Media, culture, and politics from an aesthetic-materialist's perspective.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Black Pop I: Tyler Perry, Candy Licker, White Boys on the Down Low

Three recent articles from Slate.com on black cultural politics:

1. Wesley Morris on Tyler Perry's appeal to black moviegoers, and particularly black women. Thoughts on what "niche" audience-marketing enables and forecloses in social relations and media criticism. Perry's revival of 1940s Hollywood melodrama and his refining of what might be called a "self-help" aesthetic: according to Morris, black women tell him "[Perry's] films give them hope for true love and greater success."

2. Benoit Denizet-Lewis on white men's identifying themselves as being on the Down Low. Thoughts on why white men are drawn to the Down Low -- a hypermasculine, possibly misogynist, discourse of homosexual disavowal and male privilege, of having one's cake and eating it too. Another twist to our current understanding of the DL, with white men taking up what Nelson George would call "everything but the burden."

3. Brendan I. Koerner on the history of black pulp fiction and mainstream publishers' current fascination with so-called "street lit." Review of black pulp fiction's rise with the likes of Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines at Holloway House. Review of black pulp fiction's revival in the form of street lit, independently published books of ghetto life, in the 1990s. Analysis of street lit's mainstreaming, beginning with Sister Souljah's The Coldest Winter Ever in 1999 and reaching a new level of notoriety with Noire's Candy Licker in 2006.

Interesting side-story about Koerner's tracking down the "real" identity of Noire, whom he believes to be middle-aged black romance writer Tracy Price-Thompson. Whether or not that's true, the mysterious "urban" pseudonym points up black pulp fiction's/street lit's investment in the idea of keeping it real.

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