Tuesday, May 24, 2011
I Don't Know How to React to This
Every day I read a Blog called TVTattle.com, which is a list of links that relate to television. Yesterday I came across a link that said, "Gwyneth Paltrow raps 'Straight Outta Compton'" and I have no idea what to think of this.
Twenty years ago, I would have been pissed. I'd get all self-righteous and wonder how an ultra privileged woman born with a silver spoon jammed in every orifice (she is the the daughter of actress Blythe Danner and film and television director and producer Bruce Paltrow) could identify with NWA and their message. I would drone on and on about how while Paltrow may have lived in Los Angeles, there is no way that she came close to Compton nor did she understand the racial and socioeconomic struggles that the group was talking about. On and on I would go about the obnoxiousness of this woman and how fake she was and how it was just all bullshit.
I'd probably even think that NWA sucked because they were reaching "this type" of audience of faux hipsters with fake English affectations whose only worry is whether to spend the summer in the Hamptons or traipse around Europe.
And here's the thing, not only would I be 100% wrong but my diatribe and outrage would be boring.
Who am I to tell anyone what music they can listen to? If Gwyneth Paltrow digs on NWA, then fuck it, she should listen to NWA. And it's not like I'm a product of the ghetto. I explain my background with NWA here. Aside from the bank account and the looks, I'm really not that different from Paltrow.
NWA wasn't speaking to me anymore than they were speaking to Paltrow. We just happened to come across the transmission and at the very least, enjoyed it and at the most were moved by the rhymes that we heard. And that's the job of music.
Bringing the reaction to the present, it's a funny clip. Paltrow gets the name of the song incorrect--it's not "Straight Outta Compton" it's "Gangsta, Gangsta", but it's a goofy minute of TV. That's all it really is. I don't think that it means that Paltrow was a secret Black Panther and her PC-ness shined through when she wouldn't say the n-word*, however it actually showed me a glimmer of humanness that is buried under the veneer of press clipping, PR statements and the careful speech of Paltrow.
* I'm not saying it wasn't a smart move on her part. You say that word, it gets taken out of context and the next thing you know your career is in the toilet. I have much, much less to lose than she does and I referred to it as the "n-word".
What it all comes down to is that at one point NWA was considered the most dangerous, most scary band in America. They really weren't. While they had a lot of truth in their raps, ultimately they are just another in a long line of musicians that made an indelible mark in American popular culture.