people of color when a PoC steps out of sexual line of “acceptable” sex practices and partners, especially in a public space, like Ciara did in her “Love Sex Magic” video. On the thread from the other day, she gets “read” as a slut corrupting the youth or a victim of the patriarchy or both. Some of the comments:

“Ciara is clearly desperate…her albums aren’t selling like the execs thought they would…in sense she is a slave…so the video is perfect fit.”

“The video is way sexualized to a point that’s unnecessary…My issue is with the fact that Ciara chose to go so far that she came off as tacky.”

“I don’t know that I’ve witnessed this much (grand plié in 2nd position) crotch, thigh waving and close-up butt rumbling by non-brown bodies in a music videos of late…She is dancing around and below him, she is an armrest for him, she is performing for him (and us – not an essentially bad thing, but a thing I’m keeping in mind) . . .”

“Ciara tends to be very sexualized in general. Did anyone see her performance with Chris Brown at the BET awards? This is how she markets herself…But I feel Ciara’s video is too sexual, and I blame that all on her. We need to start making women accountable in these situations.”

“I think the portrayal of Black women in general, rather a Black rapper or rip-off artist like Justin Timberlake, is discraceful no matter who does it. We have girls and boys, Black, white, latino, asian, in middle school watching this crap, and thinking this is how men and women act, and women should have to get half naked to get status while boys have to be immature, crass, and disrespectful, its alienating to the self and destroys creativity. What ever happened to convincing and natural sexuality?” Continue reading

Soulbounce Asks “How Can Justin Timberlake Still Objectify Black Women And Get Away With It?”

by Latoya Peterson

Reader Crash Happy tipped me to this provocative article published on SoulBounce, asking “How Can Justin Timberlake Still Objectify Black Women and Get Away with It?

Contributing editor Ro writes:

Someone please explain why Justin Timberlake continually gets a pass to fetishize and exploit the image of Black women. Right now. Because after watching him aggressively pulling on a chain wrapped around Ciara’s neck only to later use her bending body as a leaning post in her new video for “Love Sex Magic,” it’s getting ludicrously difficult to understand.

It been years since “Nipplegate” after which he distanced himself from Janet Jackson, cowardly allowing her to endure the overly harsh criticism alone. The outcry against his actions from those of us in the indignant minority was quickly overshadowed by an increase in album sales, multiple music awards and an increase in his Pop stardom miming Black music and culture. Instead of subjecting his next project with trepidation–let alone dismissal–nearly every “urban” club, radio station and music channel on the planet had the masses bumping to a song with a hook that’s about shackles, whipping and slavery.

From behind a wry smile and with his hair faded he actually tarnished a reigning, Black Pop star’s image arguably beyond repair by exposing her breast on national television and then built his street cred further by bringing sexy back, Middle Passage style. He’s transitioned from the post-racialist’s pop culture dream of somewhat harmlessly lusting after beautiful Black love interest in the video for “Like I Love You” into something more sinister. He uses the scapegoat of S&M edginess in which he is the aggressor, the dominant force, to subordinate his object of desire when she is Black.

Ro goes on to argue that while both Ciara and Janet Jackson chose to collaborate with Timberlake, “that just makes his ability to exploit their collaborations to the point that they are subjugated to his dominance, wittingly or not, more protestable.”

The comments over at SoulBounce were as provocative and engaging as the post. Here are a few of the choice ones:

You talk about JT “miming Black music and culture,” but until we get away from this insular view of racial ownership of culture (and a type of music) we will never be an integrated society. By making him out to be an imposter because he borrows from hip-hop and collaborates with black women (although his last popular single was with Madonna), aren’t you singling him out soley for the color of his skin and not the content of his musical product? That seems like precisely the kind of thing we are trying to get away from as a country.
Luce | March 25, 2009 5:02 PM | Permalink

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