Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 12-Guest: Dr. Mark Anthony Neal

*Note: You only need to do a question for this post. Also, a reminder that, as of 4/7, papers are now due **Wed, Apr 13 11:59PM**

Viewing (optional):

  • Neal talking about Michael Jackson's legacy in video above. It is long (around 50 min) but fascinating. He talks specifically about MJ & masculinity at 25:20.


  • Neal (2003) "Diggin' the Scene (With the Gangsta Lean)," from Songs in the Key of Black Life: A Rhythm and Blues Nation
  • Neal (2001) “Another Man Is Beating My Time: Gender and Sexuality in Rhythm and Blues,” from American Popular Music: New Approaches to the Twentieth Century


  • Bilal Sayeed Oliver "Soul Sista," "Fast Lane," "For You"
  • Curtis Mayfield, "Freddie's Dead"


Angela said...

Question for Guest Dr. Mark Anthony Neal

What is the biggest challenge of research in your field? You cannot particularly “experiment” as one would be able to for a scientific field, and the popular culture arena has been largely underscrutinized as a serious site of scholarly and theoretical study (as you mentioned on your website). How do you handle these challenges? Have more people joined in your field of research since you started?

Emily Chang said...

I find it interesting that the "Another Man is Beating My Time" article talks about how some songs involves "reducing black men to sexual objects" (Neal 133). Prior to reading that article, I thought that women - regardless of their ethnicity - tend to be restricted to being housewives, which includes being the sexual objects of their men as well. Male sexual prowess is often considered more of a positive than a negative, restrictive quality, so why is this the case for black men? Does this also apply to men of other minorities?

Spence said...

I was very interested by the fact that you said that the lyric "you've got to have a j-o-b, if you wanna be with me" is "pseudofeminist...wedded to old-school patriarchy." I agree with the argument presented, but is there no good that comes from a statement like that? Am I missing the point?

Harold said...

How do you feel about current songs, such as Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," Destiny's Child "Bills, Bills, Bills," TLC's "Scrubs," and Train's "Hey, Soul Sister" using similar elements (i.e. titles, lyrics, some subject matter) to some of the R&B songs of the past? Some of the current songs are markedly different in genre and speak of different issues than were originally sung about. Does this take away from the original songs where inherently black issues concerning sexuality and culture were the context of the song?

Evan said...

In your article, "Diggin' the Scene" you refer to the "pimp aesthetic" almost as an art form. Recently, many of the things associated with pimp music, such as falsetto, have been demasculinized by other artists. Why have we seen a shift in the idea of "pimp" and what do you think that means for black music in the future

Samantha said...

Why do you think Michael Jackson makes such a drastic stylistic shift between the release of Off the Wall and Thriller? You say that you prefer Off the Wall, an album that came out of the Motown genre and was heavily influenced by the Jackson Five. Is this just a personal preference, or do you believe that Jackson exhibits more musical talent in Off the Wall?

AJ said...

In what ways has R&B (through the artistry of contemporary singers) continued to create a space for discourse about gender and other issues surrounding black identity? What aspects of other genres (such as hip hop) enable and/or prevent a similar discourse from evoking healthy, perhaps even unifying outcomes?

Matt Circle said...

It seems to me that many of the issues you raised about African American sexual rebellion and challenging the status quo were just as present in the white community at the time. Do you agree? Besides the racial inferiority of blacks at the time, do you feel that the white community was going through a similar stage of challenging society? Was there any overlap in the political and musical movements between blacks and whites? If not, do you think it would have been more effective if there was?

Athira said...

When popular female musicians have "fashioned a self-empowered public sexuality which presented them as subjects and not the objects of male sexual desire," have they been assigned sexual deviancy or hyper-sexuality (Neal 133)? That is, when these musicians fashion alternative sexual identities, do they find the public unwilling to categorize them outside of the conventional binaries?

Jessica said...

What makes R&B a genre within which social commentary can be possible? Aside from the historical aspects, are there musical characteristics that make it a more effective venue for dialogue on social issues to take place? Are there other genres that can provide a similar environment?
Lastly, is it a genre which can/does accurately portray all social issues, only those of the black community, or only those of a specific branch of the black community?