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Pop Culture Mysteries – Case File #004 – Snubbed (Part 7) (Conclusion)

PREVIOUSLY ON POP CULTURE MYSTERIES…

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5   Part 6

AND NOW THE POP CULTURE MYSTERIES CONTINUE…

“Where the hell I was I?”

I was all alone, sitting in front of the library’s beep boop machine.

The lights switched off.shutterstock_71510056

“Oh thank God,”  Agnes said.  “You’re conscious again.”

“What happened?”

“I don’t know,”  the librarian replied.  “You were making me look up Nicki Minaj’s tweets and then you drifted off somewhere deep in thought, humming a song about someone named, ‘Honey.'”

“Ag, wanna help me wrap this mystery up?”

“Library’s closed,”  Agnes said as she pointed to the door, giving me the bum’s rush.  “Time to find a shelter, rummy.”

There was nothing I could do to convince Agnes that I wasn’t just one of an assortment of street people who wandered into the library all day seeking free shelter and wi-fi, constantly harassing her to cater to their every need and whim as if she was some kind of city employed maid instead of a trained researcher.

She handed me a stack of papers on the way out.

“Print-outs of everything else I found on the Nicki Minaj snub,”  the old lady said.  “I still think you need to find something better to do with your time than waste it on pop culture.”

“There’s 3.5 readers who disagree with you, doll.”

I pocketed the papers and shuffled my way out of the building, down the street aways until I found an all-night diner.

“How much for a water, sweetheart?”

“It’s complimentary,” the waitress answered.

“Then keep ’em coming.”

“Wow.  Big spender.”

I laid out the file full of info Agnes printed out for me.

The tacks were brass and it was time to get down to them.

1)  Was Nicki’s “snub” race related?

I understand I’m the wrong color to be saying that race relations have improved over the years.

However, I am the right age.  Though I stopped aging sixty years ago, I’m ninety-five and can tell you there was a time when interracial marriage was a sin, black people were denied access to basic opportunities taken for granted today.

I’ve seen black people shooed to the back of the bus, out of restaurants, chased away with dogs from the voting booth, you name it.

Society kept Peaches and I apart and that will always be a sore spot for yours truly, seeing as how society’s opinion was never asked for in the matter.

But, as an open-minded private dick, I get the flip side.  That folks aren’t openly treated like garbage just because of the color of their skin is all well and good, but the aftershocks of slavery and past oppression are going to be around for a long time.  Will black people ever feel truly welcome in the world?  Are there white people who hold certain biases, some of whom may not even realize it?

The President put it best:

It is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours, and that opportunities have opened up, and that attitudes have changed.  That is a fact.  What is also true is the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives, you know, that casts a long shadow and that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on.  We’re not cured of it.

– Barack Obama on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast

By the wayside, if any of you yahoos can explain to this gumshoe WTF a podcast is, it’d be appreciated.  All I gather is everyone and their brother has their own show now thanks to the wonders of modern technology.

Did MTV decide not to nominate Nicki for a couple extra awards because of the color of her skin?  Doubtful.

Could Nicki’s complaint be seen as a preamble for a discussion for a greater need for diversity in the entertainment industry?

Of course.

In my day, black singers were considered novelty acts.  Today, they’re widely accepted.

Still, you don’t see as many movies where the protagonist, i.e. the lead guy or gal, the one all the action is centered around, is black.  There’s some, but not many.

You’ll see a lot of supporting black actors.  I suppose that’s progress from my day, where if you were a black actor you were typecast as the maid, the butler, or some hoodlum the cops were rousting.

To paraphrase the Prez’s summation, things are better, but they could also get better.

2)  What about body-type-ism?

Hollywood is all glamour and pizazz.   Heavy on the style, hold the substance.

If you’re fat, or ugly, or you’ve got a crooked nose, or shingles, or a weepy eye, or facial fungus or any host of bodily issues, there’s a better chance of finding you on the Moon than there is in the next blockbuster.

Is that right?  Is that wrong?  Maybe that’s just how the cookie crumbles.

People listen to music and watch the boob tube to escape reality.  Average Joes and Josephines want to pretend their someone greater than they are and it’s hard to do that when the guy or gal on the screen looks like you.

But then again, perhaps that’s an indictment of today’s looks-conscious world, one that assumes the not hot folk have nothing to offer.

I’ve observed this problem since waking up.  You’ve got that Meghan Trainor gal and her All About That Bass song.

Not to scandalize you, 3.5 readers, but as a trained investigator, I’m able to read between the lines and I’m fairly certain “All About That Bass” is double-talk for Meghan’s corpulent posterior.

Therein lies the point.  The gal has an impressive set of pipes and can sing like all get out, but she’s a bit on the chunky side, so she has to address that fact in a song.

If you ask me, people should be able to appreciate a good voice and not give a toot about the size of the singer’s caboose.

To that end (no pun intended), Nicki might be onto something.

I feel sorry for today’s musical entertainers.

Do you know what a singer needed to make it big in my day?  A pretty dress and a fine set of vocal chords.  That’s about it.

I remember sitting in a grand hall, listening to Peaches fill it up, feeling blessed just to have known her.

She didn’t have to wiggle her butt to a beat like Nicki, or put on an Egyptian Princess outfit like Katy, or a meat dress like Lady Gaga or pretend to be an action movie star like Taylor.

Peaches sang.  The audience cheered.  That’s it.

Today, people have more choices on how to be entertained than ever before, and while that’s led to more artists working, the negative byproduct is that it also requires most of them to engage in some kind of goofy gimmick.

Alas, the music gets lost in the pageantry.

I see the manager is about to kick me out for ordering nothing but complimentary water, so I’ll close with a final observation.

Conclusions

It’s all about the evidence, ’bout the evidence, no speculation.

I see nothing that proves Nicki was snubbed due to race or body-type-ism and let’s face it.  Three out of five nominations is nothing to sneeze at.

However, in a world where people are often cast aside because of what they look like, there’s always room for a conversation about how that trend can be curbed.

Personally, as one of the most handsome and modest bastards around, I think that’s big of me to say.

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Copyright Bookshelf Q. Battler 2015.

All Rights Reserved.

Images courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

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Pop Culture Mysteries – Case File #004 – Snubbed (Part 3)

PREVIOUSLY ON POP CULTURE MYSTERIES…

Part 1     Part 2

AND NOW THE POP CULTURE MYSTERIES CONTINUE…

It was time to review the evidence.  The tweets themselves.  I stopped by the library in my fancy new ride and asked Agnes to pull them up for me.

This one from MTV stuck out at me like a sore thumb on the hand of man who’s been scratching himself all day:

“I don’t get it,” I said as I stared at the screen of one of the library’s beep boop machines.  “The media’s made it out like this gal was left out in the cold but here a reputable source like Music Television indicates she WAS nominated.”

“I don’t care, Jake,”  Agnes said.  “Music hasn’t gotten any better since Danny Kaye if you ask me.”

I felt a ba-bump in my heart and grinned like an idiot.

“What’s with that look?”  Agnes asked.

“Don’t ever change, Ag,” I said.  “Hell, if your face didn’t look more worn out than the first baseman’s glove during Game Seven of the World Series, I’d propose right here and now.”

“Whatever,”  Agnes said.  “I just wish the city would do something about all the transients who wander in here all day and make me look up nonsense for them.”

I’m pretty sure she was talking about somebody else.

Moving on, I asked Agnes to look up all of the VMA award nominees.  Here’s what I saw:

BEST FEMALE VIDEO

Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda”

BEST HIP HOP VIDEO

Nicki Minaj – “Anaconda”

BEST COLLABORATION

Jessie J + Ariana Grande + Nicki Minaj – “Bang Bang”

“She was nominated three times,”  I said.  “Agnes, can you believe the snow job the press is trying to pull here?”

“Uh huh,”  Agnes said as she pulled up a website called “Jobs-A-Plenty.”

“Let me see if I kind find something for you.”

“Go back to Tweeter,”  I commanded.

“Here we go,”  Agnes said.  “Dishwasher.  Minimum wage.  Will train.  This has your name written all over it.”

“I’m on the job right now, woman!  Will you put the blasted Tweeter-ma-bob back on already?”

“Ugh,” Agnes said as she complied.  “I swear society just doesn’t do enough to help the mentally unstable.”

“There!”  I said, tapping my finger on the screen.  “Right there!”

“So what?”  Agnes asked.  “What is so important about this that you’re interrupting my coffee break?”

This caper had become what I like to call a “Kaleidoscope Case.”  In other words, with every angle, there’s a new point of view.

Some of the ones I’ve heard so far:

  • Minaj is super rich and ultra famous.  Few people ever sniff that rarified air.  A lot of folks who have seen their dreams go bust would love to be in a music video and you wouldn’t hear them complaining about only getting three nominations.
  • Her biggest video is just a bunch of posteriors flapping in the breeze.  (That reminds me, I need to review it again for research purposes.)  Is it really deserving of any award?
  • But then again, she never said she wasn’t nominated at all.  “Nicki Got Snubbed” is just one more example of press hype.
  • What does “different kind of artist” mean?  Is she talking about race?  That she has a little more junk in the trunk than the skinny waifs that dominate the entertainment industry?  Both?
  • Forgetting about the butt content of her video, is it possible to see her tweet as a springboard to a conversation about racial and body type diversity in the music industry?

So many questions.  So little time.  And at the end of the day, I was only going to get five bucks.

I understand the “she’s too rich to complain” argument.

I even get the “Anaconda is just a bunch of butts wagging around and has no artistic merit” argument. (Though I might have to watch it again just to make sure.)

But as for race and body type diversity – I suppose there’s always a need for that conversation.

3.5 readers, you might think things are hunky dory these days, but it’s always a good idea to talk about the past so that it doesn’t get repeated.

Let me tell you about the racism I witnessed in my day.

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Pop Culture Mysteries – Case File #004 – Snubbed

By:  Jake Hatcher, Official Bookshelf Battle Blog Private Eye

Pop Culture Mystery Question: Are Nicki Minaj’s claims of a VMA snub justified?

“You never should have come here.”

Women drivers...

Women drivers…

A granite slab doesn’t make for a good pillow, but I was exhausted and it was the only thing around to rest my head on.  I leaned back and stretched my legs over the green grass, noticing the tiny flecks of dew forming on the blades.

“I wish you’d of listened to me, kid,”  I said as I took a pull from the forty-ounce not so cleverly disguised by a brown paper bag.

Yes, I was one of those people who drank during the day.  Morning, afternoon, night.  Time doesn’t matter when you don’t age.

“All this town does is put stars in the eyes of young dopes too stupid to know any better,” I said.  “‘Shoot for the stars and you’ll land in the clouds,’ the dreamers say. They forget to tell you about the part where you might bypass greatness altogether and crash into the ground harder than a Mack Truck aimed at a brick wall.”

Crash into the ground.  

Poor choice of words.

I ran my fingers over the engraving that marked the head stone:

Roscoe J. Hatcher

1925-1952

“You thought I didn’t want you in LA,”  I said as I took another swig.  “That I didn’t want you cramping my style.  I was just trying to keep you away because this place is a haven for weirdoes and I didn’t want you to end up a two-bit bum like yours truly.”

I sat and sulked for awhile, interrupting my kid brother’s dirt nap with a one-sided conversation.

Suddenly, the sound of a finely tuned engine filled my ears.  I looked up to see a cherry red 1955 Cadillac winding its way through the lonely cemetery access road.

The sporty little number came to a halt in front of me.  Inside?  An even sportier little number – the object of my misplaced affection, Ms. Delilah K. Donnelly.

“Are you lost, ma’am?”  I asked as I sprang to my feet and pointed to the right.  “Rodeo Drive is that-a-way.”

“Apologies for interrupting your lunch, Mr. Hatcher,” Delilah said as her baby blues stared at the brown bag in my hand in a most disapproving manner.

I attempted a save.

“Can you believe degenerate winos use this place to get smackered?”  I asked as I threw the bottle into a trash can.  “Found this lying on the ground and Ma Hatcher always taught me if I see litter I should pick it up.”

“I’ll pretend not to notice your rampant alcoholism so that we might steer our attention to a most pressing matter,”  Delilah said as she popped the door lock.

“The nerd has another question?”  I asked as I sprawled out in the passenger seat.  It was nice.  Comfortably and roomy.  Not like the crap boxes they try to squeeze you in nowadays.

“Precisely,”  Delilah said as she drove away.  “And might I add a further apology for interrupting your mourning time.”

“No need,”  I said.  “Roscoe wasn’t much of a conversationalist anyway.”

As we hit the open road, Delilah turned on the radio.  A nice classic station.  Oldies all the time.

Legendary Jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald brought my mind back to the good old days.  There was a gal that didn’t need a gimmick.  Just a sweet tune about love and a set of superb vocal cords.

There’s a saying old, says that love is blind.
Still we’re often told, ‘Seek and ye shall find.’
So I’m going to go seek a certain lad I’ve had  in mind.

Looking everywhere,
Haven’t found him yet.
He’s the big affair
I cannot forget.
Only man I ever think of with regret.

– Ella Fitzgerald, Somebody to Watch Over Me, Pure Ella (1954)

“You have good taste, Ms. Donnelly.”

“I’m aware, Mr. Hatcher.”

“How’d you find me?”

“Ms. Tsang said you’re known to visit your brother’s grave know and then.  Perhaps it isn’t my place to pry…”

Ahh, here we go.  Once again, Delilah acts like she doesn’t care, but then cares enough to ask.

“But I’m surprised you’d visit your brother at all…after what he did to you.”

I closed my eyes and enjoyed the breeze as air rushed all around me.

“People say there are some things that can never be forgiven,”  I said, “But to them, I say they just haven’t lived long enough.”

“Time heals all wounds?”  Delilah asked as she took the highway onramp.

“No,”  I said.  “Time just gives those wounds more of a chance to fester.  But given enough time, you lose your ability to give a shit about them.”

“I’m not so sure I concur.”

Delilah sure had a lead foot.  She steered us into the passing lane and floored it.  It was like being chauffeured like a female Mario Andretti.

“I’m sorry,”  I said.  “Ma Hatcher taught me never to swear in the presence of a lady.”

“It’s quite all right,”  Delilah said.  “In fact, your obscenity reminds me of our next case.”

Delilah adjusted the radio dial and the following lyrics invaded my ear drums:

This one is for my bitches with a fat ass in the f*%king club
I said, “Where my fat ass big bitches in the club?”
F%$k them skinny bitches,
Fu&*k them skinny bitches in the club
I wanna see all the big fat ass bitches in the motherf*%king club…

– Nicki Minaj, Anaconda, The Pinkprint Album

I lit up a cigarette and shook my head.

“I don’t get it,”  I said.  “The nerd has me looking into pornography now?”

“Pornography?”  Delilah asked.  “This is one of the top songs of the past year.”

I choked on my own smoke.

“Get outta’ town.”

Anaconda and Somebody to Watch Over Me are Nicki and Ella’s songs, respectively.

The rest is Copyright (C) 2015 Bookshelf Q. Battler.  All Rights Reserved.

Image courtesy of a shuttestock.com license.

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Pop Culture Mysteries Gets Back to Basics

Read the Fine Print Whenever Ms. Donnelly is Involved.

Read the Fine Print Whenever Ms. Donnelly is Involved.

Happy Friday, 3.5 Readers.

Bookshelf Q. Battler here.

Among my many roles as Blogger-in-Chief of a blog read by 3.5 readers, I’m the boss of Pop Culture Detective Jake Hatcher, a hardboiled 1950’s private eye who sniffs out the answers to my questions about Hollywood and the entertainment industry.

Jake and I have never met in person.  Rather, I prefer to dispatch all my inquiries through Attorney Delilah K. Donnelly, Lead Counsel for the Bookshelf Battle Blog.

It’s kind of a Charlie’s Angels situation.  I ask the questions.  Delilah delivers them.  Jake hunts down the answers.  By keeping Delilah as a buffer, I’m able to retain Jake’s services and he’s not able to strangle me until I spill the beans to the secrets I’m keeping from him:

How did he fall asleep in 1955 and wake up in 2014 and more importantly, how can he get back to his own time?

Yes, I can help him with both questions, but I’m stringing him along until he’s solved 100 cases.

Feel free to thank me, 3.5 readers.  Sure, many bloggers put in a lot of work for their fans, but few are willing to extort a 1950s private investigator for your reading pleasure.

He’s gotten a bit carried away lately.  He’s starting writing down recollections of his adventures of a gumshoe.  I think they’re all interesting and worth sharing.

Two of his ideas in particular I hope to turn into self-published books, the profits of which I’ll keep because, you know, when Attorney Donnelly hands you a contract, you’d better read the fine print before signing.

Sorry Jake.

Anyway, the core concepts of this series:

1)  I have questions about popular culture.

2)  Referring to those questions as, “Pop Culture Mysteries” is funny.

3)  A 1950’s hard-boiled film noir style detective complete with trench coat and fedora tracking explaining the answers to these questions in traditional/stereotypical noir style (i.e. longwinded exaggeration and lots of ridiculous comparisons) is funnier.

Planning of novels set in Jake’s world are underway, but before the noble trio of Jake, Delilah, and myself do anything, we need to get a few more Pop Culture Mystery Questions answered and into the can.

Jake needs a fan base before he writes a couple of novels.  Otherwise, who’d buy them?

And how could I cut Jake out of the deal and use that sweet, sweet Amazon moolah to buy myself a Porsche?

Ah, don’t worry, 3.5 readers.

Behind that ice queen exterior, Attorney Donnelly often serves as the moral compass of this blog.

I’m sure she’ll twist my arm and convince me to share some of those book profits with our resident sleuth.

(I’ll need to keep some of it though just to pay Delilah’s latest legal bill though.  Sheesh!  Talk about billable hours!)

Don’t worry.  Jake will get back to regaling you all with The Wrong Guy, the story about how he tracked down the killer of his buddy Lou the liquor store owner.

But first, I need to put him on a more pressing case:

The Nicki Minaj Video Music Award (VMA) Snub – Does Her Complaint Have Merit?

Before Jake pounds the pavement on the trail of this caper, I’d like to take an informal poll:

What say you, 3.5 readers?  Is Nicki right?  Did she lose out because, as she tweeted, only certain “kinds” of artists get recognized?  Or, you know, should she just take all the money she made off of Anaconda and be happy?

Sour grapes or a star treated badly?

And what do you think about Taylor Swift and Katy Perry jumping into the fracas?

You tell me, 3.5.  You tell me.

Image courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

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