Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Brokeback Pimpin: My Take on the Oscars

Okay, first of all, this whole movement of getting sickeningly thin is out of control. Jennifer Aniston, Charlize Theron, and, oh, my god, Sandra Bullock looked hungry! I wanted to kidnap them and drop them off at a buffet. I'm not a fan of the anorexic look. If you're skinny, cool. But I cannot really deal with people looking perfectly fine in their first film, then becoming toothpicks with breasts by the fifth film. Also, I was happy for Clooney getting Best Supporting Actor for Syriana. I was a little disappointed that Terrence Howard didn't win for Hustle and Flow, but I'm not shocked. Apparently, Phillip Seymur Hoffman turned in a Best Actor-worthy perfomance in Capote. I'm also not shocked at Reese Witherspoon's win for Best Actress in Walk the Line. It's Reese; everybody love her! She babbled at times during her speech, but it was touching at some points. Not shocked to see Ang Lee get Best Director for Brokeback Mountain, but I was shocked that Crash beat Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture. Dolly Parton's performance of her song from Transamerica was just scary. The heffer looked ghastly! She looked like one of the undead. This is not the buxom Dolly Parton of my youth! That was just traumatic.

Now, let's talk about "the performance": I have long been in denial about Three Six performing "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp" at the Oscars. It was just too much for me to rationalize. The performance itself was crazy. Taraji P. Henson, an actress who sang the hook in the movie, was in an evening gown singing the hook on stage. I hope it helps her career. I don't think it was a good look for her. I have to admit, Crunchy Black "juking" in the background was mildly entertaining. The dancers were a bit much. They even had somebody who had a "D.Jay" chain placed around his neck. I do believe that was Shabba Doo, who played Ozone in Breakin' and Breakin' 2. It's always good to see him. They had a Caucasian dude up there walking with them, some kinda dancer. I was like, "What is he, the Abercrombie pimp?" Thank you, thank you, I'll be here until this blog is over. Enjoy the veal! Seriously, the performance was just crazy. And then, when Queen Latifah announced them as the winner, I had to walk outside and inspect the night sky so as to ensure that armageddon was not upon us. If this is not Armageddon, this is surely the "End Times", as the good book calls them. Okay, they are the first rap act to perform at the Oscars, and the first Memphis act to get an Oscar since Isaac Hayes won with the "Theme From Shaft". And, in some twisted way, that was an example of "The American Dream". These guys came from humble beginnings, have been a fixture on the Memphis rap scene for several years, got a major-label deal, and kept "hustling". for lack of a better word. They are trailblazers and history makers. John Stewart put it into perspective when he quipped "For those keeping score at home, Martin Scorsese: 0 Oscars, Three Six Mafia:1". Try wrapping your head around that one, people! For that, they should be applauded.

My problem, though, is that this further perpetuates the view of Memphis that was shown by the movie Hustle and Flow. People already have this preconceived view of Memphians as country bumpkins and slow-witted good ol' boys and girls. My city has culture, my city has the arts, my city has several artists who have substance in their lyrics. I can't just ignore the implications of this "crunk" label being stamped on my whole city. We've gone from Rufus Thomas to "Ridin' spinners", from Stax Music to "Sippin' on Sizzurp", from W.C. Handy to "Headbussas", from Booker T and the MGs to "Betcha Won't Hit a MotherFu**er". Okay, my overuse of alliteration aside, I don't like this trend. I can't say I don't enjoy there music, but this is not the be all and end all of my city. Go to Precious Cargo, The Complex, The Hi-Tone, and the Full Moon Cafe on any given night and you're bound to see the variety of musical styles that are performed in my beloved Bluff City.

Some of my friends tried to reassure me that this would "open the floodgates". My question is for whom? More ignorant rappers, playas, and pimps?! I would like to think that the artists who strive to be thought-provoking and creative would benefit, but they probably won't. I think that I and other artists who strive to inspire and give messages in our work will have to work harder. My good buddy, director Rod Pitts (www.pittstopproductions.com), said that he now has at least "two years worth of motivation" after seeing Three Six's Oscar triumph. And, as John Stewart also said, "I think it just got a little easier out here for a pimp". Let's get crunk to that...mane.


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