Archive for the ‘Taboo in the News’ Category

RatedRnB-Dirty_MindDirty Mind (1980)

Prince’s “When You Were Mine” details the problems of love. In the song he gives his girlfriend time, money, clothes, and freedom in exchange for “wrongs.” The discussed woman sleeps with Prince’s friends yet doesn’t “change the sheets” afterward and allows another man to sleep between the two of them at night.

“I know you’re going with another guy, / but I don’t care,” Prince sings in his scratchy falsetto, although he clearly does as he states it all felt like a “dream”, which implies he couldn’t believe the situation even though he consented to it and made no “fuss”.

By the end of the song it is clear that the woman has left Prince for another man. Nevertheless, he claims that he loves the woman more now than he ever did before.

This song arouses these questions: Is this a taboo relationship? What are the boundaries of love? Should love have limits?

 

 

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A few years ago a Japanese Aquarium used an eel to power a Christmas tree. The introduction of eel-electricity may not be a completely practical option for replacing the type of electricity that we’re used to today, but it does show us that many other options exist. Perhaps we didn’t need to invent as much as we thought.

Check out the below video.

 

In the recent success by HBO’s Game of Thrones television series some similar shows have fallen into the shadows. Starz’s Spartacus is one of those television shows that not many have talked about but perhaps more should’ve. The series, which lasted for four seasons and concluded in April, follows the life of Spartacus, a Thracian slave forced into the Roman arena where he must serve as a gladiator. As Spartacus is a true historical figure that led a slave revolt against the Roman Empire, the series goes on to detail those events in dramatic fashion.

Throughout the span of the show violence and sexuality are overtly put on display, owing most of its reasoning to the accurate portrayal of a Roman society. Spartacus, unlike most movies and shows, doesn’t at all blush at the sight of the naked human body. In fact, the show constantly exposes the male body as much as it does the female. Here, full-frontal male nudity is commonplace—something that in the film industry is still taboo although becoming more prevalent. In many ways, Spartacus functions as a pornography meets historical drama, but not so much porn that it overtakes the story.

In truth, Game of Thrones and Spartacus work on the same level for entertainment: violence, sex, and intrigue. Whereas Game of Thrones has the edge in dialogue, Spartacus takes the edge in plot. What makes Game of Thrones less interesting is its slow pacing and numerous characters. Sometimes show after show finishes with almost nothing new occurring. Spartacus, on the other hand, rolls along like a rock moving down the hillside. Each show has a destination, unlike Game of Thrones where each episode is really just a build up to the final show of the season. Game of Thrones is a good show, however it suffers in its constant feeling of stagnation. Every episode of Spartacus feels like it has beginning, middle, and end. In a Game of Thrones season a third of the episodes feel like beginnings, a third feels like the middle, and a third feels like endings, before the last episode makes it all a conclusion.

For those who like Game of Thrones, I recommend that you try watching Spartacus, and for those who don’t like Game of Thrones for some of the above reasons I recommend you try watching Spartacus, also. Sometimes the more taboo, less popular shows are the more important and entertaining ones.

Taboo Offerings: 1) live action anime-like violence 2) sexuality 3) genre breaking: soft-core pornography/historical drama

Watch the trailer for season 3 below.

Taboo: Homosexuality in male sports

Recent News: The fact that the NBA’s Jason Collins coming out as gay created so much attention shows that, to some extent, it is still taboo to confess your sexual orientation if other than straight. As of now, it is still seen as abnormal for male athletes to confess to being gay. Nevertheless, Jason Collins has proven how far we have come as a society in regards to freedom and equality. Much support, admiration, and appreciation has already been placed upon Collins from former and current NBA players and coaches, gay right activists, and even the President of the United States.

Outcome of Crumbling Taboo: The breakdown such as this has more positives than negatives. It promotes equality and freedom. It allows us all to be what we are rather than what others want us to be. The more male athletes that come forward as openly gay will only serve to decrease the stigma associated with homosexuality. Until it no longer becomes courageous to come out as gay, though, we will not see true equality. The very reason why this is seen as courageous is because it still is taboo, albeit a taboo showing its cracks.

There was a time when lip-synching was seen as an instant career killer in the music industry. The 90’s Milli Vanilli is a remembrance of this fact. They were a duo that not only didn’t sing live, but also didn’t sing on their album. They were forced to give back their Grammy after the latter was found out.

But who really sings on their albums in 2013? The unfortunate rise of Auto-Tune has, at least in popular music, made the answer to that question this: very few. In its simplest definition Auto-Tune is a device that puts a singer’s voice on autopilot so that they can sound like a computer rather than a human being, and sing without the imperfections of what makes a human voice pleasant to the ear. In other words, it allows those who cannot sing to sing better, albeit often this better is usually worse.

Auto-Tune essentially takes talent and work out of artistry. It aims to correct what needs no correction, and in the process makes all songs, all singers sound perfectly the same. It is one step below having computers sing songs.

In an age that is defined by individuality, it seems odd that the music industry is going toward conformity. Auto-Tune is yet another attempt by humans to alter nature, another attempt to distort reality. Perhaps soon we will realize that imperfection is the perfect state.

10

With the release of New Kids On The Block’s (NKOTB) new album 10 earlier this week, comes the reminder of what their presence has meant to the music industry. Since the five boys from Boston—Jordan Knight, Jonathan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg, Danny Wood, and Joey McIntyre—hit it big in the late 80’s and early 90’s, boy bands have been the source of much positivity and negativity. Truly, without NKOTB we would have no Justin Timberlake, a former boy band member that has sparked both critical acclaim as well as popularity.

Although NKOTB have never received as much praise from critics as Justin Timberlake’s solo material, they have received perhaps double the popularity from the fans. As a group they have sold over 80 million records, an astounding number for any musical act. This success, however, has not made the boy band any less of a taboo act in the industry.

Perhaps this is because few boy bands have been able to break the stigma of being manufactured, even while producing hit after hit. (Right now, only the British boy band Take That have been able to really make the move from taboo boy band to accepted band.) Even as One Direction stalks the top of the charts and sellout stadiums many see them as what is wrong with the music today. But sometimes we forget that the music industry exists to manufacture.

Boy bands will continue to rise and fall on the charts for as long as there are charts. The very thing that is taboo about boy bands, namely their so-called inability to make meaningful music, is the exact opposite of what fans find so enchanting about them: their ability to make meaningful music. Yet boy bands are about more than just songs; they are about an entire package of singing, dancing, fashion, personality, entertainment, and feeling.

Jordan Knight, the lead vocalist of NKOTB, says something similar: “There has to be a piece of magic in it. And that’s what we always look for. What makes your hair stand on end? What brings on the emotion? It’s not just about making a beat or playing music, it’s about the magic.”1

This magic is what every record company is looking for. And it is also what music critics make fun of. But no matter how much one may like or dislike boy bands, they will continue to cast their spells, and eventually they may even remove their taboo label.

To buy NKOTB’s new album go here.


1 Nikki Van Noy, New Kids on the Block: Five Brothers and a Million Sisters (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2012), E-book.

were once taboo. And perhaps they still are to some extent. However, not only are more people finding friendships and intimate relationships online today, but in-person relationships are being strengthened by the use of technology from twitter to Facebook to Skype to email, blogs and literary journals. Even television commercials overflow with reasons to use the Internet. Of late, dating sites have become more and more prevalent.

The dangers of such connections will remain, but it is clear that more than just “perverts” frequent cyberspace. Those born in this age will use the Internet even more than the current generation. It seems likely that in the future most relationships will begin online as bookstores disappear, schools go cyber, and businesses do the same. Since so much of the world is moving online, it only makes sense for relationships to go there as well. Yet not even the future knows what new taboos the technological age will invent. Overall, the advantages may be equal to the disadvantages.

For another viewpoint on this topic read Lanni Solochek’s article here.