Tag Archives: Madonna

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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!

Five of cultural appropriation’s greatest hits

Miley Cyrus neither invented twerking nor cultural appropriation in music. What follows is a crowd-sourced list of some “great” moments in musical cultural appropriation.

“Vogue,” Madonna

Said one contributor to this list, “[Madonna] owes her whole career to appropriation, POC props and GLBT props, too…The idea that people associate her with vogueing is pretty much the textbook definition of appropriation of marginalized cultures, gay and black.”

 

“Waiting on a Friend,” The Rolling Stones

You know what makes New York City look extra gritty? Black people. You know you’ve hit the big time when you can get reggae legend Peter Tosh to serve as a random black extra hanging on a stoop.

 

“Luxurious,” Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani is the patron saint of icky cultural appropriation since that time she tried to keep a posse of Japanese women as pets. Here she kicks it Cali-style with her best Latino friends.

This fuckery committed with her bandmates in No Doubt cannot go unmentioned.

 

“Save a Prayer,” Duran Duran

I was a “Nick girl” back in the mid-80s when every self-respecting teenage girl was a Duranie. It failed to occur to me then how often the band illustrating their jet set coolness by frolicking in front of exotic flora, fauna and, y’know, brown people.

 

“We Can’t Stop,” Miley Cyrus

Would that we could stop this hot mess. If you haven’t read Tressie McMillan Cottom’s piece on the black female bodies Cyrus chose to foreground her whiteness. Do it. Now.

The Friday MiniTape – 3.16.12 Edition

Longtime readers might recall Jane Lui appearing in our San Diego Comic-Con preview last year prior to her playing Penny in the (very well-done) stage adaptation of Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Well, we’re happy to report she’s still doing her thing: not only can you buy her original tracks on her website, but she’s coming off a show at Boston College last night, and is still sharing covers on her YouTube channel, including what she calls an “unrequited love mash-up” of two Madonna tunes, “Crazy For You” and “Rain”:

Meanwhile, let’s check in on one of the acts Thanu Yakupitiyage name-checked in her analysis of MIA’s “Bad Girls” video from earlier this month. In just two years, Shadia Mansour has performed alongside the likes of Q-Tip, EPMD and won the endorsement of Public Enemy frontman Chuck D. You can see what the fuss is about for the British-born Palestinian on her single “Kofeyye Arabeyye (The Keffiyeh Is Arab),” with a NSFW (lyrics) cameo by M-1 of Dead Prez.

Finally, we’re gonna step back into the ’90s just for a bit, with a criminally underrated track from Living Colour. The group has experienced a bit of a resurgence of late, following pro wrestler C.M. Punk’s adoption of the band’s biggest hit, “Cult of Personality,” as his theme song. But it’s hard not to listen to “Type,” from LC’s third album, Stain – which was released 19 years ago this month – and not feel it especially hit home in today’s times. Everything is possible, but nothing is real, indeed …

White (Wo)Man’s Burden: Madonna, Malawi, & Celebrity Activism [Original Cut]

by Latoya Peterson, published at Jezebel.com

On Monday, Madonna broke ground on a new school project in Malawi; today, she takes to the Huffington Post to ask for donations. Her megawatt star power helped engage media attention – but are high profile celebrities actually hurting progress?

In the new issue of Arise, reporter Hannah Pool examines the idea that “all Africa ha[s] to offer the world was begging bowl.” The article, titled “Good Will Hunting” starts off with a bang:

“When high profile celebrities get shown visiting disadvantaged areas in Africa and those images get beamed out to the rest of the world, I believe they almost do more damage than good,” says Moky Makura, Nigerian-born, Johannesburg-based author, M-Net presenter and founder of the Africa our Africa blog. “We don’t want to keep reinforcing the image of a helpless continent. We will only eradicate our problems when we build economies based on commerce, not charity. To do this, Africa needs to be seen as an investment destination or trading partner, not as a charity case.

Pool then delves into the conundrum that faces many activists on the African continent – if many people are embracing the idea of “trade not aid” as a way to push forward development, who benefits from this “charitainment?” Pool elaborates:

The merging of charity and entertainment – or, as Time magazine called it, charitainment – has led to some damaging consequences. Celebrities (and their agents) have realised that being seen to care about Africa brings instant cool. About 25 years after Live Aid, A-list celebrities are forever falling out of the pages of magazines such as Hello! or OK!, tearfully waxing lyrical about how spending five minutes in an African orphanage changed their whole view on life. And thanks to Madonna and Angelina Jolie, some Western media appear to be under the impression that the best way to empty Africa’s orphanages is not the eradication of poverty but mass adoption by wealthy pop stars. Continue reading

Madonna wants to adopt a girl from Malawi

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

madonna malawi girlOh come on. She needs to “redress the balance?” From The New York Post:

“Yes, absolutely. I’m going to adopt another Malawian child very quickly. A baby girl this time, in order to redress the balance,” the 48-year-old singer-turned-Angelina Jolie wannabe told Paris Match.

She said her two other children, Lourdes and Rocco, would be given a “choice” in selecting their new sister like picking candy off a store shelf.

But she first wanted them to get used to their new baby brother, 13-month-old David Banda, whom Madonna is in the process of adopting.

Madonna, Africa, adoption, and the white man’s burden

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Before I get started with this post, a few clarifications. First, I don’t think that Madonna is the evil, attention-hungry, Angelina-copycat that others are making her out to be. I’m sure she was guided by the best of intentions when it came to this adoption. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t buy into essentialist notions about blacks, whether she realizes it or not.

Second, we have no way of knowing exactly what transpired during this process. Was she really led to believe that David’s father’s whereabouts were unknown? Is it true that his father never visited David at the orphanage? Was David’s father misled into believing this was not a permanent adoption? We’ll just never know, and it’s best not to make assumptions about any of the facts.

Third, I do not oppose international adoption and no, I wouldn’t prefer to leave the orphans to die. But are those ever really the only two options?

Okay, with that out of the way…

I was struck by how many times Madonna used the phrases “I will give him a life” or “he didn’t have a life” when referring to her adopted Malawian child, David, during her interview with Oprah on Wednesday.

And I think this gets at one of the main problems I have with the way international adoption is discussed in this country. There’s always this unspoken, underlying assumption that:

  • keeping the child in the home country = no life or a bad life
  • bringing the child to “the West” = a good life

The situation in Malawi is dire, yes. But discussions about international adoption always make it seem as if every single child who doesn’t get adopted by an American family — no matter what country the child is in — is going to die. Like, right now. But that’s just not always the case.

Also, we really need to question the assumption that the benefits of international adoption will always outweigh the negative repercussions. I encourage you to read this post of Ji In’s at Twice the Rice, in which she writes that “there is irreparable pain and there are primal wounds inherent in adoption that no privileged upbringing can erase.”

Can a better standard of living, healthcare, education and loving adoptive parents ever make up for what is lost when a child is removed from his or her country and culture? Shouldn’t every effort be made to try and keep families together? Shouldn’t adoption be a final resort? I don’t pretend to have the answers to those questions, but I’m disappointed that the questions are rarely, if ever, even asked.

If a country is experiencing such extreme poverty that it cannot adequately care for its children or orphans, is international adoption the best solution? Or the only solution? If, like Madonna was, you are so moved by a country’s troubles that you feel compelled to do something to help, are there other things you can do? Things that could actually help solve some of the underlying, fundamental problems that have led to this dire situation in the first place? Those questions are never asked either.

I was surprised that Madonna so willingly and unquestioningly accepted the orphanage’s claim that no family member — not even the father — had ever visited David since his arrival at 2 weeks old. Not only did she fully believe it, but she immediately assumed that it meant that “no one was looking after David’s welfare.”And during the entire interview, she didn’t once acknowledge the fact that David’s father might have kept custody of his son, had he had the resources. Her focus was on his apparent gratitude to her: “Thank you for giving my son a life.”

This lack of acknowledgement of a father’s loss reminded me of the old slavery-era essentialist notions about blacks that were created to justify oppression. Black people were characterized as subhuman and bestial. That meant that the notions of democracy and freedom this country was founded on didn’t really apply to them. Black men were said to not love their wives and children the way white men did, therefore it was perfectly okay to split up families and sell them off to different plantations.

Could a similar essentialist/white supremacist notion be at play here? Does Madonna believe that David’s father couldn’t possibly love David the way she can? That the affection and parental relationship she can offer is inherently superior to his? Continue reading