Tonight, freed temporarily from problem set deadlines, I went to a screening of “Beyond Beats and Rhythms“, a new documentary about masculinity in hip-hop culture. It was really well done and has many interesting insights even if you are already fairly media-literate–get your hands on it if you can!
I won’t summarize the movie since the website and extensive media coverage have done plenty of that. Instead, here’s a list of my thoughts.
1) The film explains in great detail the necessity of hypermasculinity in Black/Latino communities due to poverty and continued discrimination, but how does the masculinity issue take shape in Asian-American communities? On one hand, Asian kids don’t grow up surrounded by images of hypermasculine Asian males (indeed, even the traditional “masculine” Asian man with his poetic prowess, eye for aesthetics, and sensitivity would be considered soft by American culture). On the other hand, the constant notion that they are not masculine enough DUE to their Asian-ness in a culture that values masculinity seems to push many of them to go out of their way to prove it, a drive perhaps manifested in many 2nd generation Asian-Americans’ fascination with hip-hop culture. It would be interesting to analyze the differences, similarities, crossovers, and different ramifications in the communities.
1.5) I wonder if Asian communities, finding difficulty in hypermasculinize their men, turn instead to hyperfeminizing the women to compensate.
2) If I end up going to Jamaica, I should bring a copy of this film with me. I think it’d be really fascinating to hear what inmates in Kingston would have to say about it.
3) The film emphasized many times that rappers who try to portray a less stereotypical message simply don’t get airplay. Will this change with the whole internet revolution thing? If not, will it be because of the digital divide? And if not, then how DO we fix it?
4) It’s so amazingly ironic that corporations run by white businessmen control black culture. Reminds me of the image of a master telling the slaves to whip the other slaves, but at a much more insidious level. Eeek.
Yeah. So interesting.