JULIE

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Is Taylor Swift's New Video Racist?

Aug 28, 2014 -- 3:25pm

 

(washingtonpost.com)

On Monday, Taylor Swift, the artist formerly (slightly) known as country, released the video for “Shake It Off,” the first single from her forthcoming pop (!) album, “1989.” The backlash was instantaneous.

The video features Swift “dancing” alongside professional dancers from a number of genres. She stands at the barre with a group of Swan Lake ballerinas, jumps up and down among breakdancers, emotes in the middle of contemporary dancers and, at one point, crawls underneath a line of Daisy Dukes-wearing twerkers.

Rapper Earl Sweatshirt tweeted that the video was “inherently offensive and ultimately harmful” for its portrayals of black stereotypes — though Mr. Sweatshirt admitted that he hadn’t actually, you know, seen the video, which spawned a thousand think pieces wondering if the its inclusion of twerking was racist, innocent but misguided, or something else entirely.

As cubemates, the authors of this post have been debating the video irl over the past few days. Beth, an unabashed Taylor fan, takes issue with the video’s twerking scenes; Jess, an unabashed dance fan and Taylor tolerator, does not.

In an attempt to determine which of us is right (and to allow us to finally move on to a new topic of conversation, like, say, when and where Taylor Swift discovered the joy of horn sections), we’ve decided to finish the debate here:

Beth: Let me start by saying I don’t think there’s anything racist about the video. I don’t mind the hip-hop scene, which fits with Swift’s late-’80s theme. I’m also of the mindset that Taylor Swift rapping is kind of adorable (and as the Huffington Post points out, it’s nothing new). But I do find it shocking that apparently no one in Swift’s camp thought the twerking scenes were a bad idea.

There’s been an ongoing and interesting debate about white pop stars (Miley, Lily, Katy, Iggy et. al) and whether they’ve misappropriated black culture in their music videos or overall marketing strategies.

AdvertisementI think it comes off as pretty tone-deaf that Swift — probably the last person you’d expect to have a twerking scene in their music video — would resort to something that feels so cheap and overdone. At this point in the narrative, spinning it as satirical or ironic just feels lazy.

Jess: I had spent an entire morning playing the video on repeat and deciding that maybe I was going to become a Taylor Swift fan after all, so I was caught off-guard when you pointed out to me that it might be offensive. I agree that there’s been a lot of insensitivity going around when it comes to how black culture is portrayed in music videos, but to me, this video was a celebration of dance in all its forms, including twerking, which is a very popular form of dance at the moment.

She doesn’t just have twerkers — there are also ballerinas and contemporary dancers and some incredible waving and finger-tutting. I actually gasped out loud at the moment where the waver is doing his thing on screen. It’s highlighting the talent of all these amazing dancers (and also saying it’s okay if you can’t do any of that).

Beth: And I’ll admit that I hadn’t thought of it that way until you pointed it out — the dancers in the video are pretty incredible. But couldn’t she have illustrated the beauty of dance — and also the song’s relevant message that you should “do you” without worrying what the “haters” think — without putting in such charged images?

Jess: That is a really good question, and sort of the fundamental one that people have been trying to sort out over the past few days. Is what’s happening in Swift’s video a different use of this imagery than, for example, Miley Cyrus’s VMA performance?

AdvertisementFor me, the answer is yes. It’s a difference between using the twerking as a stand-in for black culture in general, with the dancers used as props to that end, and including it because it is a real skill to be appreciated.

Beth:I agree with you from a general standpoint — I do think that Miley’s use of twerking is particularly cringe-worthy. But Swift’s video went too far for me when she crawled through the legs of twerking dancers, looking like a bewildered Alice in Wonderland.

Jess: Going through the world’s worst rabbit hole. I’m with you on that being a bit of a cringe-worthy moment. Mostly because it takes what’s otherwise an incredibly innocent video and makes it a little sexual. Speaking of which, we can’t ignore the other video that’s come out this week that features some extremely sexualized twerking — Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda.” How did that video sit with you?

Beth: So, I’m not the biggest Nicki Minaj fan, though I do admire her voice acting. But I think we got exactly what we expected out of that “Anaconda” video — booty and bass and lots of it.

Jess: No kidding. The lyrics aren’t exactly subtle. (Although the lyric video for it included a “Mystery Science Theater 3000” reference that warmed my heart.) Minaj can absolutely carry off a video like this, where almost anyone else would have us up in arms about presenting an oversexualized image of women. At the same time, there were moments where the dancers literally were being used as props. The one where Minaj slaps at a dancer’s butt comes to mind.

AdvertisementBeth: And I won’t disagree with you there. I found the video kind of hard to watch. The NSFL label comes to mind. But I’d bet that all of her Barbies found it delightfully over-the-top.

And I liked this piece from Vulture, which focused on what writer Lindsay Zoladz referred to as the video’s “hallucinatory all-female universe” (Drake, notwithstanding). The video was very Nicki Minaj.

Jess: So Minaj’s twerking is really a girl power thing? I can get behind that.

Beth: Behind that, eh?

Jess: Nice. So, have we solved anything here? I’m not giving up my love for the “Shake It Off” video, but I do see where it could have been more aware of how the imagery it was incorporating would be perceived. And I’m happy to let Minaj do her thing, although I’m glad I’m not one of her backup dancers.

Beth: And I’ll download the song (which I think is a good one) and stay away from the video. But I think our healthy debate illustrates that there’s more than one way to look at a complicated issue like this.

Jess: And that, whatever your race or background, if you are given the option of crawling underneath a line of twerking women, you might want to think twice?

Beth: No crawling under twerkers. Like ever.

 

'Home Free' Nails Johnny Cash's Ring Of Fire -- Video

Aug 27, 2014 -- 3:38pm

 

I came across this band online and not only do I love this video but I love their voices. I thought South 93.5 listners would enjoy them too. I also included some information I found on the band Home Free, on their website, homefree.com. Check out the video and see what you think. I hope you love them as much as I do. Johnny Cash would love his! -- Julie Steele

(Homefree.com)

When country a cappella band Home Free was crowned Season 4 Champions of NBC's The Sing-Off this past December, their victory was by no means the beginnings of a career for the five country stars from Minnesota… rather it was a satisfying culmination of nearly a decade of hard work and commitment to a vocal craft growing in popularity.

Founded by brothers Chris and Adam Rupp during their college years in the early 2000s, Home Free had been perfecting their live show for years prior to The Sing-Off--performing together for crowds in countless State and County Fairs, on college campuses, in Fortune 500 companies, and in theaters all across the country. It was their experience on the road that carried them to a Sing-Off victory, swelling their fan base and bringing their homegrown country style into a national spotlight.

Home Free continues to entertain audiences with their high-energy show peppered with quick-witted humor that meshes Nashville standards with pop hits dipped in country flavor. This spring they continue their journey as they take part in the 32-city, 36-show Sing-Off Tour Live! on the heels of their Columbia Records debut release, Crazy Life, in stores February 18.
 

Miley Cyrus's homeless VMAs date wanted by police

Aug 27, 2014 -- 2:35pm

(theguardian.com)

Jesse Helt, the homeless man who accompanied Miley Cyrus to Sunday's MTV Video music awards, is wanted by police in Oregon police. Officers have an outstanding arrest warrant for the 22-year-old from 2011, alleging that he had violated the terms of his probation.

In 2010, Helt was reportedly arrested for breaking and entering the apartment of a man he believed had sold him bad marijuana. Salem police charged him with criminal mischief, criminal trespass and burglary; after pleading guilty to the first two charges, Helt was assigned a 30-day jail sentence and probation.

Some time thereafter, Helt stopped reporting to his probation officer. "He doesn't make himself available to community supervision, and he takes off," the director of Polk County's community corrections department told the Oregonian newspaper. Helt moved to Los Angeles, living on the streets and occasionally receiving help from the homelessness charity My Friend's Place. That's where he met Cyrus, during the pop star's visit on 19 August.

Inspired by Marlon Brando, who used a 1973 Oscar win to make a statement against Hollywood's exploitation of Native Americans, Cyrus asked Helt to attend the VMAs as her date. When she was announced as winner of video of the year, she sent Helt to make a speech in her stead: "My name is Jesse," he said. "I am accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now. I know, because I am one of those people."

"Jesse's had ups and downs like anybody else," his mother, Linda Helt, told the Daily Mail. "He's a good kid." She was reportedly visited on Tuesday by officers hoping to find her son; sheriff's detective John Williams told the family they were still looking for Jesse.

Miley Cyrus used Twitter to call on the public to stop "looking down upon the homeless". "People who are homeless have lived very hard lives. Jesse included," she wrote. "The media ... [have] chosen to go after Jesse instead of covering the issue of youth homelessness :(" Since Sunday, Cyrus's online campaign has raised more than $200,000 for My Friend's Place . "Now is just the beginning for me," she said in a statement. "We gotta start somewhere."

 

Grocery Store Pet Peeves

Aug 26, 2014 -- 3:14pm

(Sheethappensprep.com)

Grocery Store Pet Peeves

A new survey by Canstar Blue reveals that 62% of people say long checkout lines is their top grocery store pet peeve. Other findings:

Other top grocery store pet peeves:

sold-out items ... 52%

misbehaving children ... 38%

self-service machine errors ... 38%

no staff to help ... 29%

lack of parking spaces ... 28%

over-talkative cashiers ... 11%  

Most Football Fans Superstitious

Aug 26, 2014 -- 3:11pm

(Sheethappensprep.com)

College football starts this weekend. A survey by the Big Ten Network reveals that 53% of football fans are superstitious and wear certain clothes or shoes to help their favorite team win. Other findings:

- 40% of fans say that looking away from the screen sometimes helps their team win

- 31% of fans scream at the TV during football games

- 62% of people watch college football games at home

- 30% of people watch college football games at a friend's house

- 8% of people watch college football games at a neighborhood bar
 

Kermit the Frog takes ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in the Nude

Aug 21, 2014 -- 3:16pm

 

(gmanetwork.com)

Kermit the Frog takes ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in the nude
August 21, 2014 7:11pm
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Even the Muppets are getting in on the madly viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge—and one of them has set a record of sorts by being the first to do so fully naked.

That's no other than Kermit the Frog, who did so from a hot sticky swamp - after World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon challenged him to get drenched in freezing cold water.

He said he had had 10 bags of ice delivered to the swamp so they could melt into several gallons of freezing cold water.

"Not only am I ready and willing to accept this challenge, I am to my knowledge the first to do it absolutely naked," he said.

Even the Muppets are getting in on the madly viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge—and one of them has set a record of sorts by being the first to do so fully naked.

That's no other than Kermit the Frog, who did so from a hot sticky swamp - after World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon challenged him to get drenched in freezing cold water.

He said he had had 10 bags of ice delivered to the swamp so they could melt into several gallons of freezing cold water.

"Not only am I ready and willing to accept this challenge, I am to my knowledge the first to do it absolutely naked," he said.

Although Kermit said being drenched with cold water could make him dormant and his heart stop, he took the challenge—and survived.

"No problem, I'm okay ... sheesh," he said.

Kermit also passed on the challenge to his "Muppets Most Wanted" co-stars Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell.

On its website, the ALS Association said it has has received $31.5 million in donations from July 29 to Aug. 20, up from P1.9 million in the same period last year.

"The ALS Association’s mission includes providing care services to assist people with ALS and their families through a network of chapters working in communities across the nation and a global research program focused on the discovery of treatments and eventually a cure for the disease. In addition, The Association’s public policy efforts empower people to advance public policies in our nation’s Capital that respond to the needs of people with ALS," the group said on its website.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death, robbing the brain of the ability to control muscle movement. Patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed

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