A Man, A Tan, “God’s Plan”

Drake with his right hand up beside his face. An image from his music video "Hotline Bling"

Earlier this month Aubrey “Drake” Graham revealed that the knotting of his purse strings to his heartstrings are all a part of “God’s Plan,” the title of his latest music video.

The billboard hit features him giving out the video’s $999,631.90 production budget to the people of Miami. Gifts ranged from surprise shopping sprees to impromptu educational grants to unexpected spa treatments. The emotional reception shown in the video matched the public’s initial positive reactions.

However, the Canadian rapper’s philanthropy—like the Bible—has since been subject to varied interpretations. You’re likely familiar with the more skeptical takes. Continue reading “A Man, A Tan, “God’s Plan””

On Kings and Trump Cards

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

During the Super Bowl, RAM Trucks debuted a controversial truck commercial splicing images of Americana with a sermon excerpt from slain Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

After outrage gave way to discourse, cultural critics were quick to point to the irony of Dodge’s signification. In the originating sermon, “The Drum Major’s Instinct,” King critiques self-interested pursuits that hinder people’s ability to see the value in others. He literally calls out Americans who ride in expensive “Chrysler” vehicles for the ego trip. NB: FiatChrysler Automobiles is the parent company of RAM.

To make the point,  the left-leaning magazine Current Affairs re-edited the commercial with an audio excerpt from the same sermon that they believe to be more indicative of King’s message. Continue reading “On Kings and Trump Cards”

Everything Used to Be Named Something Else, No?

Picture 9Elections in Myanmar have been in our news recently — in fact, their first open national election in a quarter century. Depending how they turn out (something that will be evident by the time this post hits tomorrow, presumably), Myanmar might be in our news even more, especially since their constitution currently outlaws the frontrunner from even serving as president. Continue reading “Everything Used to Be Named Something Else, No?”

Yes, You ARE My Data!

Data Pic 2

Anytime “data” can answer this question, the stakes increase. “Yes” or “No,” the question is posed rhetorically, for in receiving an answer, the trouble of the “human sciences”—that is, the human in human sciences—sounds off in a chorus composed of intentionality, strategies of identification, and politically-charged and charred epistemological appeals and ethical slights-of-hand. In other words, when we take this question (and its implications) seriously, shit stands to “get real.”

About a year ago, historian, religious studies scholar and public intellectual Anthea Butler wrote a powerful essay for Religion Dispatches titled “The Zimmerman Acquittal: America’s Racist God.” If you have the time, it’s worth another read. She ended up the target of a series of online attacks from people angry at the post. Dr. Butler cataloged the hate mail here. Continue reading “Yes, You ARE My Data!”

Edge Collaboration at Avila


On Tuesday, 4 March 2014, Leslie Dorrough Smith (Avila University) hosted Monica Miller (Lehigh University) for a class discussion entitled “Why Be An Earth When You Can Be a God: Hip Hop, Religion, and Gender”, with an upper level gender course at Avila University (Kansas City, MO), and a public lecture entitled “Why Be An Earth When You Can Be a God: Hip Hop, Religion, and Gender” later that evening. The public lecture was on the lyrical imagination of emcees and Hip Hop artists alike has long focused on what some have called a “God Complex,” where such artists often refer to themselves as deities. This talk explores the changing dimensions and historical roots of Hip Hop’s “God Complex,” analyzes the rhetoric that positions “gods” as men (leaving women as representatives of “earth”), and considers what role gender and identity politics play in such an evolution.

(Click here to learn more.)

The Strong Silent Type

sophranosDid you catch this episode of The Sopranos (back in 2002 [Season 4, episode 3])? Sure, there’s a fair bit of swearing in the clip below, but we’re all adults here, right? Continue reading “The Strong Silent Type”