Author: Lisa Kraege
I love Lil’ Wayne. Because he’s a demeaning, misogynist, despicable and unfortunate part of our god-forsaken generation? Actually, no. I love Lil’ Wayne because he makes me want to dance, and that nasal thing he does with his voice is really fun to imitate. Unfortunately, loving anything doesn’t seem to be cool here, unless its listening to your parents vintage copy of The Pretty Things’ 1967 album while reading “The Phenomenology of the Spirit.” Occidental teaches us to “think critically” about Lil’ Wayne and other pop culture currents, to deconstruct the implicit meanings behind lyrics like, “Call me so I can make it juicy for ya.” In the process, we’re forgetting how to enjoy “pop” music and movies, and thus how to enjoy the poetry of our generation.
Poetry is an interesting choice of word to describe pop culture, and it may not seem to apply to a movie like “Role Models.” However, I argue that other, more respected or legitimized forms of cultural expression have been intellectualized to a point where they cease to mean anything at all.
Pop music and movies now play the role that Dickens novels played in nineteenth-century industrial England, or that Mozart symphonies played for eighteenth-century Vienna. The mass-produced music and movies of today provide something to us as a generation: feelings. It wouldn’t be made if it didn’t. Attempting to critically examine the underlying messages and implications behind your favorite songs and movies not only distances you from all emotion you once attached to it, it could very well make you dislike it.
And really, do we need any more hate in the world? One of the best things about Occidental is the fact that we can make these criticisms, that we want to explore and test the limits of our learnings.
But perhaps we should turn our attention to finding the joy in the culture that, like it or not, defines us. Or even to the rest of our studies? There is a difference between being aware of social issues inherent to the cultures of today and yesterday, and only seeing these issues. The critical thinking lens that is drilled into us over our four years here has backfired in the worst way. It has limited us. Obviously “Othello” presents issues of race. But it also gives us some of the most beautiful and well-crafted verses in the English language. It speaks to something that transcends race and gender. It speaks to our humanity, our feelings. Just like Lil’ Wayne.
Well. . . maybe not quite. But both offer us the chance to delight in the wonder of human creativity rather than simply what we see as its woes. We may lack the classic eloquence of Shakespeare, but we do have clever lyrics, awesome explosions, shameless tearjerkers and eccentric celebrities. I don’t want to come up with any more excuses as to why “Titanic” is my favorite movie of all time. I think Oxy needs to think a little less and live a little more.
I’m not trying to start a debate. I’m just trying to dance.
Lisa Kraege is a junior ECLS major. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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