Nicki Minaj: Superbass or Super-culturally-inapropriate?

Orientalism is the depiction of aspects of Asian cultures through Western imitation or expression. It was derived from a prejudice interpretation of Asian culture, as European people saw their culture as exotic and unusual. Orientalism can be strongly abused and broadcasted on a large scale by people that have heavy influence in society.

Nicki Minaj, an unusual suspect of enacting orientalism (in my opinion), insults the Asian culture in her song, “Your Love”. In the music video for the song, Nicki alters her usual appearance to exhibit Asian influence. She dresses in silk clothing (also wears a Japanese geisha), slants her eyes using makeup, and puts chopsticks in her hair in addition to several other Asian “imitations”. Her attempt at embodying the Asian culture is extremely limited and false, and she takes away from the true diversity and complexity of this culture.

One of the lines of her song states, “Anyway I think I met him in the sky / When I was a geisha he was a samurai / Somehow I understood him when he spoke Thai / Never spoke lies and he never broke fly”. My interpreation of these lyrics are that the relationship between a geisha and a samurai is glamorized and falsified. She is using the idea of an “exotic” relationship to add to her song, and through that idealizing the concept of having a “foreign lover”. She also states that the Samurai spoke Thai, yet Samurai’s are a part of the Japanese culture.

In my eyes, she is mushing multiple Asian cultures together throughout the song, failing to give recognition to the beauty of each individual culture.

Celebrate Everyday Like A Birthday

For one of my posts, I decided to analyze one of my favorite songs, “Sky Walker” by Miguel and featuring Travis Scott. To me, the overall purpose of the song is to show that although you may not be in control of what happens to you in life, you ARE in control of how you let things affect you and you have the ability to grow from pain instead of letting it set you back.

The opening line of the song, “Quick to dead the bull like a matador”, is repeated many times and I think it is one of the most important lines in the song. I believe that Miguel is trying to say that whatever problems or hardships you may come across, it is better to face them head on and deal with them instead of compartmentalizing them, which only hurts you more later in life. You have the power to break out of bad habits and let go of negatives that are only bringing you down.

One of the next lines, “Don’t sleep you gotta stay up”, is talking about paying attention. Paying attention to the people around, your surroundings, and living in the moment of your experiences. It also means paying attention to yourself, and staying true to your own morals and beliefs throughout any craziness you may face in life.

He then says, “I’m outstanding so I stand out”. This might be a little bit cheesy, but I think the message is to show the power of your own confidence. We are constantly told to be confident and release our insecurities, but then insulted when we love ourselves “too much” or compliment any part of ourselves. I think Miguel is trying to say that it’s GREAT to be proud of yourself and you should always recognize your own value and worth.

In the chorus of the song, he states “I’m Luke Skywalkin’ on these haters”, maybe a little corny, but I think it carries a much deeper meaning. Luke Skywalker is the “chosen one” and carries a tremendous amount of strength and perseverance. In a world where one can be a “hater” by simply typing something negative on their phone, it’s important to rise above and thrive despite the hate.

He ends the song by stating, “First you put the work in til it works out / Work it out til it’s turnt out”. I think this line is really powerful and an excellent conclusion to the song because he is saying that you need to work hard and give your all, and eventually you will get a positive return.

Be kind!

As defined by Aristotle, a comedy is the story of the rise in fortune of a sympathetic central character. 

Cady Heron, the “central character”, or protagonist, is a classic example of a comic hero. She isn’t necessarily the most liked person by other characters in the movie or by viewers, but she does display a “minimal level of personal charm” and sometimes sparks sympathy from the viewer. Cady moved to the Illinois suburbs after living and being educated in Africa for many years. She starts to attend high school and faces all the typical stereotypes of high schoolers, including facing some very mean girls. The characters that embody the basic high schooler stereotypes (jocks, nerds, popular kids, etc.) are “ordinary people ” at heart, or at least that’s what the director aimed for them to be. Although these characters might have some relatable qualities, I have never met anyone who is outrageous and obnoxious as most of the characters in this movie.  These ordinary people allow the viewer to compare and contrast the actions/words of the main characters and see them in a different light.

In my opinion, Mean Girls touches on multiple different types of comedy, including farce, romantic comedy, and satirical comedy. I think that, in some sense, this movie is making fun of the ridiculous stereotypes that high schoolers feed into and how popularity is shown to be so much better than it actually is. The movie also has a romantic aspect of it, as Cady has a big crush on Aaron Samuels, one of the most handsome, popular guys at the school. Even though I have watched this movie hundreds of times (probably) and can recite all of the lines, I never truly understood that Mark Waters (the director) was trying to prove a point about human nature. Waters is using exaggerated versions of normal teenagers to show that being mean and feeding into stereotypes and materialism gets you NOWHERE, and kindness can go such a long way.

When I took a deeper look into analyzing this film, everything became clear. This movie, although funny and entertaining, wasn’t only made for pure enjoyment or humor, it was made to show that our generation is getting quite ridiculous in terms of social expectations and actions. If everyone chose kindness instead of cruelty and backstabbing in the movie then all of the characters would have gone a lot farther and achieved a lot more (yes, I know it’s necessary for the plot).

The Horrific Brilliance of Get Out

Get Out, directed by Jordan Peele, is a Mystery/Thriller movie that was released in 2017. As a realistic thriller fan, I had been looking forward to seeing this movie as soon as the first few trailers started coming out (practically a year before the actual movie was released). You can click this video: to see one of the many examples of satire shown throughout the movie. 

I would definitely classify this movie as more of a “horror parody”. Although I didn’t necessarily realize all of the examples of satire and irony in the film while I was watching it, all of the scenes and their true meaning started to make sense to me after I had watched the whole film. Even now, almost three years after I originally saw the movie, I still read articles and watch videos about the true meaning and hidden messages behind certain scenes in the film. One of the most shown examples of satire woven throughout the movie is the idea of “liberal racism”, i.e. the white family members talking about how much they love black people and their “genetic makeup” to the point that it objectifies them and unravels to show racism at its purest form. The wealthy white characters are so obsessed with Chris (main character, black boyfriend to a white girl) and the way he looks and acts that it almost comes off as disrespectful and most definitely intrusive. 

Another example of satire is the concept of racism and its relationship with police. When Rose (Chris’s girlfriend) is pulled over, the police officer asks for Chris’s ID, even though he was just a passenger in the car. Rose then flips out on the officer, asking him why he would ever need to see the passengers ID, which contributes to her characterization as someone trying so hard not to show their racism that it backfires. Jordan Poole is depicting a scene of racism and exaggerating it to show just how ridiculous some of the situations black people find themselves in due to facing a bias/stereotype truly are, especially with the police. 

Jordan Poole, in my opinion, does a truly outstanding job in showing all of the examples of racism that people look past in society. This movie definitely helped me to better understand the world around me, and I hope it did that for others as well. 

The College Dropout & His Poetic Alter-Ego

All Falls Down, written and produced by Kanye West, was the third single off Kanye’s 2004 album, The College Dropout. You can find the lyrics to the song right here.

All Falls Down was Kanye’s attempt at poking fun at the concepts of materialism and consumerism, and he did exactly that. Not only is Kanye mocking the world’s obsession with designer items and luxurious-looking lives, but he is recognizing his own struggle with materialism and how he has dealt with it. Alternatively, this song represents Kanye’s view of a flawed society and how a higher education may receive more hype than it deserves. When Kanye raps “Man I promise, she’s so self conscious — she has no idea what she’s doing in college”, he’s self-reflecting his own issue of self-consciousness and insecurities. This piece of multi-dimensional language serves to show his inner battle with materialism, but it also shows the consequences of straying away from what society might expect or want from an individual (college, or a higher education).

The hook of the song, “Oh when it all, it all falls down — I’m telling you oh, it all falls down”, encourages the reader to visualize a life without material possessions. The idea of everything “falling down” is repeated many times and weaved throughout the song, displaying the importance of finding meaning in your life behind the walls of materialism. When Kanye states “It seems we living the American dream — But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem”, his lyrics are representative of the meaninglessness of being the “highest up”, or the most successful and/or rich, when compared to the value of self-security and non-material pleasures in life. Throughout the song, Kanye uses imagery to depict the struggle of a young woman dealing with the thought of going to college and being materialistic, but what he is really showing is his own insecurities and hopes of society being a different way.

Trauma & Emotion

Throughout elementary and middle school, I was only told about the life of slaves who died as a slave, and the work that Harriet Tubman did with the Underground Railroad. That’s it. The worst part is, I didn’t even think about the fact that there are so many other sides and points of view of slavery besides those two. Beloved shed light on an embarrassingly new area for me, telling the story of a slave who escaped and began her life outside the confinement of slavery.

Even though Sethe in Beloved did end up escaping and gave birth to her child, her story falls nothing short of traumatic. Toni Morrison uses an array of symbols and motifs to reflect the past in the current, real life of Sethe. I believe that both the ghost and reincarnated (?) form of Beloved is the biggest symbol of all, as she is a real figure that triggers memories and scenes from Sethe’s past. I also believe that one of the biggest takeaways Toni Morrison would want her readers to gain is the true effect and aftermath of living life after being a slave, a life that most people nowadays would ever even be able to imagine. She shows the differing emotional impact this traumatic life had through many characters, but especially highlights the difference between Paul D and Sethe, as they shared a similar experience. Paul D compresses his feelings and they eat away at him. He feels that his role is to be strong and someone to lean on, which includes sacrificing his own needs in the process. Sethe has strong emotions and shows many of her flashback memories to the reader, she is clearly facing serious emotional damage which will stay with her for the rest of her life.

“Trust” vs. The Stranger

“Trust” is a movie revolving around absurdity and a dialogue that strays away from the norm. Although I gathered that The Stranger is a work of literature that also shows the theme of absurdity and randomness, “Trust” is different.

In The Stranger, Meursault says things and does things purely for the reason of it making sense in that particular situation. In “Trust”, Maria proves to be a very strong-headed, confrontational young woman who speaks her mind and goes for what she wants, exactly when she wants it. This characterization is hugely different than that of Meursault. Maria, although young, seems to be ahead of her time and very mature. Starting in the very beginning of the film, she is faced with a pregnancy and left to deal with this issue without much assistance. The fact that the movie begins this way helps to develop Maria’s characterization and the characterization of others in the film by contrasting them with Maria.

The absurdity found in “Trust” is partly due to the circumstances that the characters find themselves in. For example, in society today, I don’t think that the average person would invite a teenage girl whom they found in an abandoned area, and who just finished an entire 6 pack of beer, into their home to spend the night. Although this movie came out 30 years ago and times are slightly different now, this is absurd to me and many events before and after this show the absurdity portrayed in the film.

A Life of Social Construct & The Stranger

The overlying theme of existentialism is prominent and vivid throughout the novel The Stranger, yet it is also prominent in the lives of everyone in society. Although it’s a hard pill to swallow, especially for me, I realized that my life is made up entirely of systems of power and a series of social constructs which define my everyday life and every single relationship that I have ever had.

During the initial lecture on existentialism, I was in denial and I couldn’t accept that everything that truly mattered to me and added “meaning” to my life are all just constructs and illusions that are deeply rooted in my individual self and in everyone around me. I recognize that no matter how rich, successful, famous, or happy you are, EVERYONE goes through immense pain and suffering throughout their entire lives. I would like to think that I can find meaning in those things that make me happy in addition to things that have caused me pain and have caused me to suffer.

Learning about this theory/concept definitely made me see things from a new perspective, but I wouldn’t say that it necessarily diminished the meaning that I find from different aspects of my life or the things that are most important to me. Although love may be a construct of my imagination, as well as friendship, education, etc., I don’t know what or where I would be without them. I feel as though, as humans, we find comfort in these constructs and add structure to our lives.

Interdependence & Power Dynamics in “Bloodchild”

Following my initial reading of the story “Bloodchild”, I was shocked, and couldn’t quite wrap my head around the true “point”, or a true theme, within the story. I noted the peculiarity of the concept of a male pregnancy, and the power dynamic between the Tlic and the Terrans.

Interdependence was one of the biggest underlying themes that I took away from this story. The general interactions between the Tlic and the Terrans, as well as the dependence of the Tlic depending on the Terrans for hosting their spawns and the Terrans depending on the Tlic for governance and nutrients and extended longevity from Tlic eggs, all contribute to the interdependent society that they live in. Although some may argue that the Tlic are abusing their power and are harmfully using the Terrans to host their young, there is no doubt that there are things given and taken from both parties.

Regarding the power dynamics within the story, the idea that the Tlic are indeed receiving more from the Terrans than they are giving is a concept worth exploring. Personally, I feel that you could make an argument for either side, as there are both pros and cons to their societal relationship. The image of a young boy, Bram Lomas, in a state of unconciousness and in immense pain, hurts the reputation of the Tlic and displays them in a harmful, negative light. Gan is then pressured to slaughter an animal, something he has never done before, in order to save a life that was not his responsibility to save. On the opposing side, the Terrans consume the eggs provided for them by the Tlic in order to receive luxeries such as longevity and a youthful appearance.

In summary, “Bloodchild” captures an interdependent society, whether it was truly equal or not. The varying power dynamics shown throughout the story contribute to characterization and display the interesting differences in this society versus the society we live in today.