Don’t foget to submit your own parody!
Archive for October, 2010
October 30th, 2010
Don’t foget to submit your own parody!
October 29th, 2010
Oh, you know it’s bad when the Taiwanese animated news gals jump into the fray!
And, bonus points: the audio is re-dubbed so that the subtitles are a direct translation!
Several months ago, I wrote a series of posts on Arizona’s latest ballot proposition — Prop 107 — which is part of the American Civil Rights Initiative’s latest effort to eliminate affirmative action in this state. One of my pieces, Proposition 107: Arizona’s Students Under Attack!, has been widely shared and remains one of the only blog posts on the Internet documenting why and how Prop 107 will hurt Arizona’s future. In brief, I draw upon the precedents set in California, which eliminated affirmative action in the mid-nineties, to demonstrate how higher education in Arizona will suffer with Prop 107′s passage.
Last week, the Yes on 107 side posted a response to my post on their website. In the interest of public information, I approved their comment publicizing their response on this site, but didn’t read it until just now.
I am sorry to say this, but the Yes on 107 argument is filled with the same kind of faulty logic that has come to characterize their side of the debate.
The Yes on 107 side would have you believe that with affirmative action policies — programs that promote recruitment and retention of underrepresented or underserved women and minorities — in place, women and minorities are enrolling in college — but are simply not equipped to handle the rigours of a university campus. Women and minorities aren’t good enough to be in the best schools, argue the Yes on 107 crew, and consequently they are enrolling in and graduating from second-tier universities.
Yes on 107 would have us believe that women inherently and academically under-perform compared to men, and therefore it is unkind or “embarassing” to “shunt” female students into competitive universities where they are doomed to fail out. Yet, the facts simply do not support this bizarre — and offensive — assertion.
Nationally, women are academically out-pacing men in virtually all measures. Girls have a lower high school drop-out rate (75% vs. 62%), and thus a higher high school graduation rate, compared to boys. On average, female students out-number male students on most college campuses by 57% to 43%. Male students have lower-than-average GPAs and college matriculation rate compared to female students, prompting what some policy analysts have termed a “Male Gender Gap” in higher education. One study of enrolled students at Florida and Texas universities concluded:
This trend is mirrored in Arizona (according to a study by Arizona Minority Education Policy Analysis Center, AMEPAC), where female students graduate from high school at rates higher than male students (74.5% vs. 67.3% for the Class of 2001). More women demonstrate sufficient aptitude to meet the acceptance criteria for Arizona’s public schools (43.6% vs. 38.2%). Women receive 55.2% of college degrees compared to men. And, women out-number men in Arizona’s top universities (shown here in graphical form, because everyone loves graphs!):
Arizona’s state universities are public, but I hardly agree with Yes on 107′s disparaging remark that women only out-number men on college campuses that are “less competitive”, which would seem to refer to our state’s schools. Incidentally, I should point out that the academic programs in Arizona are highly competitive. At the University of Arizona (where I currently study), we have one of the best undergraduate physiology programs in the country. Our Optical Sciences graduate program is ranked #1 and is a destination program for engineers.
Further refuting Yes on 107′s claim about women, and how “realistic” it is for them to graduate from college, women are equally represented compared to men in top private schools such as Harvard or Princeton, where they seem to be doing a perfectly fine job of graduating: Harvard boasts a 97% graduation rate.
All this isn’t to say that women are smarter than men, but it is to refute the claim by Yes on 107 that women are somehow stupider than men, and therefore we are doing them a disservice by enrolling them in college. This is to demonstrate that affirmative action policies, that have helped support, recruit and retain female college students, are working: female student have excelled in higher education as a result, in just a short fifty years since the first female students were accepted into prestigious colleges like Princeton.
(Incidentally, these same statistics also refute Yes on 107′s bizarre claim that “[race] preferences favor minorities over women”. Not only are women of all races demonstrably succeeding academically under affirmative action, but Yes on 107′s argument actually seems to suggest that there is no such thing as a minority woman.)
Now, of course, the successes seen for women are simply not evident for racial minorities. In the same study that I cite above from AMEPAC, Black and Latino students were found to have lower high school graduation rates compared to White students. But the reasons for this are not because Black and Latino students are simply incapable of going to college but are thrust into that environment anyways, as Yes on 107 would suggest, causing them to suffer an “embarassing failure”. Instead, it may be because affirmative action policies haven’t done enough to recruit and retain Black and Latino students in high school and college.
As evidence, let’s turn to George Mason University, a public university in the Northern Virginia area. According to its Wikipedia page, GMU is the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and is recognized for its strong undergraduate programs in economics, creative writing and computer science, as well as its law program. The U.S. World and News Report ranked GMU #1 in “Up-and-Coming National Universities” in 2008.
GMU also is one of a handful of schools nation-wide that have an equal graduation rate for minority and non-minority students. Administrators of these schools attribute this to the broad recruitment and retention programs — affirmative action — they have implemented to support minority students.
What GMU has done is two-fold: 1) they have increased their recruitment of minority students, and thereby enhanced their pool of highly-qualified minority students, and 2) they have implemented a number of retention programs, including scholarships and tutoring programs, that help all students, regardless of race or gender, succeed. There’s no way to get around it: these are affirmative action programs.
And, at GMU, affirmative action programs are working. Not only is GMU one of the most diverse college campuses in the country, but they are ranked exceptionally high, academically. Yes on 107 would have you believe that a school cannot be competitive while accepting women and minority students, but the facts simply do not bear that assertion out.
In summary, the argument that Yes on 107 presents is both non-factual and offensive: they argue that women and minorites are currently unprepared, and therefore incapable, of succeeding in a collegiate environment. They say:
But, in truth, Proposition 107 would seek to eliminate recruitment and retention programs that have demonstrably benefitted, male and female students of all races and backgrounds. If anything, Arizona should look to the model set by schools like GMU, and implement better affirmative action programs to further help recruit and retain our minority students to our state’s high schools and universities.
On November 2nd, please vote no on Proposition 107.
Cross-posted: Blog for Arizona
Nicki Minaj is hip hop’s newest “it” girl — so why does it seem like her schtick has been done before? Oh, that’s right, because it has.
Minaj is a caricature of Lil’ Kim, taken even farther to the extreme than even Kim would find comfortable. After ditching the rainbow-coloured wigs of her early days, Minaj has fully adopted the hypersexualized, “poseable Black Barbie” look that Kim made famous. Like Kim, Minaj bares skin to sell shitty music to kids who can’t remember the good stuff: a close listen to her music reveals the uninspired, nonsensical lyrics, pedestrian sing-song hooks, and excessive reliance on Auto-tune that has come to characterize hip hop music today — something I like to call “The Drake Effect”. No wonder Kim is furious: Kim was actually a talented lyricist who, for better or for worse, found a way to sell her music to a sexist music industry. To her credit, Kim was a (perverse) representation of sex-positive feminism, which becomes clear when one juxtaposes her hypersexualized style with her lyrics. Minaj, on the other hand, is the Barbie doll who, in one song, craves the love of a man she compares to Eminem.
That would be a sweet thing to say, too — if Eminem weren’t the poster-child for recovering drug addicts and domestic abusers right now.
The feminist in me is practically climbing the walls: are we really okay with the idea that two of the most popular female hip hop artists of the last several years — Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj — are glorifying themselves as life-sized Barbie dolls? I mean, the bimbo and body image issues alone are enough to make anyone shudder — and we haven’t even scratched the surface of the icky, RealDoll factor. Someone pass me my Queen Latifah.
Okay, so to be fair, Minaj isn’t totally biting Kim’s style. She has put her own unique spin on Lil’ Kim’s Barbie persona — except, it’s really not unique at all. Unlike Kim, who was satisfied with latex body-paint, Minaj is drawing from Asian cultures to exoticize her look. Call her Orientalist Black Barbie, because Minaj has egregiously stolen from various Asian cultures in two of her last music videos.
First up, Minaj teamed up with Michael Jai White in this “Memoirs of a Geisha“-inspired music video directed by Hype Williams, for “Your Love”:
The plot of the video: Michael Jai White is a samurai who runs an all-girls martial arts school. One of the girls has lusty, lusty thoughts for White. But, White only has eyes for Nicki Minaj who, I-shit-you-not, simultaneously breaks some cement blocks with a karate chop while giving Michael Jai White a completely doe-eyed, I-don’t-have-two-working-neurons-to-rub-together look, all at the same time. Because guys dig women who can simultaneously kick your ass while not knowing how to form a multi-faceted thought.
So then, stalker girl challenges Minaj to a slow-motion ninja fight which was clearly choreographed by a five-year-old. Minaj is killed, and Michael Jai White screams “NooooooOOOOOOO!!!!” as the camera pans away. Because apparently guys only dig women who have the appearance of being able to kick ass, not women who actually can kick ass.
The Orientalism of the video is so obvious as to not really warrant much further commentary: the Yellowface eye makeup to give the appearance of slanty eyes; the excessive use of silk in every goddamned scene; the terrible ninja-inspired sword fight; the Daisy Duke kimonos that would cause an oba-san to suffer epileptic convulsions — the whole video is like an Asiaphile wet dream.
Not content, apparently, to just appropriate Japanese culture, Minaj just released a second music video that appropriates a wholly different Asian culture. In her collaboration with will.i.am., both artists star in a very weird K-Pop-inspired music video for their song “Check It Out”:
This one has a gregarious K-Pop TV show host, lots of CGI Korean words popping out at you from the background (Angry Asian Man notes that they are a “crude” translation of the song lyrics), and — most bizarrely — an audience of Asian Stepford Wives in the studio audience. These women all wear sunglasses and short black dresses, and move in unison as they robotically watch Minaj and will.i.am. drop some acid on the soundstage; at the end, they methodically clap, as if all their brains have melted out their ears after being subjected to three minutes of this inanity. Is the audience an intentional (or unintentional) reference to Asian conformism, or to more of Minaj’s I-don’t-think-for-myself Barbie shitck?
What annoys me the most about these videos isn’t how they have ruined two favourite songs of my childhood — Annie Lennox’s “No More ‘I Love You’s” and Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star“. No, what annoys me the most is how we’ve seen female pop stars do Minaj’s Orientalist bullshit before: Gwen Stefani, and Madonna before her, have borrowed heavily from Asian culture, with little regard for the authenticity or appropriateness of their actions. It sucked then, and it sucks even more now that Minaj thinks she’s stumbled upon something unique and clever. Asian cultures have a rich and varied history, but in these videos, they are appropriated with as much depth as the Auto-Tune of the songs themselves, and regurgitated onto each scene as little more than a superficial, stylized, exoticized patina.
With Minaj apparently in the middle of an East Asian cultural tour, one wonders how her Orientalist ADD will manifest itself next. Next stop: Chinese opera? Indian Bollywood? Thai weddings? I should start a pool.
And, how long is it going to take for someone to make the Nicki Minaj version of “Aren’t Asians Great”?