Time as Money

March 22nd, 2009

This account really took me by surprise. I guess I should have figured out the content from the title, but I often don’t look at authors names – hence I missed the Hooker part. I really am drawn to first hand accounts – first person makes everything more personal and real for me and you don’t often get that from Historical texts (with some obvious exceptions of journals, letters, etc.) For me, it is amazing that there is a sysem of heirarchy in being a hooker in shenzhen. I also was taken aback by the fact that some women would sell their services off for only 20 yaun. There are certain things I didn’t want to know about, like this particular hooker working even when she is on her period (guh). Overall, this is a vulgar text in that it describes the job of prostitution, with no allusions or methaphors – just straight up information. This account decribes money as the end all be all, you live off money, and money can even buy back your virginity. This was an interesting read for sure, I don’t really know what else to say about it except that I understand now the need to crack down on prostitution – if it is as common as this hooker made it seem. I never want to visit shenzhen.

On a seperate note – I wanted to just say again how surprised I was about the music choices of our class. No one picked “paved paradise” or led zepplin which i think speaks to the originality of the people in our class – and the fact that we don’t just pick the easiest thing to do so it’s done quickly. Good job guys!

Historical Musical Analysis of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Fortunate Son

March 10th, 2009

First of all I do really like the idea of music being a historical artifact. There are plenty of songs that I can think of off the top of my head that portray a message about the time period they were released and could therefore be investigated as primary sources of that period.

Since we will be talking about this in class tonight and I have done the required paper for that I don’t want to repeat everything here as well – but I will give a breif summary of my analysis of Fortunate Son. This one is relatively easy to get the message about – though I’ve listened to it for years and never before really thought about or really listened to the lyrics. It’s catchy which is a bit dangerous to me because I could really sing along to almost any message if it has a catchy/repeating melody. The song is a protest to the Vietnam War drafting process – and claims that “fortunate son(s)” of wealthy and connected Americans were free from the responsibility of fighting in Vietnam. At the same time, blue-collar working class young men were drafted and forced to fight for a cause they may or may not have believed in. An important thing to recognize is that CCR does support the troops over in the war – they are protesting the politics of America, not its defenders themselves.

Overall, it’s very interesting and neat that I never really knew the details described in the song before this assignment. Here’s a link to a You Tube Video of Fortunate Son.

Project Update March 10

March 10th, 2009

My project has evolved a bit since last posted upon. I am waiting on a few inter-library loans that I requested recently, but I feel like I have an adequate base of information to tackle the topic of Chinese hip hop.

I was interested by the reading that we had for class today – which actually tie into my topic pretty well given that I too am researching music as a historical primary source. I am in touch with an informed and willing source on the Chinese Hip Hop culture now, so I feel that this will be an asset to me as I get further into the research.

My project will be investigating Chinese Hip Hop music and culture as a source of freedom of expression in China today (and in the past decade). As a new trend, this topic has a fair amount of primary sources available in the musical products themselves as well as some useful interviews. I have many questions at this point in the process which I am having trouble narrowing.

I want to relate this movement to the Rock movement in China, which I believe parallels our American hip hop and rock movements well. Specifically I want to look at the Rock artist Cui Jian and his support, and later disaproval from Chinese officials. He is an interesting artist because he does play to the rules and regulations for some time, but also pushes the boundaries and suffers the consequences. In regards to the American movement – I feel that there is a plethora of information out there about how it began as a minority culture, but I am hoping that I will have enough information on purely Chinese movements that I will not be focusing on American Hip Hop or Rock for the bulk of my research.

I want to investigate the progress that Hip Hop artists in China ave made since the birth of the movement as well. Hip Hop is popular, but not embraced by mass media in China up to this point – I want to investigate the specific restrictions on this sort of self expression. I foresee myself focusing on a few songs in order to use lyrics to emphasis the rebellious nature of hip hop. Most of the music that I have access to is on the internet – which I understand is really the main forum for Chinese Hip Hop all together.

I have a few sources that I believe will be most helpful. http://www.dongting08.com/ is a compilation of critics and comments on Chinese Hip Hop which is friendly to those not fluent in the language. On this site, there are several in depth repsponses to the article which brought me down this road in the first place – a New York Times article entitled “Now Hip Hop Too is Made in China.” Dongting also compiled a series of You Tube video interviews with artists and officianados of Chinese Hip Hop which have been very interesting. I am also compiling various videos from well known artists (though it is hard to find the subtitles sometimes). I’m still searching for the primary source that I want everyone to enjoy with me – but here is one that is particularly interesting – with subtitles and very much a propaganda video (having yet to delve into it too much myself, I don’t have too much to say except for that it is very pointed and anti Tibet). http://www.danwei.org/featured_video/hip_hop_user_generated_propaga.php is the link.

Some shortcomings that I anticipate would be that I cannot understand Chinese, making many of the sources available UNavailable to me. I also think I am trying to pursue a difficult topic in that the censorship “rules and regulations” aren’t straight forward and defined. I want to pursue it because that is what is most interesting to me, but I hope that I can find enough to be conclusive in this area of my research. As I do more research I hope to narrow my topic to a few artists and specific songs as well so that instead of a general statement I can have a more in depth analysis. Regardless, it is a daunting task given a quote I came across for the second time today from an artist “…individuals who decide to write about Chinese hip hop should be able to comprehend Chinese; this would help them avoid faulty translations and misquotations.” I’ll try not to do that for sure – but that definitely puts the pressure on.

Better Late than Never

March 9th, 2009

Ok so looking back on the Paper 1 Assignment, I am a little amused at myself for having had so much difficulty comprehending and narrowing a focus for the paper. I think my problem is I have always been prompted very directly to write about such and such exactly the way I know everyone else should be writing it in class (like a regurgitation of information). To me (and probably others) this method is much simpler and comforting because there is less analytical prowess necessary and its not something you have to dwell on. In the end I found that after beating the same topics to a pulp in endless notes, if I had been more carefree and comfortable with the idea of an evolving thesis from the get-go, I would have had a much more interesting and probably much better paper in general. I am hoping I remember this experience for the future (paper 2 is just around the corner).

As for Red Sorghum, I had a hard time at first deciphering the Cultural Revolution allusions and allegories. Class really helped me to sort out some ideas I had started on, like the importance of individuals and community over national fervor for example. I enjoyed reading this account as an alternative to the historical text expected (and loathed by this point) in the history major. This part fictional account of Mo Yan’s ancestry was much easier to get caught up in – the novel itself was a page-turner. The analysis for me was more difficult because it is not a traditional source (much as the music we are investigating for this week is non-traditional to most historians).