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September 16, 1993 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-09-16

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 16, 1993

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w 420 Maynard
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Edited and managed
by students at the
University of Michigan


Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor


Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the majority opinion of the Daily editorial board.
All other cartoons, articles and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Daily.

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L turw- n o h ufek

Despite numerous accounts I've
heard as to the democratic
innovations of electronic media,
"new news" interactive TV and the
virtues of cyberspace "information
highways," mass media continues to
estrange us all. Most of us are forced
to absorb mass media every day of
our lives, via radio broadcasts on the
job, newspaper and flyer babble, and
monopolizing television news, to
name a few. But what of the more
enthralling, flashier forms of mass
media/culture we regularly consume?
How many of us stop to consider the
ways that a mass medium as popular
as rap music affects our relationships
with each other?
Rap music is mass media's
prodigious stepchild, so
comprehensive that Public Enemy's
Chuck D. has dubbed it "Black
America's CNN"; its most effective
moments have inspired some of
television's and print media's biggest
guns to utter silliness. Hip Pop, the
ever-expanding rap-based culture
that arose from New York's hip hop
scene, is still more influential.
Subsidized through clothing lines
like Cross Colours and Karl Kani,
films the likes of Menace II Society
and Poetic Justice, and television
shows such as Martin and Def
Comedy Jam, hip pop steadily
Since the culture's designers set
"the streets" as central to their
expressions, this urban setting has
become the measuring stick for rap
fans' experiences, consciousness,
everything. And because the streets
supposedly epitomize American
Story was out of date
To the Daily:
In case you have not noticed, all
four major compact disc distributors,
as well as the major record labels,
have dropped their demands that
used CDs not be sold. The
companies realized that buying used
or new CDs is a consumer decision,
and not one to be dictated by record
labels and distributors.
When the Daily ran the story
about the conflict between record
companies and retailers late last
week, the whole issue had already
been cleared up. The story that was
printed was outdated.
Where have you been? Keep
updated on the issue so you don't run
other late stories.

"reality" in all their violence, hip
poppers obsessively equate violence
and pain with reality. While mass
culture merely alienates, hip pop
alienates and degrades. For proof of
this phenomenon, check the streets of
Ann Arbor for what a friend calls
"Beastie B-Boys," offensive
suburban kids who exhibit urban
fashionwear and genuine rudeness as
badges of their "legitimacy."
This summer, female rapper
MC Lyte helped drive hip pop
onward with her fab jam,
"Ruffneck." This first single from
Lyte's new album release supposedly
delivers to the hardcore rap crowd
with its grittiness-her "hip hop fan
base," she told me in a recent
interview. A "Ruffneck" is a man
who fulfills Lyte's basic survivalist
needs, in her own words: "Right by
my side with his ruffneck tactics/
Ruffneck.attitude, the ruffneck
bastard." No pushover, Lyte
describes her ideal man in vivid
detail: "Evil grin with a mouth full of
gold teeth/ Startin' beef is how he
spells relief." MC Lyte retains street
credibility with her seasoned taste in
men, as her song and video seem to
Unfortunately, for all of Lyte's
creative smarts, her newest bid for
the streets doesn't wash for me. In
fact, it symbolizes most everything I
hate about mass media politics.
Like all mass media does, MC
Lyte's new song defines a group-a
subject-for her audience and
interprets it to us as such. And like all
subjects in the process of
categorization, the "Ruffneck" is
marginalized in the very act of

definition. Is it the gold teeth or the
bald head that sets him apart? Is he
rough to Lyte's preference all the
time, or merely on weekdays? Need
he suffer from razor bumps to
achieve "Ruffneckness" or is it all
attitude? It's not that Lyte's portrayal
is inaccurate-just one-dimensional
at best. Having done my share of
drivin' "eighty by funeral mourners,"
the song does appeal to me. But even
if most of Lyte's descriptions did fit
me, I doubt that I'd want to be so
easily defined by a pop song anyway.
This form of character description is
both very personal and, at the same
time, depersonalizing. It
oversimplifies people.
Mass media, as has been
evident on this opinion page,
marginalizes people in the basic act
of codifying them in language:
White/Black, male/female, Jew/
Muslim, straight/gay. Some groups
never see themselves represented in
non-stereotypical images in mass
media Others must settle for a
handful of images that are
dichotomous and conflicting at best.
I, for one, have never been able to
decode the term "street person" from
social parlance. Caucasians get it too:
The recent film White Men Can't
Jump used as its formula a
stereotypical assumption that white
people are athletically inferior to
Black people. And when young
Black males look to the mass media
for affirmation, all too often a one-
word title becomes sufficient.for
their, and society's, purposes.
In my opinion, the media is
alienating us, from each other and

end to the strife in the Middle East,
you conclude with the comment that
the recent Israel-PLO agreement
represents "the first step toward
peace in our time."
I find this an unfortunate choice
of words, as it reminds me (and
anyone else who remembers their
high school history class) of the
similar phrase British Prime Minister
Neville Chamberlain used to describe
the ill-fated Munich Conference
agreement with Hitler.
I certainly hope that the current
peace agreements turn out differently
than those of 1938, and that your
careless word choice is a coincidence
and not a bad omen.
LSA Senior

article, and that those who did do not
take your paper seriously.
Being voted Ann Arbor's best
coffee house by your readers is a
great honor for us. You have just
insulted many of our customers, our
crew, as well' as many of your readers
by calling them "dumbasses" and
telling them they don't know what
they like.
Altshul has every right to prefer
Fino's coffee over Espresso
Royale's, but if the majority of
people in Ann Arbor enjoy the
coffee, atmosphere and service at
Ann Arbor's four Espresso Royale
Caffes, let them!
In the future, I suggest you
express your opinion without
insulting the intelligence of your
Ann Arbor

Pull imperialists out of Somalia

LSA first-year student Coffee conundrum

InDecember1992, American troops
landed in Mogadishu with an objective
and a mission: to feed starving Soma-
lianchildren. ThemajoityoftheAmeri-
can people applauded. They were sick
and tired of seeing bloated children
dying slowly in their mothers' arms as
the affluent Western World sat in si-
lence.Moreover, it was clearnoAmeri-
can lives would be endangered. The
United States and the United Nations
were on apurely humanitarian mission
and - withstanding inaction in the
former Yugoslavia - seemed to be

soldiers embracing children who were
eating there first meal in weeks, the
mission shouldhave ended. Butitdidn't.
Because America decided more
needed to be done. A Somalian Gen-
eral named Mohammed Farah Aidid
still had a foothold in southern
Mogadishu. Sothreemonths ago, Presi-
dent Clinton began a military cam-
paign against Aidid, noting that Aidid
would cut off foodlines again if he was
not captured by U.S. and U.N. forces.
Never mind that America was em-
barking on an impossible mission that

the Cold War, the United States and the
Soviets decided Somalia was astragetic
location. So we sent them weapons.
We didn't care that we were sending
weapons to a contintent already torn
apart from centuries of European colo-
nialism. For we had a paramount goal:
to win the Cold War and beat commu-
nism. After the Cold War, Somalia
predictably fell into anarchy. And now
we're back in Somalia. Killing inno-
cent citizens because we want to re-
store democracy there.
We must ask ourselves if this makes

'Peace in our time'
strikes ominous chord
To the Daily:
In your editorial "Grasping the
olive branch" (9/14/93), after writing
with hope about the prospects for an

To the Daily:
This letter is in regard to the
article in the Daily ("Ann Arbor
provides many sidelights: Coffee
Shops" 9/9/93) by Jon Altshul, which
critiqued Ann Arbor's coffee houses.
All I have to say is that it is a good
thing more people did not read that

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