Thursday, September 23, 2004

What have I gotten myself into?

  When Pulse first approached me about writing a weekly pop culture column, I jumped at the opportunity. Typically cocksure, I thought, “Yeah. I could do that. I may not be Mike Royko, or Jimmy Breslin, or Dave Barry, or Hunter S. Thompson, but how hard could it be?”

  It’s hard. Not because of a lack of topics, but because it’s a strange time in America. Almost two weeks ago, we observed the three-year anniversary of 9/11. In the last three years, pop culture has seen so many changes. The mainstream has broadened. September 11th reinforced the importance of racial tolerance. Witnessing that kind of violence seems to wake us up. Not since the aftermath of the civil rights movements of the 1960s have we been so motivated to look beyond color lines.

  Times of war seem to bring us together, too—as Americans. We are in this together, and our similarities outweigh our differences. So we laugh.
We laugh at Bernie Mac and Dave Chapelle and Chris Rock. We laugh at Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engvall. At George Lopez and Chingo Bling. We laugh at Michael Jackson. Wait—we’ve been doing that for years.

  The mainstream is broadening. Hip-Hop is in the suburbs and in small farming communities. Black Entertainment Television (BET) is being picked up by more and more cable providers as part of their basic service, and is rapidly becoming as influential in popular culture as MTV has been for the past two decades.

  There is a certain “Chicano Chic” in the air these days. A brand new, incredibly hip cable network is for the first time targeting English-speaking Mexican-Americans. Young Chicanos, until very recently, have not been given the attention that their numbers warrant. With SíTV, currently available only through Time-Warner and DishNetwork, English-speaking Latinos now have a network geared toward them. And I suspect that it’s only a matter of time before more cable providers climb on board.

  In future columns I want to help break some of this down, shining some light on the deterioration of the Minority. With some inspection it becomes more and more obvious that our generation, a generation of twenty-somethings—and subsequent generations as well—have been ingrained with multicultural curricula, a prospectus of tolerance, our entire lives. I plan on using this space to address some of these trends.

  I want to address SíTV, Pocos Pero Locos (a syndicated Chicano-oriented Hip-Hop radio show blowing up in almost thirty markets nationwide), the Miami/Cubano influx in popular music. I want to discuss “Latin Hip-Hop” (a phrase that many artists of the genre begrudge, and that always strikes me as funny—“Veni Vidi Vici, Homie”).

  We’ll travel this well-beaten path together. After all, it’s a long and colorful road.

-From "Pulse"
  September 23, 2004