I have most of the essay written but it is pretty crappy and needs a heavy revision. The goal is to create a paper that analyzes Ice Cube’s star image. Here’s the entire assignment. Im up to step 3 but need lots of revision. I can share a google doc that has comments added to it on what needs to be revised. Google doc link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CrqNueQQ4qtK8VF9_N-pNhVV5vAbL4KmLqke6qjb4qs/edit?usp=sharing INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE ESSAY: In the reading “Stars as Images,” Richard Dyer writes that star images are a structured polysemy (see discussion on pages 63-64). Dyer writes, “By ‘polysemy’ is meant the multiple but finite meanings and effects that the star images signifies (63).” The potential meanings of a star are constructed from a range of media texts (film roles, publicity, promotion, criticism + commentaries), all of which produce meanings that may be consistent with, or may contradict, one another. These meanings may change over time as the stars negotiate the contradictions they embody, or they may remain fairly static. Choose a film or TV star (you can choose a music star if they have a significant body of video work), then research the polysemic texts that comprise the star’s image. Dyer lists four categories of media texts: promotion, publicity, films, and criticism + commentaries [including fan commentaries] (60-63). Review his definition of these categories. Then gather research on your star in each of these four categories, making sure to include material from each. By the rough draft stage, you will craft an intriguing and original thesis statement regarding the most interesting meaning of your star, which you will support with an analytical argument that relies upon the evidence you have gathered. TIP: Start from Dyer’s argument in his chapter “Stars as Social Phenomenon,” that stars raise and embody specific cultural tensions. Sometimes they force us to confront those tensions, but often they smooth over those tensions, too. Your thesis should name some of the tensions that your star’s image raises, and your analysis should explain how those tensions are dealt with in your star’s image. (Are we forced to confront them? Or are they smoothed over by other aspects of the star’s image? Are we confronted to an extent, but then comforted, too? Explain.) You should cite Dyer at some point in your Introduction. You can choose to address a certain period or aspect of a star’s career, or you can do an analysis that encompasses their career overall. Most importantly, you should be interested in your star, so pick someone that you actually like! And even if you are only focusing on one period of the star’s career, please be informed about what happened during the rest of it. (For instance, Robert DeNiro is not just famous for playing a grandpa. He was known as an edgy, serious actor for the majority of his career. Even if you just wrote about his “grandpa” roles in comedy, your paper would have to express some awareness of his earlier image.) CLOSE READINGS: Your paper must feature at least two close readings of specific scenes from specific films that you think are representative of your star, and give a detailed analysis of the way these scenes relate to your star’s image. You can similarly “close read” film posters and even film reviews by paying attention to images that recur, or key words and ideas that you see repeated. SOURCES: You will need to use Dyer (“Stars and Social Phenomenon” and/or “Stars as Images”), as well as at least one other theoretical source, and at least two historical sources in your final paper (explanation of theoretical vs. historical sources below). The final paper project is broken down into several steps: STEP ONE: FINAL PAPER PROPOSAL (5%) DUE: TUESDAY, JUN 9 at 9:30 AM on bCourses Write a 300-word explanation of the research question that you want to pursue. Name your star, explain what they are famous for, in what time period they were most active (1970s? 2000s?), and name some key moments in their career that you think are central to their image. These moments can include famous film roles [specific scenes are even better], famous magazine covers or photos, a legendary awards show moment, etc.––anything that you think is central to an understanding of the fullness of your star’s image. You should not have a thesis yet, but you should have something that you want to investigate. EXAMPLE: “My research will focus on the question of why 1980s/1990s multiplex star Sean Young often plays characters that throw her gender identity into question. Young most often played a traditional female love interest in conventional Hollywood action films and thrillers. Her breakthrough role was as the melancholy and beautiful “Replicant” Rachael in the first Blade Runner (1982). However, there is a thread in her image that contradicts her ‘leading lady’ status. In 1993’s Buddies, Young played a character who switches bodies with Martin Short; in 1994 Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, she plays a Chief of Police who is ultimately exposed as a man; and in 1989’s Love Crimes, she plays a transwoman in love with Patrick Denis. For an actress best-known for her tall, brunette, fine-boned beauty, this trend seems like an anomaly. Young is quite traditionally feminine in looks, so why does this ‘gender confusion’ recur in her roles? Notably, Young’s career ended in the early 1990s after she spoke out against sexual harassment by the likes of Miramax producer Harvey Weinstein (now charged with multiple counts of rape against multiple women), and director/star Warren Beatty. In my research, I will consider how Young’s outspokenness about sexism and sexual harassment in Hollywood potentially contributed to a star image that was ripe for gender confusion, and what that ‘confusion’ implies about the limits of behavior imposed upon women in Hollywood, and the culture at large. I will look at scenes from the three films in which her roles express some kind of covert masculinity, particularly the scenes where her gender is supposed to be ‘exposed.’ These include a scene of Young in the shower from Buddies, the ‘unmasking’ of Young’s character at the end of Ace Ventura, and the final sequence of Love Crimes, where Patrick Denis discovers her identity as a transwoman. I will also research Young’s statements in the press regarding sexual harassment in Hollywood in the 1980s/1990s, including those that occurred in her TV appearances on shows like Late Night With David Letterman.” TIP: KEEP YOUR TOPIC SMALL. For instance, topics such as, “How Social Media Has Changed Stardom,” or “Asian-Americans in Hollywood” are MUCH TOO LARGE TO ADDRESS IN AN 8-10 PAGE PAPER. Keep your topic limited to a very specific question about your specific star. STEP TWO: RESEARCH REFLECTION AND SUMMARY (5%) DUE: TUESDAY, JUN 16 at 9:30 AM on bCourses Research and choose a minimum of six sources that will help you think about your final paper topic. At least three of these sources must be theoretical (in other words, they will present an argument about the theoretical operations of stardom or spectatorship). Theoretical sources can include: a chapter from a book (look for edited volumes on “stardom”), a peer-reviewed article from a database, such as JStor, or any other scholarly work. The other three texts may be historical. Historical texts can include reviews or evidence of a star’s or a film’s reception, a certain minority group’s history of representation in film, biographical information, historical information about a film production, etc. These historical texts should be more substantial than social media comments, although you may use those types of comments as evidence in your final paper. Assess the “Pitch, Complaint, and Moment” of each of your six sources, as outlined in pages 208-9 of Writing Analytically (Ch 13 “Reading Analytically”). Choose a passage from each of the sources, and look for language that reveals the position that the piece seems interested in having you adopt (the argument, or “pitch”). Note that it’s easier to find the pitch if you first look for what the writer is responding to (the complaint). Create full bibliographic entries for each source (MLA format, as you would for a Works Cited page), and put them in alphabetical order, according to author last name. Indicate whether or not the source is theoretical or historical. Then quote the sentences of the text that most fully articulate the pitch and the complaint. In other words, type out the author’s words regarding their main argument and the idea or tendency they are aiming to correct or more fully understand. These passages will often be near each other, but if they aren’t, that’s okay, use two separate passages. Be sure to cite page numbers. Then paraphrase these sentences in your own words, making explicit what you think the pitch and the complaint are. Finally, consider the historical moment in which the piece was written and write a sentence or two articulating how that might be reflected in the piece. (Is this a work of 1970s psychoanalytic feminist criticism? Early 2000’s theories about artificial intelligence? French theory from the 1950s?) Be sure that the date you are using is the date of original writing/publication, not a later reprint (use the internet to check). Do this for each of your six sources. The “Pitch, Complaint, and Moment” for each source should be about 250 words. Lastly, write a paragraph where you explain which of the theoretical sources you find most useful in helping you think about your topic, and why. In the same paragraph, rank the usefulness of your historical sources, and explain why. STEP THREE: ROUGH DRAFT (5%) + PEER REVIEW (5%) DUE: TUESDAY, JUN 23 at 9:30 AM on bCourses. In class, I will assign you a peer review partner, and you will swap rough drafts with that partner in order to conduct a peer review during class time. I will provide you with a peer review worksheet, which you will fill out and return to your partner by midnight on Tuesday, Jun 23. You will be graded on the quality of the feedback you provide to your partner. This is a full 8-10 page complete rough draft of your final paper. You will craft an argument through careful analysis of film sequences and close readings of the theoretical and historical texts, as well as other evidence as you see fit. Your paper should include at least two close readings of sequences or scenes that you think best exemplify your topic. Your argument should deal with a question about stardom or spectatorship, and should have some stakes. In other words, there should be a compelling answer to “so what?” that gets answered by the end. In the rough draft of your final paper, you must use at least one theoretical text that you researched on your own (not one of the assigned course readings). You will also use at least two of the historical sources that you found. The paper should be 8-10 pages, 12-pt Times New Roman font, double-spaced, with page numbers. The paper must include the following: full MLA heading and formatting, including a Works Cited page and accurate citation. The Works Cited page is not part of the final page count. an engaging title. an interesting, cohesive and debatable/defendable thesis generated out of your analysis of both the moving image and theoretical/historical texts. citation of one of Dyer’s ideas re: star images two close readings of film scenes/sequences engagement with one outside theoretical source (not one of the assigned course readings) engagement with at least two outside historical sources fluid transitions between paragraphs and ideas. a conclusion
Carlos Salazar Colorado
23 June 2020
Ice Cube, a Reminder of Domestic Problems
This essay will be researching the rapper and actor O’Shea Jackson commonly known as Ice Cube. One of the iconic things about Ice Cube is the anger he shows in all his roles. In both music and acting, he portrays this anger. In most of his acting work he shows this anger by doing his iconic glare, often while talking angrily. While some of his work is comedic and does this for laughs, other aspects of his work are more serious and tackle issues faced in our society. The purpose of this essay is to further examine Ice Cubes role in the portrayal of african americans living in impoverished ghettos.
Ice Cube embodies many of Dyer’s ideas on stardom. He rose to stardom out of the ghetto which encapsulated the idea of social mobility. This is not what he embodies the most. The idea he is most prominent for is controversy. He also spread controversy and masked ideology through much of his work. He often would rap about criminal activity and turn around in the same album and talk about injustices to and in the black community , then going off and making a comedic family movie. He often seems as if he’s contradicting himself yet he is still able to make us think about these issues even if we do not agree with what Ice Cube is saying in his movies or in his music.
In order to delve into this topic, Ice Cube’s background is important. Ice Cube has been a prominent figure in hip hop since the late 1980s as a rapper in NWA. A few years later Ice Cube began acting and eventually left the music industry for the film industry. After a fews of rapping while acting, he went from an iconic gangsta rapper to comedic actor. Despite this being a rather large transition, Ice Cube maintained several of the traits he had as a rapper. The most notable trait he maintained was being a tough, angry guy. Ice Cube constantly plays a tough guy character. His tough angry character is constantly angry about the various issues in society and challenges them or brings them to light.
In NWA he was always the angry voice. In 1986 Ice Cube joined NWA, one of the first gangsta rap groups, at the age of 16. In the group, each of the 7 had their unique styles with Ice Cube always attempting to be the angry, loud, and aggressive voice. In 1988, their album Straight Outta Compton led to their fame. Ice Cube is the first to speak on the album and opens up the first song with the words “when something happens in South Central Los Angeles, nothing happens, it’s just another n*gga dead.” (NWA) Lyrics like this led them to be hated by many. Their profanity was frowned upon and this caused them to become public targets for releasing this album. They were under constant fire by the common media. Their controversial lyrics were constantly questioned and frowned upon. This was especially true for their second song on the album, “Fuck The Police.” This song invoked so much controversy and tension that it led to the FBI to investigate NWA and send a letter of disapproval, stating the song evokes violence against law enforcement (Pareles). The premise for “Fuck The Police” was written as a result of a long history of police brutality. Ice Cube angrily starts off the song and yells “Fuck the police comin’ straight from the underground a young nigga got it bad ’cause I’m brown and not the other color so police think they have the authority to kill a minority”. This gives us a very succinct opinion on how the police treat minorities. This message was agreed upon by many and allowed them to become one of the most popular rap groups despite being banned on radio in most places.
Ice Cube eventually left NWA and recorded his own music. His music received wide criticism as well. “”Death Certificate” offers more complex (and sometimes contradictory) messages than a cross-burning, but it’s not subtle. Ice Cube knows who he hates, and his raps bluntly insult and threaten violence against homosexuals, women, whites who exploit blacks, whites who covet black women, blacks who date white women, Korean shopkeepers, rappers who cross over to pop, the Los Angeles chief of police, self-destructive ghetto blacks and more.”(Pareles) While they were being accused of promoting violence and hate towards others, Ice Cube explained that he was not and he did not consider himself a gangsta rapper but rather a reality rapper who would just sing about the truth of what happens around him. The frustration and anger of many towards these issues are then interpreted by Ice Cube in his music and allow these issues to come to light. This anger translates to all the roles in his acting career.
In Boyz N the Hood, many issues restricted to the ghetto are brought forward. For many people, this is their first encounter with black culture and all the violence and problems that are never shown in the common media.(Doherty and Jones) Boyz N the Hood tells the story of poor black teenagers and their many unique problems growing up in the hood. Some of these problems are an abundant lack of father figures, crime, homicide, black on black violence, police brutality, gentrification, and drug use. Over the course of the film, none of these problems are resolved. Instead of solving these problems, the characters contribute to these problems.
In Boyz N the Hood, Ice Cube stars as Doughboy, one of many males growing up without a father. With no father and an uncaring, absent minded mother, he finds himself in constant trouble and criminal activity. The whole neighborhood is in constant trouble, violence and crime are rampant. In a confrontation with another group, Doughboy pulls out his gun after they disrespect him. This ultimately leads to them seeking revenge by doing a drive by shooting and killing Doughboys brother. Doughboy then kills them in a drive by. The next morning, Doughboy comes and sits with his friend Trey, who left before the shooting.
The scene starts with a long shot that allows us to see Doughboy selling crack then walking over to Trey as police sirens and helicopters are heard. While they talk about what happened the night before, it is medium shot, allowing us to see both their faces. Then, Doughboy starts getting a bit more personal and it switches to a close shot, allowing us to seem like we are conversing with him and seeing as he stutters and nearly cries. He says, “Turned on the TV this morning. Had this shit on about…about livin in a violent, a violent world. Showed all these foreign places. How foreigners live and all. I started thinking man. Either they don’t know, dont show or they don’t care about what’s going on in the hood. They had all this foreign shit. They didn’t have shit on my brother, man.” He says the violence just keeps going on and on again as we hear the sirens and helicopter passing by again. He walks away and we are told he was murdered 2 weeks later in a drive by shooting and Trey leaves the hood. Everything they did had no effect on what happened around them leading to a feeling of an inescapable ghetto.
This sequence establishes the futility of their situation. The news only talks of foreign places. The news claims the world is a violent place and then shows how others are living. Doughboy notices they do not mention any of the domestic terrors, only others. His conclusion is that they either do not know or they simply do not care. Doughboy’s brother, Ricky, was an innocent young man with a son and had just gotten a football scholarship to a university and had just passed the minimum SAT scores to get in. He was considered the good brother but he ended up dying instead of Doughboy in part because of Doughboy’s aggressiveness. Doughboy avenged his brother and realizes it does not matter. He claims he doesn’t know how he felt about it. He begins questioning what he did and states it will come back to haunt him and he will probably be killed in retaliation and the cycle will continue. This leads to a never ending cycle of more black on black violence through retaliation for others deaths which lead to other death. The worst part about this nobody outside the ghetto cares or even knows what is happening in these areas. Futility is further emphasised by his ending line, “It don’t matter though we all gotta go sometime.” Even if he is murdered, he’s fine with it because that’s just how things are here and there is not anything he can do to change it. The diegetic sound further points to the constant cycle of violence. Throughout the film there are constant sirens and helicopters. In this scene we hear them twice, once as Doughboy approaches and then again as he says it goes on and on. This further adds to the never ending feeling of violence. In the end, nothing changes, they face all the same problems of the beginning. Ricky is dead leaving behind a fatherless child. Doughboy kills Ricky’s killers resulting in black on black violence. Doughboy continues selling crack to the neighborhood causing an ongoing drug problem. Doughboy is murdered, more homicide. Trey leaves, and does not plan on coming back after college, leading no improvement to the neighborhoods and allowing for those areas to stay poor. Their entire story did nothing to better the neighborhood.
Boyz N the Hood was an important movie due to its unique story at the time. It was one of the first mainstream movies that portrayed the horrors of black America. The article “A Colonial Analysis of Boyz N The Hood” states, “African American adult death rates are 150% those of Whites. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in certain areas, Black males between the ages of 15 and 25 are more likely to die from homicide than a U.S. soldier was likely to be killed in Vietnam.” Ice Cube portrayed one of these youths and was able to show a new demographic and wide audience what happens in our own country. On average, the country is so well off that people forget about the domestic problems and focus on others, but Ice Cube reminds us of these issues we must deal with.
This was one of Ice Cube’s early works from back in the 90s. As he continued his career, he often played simply comedic roles and stayed away from controversial roles. However, in 2017, he released a somewhat controversial song for his album Death Certificate’s 25th anniversary. Ice Cube released his song “Good Cop Bad Cop”. This song calls for the good cops to turn in the bad cops to stop all this aggression and abuse of power. Multiple instances of police brutality are shown throughout the music video, all of which involve minorities. This song’s music video shows that it is not just the white cops abusing power but cops of color as well. Despite this, it still mentions good and clean cops and their ability to stop the bad cops. However, many remain silent and allow these cops to stay.
This music video starts with helicopters and police sirens as we view Compton on fire from an aerial view. In the video, Ice Cube is one of the many who have to deal with these corrupt cops. He is pulled over for no apparent reason and when he is pulled over by the police, he cannot do anything, all he does is keeps his hands on the steering wheel. It is a classic car, so it does not have automatic windows, they are manual roll down windows which could possibly put his life in danger if he reaches down to open them. The guns are pointed at him so he cannot even comply properly because he runs the risk of getting shot anyway. If his hands are out of sight they might get trigger happy. Later in the video he is arrested for no reason. This is a reality for many. By making these issues a part of hip-hop culture we will always be reminded about the grievances that others must face. While this is very prominent in his music and his early acting career it is not so obvious in most of his acting, which is often comedy.
While some may say that Ice Cube abandoned his former persona of an aggressive tough guy that shows us the living conditions of ghetto areas and their problems, he still is able to do this through representation in his comedies. Ice Cube constantly wears similar clothes with a similar way of talking and similar mannerisms in all his roles. This includes his outfits from his rapping career, his early acting which involved tackling serious topics in black communities, and his more common comedic roles. He always is a ghetto character despite not being so obvious about it. While his comedies are often fun and light hearted, he constantly remains unchanged as an overall star. Ice Cube still takes on roles that are portrayed as a more ghetto character reminding us that these places still exist. Much of his comedy comes from Ice Cube playing a ghetto character that is out of place. This often results with unconventional mannerisms and awkwardness among two groups of people from different places. Oftentimes, his comedy comes down to these interactions. Despite not speaking about or being in the role of a struggling black character dealing with the pains of the ghetto, he still is able to bring the reminder of these people through who his characters represent; ghetto blacks in a world that never acknowledge the culture they form from their vastly different daily lives.
Ice cube represents the struggle of millions of African Americans along with others that are in a futile situation and nobody addresses this. People constantly go out of their way to address problems elsewhere but do not take the time to fix any domestic problems. Through his work, Ice Cube constantly reminds us that there are still major problems similar to those of third world countries within our own borders. This is a result of a long history of oppression. Things have not gotten better and Ice Cube shows this. His roles always portray a ghetto character and his earlier work often shows how they deal with the problems of the ghetto, often ones that are never addressed by the media and aren’t known to the general public.
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