I start by stating, I love Alicia Keys. She Rocks.
As I watched the ‘Fallin‘ video – for the millionth time, I started to think about Stereotyping and what this really still means for us all today. For instance, do videos, like the one in this post, of Black men in jail, or on the run from 5-0, or in the process of being cuffed a ‘forever’ stereotype? When do Black Men get a variety of ‘stories’, enough to allow a break in this social conditioning and limiting trajectory, of what they can aspire and/or look forward to as an adult male.
From downtrodden, to incapacitated, to self-empowerment, to New Jack, to Bling – the (unfortunate) OTT display of affluence to establish pride. We, again, have the smart, geeky glass-eyed men coming into the mainstream. For example, Aloe Blacc, or closer to home, Tinie Tempah, who my nephews love, and quite frankly, he is great for boys their age (8 and 3), and older. The point is, opening possibilities beyond the depressing and often dangerous reality of urban (music) living, regardless of colour. If we are really in a ‘new’ age where possibilities are no longer dictated by colour, creed (being a different discussion /dimension altogether) but purely aspirations. Then surely, Class being the standard, is equally disturbing a proposition.
After all, who and what defines the precarious line of class, or for that matter, the acceptable face of it? Is the vast valley of opportunity, mobility and achievement all now simply overcome by where you live, the car you drive, who you sup with, and what you ‘do’? Are we past the laugh at Carole Bucket (pronounced Bouquet, don’t you know) syndrome, or still very much entrenched in it? The new ‘them’ and ‘us’, being class, turns the issue into a post code dictate. Does this then not move the once insidious routine of prejudice, elitism and marginalization into an albeit open, but seriously old school (archaic, even) arena of the ‘have’ and ‘have not’? And even if you do have, how did you get it and how much do you have become a preoccupation. If you haven’t, then shut it and get it, or put up with your lot (read: ‘get out, you’re not our class of person’).
I ponder also, as I watch the video, that embedded within all this new wave, is the good old ‘kitkat’ marketing idea that a Woman stands by her beleaguered Man through bars, and perhaps, now through geeky glasses. The subliminal messages to the independent woman. Independent women generally incensing many a male sensibilities, to herald a cry ‘back to basics’ – Mad Men! (Actually, in this scenario, it would be ‘Mad Women!’). So, are women still being cajoled into how women ‘ought‘ to be, lest we come across as man-hating feminists – Ref Jessie J’s ‘Do It Like a Dude’ – when the reality is usually far more complex than a brush away dismissal of our points of view, ambition and achievements.
Therefore, for all our freedoms, we are still bound and compelled to follow a very narrow set of rules. Unless, of course, we irreverently bypass it ALL and forge our own-stream (*cough* Big Society?) and be damned for it anyway. Clearly, Women and Men, ‘jailed’ in ANY stereotype, will only ever allow a dance to someone else’s tune. So we must make our own music and dance our own rhythms regardless, but together. ‘For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others’, without the stereotyping.