Headline: National Paper Of Record Repeatedly Refers To Woman Artist As A “tease.”

Dear Readers,

Another deep and yet not deep enough day in the news. Keep reading for today’s Hip Hop based commentary on the New York Times headlines by Political Poet Naxal. That’s me. I flips the news like you never seen. Almost on the Daily. Enjoy.

May 10, 2007

[First a macro review of today’s lead front page story, and then a deeper look at an egregiously shallow Music review.] 

Today’s New York Times front page offers a rare nod to the empty life plight of suburban youth on government sanctioned drugs. The heartwrenching photograph shows a lone young girl, pigeon toed and staring at distance, with a horizon full of track homes and streets wide, meant for cars, not people, and certainly not little kids.

Some context–Harpers Magazine’s May 2007 edition ran a cover story called, “Manufacturing Depression: The Economy of Melancholy.” Its kind of along the same lines as today’s most prominent New York Times front page story. Sadness at what remains nameless about our current state of affairs, and mass doses of drugs to keep American society circa 2007 spiritually afloat. What would Tocqueville say today? That Democracy in America is hard on our hearts? Probably.

Here’s one reason why…

Headline: National Paper Of Record Cultural Critic, Jon Pareles, Repeatedly Refers To A Groundbreaking Woman Artist As A “tease.”

Candid disclosure: Singer Amy Winehouse not only blew my mind the first time I heard her, she has blasted the roof off musical expectations for people of all race, age, class, and national backgrounds. This is not just a grandiose response to the idiot reviewer who somehow landed the cover article (“The Arts,” Section B, NYT) reviewing Ms. Winehouse’s Tuesday show at Highline Ballroom. The lauditory words I write are rooted in truth. Like her or not, there is no denying that Amy Winehouse is doing something new with music today.

The cultural critic Jon Pareles (who deserves some sanction) wrote this of Ms. Winehouse:

“Amy Winehouse is a tease.” (first sentence.)

“And a set that lasted even less than an hour made her even more of a tease.” (last sentence.)

A tease? Is that anywhere near an appropriate lead and closing characterization of an artist, and a woman artist in particular? No. The answer is no. Instead, it is a low blow, a cheap trick, a misogynistic attempt at character assassination thinly veiled as a legitimate music review.

It is now widely accepted that artistic greats such as Charles Mingus did not deserve the struggling, lonely death which came to them. So when, pray tell me, will we learn to appreciate with R-E-S-P-E-C-T the artistic geniuses in our midst in the here and now.

And when will the Times understand that it has an obligation, as the paper of record for this nation, to grow up.

All the folks I talked to about the review suggested the author, Perales, must have gotten dissed by Ms. Winehouse at the show. Maybe. He sure sounds like a man put back in his place. But I suspect its not just that he wanted Amy and she didn’t want him. I think instead that his article reflects a man intimidated by the raw power of a woman in sovereign possession of what Audre Lourde would name her “erotic power.” Ms. Winehouse’s utilization of her voice is beautiful and mighty. Her voice, words, and beats don’t ask permission to exist. Instead, Ms. Winehouse takes on the challenge of song with entitlement. To be clear, she is a White person singing identifiably Black music (also, the title of her album is “Back to Black”) and herein, entitlement is also an issue for Ms. Winehouse. An issue that deserves a keen eye grounded in critical race history.

But keen, grounded, critical, or history are words that do not describe Paleres’ review. In a deeply embedded quote, Pareles writes of Amy that, “Her self-consciousness, and the bluntness she has learned from hip-hop, could help lead soul into 21st-century territory.” Yet a couple sentences later, he justifies re-referencing Ms. Winehouse as a “tease.” Perales, you just don’t understand/your complex is complex/and all too familiar/let the pain wash off/watch the female story expand/from romance to biography to sci-fi thriller.

Stay tuned for more of All The News That’s Fit To Flip, from Political Poet, Naxal.




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