Things I think are Kool

Why benign cynic? Because although I question everything, am fluent in sarcasm, and pursue intellectualism, I believe in God wholeheartedly, am a total softie, and delight in the simple.

Did I Brighten You Day?

Do you really consider me your friend? If not, why not just delete me already?

Social media has become so complex.  Specifically facebook, it can be overly dramatic and at any given moment, an individuals’ self-expression can be misconstrued and become highly upsetting to others.  So what exactly is the problem?  Why do people get deleted over a cyber argument, or why does it seem to cultivate this kind of parasitic and hostile environment at times, one where some users  actually feed on the rage and upheaval that gets created?  Why does it bother you that a certain user is constantly taking pictures of themselves, or perhaps it is the drama queen that is always posting his/her woes?  What about the vulgar single guy that posts pictures of scantly clad women he doesn’t know? Or the bragger, you know you have a friend who is always bragging about how wonderful their life is.  After careful consideration, I believe I have come to a somewhat understanding. The problem is that the users are friends with people who they don’t really consider their friends.  The posts that your very best friends post can be controversial and or even offensive, but they do not cause you to want to delete them, instead you text them or call them or personal message them. But it seems that facebook has become a type of social status symbol. “Look how many friends I have, I am so popular and so loved (I was a dork in high school), I am at a higher cyber social category than you!” Ok, maybe that is a bit extreme, but really think about it.  What would FB be like if you were only friends with your actual friends? Not Aunt Molly, not your neighbor’s sister’s cousin, not that guy you dated briefly, not your high school frenimies. I think it would be a more pleasant environment, maybe. As I keep getting older, I have noticed my friend list dwindle.  It’s not that I am getting de-friended, although I am sure that happens. The reason is that I find myself deleting people I no longer talk to, don’t really know, don’t like, have never liked, and will never ever like. I am sure this might offend some readers, but I am being practical here. I don’t have time to scroll through tons and tons of newsfeed, I just want to see interesting post by the people I consider my friends.  Maybe it’s a bit extreme, but give it some thought.  Do you have tons of people that you hide on your newsfeed?  Why not just delete them?  Wouldn’t that be easier? Who cares if it brings down your friend count, or if you hurt some feelings here and there, FB as a social cyber system can truly only survive if the cultivation of community is a positive one. And positive can encompass a great deal of detail.  Anyway, food for thought. 

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Meet the models of American Gothic

Meet the models of American Gothic

A Critical Analysis on “Single Ladies/Put a Ring on it”

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Introduction

Give me the music of a nation; I will change a nation’s mind.” – Plato

Pop culture, specifically pop music, appears to have a rather evident influence over those who ingest it and pop artists are used to endorse all kinds of products, from lip stick to stick shift automobiles.  They set the latest trends in fashion and are the loudest voices heard when it comes to political issues.  During the last presidential campaign, one type of political propaganda that emerged was one where many pop artist had joined together to urge Americans to go out and vote and to “vote for the right reasons”, this was a fully funded campaign by the Obama administration.  Two of pop culture’s biggest names, Jay-Z and his wife Beyonce Knowles, hosted a large fundraiser dinner for Obama, where each guest paid $40,000.00 dollars per plate.  Lady Gaga, pop’s current reigning queen has over 40 million followers on the social media site Twitter, by far one of its most popular identities.  Miley Cyrus, a Disney superstar, stayed in the media for a steady two months over very controversial behavior at the MTV video awards before her new emerging “persona” album was released, giving her the title of marketing genius.

I wanted to know what these big artists, who appear to have a considerable influence over the public, were actually saying in their music.  Their craft, what they are famous for, is what validates their opinions on politics and religion among other social issues, how do they use that podium?  What kinds of realities are the artists constructing in their songs and what do they advocate?  In essence, what lifestyle and belief systems are they perpetuating to the public?  I was also curious to know if the same perpetuations were present in music that was less popular and made by artists who were relatively unknown.  Begging the question, why are pop artists so successful among so many audiences and ostensibly talented individuals not?  Could it be that our society would rather have a pop presentation of reality than those who may present and bring deeper and more complex themes into question?

The word song is defined as a short poem or other set of words set to music or meant to be sung. The type of songs that were looked at were songs that were strophic in nature or more commonly termed, chorus form.  There are three main parts to a song, the chorus, verses and bridge.  The verses of the song are fillers of the song; it is what most people forget because the content is very verbally rich and complex.  The chorus is what is called the hook, it is meant to be repetitive and easy to remember, its catchy nature hooks the listener to the song making them more likely to listen to it again in the future.  The bridge is singlehandedly the most important part of a song, as far as the holistic understanding of it.  It is called the sinker because it drives the entire message of the song home.  While the verses reinforce what chorus is saying, giving you more detail about the chorus, serving as a background to the song.  The bridge is the heart of the song, the part that gives the song completion.

Beyoncé is currently one of the highest selling artists in the world.  She has over 12 million followers on Twitter and last year sold over 100 million dollars in concert tickets. 

Single Ladies

[Intro]

All the single ladies (All the single ladies)
All the single ladies (All the single ladies)
All the single ladies (All the single ladies)
All the single ladies
Now put your hands up
[Verse 1]
Up in the club, we just broke up
I’m doing my own little thing
You decided to dip but now you wanna trip
Cause another brother noticed me
I’m up on him, he up on me
don’t pay him any attention
Cause I cried my tears, for three good years
Ya can’t be mad at me
[Chorus:]
Cause if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it
If you liked it then you should’ve put a ring on it
Don’t be mad once you see that he want it
If you liked it then you should’ve put a ring on it
Wuh uh oh uh uh oh oh uh oh uh uh oh
Wuh uh oh uh uh oh oh uh oh uh uh oh
[Chorus]
[Verse 2]
I got gloss on my lips, a man on my hips
Hold me tighter than my Dereon jeans
Acting up, drink in my cup
I could care less what you think
I need no permission, did I mention
Don’t pay him any attention
Cause you had your turn
And now you gonna learn
What it really feels like to miss me
[Chorus]
[Bridge]
Don’t treat me to these things of the world
I’m not that kind of girl
Your love is what I prefer, what I deserve
Is a man that makes me then takes me
And delivers me to a destiny, to infinity and beyond
Pull me into your arms
Say I’m the one you want
If you don’t, you’ll be alone
And like a ghost I’ll be gone
[Chorus x2]

From the data there were 29 itemized categories that arose.  The categories were as follows:

  • ‘ladies’ (category of persons who are called to identify themselves)
  • ‘hands’ (limb used by the ladies to identify themselves)
  • ‘club’ (location where event centers around)
  • ‘broke up’ (a situation that caused the visit to the club)
  • ‘thing’ (carrying on with club activities, mainly dancing and drinking)
  • ‘dip” (the act of breaking up)
  • ‘trip” (the act of behaving irrationally due to jealousy)
  • ‘another brother’ (a competitor to the main audience of the song who is the one who broke up with the singer)
  • ‘attention’ (is what is being denied to the main audience/ex and given to someone else)
  • ‘tears’ (physical evidence of pain and grieving)
  • ‘three good years’ (the length of the relationship between the singer and the ex)
  • ‘ring’ (symbol of commitment)
  • ‘mad’ (assigning blame)
  • ‘gloss’ (lip decoration used to enhance physical beauty)
  • ‘lips’ (adorned by gloss)
  • ‘man’ (what decorates her hips, an accessory)
  • ‘hips’ (adorned by man)
  • ‘drink in my cup’ (an alcoholic beverage that is affecting behavior)
  • ‘permission’ (consent or authorization that is unrequired by the singer)
  • ‘turn’ (the opportunity to have a relationship with the singer that is revoked and used as a threat)
  • ‘things of the world’ (material goods meant to please the singer)
  • ‘kind of girl’ (a certain style of person, one that is interested/impressed with money)
  • ‘love’ (what is preferred over money)
  • ‘second man’ (one who appropriates himself and forces himself upon women)
  • ‘destiny’ (the end goal of being taken by the second man)
  • ‘infinity and beyond’ (symbolic for a place where the end goal is fulfilled)
  • ‘arms’ (where destiny, infinity and beyond is fulfilled by the main audience, the ex)
  • ‘want’ (a desire for the singer above other girls)
  • ‘ghost’ (the possible result of the singer’s felt presence in the life of the audience if he chooses not to follow the singers demands of being taken into arms)

From these 29 itemized categories it was possible to identify four sentient beings within theses categories that had dynamic relationships with one another.  The first sentient being to emerge was the ‘single ladies’.  The single ladies are found in the part of the song that is called the intro.  This makes the song seems as if it is addressing the singles ladies.  The second sentient being to emerge is ‘the ex’; the one who we later find out is responsible for the break up.  He is the real recipient and main audience of the song and not the single ladies as it first appears.  The third sentient being is ‘the man’ or as first referred to ‘another brother’; he is a competitor to the ex.  Lastly, the main character of the song is the singer.  She is the voice who is constructing this reality through her song.

When examining the relationship the singer has to the ‘single ladies’ it first seems that they are the main audience.  The intro repeats their names over and over and asks them to identify themselves by putting their hands up.  Where “put your hands up” would mean an entirely different thing if it were coming from a police officer or a teacher, here it calls for identification and implies a sense of camaraderie because the singer is now a single lady, as well.  Since the singer now identifies with them, she introduces her story with the lines “up in a club, just broke up” and goes on to say that she is dancing with someone else when her ex sees her and becomes very jealous. 

Upon closer examination of this first verse, the second line of that verse switches audiences from the single ladies to the ex. “You decided to dip, and now you want to trip, cause another brother noticed me”.  The singer begins to speak directly to the ex and the single ladies are only addressed again at the very end of the song.  The ex is brought in to a story that begins by taking a very nonchalant approach to the situation, addressing it as “up in a club, just broke up, doing my own little thing”.  Notice that she does not say that she was broken up with, that is not how she introduces the situation, though we later learn that indeed she was the one broken up with by the ex.   The ex is presented as being jealous to see her with another man at the club where they both happen to be, regardless of their obvious awkward situation.   What remains unclear is if this was a serendipitous encounter for her, or intentional.  Either way, it works out to her advantage because her ex is able to realize that other men find her attractive and this sparks an apparent jealousy implied by the line “decided to dip and now you want to trip, cause another brother noticed me”.

We find that the role that ‘the man’ or ‘the other brother’ plays is silent.  In fact the perceived competitor to the ex does not have a name, he has a function.  He pays attention to the singer and makes the ex jealous.  He is regarded by the singer as an accessory with the line “gloss on my lips, a man on my hips”, by associating lips to hips; the gloss is to the lips what the man is to the hips.  She then states “got me tighter than my Dereon jeans”, again associating his function, holding her, with her clothing.  We see that he has no real role in the singer’s life other than “wanting it” and by wanting it that makes the ex jealous and is thus a tool for the singer to wield over the ex.  It does not appear that the singer necessarily is going to give ‘the man’ what he wants, but describes her behavior towards him as possibly misleading.  “I’m up on him, he up on me” describing the closeness of their dancing, and “don’t be mad once you see that he want it” implying that ‘the man’ is somewhat aroused by her.  By implying that her behavior is being altered by what is contained in her cup, “acting up, drink in my cup, I could care less what you think”, she shifts away from responsibility, making it oaky to lead ‘the man’ on for the sake of the ex’s reaction.

What became evident upon studying the data that was not blatantly obvious by just listening to the song were the power structures that are present.  In this song there is a very clear power struggle between the singer and her audience.  The way the song is constructed by the intro first addressing the single ladies and then the song ending with readdressing the single ladies, creates this sense of camaraderie between her and the single ladies and makes the song appear as if it is addressed to them.   The song is in fact addressed to the ex; the song’s main goal is for the ex to take her back on her terms.  She is taking advantage of her ex seeing her with another man and getting jealous, for her to introduce her demands for the relationship to be restored.

Throughout the first and second verse there is this attitude on her part that basically says, “I don’t need you… I can get other men…you lost your chance”.  This makes her seem as if she is not affected by the break up.  She cried her tears and now she is over the three-year relationship and is having fun and carrying on.  The chorus supports this by the two verses, which almost mockingly say “if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it, don’t be mad once you see that he want it”.  What is unclear is what ‘it’ is.  One can only infer that ‘it’ is herself, her love or her body, or an encounter with her that is sexual in nature.  The voice heard in the chorus and verses is the voice of this very strong and almost dismissive woman who is telling her ex that he missed his chance and now she is going to punish him by making him learn “what it is really like to miss me”.  The idea of her punishing him and by making statements like “I need no permission and “I could care less what you think” helps to position her as in control of not only her emotions about the breakup but now his emotions and behavior.

Though a power struggle is not entirely evident by only listening to the song, what is overlooked entirely is what is said in the bridge of the song.  Now the bridge is supposed to be what drives the point or message of the song home.  In her bridge she contradicts everything that she had just constructed with the chorus and verses.  In the bridge she denies being a materialistic girl (even though she’s claiming he should have put a ring on it in the chorus) and that what she wants is the ex’s love, despite her apathy found in the majority of the song.  Furthermore, the line that follows her pleads for love can be interpreted to be very disturbing.  She states that she wants a man to take her by force, that being forced excites her.  This implies that she wants to be dominated, “what I deserve is a man who makes me then takes me”.  This goes in the opposite direction of her initial perpetuation of power and dominance.   

We are first presented with a strong woman who is not grieving a three-year commitment, instead seems unaffected and engaging in behavior that is enough to enrage her ex.  She then turns into a woman who is in substance asking for a second chance, making the plea in the bridge counter intuitive from the perceived message of the song.  She asks the ex to take her into his arms and profess her over every other woman.  If he fails to do this, she will leave for good and he will be left alone for good.  The problem with her plea is that the ex broke up with her.  Because he sees her at a club and gets jealous does not mean that he wants to take her back.  In fact, that is not revealed or discussed in the song.  It is a fleeting notion that fades away again with the chorus and the reference to the single ladies at the end.

This leads me to believe that the power struggle is actually found within her.  She first presents this very strong person, doing as she chooses, presenting men as accessories, punishing her ex, but this power she wields over the ex via her man accessory is in a constant state of flux. By making the bridge, the least memorable yet most important part of her song a plea for her ex to take her back, presupposing he wants to take her back, she deconstructs her entire argument for power.  In fact, she asks to be dominated and to be committed to, presenting a very vulnerable side of her, a vulnerability that stands contrast to her pre-established sense of power.  The chorus then quickly diffuses this ephemeral depiction of her, and her intent is emphatically camouflaged by the intro being reintroduced again at the end.  Perhaps, unbeknownst to the singer, the assumption that the ex would have her back is not accounted for.  Taking this notion into consideration, it makes one question how the break up emerged in the first place.

The song is known in our culture for propagating camaraderie among single women, as an almost anthem about the reluctance of men to commit.  The song however is seldom described as having mixed signals, or being about her actually wanting to restore the relationship.  This brings me to the last object that emerges from her data that cannot actually be found in it.  The object is implied to be present with the way the structure of the song is laid out and by the mere fact of it being a popular song.  This object is us the audience.  The troubling notion for me to wrestle with is, what does this song really mean to our society?  Are we missing the real intent of the song and is it somehow advocating ideas such as being taken by force, using others for our gain, manipulating those we “love”, a presumptive grandiose “love” of the self and dealing with difficult emotional struggles by intoxication and promiscuity?  It is my belief, after inspecting this content, that the reality of the message being presented to its listener is one not worth listening to.   

The Louvre, Paris France

The Louvre, Paris France

Amsterdam, Holland

Amsterdam, Holland

If there is one crush of mine that will never pass away, it is this one! 

Reality Wakes

I woke up this morning to the pieces of my heart scattered all over my bed. I guess I had scattered them while tossing and turning in my sleep. 

I woke up thinking it had all been a dream, surreal as it seems, confounded and woven into the fibers of my head. 

But it wasn’t a dream now was it, last night was real. 

As I search my mind for words that could capture the pain, capture the torture of having to deal with reality, I turn on my side and cover my head, hoping to go back to sleep.

Because I don’t want to face reality today. I’ve been running from her since the year started, and the year started on the wrong side of the bed.

And it doesn’t matter how far I run from her or how far I run from you, you both still manage to catch up to me, waking me with the truth.

That it’s over now, that morning has come, that it’s time to wake up now, time to move on.