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Monday, May 3, 2010



Many of the IPL’s leaders of fanatic glee and cheer hail from Australia. Would it be immodest or perhaps ill-advised for Indian women to gyrate and shake in the nearly naked costumes of India Premier League’s cheerleaders? Whatever the take, it is, however, clear that with foreignness AND fair-skin on their sides, these white recruits easily circumvent the normal social sensibilities that keep the flesh trade in the shadows. Yet, just as the tightly bound bopping bosoms provide a well-needed respite from the seemingly endless cricket matches, one only need observe the commercial interventions in the telecasts of these games to see the underlying cause of what cultural critic bell hooks calls ‘worshipping at the mantle of whiteness’.


Sales of the famed skin bleach Fair and Lovely have been trumped in recent years by the introduction of Fair and Handsome, which tries to bring men out of the closet by rebranding the same product with masculine colored packaging instead of pink. Commercial breaks in cricket matches now show products such as Vaseline’s local line of body care products recently released a whitener that promises to match the corps with the already bleached face. “Fanta face / Coca Cola body,” says one old disco chime heard throughout West Africa where the skin-bleach phenomenon nearly rivals that of South Asia. The best, however, is Fela Kuti’s song “Yellow Fever”, which makes small work of mincing up the worship of whiteness to a darn funky beat.


Nonetheless, globalizing consumerism has accelerated the trend like a sticky pedal, as all sorts of Americanisms spread worldwide with local flavors. Star endorsements and proper packaging spells profits, by any means necessary. Yet, not to be outdone, the India Premier League importing white women to titillate the fans is a new high (or low) in the internalization of native inferiorisation. It celebrates native ugliness with Pom-Poms and glitter, fair feminine flesh set against glitz of this region’s favorite pastime. Few fans seem to peel away from their zeal. Fair and Handsome is one of the most widely selling skin creams on the planet according to many marketers. Hence, sitting in the stands, under cloak and cover from the sun’s darkening rays, fans in India can enjoy whiteness while their boys play ball. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.


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Saturday, Feb 13, 2010
Lavish extravaganza overshadowed by an athlete’s tragic death.

A crowd of about 60,000 people was present at Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Details about what exactly would happen were kept secret, though expectations were high because of Beijing’s expensive and critically renowned 2008 ceremony. In America, it garnered publicity because of the debut of the music video for the remake of “We Are the World”, which will raise money to aid Haiti. (Actually, the video aired about 13 minutes prior to the event.) $30 to $40 million dollars was spent on the LED screens that simulated tribal animal constellations, fabric hangings designed to look like icebergs and totem poles, high-wire acrobatics, pyrotechnics, lighting, costumed performers, and 108 projectors as Canadian celebrities including Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado, Nikki Yanofsky, Sarah McLachlan, and k.d. lang performed.



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Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010

Apparently the UK pub scene is a frightful place because the British ad firm Design Bridge has just designed a new pint glass which is touted to be “safe” in the bars. In other words, they can’t be handily turned into weapons with a swift crack of the glass. Reportedly a resin will hold the glass together even if it breaks. Something tells me football hooligans will still find a way to beat on each other. (via Fast Company)



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Wednesday, Sep 16, 2009

What goes through your mind when having an alcoholic beverage? Apparently for Russia and Poland, alcohol, or more specifically vodka, is much more than a consciousness-numbing substance—it is a key to history, tradition, and cultural pride. Since the late 1970s, both countries have been at war over where vodka originated, who has the right to call their product “vodka”, whose version is the knock-off recipe, and who gets to claim the drink as their own. The battle for vodka credit has even made it to the International Trade Court on multiple occasions.


After decades of fighting, The Vice Guide to Travel sent correspondent Ivar Berglin on a mission to find out once and for all if vodka originated in Russia or Poland. The Wodka Wars, a 33 minute documentary streamed on VBS.tv, presents the argument from a variety of perspectives. Berglin’s participatory approach took everything from history, nationalism, culture, and beliefs into consideration. He included diverse opinions and views on the debate from around the world. After watching the film one may ponder if history sufficiently proves claims to vodkas origins, or if opinion and pride are proof enough.


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