Monday, January 03, 2005

Kudos to Essence magazine ...

Stanley Crouch: "At last, women lash out at hip hop's abuses"

Stanley Crouch, the NY Daily News' music and cultural critic, focuses on the campaign Essence is fighting Hip Hop's continued degradation of women, and the effect gangsta and pimp-centered rap has had on the self-image of young black women and girls. The campaign, as Crouch in no way exagerates, "could have monumental cultural significance", and it is unfortunate that Essence, in a period where more mainstream magazines than ever before are catering to affluent black men and women, appears to be waging this campaign alone.

The magazine is the first powerful presence in the black media with the courage to examine the cultural pollution that is too often excused because of the wealth it brings to knuckleheads and amoral executives.

This anything-goes-if-sells attitude comes at a cost. The elevation of pimps and pimp attitudes creates a sadomasochistic relationship with female fans. They support a popular idiom that consistently showers them with contempt. We are in a crisis, and Essence knows it.

When asked how the magazine decided to take a stand, the editor, Diane Weathers said, "We started looking at the media war on young girls, the hypersexualization that keeps pushing them in sexual directions at younger and younger ages."

I enjoy a lot of Hip Hope music, but I hate the videos. Same old bimbos in thong bikins peeling grapes for low-life thugs. Outkast has moved further away from these images in video, but Andre 3000's CD artwork (as well as his lyrics) can pretty erotic. But misogynistsic? No way.

Their stance is a far cry from much of gansta rap, and it would serve Hip Hop well to dissociate itself from those who would produce the likes of "Bitch Better Have My Money" and "I'm Gonna Beat That Bitch with a Bat".

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