Saturday, 3 August 2013

Tim Stanley and Gangsta Culture

I absolutely loved this article by Tim Stanley, although I didn't know whether tut-tut or to giggle when he said Roger Scruton looked like a "mad owl."

Meanwhile, I do not get high school, multicultural, "gangsta" culture by which I mean teenage boys of a variety of ethnic groups, but particularly of different middle-eastern ethnic groups (e.g. Persian, Armenian), standing around posing for photos with bottles of hard liquor, cigarettes and weapons. They post these photos on Facebook, eliciting such comments from each other as "miss u ma nigga".

Hmm, I have never typed or said that word in my whole life, and yet I have read this umpteen times on the Facebook pages of white teenage boys in huge-crowned baseball caps and falling-down jeans.

Are there any teachers out there, or high school students, or recent co-ed high school grads, especially in Ontario, who could explain this phenomenon to me?



Jackie said...

Wow, super interesting article to start off this Saturday, Seraphic-- thank'ee!

As to your question, I am not a HS teacher so take this with a grain of salt. ;-)

What I am observing is the appropriation of black rap culture by another ethnic group. There is a subculture of white, typically suburban, teenage boys who do this as well. (Girls, too. See: Kreayshawn. But that's a story for another day!)

"Ghetto" is used as a positive adjective and the concepts of "swag" and "keeping it real" (authenticity) are valued. Super-low pants (yuk!), ginormous diamond earrings and the use of "shorty" their vocabulary. A hilarious example of this is tween singer Justin Bieber, whose pants seem to most resemble an adult diaper!

Their attitude towards women is a pimp-like mentality.

So: WHY? In my opinion, boys this age are into posturing, adopting the stance that they are *so* much tougher than everybody else. They are trying to ascend via their masculinity. Adolescence is a rough time for everybody. :(

There is a huge contingent of boys who see black rap culture, with its pimp mentality, as the paragon of masculinity and authenticity. When they appropriate the culture, they are presuming they will be adopting those same qualities. (Unfortunately the result is usually something like Justin Bieber.)

The super sad irony in all this is that the masculinity of black rap culture is all posturing and fronting as much as the teenage boys. The fatherless epidemic. The displays of wealth by many rappers (gold jewelry, fancy cars) belongs to the record-company owners. A huge percentage of these rappers end up in debt or bankrupt, since they never learned financial advice, which is typically dispensed from dads.
Just my 0.02 on what I observe trending in our society, sadly.

Roseograce said...

I am by no means an expert on this subject, and I cannot comment on the Canadian side at all, but for what it's worth this happens all over the U.S. I've often wondered the same thing myself, and see it practically every day in the city where I live. Why do young men and teens of any color act "gansta?"

I'm inclined to agree with Jackie that the fatherless epidemic (amongst the poorer classes especially) has a huge deal to do with it. No reliable male role models to demonstrate true masculinity leaves the fatherless boys to find it where they can -- and the gangsta/rap culture offers them a formula for "manliness" with which they can identify, since its themes often revolve around poverty, fatherlessness, the ghetto, gangs, etc.

Roseograce said...

Additional Note:

I realize you are asking in particular about this strange phenomenon in the white/middle-eastern/not-black contingents.

Still, I think it has a lot to do with these young men's perceptions of true masculinity, which they are probably not getting from their dads. They see a brotherhood of sorts in the gang world, and it offers them a sense of power what they perceive as manliness. Unfortunately, this gangsta culture just perpetuates fatherlessness and lack of true male role models.

Jackie said...

Roseograce, your second comment really got me thinking. I wonder, could the media representations of fathers in popular culture tie into this at all?

When I was in grad school the tv broke and I was too poor to replace, and so I got used to life without it. When I did on occasion partake of television, I remember being grossed out by SO much of it. Most family shoes are presented like this (in my observation):

The dads are presented as cloddish buffoons while the moms are waspish and witty, running the whole house singlehandedly. The kids are the decisionmakers and the arbiters of taste, and have this weird kind of sangfroid.

I can completely understand rejecting this. It's really insulting, all around. (Off the top of my head, a show like Friday Night Lights is a good exception to this.)

Recently I got Netflix and it has been kind of a revelation, especially in regards what other countries produce. Storylines that would have been played for laughs in the US -- for example casting an older woman or a person not "conventionally attractive" as a love interest-- exist in serious drama, in British film at least. I was beyond surprised to witness this.

This has gone WAY off-topic, oops! But it really has given me lots to think about re: culture and representation.

Jackie said...

Ooops! Family shoWs, not shoes. Sorry!

Anonymous said...

I have a big crush on Tim Stanley's hair. It's too beautiful to belong to belong to a boy.


Seraphic said...

Oh, Jackie. Don't get me started on how much better theatre and film is for older women in Britain and France--especially France. Very often if you're considered a beauty at 20, you're still considered a beauty at 60. Notable examples are Helen Mirren, Kirsten Scott Thomas and Catherine Deneuve. And this means, of course, that the cultures do not simply write off all women over 35 as crones. As Camille Paglia once said to some fellow American who insulted her appearance, "Haggard is hip."

Seraphic said...

Oh no, Sinead. I think it is great for boys to have beautiful hair. They don't usually get to keep it, you know.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. Men with lovely hair always catch the eye, don't get me started on curls. I read back a few of his columns there the other day. Apparently he has run out of shampoo and was using washing up liquid which made it softer and more feathery. So there ya go, forget about Pantene, Fairy Liquid is where it's at.

Great bargain from Schuh by the way, pretty sure they'd cost about 100 here. Well done. :-)