Degradation of Black Culture: Keep Them Dancing
During Super Bowl 50’s half-time show Beyoncé provided an exhilarating performance to game attendees and the world television audience in singing, a newly released song. The performance was choreographed with quality synchronization from Beyoncé’s dancers and chimes from the Bruno Mars entourage. Since Janet Jackson’s mishap during the half-time show at Super Bowl 40, where Justin Timberlake exposed one of her breasts as a result of presumably a wardrobe malfunction, the public has come to expect cutting-edge or even lewd acts from performers that have to rise to the occasion and raise the bar to keep the audience entertained. Performance wise Beyoncé displayed a show that was quite her repertoire, for the costumes her dancers wore were similar to what Beyoncé might generally wear during a performance, but considering the cultural climate of 2016 African Americans are basically battling the demonization of the cultural group (race) by the mass media through music, video, and motion picture images. Therefore, black women -Beyoncé and her dancers- dressing up as a dominatrices or ”Negro bed wenches” for a television audience of about 114.4 million people is truly degenerative to the plight of Black culture in 2016. Intercultural warfare is not a space to exude sexuality with hopes that some type of political base will be established, or to attain concessions from the establishment. Therefore art that is ambiguous is nature such as Beyoncé’s performance and Chiraq, directed and written by Spike Lee, lacks clarity as they unsuccessfully use satire to communicate messages to the African community.
Presently African American men and women are facing overt acts of interpersonal and systemic racism e.g., Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Sandra Blaine-to name a few. Could this treatment be a byproduct of how African Americans are portrayed in the media, and if lewdness, debauchery and gangsterism is the tethering crux of the African American community-as dictated by the media- where would it lead the culture, realistically. Here we sometimes fail to understand how the mass media can entertain one cultural group and simultaneously indoctrinate another with the same material. Noting Mario Van Peebles in the movie Badassss shared, “White people went to the movies and believed that were what they saw on the screens. Thankfully members of the culture recognized such antics being used against the culture and decided to critically approach the issue. But following the example of Melvin Van Peebles, Blacks somehow continued to fill demeaning roles in Blaxploitation films and other genres of film over the span of the subsequent decades leading into and past the millennium. . Entertaining African Americans into oblivion and indoctrinating other cultures into believing that what they see about the African American culture in media outlets is irresponsible and downright dangerous. When the Amos and Andy show aired in the 1920s it did not need a Black face to sell propaganda. Today Black faces are paid to engage in the dehumanizing acts of entertainment displayed, yet what will be the outcome? If one looks comprehensively at African Americans in video and motion pictures what would their assessment be?
It is true that the negative image of African Americans are valuable to other cultures, otherwise stellar images of African Americans would be in mass circulation combating the prevalent negative images being displayed. Black culture is being affected by an ideological hypnosis through the media to the extent where what’s degenerative becomes enticing as long as it contributes to one’s self-perseverance. Such phenomena can clearly be countered, and with the circulation machine of social media it can be countered within the same medium. Beyoncé is considerably successful and as a cultural icon she naturally inspires others to achieve goals and their perceived dreams. African Americans have always stood on the cultural battleground regarding the arts.
Some journalists have gone to lengths to suggest Beyoncé’s performance had racial overtones with references to Malcom X and the Black Panther Party for self-defense. Individuals that viewed the performance were either moved or indifferent to it altogether, but could nevertheless render an opinion stating how the performance made them feel. The position being represented here is that Beyoncé delivered a performance in front of 110 million viewers wearing black leather in a dominatrix fashion. If a political statement was being made the position here is that the said statement was undermined by the over-sexualization of the African woman.
Women from the diaspora that represented the Black Power Movement, Pan-Africanism, or a palatable ideal for the progress of the culture included: The Pointer Sisters, Kathleen Cleaver, Assata Shakur, Angela Davis, Julia Hare, Audre Lorde, Frances Cress-Welsing, and even C. Delores Tucker. In conjunction with the television shows Scandal, Empire, and The haves and Have Nots, the sexual objectivity of the black woman perpetually contributes to the ideal of over-sexualization in reality, and begs the question of whether or not the commodification of sex is ostentatiously being inculcated to the public-particularly the African Diaspora, and secondly the other culture that is being indoctrinated with humanizing audio and visual images of Africans in America. Clearly the arts are still being operated using a top-down model versus bottom-to- top model
There are many models and initiatives all geared toward advancing black culture, but what is the universal standard. Minister Louis Farrakhan, from the Nation of ISLAM, weighed in on Beyoncé’s song and performance-giving her credit for talking about black things, but underscoring how she disturbed white America.