Thursday, May 27, 2010

On 50Centism

mulling on why most rappers can't act, it occurs that the sensibility of Get Rich or Die Trying capitalism may also be why the free-for-all democratized internet seems to break down along familiar socioeconomic lines.

it's the relation of the ego to authority, vs. the relation of the ego to empathy.
50 Cent (and most rappers) sell authority. they know what the f is up. if you question it you might get your chest caved in. Or worse. And most rappers learned this by watching you, America.

you make money here by projecting command, control, and not showing weakness or flaws. if i properly capitalize all my sentences I will project more writerly authority and subsequently be able to sell you my book with more confidence.

Same with magazines, now blogs/webzines. Think about the purpose of that objective omniscient editorial voice: project authority, sell ads against it. This is why journalists and rappers are in the same boat. G-Unit Records and Gawker Media are the same concept with different tools. They're both trying to 50 Cent the game. They already have mostly.

Get Rich or Die Trying capitalism, FiftyCentism, cultivates an 'intelligence' predicated on protecting and manipulating what you know. for your own gain. this runs in contrast to a more buddhist or zen approach to 'smarts' which stresses empathy.

when you start thinking/caring about others, you eventually come to peace of mind by realizing there is so much you don't know, and can't know. the maxim: "wisdom sets bounds even to knowledge". which is a whole different kind of math than what they teach in They Schoolz. it's a math that doesn't necessarily -- but could! -- add up to lots-o-dollars in your pocket.

but not-necessarily maybe-so is a terrible for-profit business model. and a passive voice doesn't attract an audience. RIGHT, INTERNET? FUCK YEAH!

so some 'smart' websites are hyper-nerdy or geeky in a way that transcends old school provincialism. they're 'smartism' trumps racism or classism. a thinkprogress comes to mind (probably best to avoid a political site, but just to illustrate the point).

but the smart black websites, i'm thinking mostly the hip hop cultural-specific ones, have a certain mostly impenetrable approach (a Byron Crawford, or NahRight comments thread). they don't like to kowtow or subject their authority to the dominant system in place. lots of coded language, cultural-insidery humor.
and the smart wp websites -- these are more popular and well known -- like Slate, Salon, or NY Magazine, don't like to subject their authority to question by admitting they and their white staffs might not have the resources to always 'get' the 'ethnoculturally different' parts of the cultural newscycle.

Think of mostly-superlative NPR interviewer Terry Gross's mostly-helpless talk with Tracy Morgan. or even Tracy's repeated soundbyte "I'm a 40-year-old black man, what do young white writers know about me?"

Well what they know is how to 50 Cent you into something much smaller and consumer friendly. they know how to sell knowing you with authority, even if they don't really get you at all. most artist/journalist friction comes from artist 'smarts' dovetailing with the empathy version. and journalist 'smarts' with 50Centism. artists presume they don't/can't know. journalists need objective truth despite truth's inherent subjectivity.

blogging as a medium might allow for an evolution out of this. the direct one-to-one effect of blogging means any given individual can buck/change the system. and readers are getting more options. but it doesn't change the fact that we are suckers for Authority. we want someone, whether it's 50 Cent, Jay-Z or The New Yorker, to tell us what to do.


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