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by Kelly Tucker 04.11.2011
Posted In: Culture, TV/Celebrity, Life, Interviews at 12:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

UC Pop Praxis: Social Justice & the Media

I opted out of typing music listings and attending sociology class Friday in favor of checking out the conference taking place on the University of Cincinnati’s campus: Pop Praxis: Social Justice & the Media. With discussion topics like, “Disco Stick: Lady Gaga and the Phallus” and a keynote speech from Bitch Magazine’s own Andi Zeisler, I was stoked for an enlightening day of stimulating pop culture discussion.

The conference was the result of a collection of papers, presentations and workshops submitted by speakers ranging from undergrads to professors to alumni from a number of universities. Submissions were required to regard "pop culture as it relates to feminism, race, disability or queer theory, class, consumption, and all forms of political activism or cultural production."

It was an honor for the university to welcome Andi Zeisler, co-founder and editorial/creative director of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture. She wasted no time launching into a pointed discussion about the importance of feminism today, despite the general public’s tendency to assume that the movement is past and irrelevant.

“Any media needs to make money,” Zeisler pointed out, “and the quickest and surest way to do that is to sell out women.”

In short, while addressing the frustrating roadblocks today’s feminist advocates face, Zeisler commended technology and blogging as new ways to comment on the media and bring important issues to public attention, keeping intelligent discussion going that might not have been able to take place before.

Zeisler said Bitch’s goal is to help people think about pop culture in a more critical way, so it makes sense that the speakers in the sessions that followed did exactly that.

While the main event was arguably Zeisler's speech, the presentations and workshops were fun and eye opening.

During the first session, Sarah Mitchell called out Winnie of The Wonder Years for her textbooks that attempt to make math “sexy” for middle school girls in “Postfeminist Math Barbie: Danica McKellar’s Provocative Education Advocacy.” Lee Serbin also pointed out the shaky, back-and-forth stance Tina Fey’s character holds between feminism and postfeminism in 30 Rock during her discussion, “30 Rock and Feminism in Flux.”

Some women in the media, however, aren’t so bad to look up to. One presenter discussed how Lady Gaga rocked the phallus on the cover of Q Magazine as a response to the public’s accusation that she’s packing a package. While still technically enforcing the belief that a penis equates power, her gender-bending humor puts sexists in their place.

A strong argument was also made for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Admittedly, she was skinny and blonde, but more importantly, she overcame that image to kick vampire ass. The slayer was decidedly deemed a pretty solid female role model for something popularized by mainstream television.

Feminism wasn’t the only topic of the day, however. One student discussed Batman as an extreme representation of hypermasculinity who tends to equate violence with being a man. That, and maybe steroid use after all the bulk the superhero’s acquired over the years.

During the same session, another speaker addressed the somewhat androgynous image of the emo kid. This speaker deserves props for researching something so fickle in the world of teenage cliques. She concluded that, while the emo subculture allows for somewhat of a break from that Batman-inspired masculinity, only the white boys of suburbia seem to make up this social group.

While it was impossible for me to make it to each presentation, at the end of the day, the message was clear: People need to be careful about what they consume.

There are no clear answers. Watching a Lady Gaga video over 30 Rock isn’t necessarily going to be more empowering, and children who prefer Batman to Chris Carrabba aren’t doomed to a life of violence. The important thing Pop Praxis stressed is that the discussion remains open and that we, as responsible consumers of popular culture, keep a critical eye on it.

 
 
by Kelsey Kennedy 02.12.2014
Posted In: Commentary, Culture at 03:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)
 
 
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How to Become a Cincinnatian, for Non-Natives

They say you move to Cincinnati and put on a pair of goggles — the longer you stay, the harder it is to take them off. And why would you want to? I’ve lived here for five years and still manage to fall deeper in love with this city every day. For all you newcomers, here are some necessary guidelines for your initiation into the greatest city in the Midwest.

1. Pick a chili, not a side. The East side/West side rivalry is deeply rooted in competitive turf wars and stubborn rationalizations. When brought up in conversation, it’s usually best to remain indifferent and let your eyes glaze over until the fighting stops.

2. Become a regular at (at least) one bar in Over-the-Rhine. Find your favorite bartender at Neon’s and dance to the ‘8os music at Japp’s on a Saturday night. Discover new music at MOTR or wind down with some jazz at 1215 Wine Bar.

3. Understand that high schools — and the culture surrounding them — are really important here. “Are you from around here?” is almost always followed by, “So what high school did you go to?” Cincinnatians stick to their alma maters like glitter on glue, and everyone has a reputation.

4. See The Cincy Brass play at Mr. Pitiful’s before you die (or move). Request the song “Let Me Clear My Throat” by DJ Kool. Gyrate on everyone.

5. Get to know Kentucky. Bounce around the Levee and Mainstrasse. End your night with a cheesy goetta omelet at the Anchor Grill. Trust me on this one.

6. Cincinnati has the second largest Oktoberfest in the world (The WORLD!) second only to Munich. Dress like a German, drink like a German, eat like a German.

7. Develop a severe case of road rage while driving on I-75. Perfect the ability to stare someone down after cutting you off.

8. Vote. Get involved with this city’s politics. Picket City Hall or write a letter to an editor. Cincinnati had a record-breaking low voter turnout in the 2013 mayoral election — make your voice heard.

9. Give back to your neighborhood. Volunteer at the Freestore Foodbank or tutor kids at Wordplay Cincy. Teach an art class or buy someone an umbrella on a rainy day. Start a collaborative effort to make this city the best it can be.

10. Master the Metro and make friends with the drivers. Sit up front and strike up a conversation with a stranger. Try not to fall when the metro slides down one of Cincinnati’s many 90-degree angles.

11. Appreciate Cincinnati sports. Tailgate at a Bengal’s game, cheer on the Cyclones and pledge your allegiance to Brandon Phillips’ smile.

12. EAT ALL THE GOETTA. And LaRosa’s. And Graeter’s. Now start training for the Flying Pig.

13. Find your favorite city park with your favorite view of the skyline against Kentucky. Feel safe tucked away in the hills. Ponder about the meaning of life.

14. Roll your windows down and go 10 miles over the speed limit on the Roebling Bridge. Listen to the whirring sound. Just do it.

15. Develop a deep love for all things Cincinnati and defend your city when people talk shit. Recognize that you are a part of something larger than yourself — that Cincinnati isn’t just the Queen City — it’s a community and a network and a lineage of diverse Midwesterners who all contribute to making this place a force to be reckoned with.

Oh, and read CityBeat.

 
 
by Maija Zummo 03.02.2010
Posted In: Life, Culture, Fun at 01:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 

Cincinnati Guerrilla Queer Bar Celebrates B-Day

Cincinnati's Guerrilla Queer Bar is about to turn one! That means they're celebrating one whole year of transforming popular straight bars (e.g, Cadillac Ranch, the Pavilion) into a flashmob of "queer dance-love-heaven" for one night, the first Friday of the month.

Read More

 
 
by Jac Kern 02.23.2012
 
 
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I Just Can't Get Enough

Jac's favorite pop culture and Internet findings of the week

Thanks to Facebook friends with good taste, my mom's stream of animal photo chain emails and my voracious appetite for gossip and craft blogs, I'm constantly exposed to some of the greatest items from the far-reaching corners of the internet. Here's what I just can't get enough of this week.

"Bad Girls"

OK, so M.I.A.'s video for "Bad Girls" came out a couple weeks ago, and despite looping it for hours on end since then, I cannot get enough of it. It's one of those tunes that makes me want to dance in public even without a (few) cocktails in my system. With a penchant for controversy, the video (filmed in Morocco) depicts what seem to be Middle Eastern women in traditional-yet-pimped-out garb racing cars in the desert and dancing to music with strong, sexual, pro-femme lyrics.

Though it’s been said that the political standpoints M.I.A. makes in her music contradict her lifestyle, or sometimes don't even make sense, the “Paper Planes” singer is the queen of juxtaposition when it comes to her videos. It's also important to note that “Bad Girls” comes during a time when women in Saudi Arabia are banned from driving. So whatever her intended/implied/confusing statements may be, this video is a pretty hot way to say “F that.”


Go here to watch her response to fans’ YouTube comments on the video.

Bonnaroo

The mega-fest’s initial lineup was released last week, boasting headliners like Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish and The Beach Boys. Every year I go back and forth on my decision to go: Can I afford the ticket plus all the cash and supplies that go into surviving there (screw anyone who says you just need water and a sleeping bag)? Can my poor Irish skin bear four days in the blazing sun? What if next year’s lineup is even better? I still haven’t quite decided, but 2012’s lineup looks good to me for less-than-obvious reasons.

Ben Folds Five — As in, the original trio reuniting. One of my all time favorite bands. I’d die.
The Roots — I’ve been a fan of the crew since I first heard “The Seed (2.0)” when I was in eighth grade. And their day job as house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon has only solidified my love.

Ludacris — Not ashamed.

Of course there’s also this year’s #whoarethey Grammy winners, Bon Iver, Donald Glover’s alter-ego Childish Gambino, The Shins, jam band supreme Umphrey’s McGee and dozens more. Aziz Ansari (Parks and Rec, Funny People) is even confirmed to perform, though the rest of the comedy lineup is yet to be announced. It turns out most people go to ‘roo for music, but I will nerdily admit as a comedy fangirl, the stand-up tent was one of my favorite (and most air-conditioned) experiences during my trip to the fest in 2010. Ansari also appeared that year and Conan O’Brien, fresh off his firing from NBC, headlined.

Taxidermy Art

A friend on Facebook recently posted a link to Hi-Fructose Magazine’s blog, a page covered in creepy-cute taxidermy art. Netherlands-based art partners (artners?) Les Deux Garçons create whimsical pieces in which real taxidermied animals are embellished with knick knacks, toys and lush decorative ribbons. If that weren’t enough, many the animals are dual-headed conjoined mammals, or are transformed into unicorn-esque creatures with crazy horns. These (ethically-obtained) animals are transformed into their own art form that carefully walks the line between beautiful and grotesque. Observe:

Arianna Huffington

The media queen came to town Feb. 22 to speak as a part of the SmartTalk ConnectedConversations series, and boy, do I have a crush on her. She spoke (in a sexy Greek accent, BTW) on becoming fearless in love, work and life, providing many hilarious and interesting personal anecdotes along the way. Advice she gave included getting more sleep, turning off that negative voice, or “obnoxious roommate” in our heads and the importance of finding a “tribe” of friends we can all relate to and depend on. Fun Fact: She launched The Huffington Post in her fifties, thanks to help of a $100,000 loan from her tribe-mate Laurie David (former wife of Seinfeld/Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David). Pretty inspirational. She ended the evening answering audience questions with Channel 12’s Cammy Dierking, who clearly also has a bit of a girl-crush on Huffington, and who nearly made me wet myself when she used the phrase “That’d go over like a turd in a punch bowl.” It was truly a fun femme-fest.

Sleigh Bells on SNL

Despite my undying love for Saturday Night Live, even I can’t deny the amount of lackluster musical performances on the show. Granted, it is one of the few “really live” shows left, details often aren’t finalized until the last minute, sound is often off and the tiny stage isn’t ideal, but who could forget Ashlee Simpson’s career-killing disaster on the show? This year, it’s all about hating on Indie songstress/mannequin Lana Del Rey’s performance. Personally, I don’t think the performance warranted such a backlash, but judge both for yourself. And check out SNL’s hilarious response to Lana-gate (with Kristen Wigg as LDR) here.

Thankfully, Noise Pop duo (now touring with a third musician) Sleigh Bells killed it on last week’s episode. I wasn’t expecting the live TV format to do them justice, but they sounded great and were entertaining despite a nearly naked stage.


 
 
by Jac Kern 03.16.2012
 
 
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Your Weekend To Do List: 3/16-3/18

Althea Harper, Cincy Ballet's Rite of Spring, Millenicon, way too much green beer

DAAP grad and former Project Runway contestant Althea Harper is in town tonight, presenting a trunk show at OTR's Sloane Boutique. Check out the designer's Spring 2012 looks featuring her signature combination of fine tailoring and delicate draping. Sloane offers 15 percent off its spring merchandise and a chance to win a $50 gift certificate. Get details here.

This weekend Cincinnati Ballet presents a production quite fitting, considering our weather – Rite of Spring. With Stravinsky's music performed live by the Cincinnati Orchestra, Rite of Spring is a “raw, grungy” piece that pits “individual against the group; it’s kind of timeless and universal,” as described by Resident Choreographer Adam Hougland. There is an 8 p.m. performance tonight and 2 and 8 p.m. performances Saturday. Go here for ticket information and performance details.

Millenicon is a literature-based sci-fi convention celebrating its 26th year in Cincinnati. This isn't your standard Trekkie symposium (though there's many programs for them!) – there's a variety of programming during the convention's run, including science fiction literature and fantasy subjects, science, space, technology, writing, art, costuming, collecting, gaming, children's programming, film and media interests. All are welcome to get their geek on at the longest-running sci-fi convention in the area. It all takes place tonight through Sunday, with programs occurring throughout the day, at the Holiday Inn Cincinnati - I-275 North in Sharonville.

Concert:nova's Food + Music Festival comes to a close Sunday with Quartetto Italiano. The festival, which featured food and music from France and Germany, wraps up with an Italian brunch at Via Vite prepared by Chef Christian Peitoso and string quartet music written by Italian composers Puccini, Verdi and Nino Rota. The event takes place at noon and is $55 ($35 for pass holders). Get tickets here.

Of course, there are endless St. Patrick's Day events also happening this weekend. Find some of them (and a fun history of the holiday) here. You know the drill – nearly every bar and restaurant across town will celebrate in some capacity, even if it's just green Budweiser and that damn Dropkick Murphys song on repeat.

46th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade steps off at noon downtown. The parade famously continues through rain, snow, or, perhaps this year, unseasonably warm weather. Hopefully the impending storms will hold off anyway. The route begins at Second and up Main Street, across Fifth and down Elm Street. Find details here.

One suggestion is the Schmidlapp Event Lawn preview party running tonight through Sunday. The event lawn, located next to the Moerlein Lager House and Smale Park at The Banks, opens for the first time to the public for the holiday. Enjoy live dancers, pipers and bands, plenty of beer stands and a killer view of the riverfront. If you get hungry or crave some harder stuff (Jameson, anyone?) just hop inside the Lager House.

If historically inaccurate holidays that celebrate stereotypes aren't your thing, check out The Art of Food, Merrily We Roll Along, A Day in Pompeii, tons of live music or any of our other To Do recommendations. Or just stay home and watch Always Sunny. No judgement.

 
 
by Jac Kern 04.11.2012
 
 
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'This American Life' to Be Broadcast Live

Popular public radio show will be shown in local theaters

"I don't really like This American Life or Ira Glass," said no one.

The weekly, true storytelling public radio show with its quirky, adorable host seriously has something for everyone — timely topics, laugh-out-loud (or cry-out-loud) anecdotes, thoughtful insight. TAL even got my stubborn, conservative father to listen to NPR on a regular basis. So since we can all agree how awesome it is, let's celebrate the announcement that Ira and Co. will present a live show in New York City, to be broadcast in movie theaters across the country on May 10.

Those who watched the television adaptation of This American Life know how flawlessly the program can be adapted to incorporate visual elements with the standard unscripted storytelling format. But the live show is set to involve more than just interviews and animations seen in the TV program.

The live event will feature stories by writer David Rakoff (who worked with Ira Glass and David Sedaris), comedian Tig Notaro (Comedy Central Presents, The Sarah Silverman Program), Glynn Washington (host of radio show Snap Judgement and jack-of-all-trades) and Ira himself. Taking full advantage of the live, visual format, the show will also feature music by OK Go, a short film by longtime TAL contributor and comedian Mike Birbiglia, a dance performance by Monica Bill Barnes & Company and much more to be seen. This American Life presented a live show, also broadcast in theaters, back in 2009.

The show will go live at 8 p.m. May 10 onstage at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. If you can't make the trip to the Big Apple (it's sold out anyway), check it out at one of many local theaters screening the show, including AMC Newport, Western Hills 14, Florence 14, Milford 16, Springdale Showcase Cinemas and Deerfield Town Center. Many of these theaters will present an encore screening May 15 as well. Go here for tickets.

 
 
by Jac Kern 05.04.2012
 
 
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Your Weekend To Do List: 5/4-5/6

In addition to Cinco de Mayo and Derby Day, the next couple days bring a ton of events and activities. Saddle up, grab some tequila and get out there this weekend!

Essex Studios blossom this weekend for the galleries’ spring Art Walk, BLOOM. The space has been transformed with a thousand origami flowers, yarn gardens by the Cincinnati BombShells and color-coded pathways. As always, more than 100 artists’ work will be on view as guests eat and drink their way through the studios. The art walk runs 6-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Saturday is Clay Alliance’s annual pottery fair at DeSales Corner. Peruse decorative and functional pottery pieces, meet local artists and get supplies to work with clay on your self. Hourly raffles and live music round out the day. The 12th annual fair takes place 11 a.m.-5 p.m., rain or shine.

The first Saturday of May happens to be Cinco De Mayo this year, but it’s also Free Comic Book Day: once a year, comic/specialty book shops across North America offer free publications to all guests. Find a nearby participating store here. Many store offer additional in-store events and promotions; Up Up & Away in Cheviot welcomes The Walking Dead co-creator and original artist Tony Moore.

Crafty Supermarket is back! Making its home at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, the spring show brings more than 50 indie, subversive crafters from across the city and country to sell their funky, functional handmade goods. Just in time for Mother’s Day, shoppers will find unique apparel and accessories, home goods, artwork and more goodies. Fuel your shopping with delicious food and coffee from local vendors while a PROJECTMILL DJ keeps you groovin’. Show up early to nab a coveted swag bag — every year, shoppers line up around the corner of Clifton Avenue in hopes of being one of the first 100 who get a bag. The market is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and admission is free.

Cinco de Mayo is more popular in the U.S. than Mexico, but since when do we let historical inaccuracies stand in the way of a good drinking holiday? Nearly every bar and restaurant participates in some capacity, but we’ve selected a few to host our annual Cantina Crawl. Here’s our schedule:

5 p.m. El Coyote

5:45 p.m. Pirates Cove

6:30 p.m. Tostado’s Grill

7:15 p.m. MLT’s

8 p.m. Cactus Pear (Clifton)

8:30 p.m. Nada

9 p.m. Bakersfield

Join our roving squad of senoritas and “Seen on the Scene” photographers as they travel from place to place with more prizes than you can throw a maraca at.

Prom is a rite of passage many, but often LGBTQ kids don’t feel comfortable at school dances because of bullies and expectations about dress and dates. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Greater Cincinnati provides a welcoming environment for these individuals at their annual GLSEN Prom Saturday. Come to the Freedom Center for two events in one: those under 21 are invited to "dress as you want, bring who you want, and love as you want.” In a separate area of the center the over 21 crowd, who maybe didn’t get to experience a prom of their own, can enjoy dinner, drinks and dancing for $65. Those wanting to attend post-dinner can come after 9 p.m. for a discounted price. As always, kids are welcome free of charge with early registration. All proceeds support the local GLSEN chapter.

Check out Stage Door for this weekend's theater offerings, our music blog for a live show lineup and our To Do page for more events, art shows, performances and more this weekend.

And don’t forget to check out the "supermoon" Saturday — the biggest full moon of the year will peak around 11:30 p.m. tomorrow.

 
 
by Jac Kern 08.05.2011
Posted In: Concerts, Life, Animals, Culture, Events, Fun, Music at 02:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Weekend To Do List: 8/5-8/7

Going to the zoo isn't just for kids (though there always a million of them there). Whether you are a child, have 'em or hate 'em this weekend is perfect for a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens. Friday-Sunday are Visitor Appreciation Days at the zoo, which means half price admission and parking for everyone! If you need any more reason to visit, there are tons of new exhibits like Night Hunters, African Savannah, Go Green Garden and more. Go here for special prices, hours and directions.

Craftmasters takes over Mainstay Rock Bar Saturday, offering up 10 local bands and 10 $4 craft beers all night long. Get down with Lions Rampant, Frankl Project, Eat Sugar and more as you sip tasty brews like Stone IPA, Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier and Two Brothers Dog Days Dortmunder Lager. Music starts at 7 p.m. with bands on two stages. Five bucks gets you in the door. Get the whole lineup here.

Worried no event will satiate your hunger this weekend? For-goetta-bout it! Glier's annual Goettafest is back with enough pork and oats to satisfy even the hungriest of visitors. Enjoy classics like goetta omelets, goetta burgers and goetta dogs or go crazy with goetta sushi, goetta brownies and goetta eggrolls. As always, there will be plenty of live music, games and rides to keep everyone happy (but wait 30 minutes after eating before going on The Scrambler. Goetta's even less pretty coming up.). The festival runs Friday-Sunday at Newport on the Levee. Go here for festival hours and parking information.

Cincy Blues Fest is one of largest volunteer-run Blues festivals in the world. Celebrate the music and the hard work Friday and Saturday at Sawyer Point. Besides checking out local, regional and national Blues acts, Mike Breen has come up with 19 reasons this is a can't-miss event. Go here to read 'em all.

The Cincinnati Art Museum makes so many fantastic works of art accessible to visitors. This Sunday, you can get an even more in-depth look at one artist's life during its Reel Art film series. Filmmaker Ellen Weissbrod's documentary A Woman Like That focuses on the life of Artemisia Gentileschi, a 17th century Italian woman who pursued art during a period when female artists faced much prejudice. Learn about this important Baroque-era artist and meet Weissbrod and co-filmmaker Melissa Powell at a Q&A session following the screening. Go here for ticket information and screening time.

As always, there are many more events, concerts, gallery exhibits and theater shows going on this weekend. Go here to see 'em all. Got a kick-ass event that should be on everyone's To Do list? E-mail arts and event listings to calendar@citybeat.com at least two weeks in advance.

 
 
by Jac Kern 02.29.2012
Posted In: Concerts, Culture, Events, Northside, Life, Holidays at 11:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Leap Day To Do List

Leap Day means different things to everyone (like those with rare Feb. 29 birthdays), but we suggest spending this extra day exploring all the fun events our city has to offer. Or this:


Do you love the true storytelling style of This American Life and live groups like The Moth and Cincinnati's True Theater? Head down to Below Zero Lounge tonight for Teilen (German for "to share"), a local storytelling night. In honor of Leap Day, tonight's theme will be "leaping out." Enjoy a variety of true stories told without notes, and feel free to share your own five-minute anecdote. Storytelling is one of the oldest human traditions and it's still a great way to connect with others. Doors open at 6 p.m.; the free event starts at 7. Find details here.

Sexy Time Live Band Karaoke continues its weekly mission to make us all feel like Rock Stars. Become a frontman (or woman!), if only for three minutes. Karaoke kicks off at 9 p.m. in Northside Tavern's back room. Check out the group's Facebook page for details and an extensive song selection (start rehearsing now!).

The Lackman hosts a party to introduce new Six Point Brewery beers tonight, featuring Sweet Action (barley and hops), Bengali Tiger IPA (bitter hops and sweet malt) and Resin Double IPA (just delicious). Reps will be on hand for all questions. The tasting event runs 4-6 p.m. Find more info here.

Find more To Do suggestions, like theater productions and art shows, here. Check out Mike Breen's blog for tonight's live music happenings.

And a head's up: Our Swizzle bar guide came out today (purty, ain't it?) and if reading that doesn't make you want to grab a cocktail at one of many amazing local watering holes, nothing will! Celebrate the issue with us tomorrow at PLAY downtown. Guests can expect free cocktails and food from Bolly Bears and FUSIAN, live music from Pop Empire, a fabulous Flashbox photo booth and tons of giveaways. And when I say giveaways, I don't just mean movie passes and shot glasses (though there will be plenty of those) — one lucky partier will walk away with two passes to Bonnaroo! If you miss this, you cray. RSVP here.

 
 
by Zohair Hussain 09.04.2013
Posted In: Culture, TV/Celebrity, Music at 11:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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'Blurred Lines': Styled vs. Sensationalized, or Why 'We Can’t Stop'

As readers' interests shift, integrity seems to lose its main market in reporting

Following last week’s “scandal” at the MTV Video Music Awards, the pacing of news and reporting made itself known as a speed force to be reckoned with. In the minute-by-minute duration and aftermath of the performance of one, Miley Cyrus, and her “partner in crime”, Robin Thicke, new age media came together to do what it does best: twitter our feed with dribble and spit-up commentary.

It can’t be denied that news reporting, in many ways, is stepping further away from hard facts and closer to tabloid gossip. In a day and age where Twitter is the new paperboy, it can’t be denied that the facts are coming faster. And while this could be an opportunity for better news, more quickly, more often than not we’re trading chances for quick links to real stories with 140 character quips on MC-Hammer-like “did you see her butt”s (#chauvanistsforCyrus).

The real disappointment comes, though, when we look to major media outlets (Still trusted by some. Take off the aluminum hat, Johnny.) the next day for hard-hitting news, only to see that they’ve decided to throw their own hats in the ring. With prize-winning headlines such as CNN’s “Miley Cyrus twerks, stuns VMAs crowd,” the morning news was just as obsessed as the evening newsfeed.

As a reporter, a writer, an observer, this obsessive, sprawling focus is what scares me most. It isn’t the performance itself, full of dancers dressed as teddy bears or Cyrus’ gyrating hips on Thicke’s overly hyped crotch (See “Blurred Lines” for more details). It isn’t so much the event that took place, as it was the reactive reports that left an extra, bitter after taste to my morning coffee.

Even arts reporting, perceived to have more lenient, pop-culture laced subject matter, used to hold itself to similar standards of respectful re-tellings of facts rather than fiction. Though there had once been a clear distinction between opinion pieces and news articles, even in the realm of aesthetic focus, the lines are suddenly more blurred than ever. And where does that leave us, the “responsible” voices?

Culture is, in many ways, defined by the voices that carry out its most essential conversations. If we are of the few so lucky as to have a readership, our words carry the weight of decades of said cultural insight and historical backing. What do we have to say for ourselves when these words, our influence, sacrifice authenticity for celebrity? Integrity for popularity? What are we really accomplishing when we re-draw the line between honest reporting and scandalized, gossip mongering, and honest words inch closer to the latter? What would our (fore)mothers say?

This isn’t to say that there aren’t some voices, some news outlets out there, who aren’t doing it right. While most couldn’t look away from Cyrus’ extended tongue (search “Venom” and “Marvel Comics” for more details), The Guardian, for example, wouldn’t look past the more subtly digressive implications of the performance. Did you miss the moment where the young, stage-dominant, Caucasian Miley Cyrus groped her not so white back up dancers? (The Guardian didn’t.)  

Some took an even more seasoned route, using temperance techniques to stop the sensational train in its tracks. In Rolling Stone's initially deceptive write up, “It's Miley, Bitch: The Tongue That Licked the World”, Rob Sheffield gave a more balanced account of the 2013 Video Music Awards, mentioning Cyrus almost in passing, and spending his time taking equal shots at all the stars involved in what he said was MTV’s attempt to make “sure this year’s VMA party was a real show. With a little help from Miley."

I ask again: What are we creating when we allow objectivity to bend to the will of popular demand, asking for glitter and jazz and sensationalized headlines? Nothing. We are creating a secular sinkhole of informational access. We lead our readers right back where they started.

And that says to me that there must be a change made. The truth is, we CAN stop. If we want to.

Why can’t we create insight, rather than propagate fan mongering, rather than cling to one star's fateful decision to wear her teddy bear out that night? Let the reporters report and the readers decide. It’s now or never. Robin Thicke will age (even more so, it seems) Miley Cyrus will find Disney again (and a few more times after that), “Blurred Lines” will find its way off the Billboard charts (catchy can only be caught for so long), but the honest word —that will last for…at least a few more years.

 

 
 

 

 

 
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