Wednesday, 09 September 2009
By Ingrid Michaelson
Kanye West recently said that when it’s all said and done, history will remember him as the voice of this generation. He might be right. His popularity is unparalleled, and it is projected that his new album will sell no less than (approximately) one trillion albums in the United States alone. More transcendently, his popularity is still astronomical despite demonstrating repeated episodes of deranged behavior, such as attacking innocent magazine photographers in Los Angeles airports, crying about losing to more talented people at music award shows, preaching that U.S. presidents don’t care about black people, etc. Even if you hate that asshole (and I don’t hate that asshole), you cannot deny his influence on today’s youth and pop culture. Who else can convince young people that wearing Venetian blinds sunglasses are functionally acceptable and fashionably cool? His acts of random insanity are justified by his superior level of social relevancy, a status that OJ Simpson and Amy Winehouse failed to attain. He is certainly on his way to becoming the ultimate voice for me and people my age. And, if his rap career somehow doesn’t work out, he would still make a fantastic revisionist historian.
On my way to work one morning I was listening to a radio interview with Kanye West in which he was promoting his new album. The interview struck me as kind of bizarre, and it’s not because Kanye West couldn’t stop feeding his Montana-sized ego. It was interesting because this interview was on Los Angeles’ modern rock music station, KROQ-FM, which is a radio station that does not cater to Kanye West’s targeted Urban/Rhythmic format. In fact, the DJ blatantly told Kanye that KROQ doesn’t play any of his songs, but they still invited him for an interview to promote his new album. Kanye West crossing radio formats is kind of unusual; it would be like Axl Rose promoting Chinese Democracy on Power 106 (LA’s hiphop radio station). Hearing ‘Ye on KROQ isn’t something you would expect to hear on a radio station that plays bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Rise Against, Kings of Leon, Silversun Pickups, MGMT, and (regretfully) Nickelback, but this didn’t come without precedent. KROQ’s playlist does have a few select hiphop songs by bands such as the Beastie Boys, Cypress Hill, and Jurassic 5. I don’t know why this is necessary. I suppose Cypress Hill and the Beastie Boys are kind of “rock” and hiphop at the same time, and I suppose that this is the type of music that the KROQ audience likes. That seems like the most valid explanation, but perhaps KROQ is also required by the federal government to play “black” music as part of some type of FCC affirmative action policy. How the hell should I know? I’m not a lawmaker.
I don’t know if Xanga has an explicit affirmative action policy, but it seems as if there has been an increase in the number of black bloggers lately, specifically on the Top Blogs page of the site. This is just an observation of mine, and it’s fully possible that I’m completely wrong about it. At first I considered that this was the direct result of Barack Obama winning the Presidency. His victory might have empowered blacks and given them the sense that, since they took over the White House, they could take over everything else. But, after explaining this reasoning to a black friend of mine and after he punched me in the face, I was open to consider an alternative.
Considering that Xanga is a business whose sole purpose is to make money, it’s possible that the Black Renaissance on Xanga is completely by design. Xanga has gone on record saying that the new group blog sites such as Datingish, Lovelyish, Dollarish, and Momaroo were created for the specific purpose of generating revenue from advertisements targeted to a specific audience. By that reasoning, I suppose it would make sense to target ethnicities, but creating race-specific sites might be seen as racist, divisive, and dangerous. (Note: Hoodstars is targeted toward hiphop culture, not black people.) Creating a site called “Blackish” or “Ni99aPleez” is probably unnecessary and insane, and it would probably be safer and more sensible to display the diversity on Xanga through Featured Weblogs or Top Blogs. Xanga has historically been perceived as a community of a bunch of Asians and TheTheologiansCafe, but showcasing the occasional black man (or woman) on Top Blogs and the front page will always be attractive to potential advertisers. Some people will say that this post is wrong, racist, and close-minded, and that the black bloggers on Top Blogs are there based on their own merit and not from preferential treatment from the Xanga top brass. That might be true, but that reasoning is also boring and unambitious. Xanga has no problems promoting blogs about desperate mothers (Momaroo) and people who can’t get laid (Datingish) by strategically placing links to those sites all over the place, so why not promote diversity by intentionally including a black blogger on Featured Weblogs? Affirmative action is always a good decision. Without it, we wouldn’t have the occasional insane roommate on The Real World or white people in the NBA. Some people will deplore this post and say that it’s small-minded and immature to even consider someone as a “black,” “white,” “Asian,” or “Injun red” person when we are all unified as “bloggers” in the great Xanga nation. However, the people who think like this fail to realize that being “colorblind” only blinds you from seeing the world’s beautiful colors, which is sad.
I’m not the voice of the Xanga generation, I swear.