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Last Tuesday morning I announced to my Facebook friends that I would be going to see John Mayer in concert and that I was excited. Instead of my friends joining in my excitement, I got reposes like: “You know John Mayer hates black people” and “well his penis does”.

The “killjoy” has arrived.

by Bianca Clendenin

by Bianca Clendenin

These comments and others are just some of the responses I got when I first announced I bought these tickets back in September on Tumblr. All my fierce black revolutionary social justice tumblrs were like, don’t know the terrible things he has said and done?

Of course I do. Of course I’m aware of John Mayer’s problematic comments. For one, I am fan, and two I’m not oblivious to his comments. For anyone who isn’t aware of the comments I’m talking about, his comments on the his racial preference when it comes to the opposite sex.

As a young black woman, I was disgusted. Though these were jokes, there is still this gross underlining racism that is still entangled in people who have “racial preferences” when it comes to dating. Right now these comments are almost 4 years old, and anyone who was following pop culture at the time knew that John Mayer was a PR disaster. Everything out of his mouth was just terrible. His personal life was messy, and as public figure it was for the world to pick and prod. This could lead anyone to have word diarrhea. Unlike you and me, we don’t always get publicly outed and shamed for are comments. Unless your comments go viral, like Justine Sacco racist tweet that took the world by storm almost two weeks ago. Thanks to social media, it’s easier to be dragged out online and for the world to see. You may even lose your job over things you post on the social media. Just ask Justine Sacco.

Now I’m not excusing for his comments or his past behavior. As a fan I’m aware and always conflicted. When our “favs” do something problematic or we supposed to stop supporting them or do we acknowledge that these people are just as flawed as us?

No one can really answer this question. I think of this Tumblr blog called, Your Fave is Problematic. A blog that calls out celebrities and lists everything wrong they’ve ever done (or at least what they’ve had done in the public eye). Blogs like this are educational because one, people can learn that the celebrities they look up are not God and that they are flawed just like you and me. And it makes you think twice about the people you idolize.

However one my biggest problems with blogs like this, is that now that you know everything wrong “you fave” has done. Now what? Your Fave tries to answer this question(s):

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 10.36.25 AM

So according to this, I can still like John Mayer, but I can’t come up with excuses for his behavior and as real fan I need to educate other fans on his behavior. Check, plus check.

Here is list of celebrities created by Your Fave is Problematic.

My second question however is, when does it become unforgiving to like something or someone?

I think of two major celebrities that have been in the news or blogosphere lately. R.Kelly’s alleged exploits of being a sexual predator on teenager girls, was all over the news again. At first it was a bit weird that people were surprised of all the allegations he had against him. This is the same man who was married to singer Aaliyah when she was only 15. It’s interesting how casually folks still bring this tad bit of information up, but people rarely question that this was a predatory move.

The general public tends to have a short term memory when it comes to our celebrities, especially when it comes to the abuse of women. For the first time in years R. Kelly is getting mainstream success, thanks for his collaboration with pop start Lady Gaga and his buzzworthy new album ‘Black Panties’. He’s hot right now. Now we can’t deny that talent of R. Kelly, but is his alleged abuse of young black teenage girls enough to ignore because he is talented? Do we give him a pass and still support his music?

I ask the same about Ani Difranco. A popular singer songwriter whose music is seen as bible for many young queer feminists. In high school I was obsessed with her music, especially when I went through my acoustic guitar phase. Difranco and her fans are in hot water, after she announced on her Facebook page that she will be hosting her Righteous Retreat Song Camp next year at the Nottoway Plantation in Louisiana. Considered a feminist songwriting retreat, it frustrating to see another blatant example of “white feminism” excluding the intersectionally of what true feminism is about.

Yesterday, the controversy took to Facebook, as fans debated over the location of the event. Even one alleged fan defending the location. There’s even allegations of a fan creating a fake account and posing as a black woman who agrees with the supporters of the location. From what I’ve read so far, there are a lot of messy allegations, but at the root of it all are that many people are upset with the choice of the venue. It has also bought to light the contemporary history of plantations being used as hotels and whether this is racially insensitive.

Ani Difranco has yet to issue statement, but it makes me wonder what will be her excuse that she or her organizers thought it was ok to have this suppose feminist gathering at a former slave plantation?

Here is another person I liked and at one point looked up too, and here they are doing something that I definitely don’t agree with.

But as a fan, we acknowledge that the entertainers we like can and will be problematic. No one you truly like, love, or stan for will be perfect. Even Beyoncé has her slip ups. If we stopped liking every problematic thing, there would be nothing to like.

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Last night my mother called me into the room to ask me if I’ve heard of this new deadly trend amongst young women the 10 o’clock news likes you to believe.

“Have you’ve heard of this? Girls are trying to achieve a thigh gap!? These magazines are airbrushed and edit photos so that can make it seem like they have a thigh gap.”

Screen Shot of Google Search of 'Thigh Gap'

Screenshot of Google Search of ‘Thigh Gap’

I sighed a little, “Yeah I’ve heard of this, but it’s not a trend. If anything this story is bogus.”

“But this is on the news, they wouldn’t report on it if it wasn’t a serious thing.”

Smirking at her, I went on a mini 10 minute rant saying buzzwords like “generational gap”, “culture of fear”, and “internet hoaxes that turn to cultural phenomenons”.

Of course my parents probably don’t pay half attention to what I say because I always have something to say about everything. What they and many people in their age group don’t understand is that whenever some controversy story hits the news that deals with today’s youth, there’s always a hint of paranoia to it. It’s the Baby Boomers and Generation X’s way of trying to understand us Millennial Kids. Kinda like their active use of works like selfie and twerk. They’re trying to be hip, but essentially it just pushes the disfranchise youth further away.

Our recent obsession with Thigh Gaps has addressed important issues many women face. Body Issues, illness like Anorexia, and extreme body dysmorphic disorder.

I’m not denying that there isn’t an issue. A quick search on Tumblr has led me to the proana and thinspo part of Tumblr. It shows the bleak reality of some young women and men who strive for a thigh gap, even if it may kill them. My question lies, when did Thigh Gaps become such a strong desire and is the media to blame?

Screenshot of Thigh Gap search on Tumblr.

Screenshot of Thigh Gap search on Tumblr.

Which comes to my point of our society’s obsession with living in fear.

One of my earliest memories of college was my one of the first classes I ever attended at Purchase.

It was an 8:30 College Writing course with my learning community, which in reality I wasn’t supposed to even be in. During my senior year of high school I took College English, so I could avoid taking the class in college and to have some credits under my belt. However I was placed in Advanced College English, which in reality just meant the same English course the rest of my learning community was in.

Freshman year they place you in learning communities so it can be easier to make friends. Our learning community focused mostly on the Mass Media. This interests me because as at budding journalists, I felt this was the closes community to my major. Everyone in my suite had the same class, so we were able to essentially create our own little community. Thus the name fits.

I fondly remember my first professor. He was this short buggy eyed white guy who always looked exhausted and perpetually anxious. He was fairly laid back and treated us like adults. He was a stickler for being on time. So showing up late was out of the question.

The class ended up being one of my most memorable classes. Besides the fact that we were small tight-knit group that not only all lived together on the same floor, but we also shared similar beliefs. Some of us did butt heads, but that’s college.

I can say most of my time in undergrad was spent reading or half reading books I barely remember, The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things by Barry Glassner was a book I still quote to this day.

This book dispelled a lot beliefs I had about our culture, like the threat of people putting razor blades or poison in children’s candy during Halloween. It is nothing more than a few isolated incidents that became an annual scare feast for parents. Til this day there’s at least one story during Halloween about how parents should check their children’s candy for hazardous items.

Which leads me to my second story. The recent exposure of the “Knockout Game”. Another trendy story my mother bought to my attention. Unlike the Thigh Gap phenomenal, The Knockout Game was news to me.

The Knockout Game, according to Urban Dictionary, is a game that “urban youth” are part of in which they knockout unsuspecting victims, usually white and in some cases are Jewish. Urban Youth is just a politically correct way of say black kids and a less racist way of saying Nigger.

Death and Taxes did an amazing editorial  titled “Supposed ‘knockout game’ is just a new name for an old racist panic” in-which they looked into similar trends in recent history that ended up being “white panic” rather than actual trends.

For example, with the Central Park 5 case, a landmark case in which five young black and Latino teenagers were arrested and charged for the rape and beating of a young white woman started white paranoia in the 80s in New York City. This idea of ‘wilding’, similar to the Knockout Game, where mostly black youth would supposedly attack innocent white people. Sounds familiar? Just another attempt to paint black and brown men as animals and criminals.

However with all the media panic on the game, there hasn’t been any actual proof that this game even exist.

Via The New York Times:

Yet police officials in several cities where such attacks have been reported said that the “game” amounted to little more than an urban myth, and that the attacks in question might be nothing more than the sort of random assaults that have always occurred.

And in New York City, police officials are struggling to determine whether they should advise the public to take precautions against the Knockout Game — or whether in fact it existed.

“We’re trying to determine whether or not this is a real phenomenon,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said on Friday. “I mean, yes, something like this can happen. But we would like to have people come forward and give us any information they have.”

Yet we have folks like CNN’s Don Lemon participating in the media frenzy by “teaching” people how they can protect themselves.

knockout_game_cnn_don_lemon.jpg

Watch the video:

So like the question I proposed for the thigh gap trend, is the Knockout Game really a trend or a reality the media is eventually going to try to make true?

We do know that violent crimes happen everyday and in all major cities. There’s no denying the fact that these crimes are happening. However proposing that these crimes fall in a pattern, when in reality they are isolated incidents perpetuated by criminals. Why are we so quick to call it a trend?

Because that is the epitome of living in a culture of fear.

The Art Beat Presents: In the Artist’s Corner.
Every week, I will interview interesting and talented folks who are passionate about their craft and trying to make a difference via whatever vehicle they choose.
This week I’m interviewing poet, Giovanni Michael Garced. I discovered the young writer in the poet circles on Tumblr last year and fall in love with his writing, as well as his halo of hair. As an aspiring poet myself, I’m always in awe by people my age who have the wisdom of writers in their prime. Already selling his second chapbook, Sunflower Calligraphy, Garced is already on his way to become someone we will be talking about for years to come.
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Tell me a little about yourself?

My name is Giovanni Michael Garced. I am a 20 year old writer/performer/idea-haver from Miami. I am a natural hair and mango enthusiast. I am nomadic and like laughing a lot.

When did you get into writing poetry? When did you get into performing?

I started writing poetry in middle schools trying to get girls to like me. Got more serious once I got hit in the face with a lot of sadness and reality. I began performing my Junior year of High School.

Who are some of your favorite writers?Gio1
-Pablo Neruda
-Andrea Gibson
-Lemony Snicket
-Buddy Wakefield
-Lupe Fiasco
-Immortal Technique
-Blu
-Samantha Turner
-Ariana Brown
-Warsan Shire
-Christopher Nolan
-Shonda Rhimes
-Coldplay
-Anis Mojgani
-Pedro Pietri
I think I gave too much. But there are many many many more I have to read and some I couldn’t think of on the spot.
What inspires you to create?
The light in me? There is God in me trying to be heard. There is a quote from Sylvia Plath : ” I write because there is a voice in me that can not be stilled”. So like I create because there is a light in me that can not be stilled…or dimmed or put out. You get what I am saying. Creating gives me purpose and that’s what I want to do with my life. Create. Also giving sound to the silences within myself and those around the globe.

Talk about your newest chapbook, how long did it take to create and how do you feel about it?

Well I’ve been trying to make this ever since I put out my first one. I knew once I dropped the first one I wanted to make a second one. So from idea to materialization it took about 9 months. It was very slow because of a lot of things I was going through. Barely writing for 7 months. Not performing for like 7 months. Personal mess that held me hostage. Things like that. I pushed through a lot of walls. Like every writer in regards to their own work, I hate it. [laughs] Well not really, I’m just very critical of my work and overly humble to the point where I’m rarely satisfied with what I put out. But the bright side to that is it keeps me hungry. I do feel good about the rawness of it. A couple of the poems are drafts. Bare in mind no poem is ever finished but those couple of poems aren’t as close to completion as the others. And I just think it’s cool that I can share seeds with people. So hopefully the next time they see it they will see a forest. I am happy that I put it out and left a piece of me on this earth that will live forever. Writing makes humans immortal.

What are you currently in love with, in regards to these topics: music, films, books (can include comic books/etc), tv shows, or anything related to art)? 

-Scandal,
-Scandal episode “Seven Fifty Two” was the best form of media I have ever seen in my life
-I’m really in love with The idea and characters for this movie I am working on
-I’m really really in love with all the ideas swirling in my head for movies/shows/plays I want to make
-Shingeki No Kyojin( Attack On Titian)
-Breakout by N.E.R.D.
-Women of color killing it in art in general
-Pharrell’s voice on some soul stirring instrumentation
-The potential of Earl Sweatshirt
-Making beats
-Lose Yourself To Dance (feat. Pharrell) by Daft Punk
-Sleep. (sleep  is performance art)

-The third part of the Modern Marvel beat by Mos Def

Besides writing and performing, are there any other creative or non-creative outlets that take part in?
I paint sometimes. I’m half okay. I like doing hands on visual art. I used to draw a lot when I was younger. I make beats or I try. It’s fun. and stressful.
Procrastinating.
image (4)What’s one of your favorite pieces you’ve ever written?
Alzheimer’s with Samantha Turner. That piece let me know that I can die and know I served the purpose of art. To genuinely move someone, move a stranger. My words are in those people’s blood. And that energy will always exist. I realized that when a stranger ran up to us and just sobbed in our arms and wasn’t able to speak through her tears.
I know you was a mentor for young and aspiring writers/performers, tell me a little bit more about your experiences with that?
Ah, that was crazy. It was testing because I never thought mentoring is something I could do. It was especially testing because I was working alongside my own mentor. I’m going to throw one of my comparisons/metaphors that probably don’t make any sense to any one but me. He is like the ocean and the kids are fish. and I was rain. How does rain find a way to nourish/stimulate/affect the fish you get me? so that was an adventure in it’s own to find a balance. I learned a lot about myself.  I learned that there is not one kind of mentor. I learned that I’m not the mentor I was trying to be and learned that that is okay. That wasn’t something I could give. Something I learned to accept. I found my role and found the seeds in them as individuals and as a group that I needed and was able to water you know. It was a real nice feeling seeing them on stage knowing I was a part of that journey for them.
If you have to give one piece of advice to anyone trying to become a writer/performer what would it be?
EXPOSE YOURSELF TO OTHER WRITERS/PERFORMERS
EXPOSE YOURSELF TO OTHER WRITERS/PERFORMERS
EXPOSE YOURSELF TO OTHER WRITERS/PERFORMERS
Gio2That’s just what helped me and opened my mind. Reading and watching all these different people. You can’t be that one dude in the cave drawing maps of the world. Something that big will have many interpretations and those views will help your sight grow. When I opened myself to others I learned so many things and my writing grew so so so much. Light feeds off light.
 
Anything else you would like to add for folks to know?
Yo it’s ya boy, you already know what it is. Giovanni Michael Garced in the building.
Sunflower Calligraphy is my second chapbook. It came through the fire. It’s a big part of me that I want to share with as many people as possible. I want my art to travel everywhere I haven’t been and can’t travel to yet. It’s Important for writing and all the voices we have inside to travel. I want to spread everywhere. Creating this helps me do this. Check the links, purchase a book or watch me do things behind a microphone.
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Thanks so much to Gio for being my first interview for In the Artist’s Corner. I hope to continue on with this segment with others like him in the future.
If you like what you read please check on his work below for more information:
Alzheimer’s By Giovanni Michael Garced and Samantha Turner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8kYOe-uwjw
The Cliche Break-up Piece: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIZjtgSgn0E