Friday, October 05, 2007

More Mixed Messages

This video on YouTube, White Chicks and Gang Signs, mocks the foolish cachet of imitating gang behavior among the social media used by affluent young females. It is not clear if the photos in the video come from photo-sharing or social networking websites, but these are clearly signs flashed online rather than on the street. Some interesting commentary about it and the stereotypes it perpetuates on Racialicious.

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Blogger Gray Kane, Ph.D. said...

That's funny!

However, the commentary on Racialicious missed a critical point.

I think we have to recognize such cultural dislocations as being simultaneously less than ironic commentary on other people's cultures, and more than unconscious replications of media depictions.

Dislocations of culture (Che T-shirts, white fraternity members' singing NWA's "Speaking of Compton," Starbucks' Ethiopian coffee, etc.) deprive the cultural artifact of its historically contextualized element-- in other words, of what in fact makes it cultural.

As a result, we wear panchos or gang signs as indications of a global identity that is robbed of its national, regional, cultural, or even religious content.

This globalized identity comes at a time during which many people reject globalization as a stable source of identity. Those who reject globalizing identity cling to what they retroactively see as the fundamentals of their national, regional, cultural, or religious identities. And they take offense to "outsiders" who display them as empty signifiers.

In other words, the war between Western globalization and Islamic fundamentalism is only one representation amidst a myriad of such struggles that occur in the classroom, online exchanges, movies, Lou Dobbs, Fox News, etc... These are all different facets of the tension between

(1) different types of localized identity and

(2) globalization's dismantling of the very sources of that localized identity.

12:09 PM  

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