Negative Normies

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Negative Normies

When the casting of Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid was announced, it was met with positive surprise & even a much nastier out pour. Fans who want to see greater diversity on screen have come to expect disappointment when it comes to casting in major Hollywood films. The casting of a black woman in a historically white role signaled an important moment in the ongoing push for greater representation.

However, the optimism was quickly dampened. Anyone who has spent time online is aware of the cycle of outrage that comes after such announcements. For years now, casting announcements which skew from tradition have almost always been met with a messy push-back; think back to all woman Ghostbusters, Jodie Whitaker announced as Dr. Who, Zendaya as MJ in Spider-Man, and the slew of hate-filled tweets, think-pieces and videos that followed their casting. 

But with the The Little Mermaid news, it seemed like some people that supported Bailey’s casting were preempting the cycle and searching for any negative tweets they could find about the news. Quickly tweets with minimal likes, or accounts with small follower counts, were retweeted and quote-tweeted numerous times, giving large public platforms to statements that would have usually disappeared into Twitter’s echo-chamber.

But people who go looking for any adverse opinion, just so they can dunk on it for numbers, are causing problems. This isn’t a case of holding someone with public influence to account or punching up. Its only benefit is to show that you’re engaged in the cultural conversion, and to get likes. But it has negatives, too: trolls are given the attention that they crave.

This need to find wrongness then leads to fake tweets. There was even one account that switched its appearance to look like a Little Mermaid fan account, then tweeted that they would be throwing away a copy of the film due to Bailey’s casting.

It should have been more obvious to anyone with digital literacy that the tweet was suspicious. Iit reads like a stereotype of viral anger; the threat to destroy merchandise is now a troupe of stan twitter, the mention of race so early on in the tweet makes it feel geared for controversy. A quick scroll through the account’s photos revealed it as a fake – although it was worrying how few people were willing to spend the minimal time required to do that. 

Fake tweets, reviews, and even accounts are becoming worryingly common in pop culture. Last year a group of Lady GaGa fans used fake midwestern mom accounts to tweet suspiciously similar negative reviews of Venom, the week both that and Gaga’s A Star Is Born hit theatres. When Marvel’s Black Panther (An ok entry into the MCU catalog) and Captain Marvel (a complete shit show) were released, both were the targets of fake negative reviews in an effort to bring their rotten tomatoes score down.

The issue here isn’t necessarily that some people find the idea of multiculturalism in cinema repulsive, or are prepared to make lengthy arguments about how Hans Christen Anderson’s Danish roots mean that a fictional mermaid should always have white skin (although there certainly are people who have those opinions, and they often share them online). The question is why is there such a compelling need to shine a spotlight on such opinions – which in reality may be voiced by a fairly small number of people – that it starts actively fueling misinformation. Let’s never forget Alexandre Dumas, a black author; responsible for The Three Musketeers. Hollywood has taken this awesome tale and stripped its black roots time and time again. It’s also a slap in the face that pop culture and literarians want to claim this man was white.

The urge to show righteousness and be praised for it is now so common that bad actors are jumping on it and using it for their benefit. We thrive so much on quick Twitter put-downs that its fueling fires that never should have burned; frankly why should there be a day-long Twitter fight with anonymous accounts about the casting in a children’s film? Directing your anger to the source of the misinformation by informing yourself before you tweet is a far more productive way to deal with both fake accounts and bigoted opinions.

You can give your opinion on the news without signal boosting trolls, or by taking a minute to look at the account putting out an opinion and check its origins. This is coming from yours truly, a certified internet troll.. Pop culture is not free of polarization and should be approached in the same way we approach any news, with a cautious eye. We all need to be careful, after all; because what we do online matters, and our choices of who, and what, to share can have powerful repercussions.

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FOMO: Social Media's Disease

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FOMO: Social Media's Disease

I am a product of the FOMO generation. The generation whose fear of missing out is so great, that we spend most of our waking moments staring at the screen on our phones; instead of staring at the faces of the people in front of us. The generation that can’t even sit through a movie without checking Facebook. The generation that documents everything on Snapchat because we live with the mentality that if we can’t prove it with pictures, it didn’t really happen.

Don’t get me wrong, I think social media is a wonderful thing and in no way do I want it to disappear. I just think that when we have the ability to see every move people make through their Instagram accounts it’s hard not to get jealous when it looks like they’ve achieved something we think we deserve. We begin to define ourselves based on the way someone else’s life looks through the pictures they post and develop an “I want more” attitude to try to compensate for what we think we’ve been denied.

The problem is by spending so much time fixating on other people’s dream vacations or #relationshipgoals we’re unknowingly giving our peers permission to live the life we want while we sit on the sidelines and watch. The constant comparison of our lives, to the lives of strangers on the Internet causes us so much anxiety that we can’t be proud of our every day lives; because they just don’t seem exciting enough. The funny thing is that we never think it through; no one’s every day life is exciting.

When I post a picture online, I make sure it’s a picture of something exciting that is going to get me a lot of likes. I would never post a picture of my long day at work or of an essay I wrote about “Of Mice & Men” because those things are looked at as boring. I’m pretty sure if you asked anyone my age they would all admit to having the same screening process for posting on social media. Even though this is a process we go through on a regular basis we still forget that everything we see on social media is the portrayal of someone’s life at a peaking moment causing us to compare our boring everyday life to that one exciting trip someone else took around the world. I’ve always been taught that comparing yourself to others will only disappoint you, so why do we insist on making ourselves miserable?

I don’t want to be part of a generation of people that is okay with allowing themselves to feel less significant than someone else just because their Instagram isn’t filled with pictures of thrilling moments. I don’t want to be part of a generation that is too complacent on their cell phones that they let a stranger live the life they’re secretly dreaming of instead of making things happen for themselves. I don’t want to be part of a generation that uses technology to slow them down. I’m sick of it.

I do want to be part of a generation that uses our fear of missing out as motivation to accomplish something amazing. A generation that doesn’t compare their worst to someone else’s best. A generation that motivates, moves and changes the world.

I am a product of the FOMO generation, and I think it’s time things changed.

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The Memory Lane: XV's "Popular Culture" (My Favorite Mixtape Ever)

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The Memory Lane: XV's "Popular Culture" (My Favorite Mixtape Ever)

I want to take a look back into one of my favorite mixtapes EVER. It’s been almost 7 years (6/15/2012) since its release. Time flies definitely but I play this mixtape every other week.

A year and change after his highly-praised mixtape Zero Heroes¸ Kansas rapper XV is back with his newest release, Popular Culture. If it’s not the witty lines delivered by the emcee that will have you replaying the songs over and over again, the culturally universal samples used throughout the tape will definitely reel you in. Just as the title suggests, XV creatively samples quotes, theme songs, and clips from many well-known TV series and movies and incorporates them into a compilation that does not disappoint. With any luck, & it still bothers me this dude has yet to gain the attention since. XV begins flipping through the channels of pop culture (literally and figuratively) from the very beginning of the tape in the ‘Intro.’ From there, he travels throughout the decades of television history including specials such as Full House (‘Mary Kate & Ashley’), Aaahh! Real Monsters (‘Aaahh! Real Monsters’), Star Wars (‘Jedi Night’), Zombieland (‘Zombieland Rule 32’), and many more. Although many of the entertainment mentions are hidden between the lines of XV’s rhymes, one obvious reference is from one of the rapper’s favorite movies, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, in the song ‘Wonkavator.’ Other samples on the tape include ‘Someone Out Of Town’ by Malaysian singer Yuna, on the track, ‘Her Favorite Song,’ along with ‘The Walker’ by band GAYNGS on the third song on the tape, ‘Breaking Bad.’

Though sample-filled and incredibly creative, XV does not forget who he is and where he came from during the course of the tape. On ‘The Kick’, possibly the realest and oldest track on Popular Culture, the Wichita artist uses an Inception-themed beat to discuss his life and how he strives for more than just his 15 minutes of fame. To show his appreciation to all of his fans that have been there with him from the very beginning, XV uses ‘Be There, Be Square’ as a dedication and theme song for his fellow Squarians.  Along with keeping it real with his audience, XV recruits some top of the line features for his tape, including Emilio Rojas, Slim The Mobster, Schoolboy Q, B.o.B., and many more artists. This is also the first time many people get to hear upcoming singer Raja, who sings the hook for three of the tracks on the tape.

While many artists attempt to have an overall theme for their projects and fail miserably (no shots at David Banner), XV’s latest proves that it is still possible to do so. His appropriate use of popular culture, clever rhymes, and excellent production (all thanks to producer Awesome Sound), combine to successfully create a more than exceptional sequel to Zero Heroes. If XV’s improvement continues to show as it did on this mixtape, all of his Squarians, new and old, will have something to look forward to with his future releases. I still think this is one of the greatest concepts from a project I’ve witnessed, and that’s saying alot.

My favorite song: Zombieland Rule 32 (Feat. Irv Da Phenom)

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