November 19, 2012

The Screens of Bitch Bad

In Burke’s Terministic Screens he discusses how our words and terms affect how we view things or what we view exactly. Basically, the words that we us to describe something are what call our attention to one thing and not to another. With this in mind I cannot stop thinking about our case study Bitch Bad. Throughout its entirety Lupe Fiasco focuses on different problems in a society that listens to rap music. He uses different screens to avert our attention to different subjects that he deems necessary. For instances, he uses the example of the mom and the little boy in the beginning to focus on how the term bitch is used in a derogatory way but the mom embraces it because she thinks it is empowering. However, in this terministic screen it focuses on the mother child relationship and how children learn from their elders what is appropriate and what isn’t in our society.

Next the terministic screen switches over to focus on how young children learn things from the media and how it limits their perception of reality and how women should be treated and not exploited by others. It shows how children are learning more from the internet than from their own parents. However, throughout the whole video you see African American men and women painting their selves in black face so as to perform. Here the screen that Lupe Fiasco is creating seems to be drawing attention to the rap music industry and how one culture is almost making fun of itself and catering to the whim of others and not representing how they truly are but merely mirroring the stereotype that has been established for them. However, the video in itself is a landmark because it is shedding light on all of these stereotypical problems that people face and how they came about.


Joel Bergholtz said...

I love this song (and this album)! Lupe also has a song called "Form Follows Function" that is based in rhetorical theory. I would say that while each verse undoubtedly has a terministic screen, that is to say, it is using a screen to persuade the listener, I think the bigger picture here is that Lupe (while meta-termistic-screening in each verse) is trying to explain that the rap game, and rap slang, is a terministic screen for how society views Black America. Throughout the song (and album) he stresses that by using these terms and rapping about material, black America is digging its own grave. This is why the black face paint is used in the video. You are right, by painting the face he is using a terministic screen of his own to show the ignorance of common day rap. However, I think the ultimate terministic screen to draw from here is the entire song, which is a song about terministic screens that black America have put on themselves by listening to/repeating words endorsed by rappers like Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, etc.

The ending is so fitting:
"Just like that, you see the fruit of the confusion
He caught in a reality, she caught in an illusion
Bad mean good to her, she really nice and smart
But bad mean bad to him, bitch don't play a part
But bitch still bad to her if you say it the wrong way
But she think she a bitch, what a double entendre!"

Lupe clearly understands the multiple interpretations of one word.

lvg10 said...

Megan, you made a great point about how Lupe is using the black face to show that the subjects being used to further a stereotype for the entertainment purposes.

@Joel I think you hit this spot on. What you're saying here is similar to a few points I made in my blog post but your emphasis on the last line of the song is especially important. This is where Lupe make's his argument most obvious. Also, as a fellow Lupe fan I think that you'll notice that he also switched up his own flow in an effort to mirror the style of those he is criticizing in order to reach their same audience. So the medium itself, in more ways than one, is also the screen in and of it's self.

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