Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The thin line between Rap Genius and Rap Moron

For some reason, I never seem to be able to get it through my thick skull that there are ostensibly intelligent people who do outrageously stupid things.

The most recent case in point seems to be Mahbod Moghadam, one of the brains behind something called Rap Genius, a site that provides the tremendous social, cultural, and intellectual benefits of letting people discuss the meaning of rap lyrics.

I realize that I am a colossal old fogey, but – while I’m sure there are folks who want to debate whether bitches are hos, and hos are bitches; to discuss the importance of bling to playas; and whether inciting violence is really inciting violence – I do find the existence of a formal forum in which to pursue the exegesis of rap lyrics is, frankly, ludicrous ludacris.  (By the way, the original name for Rap Genius was Rap Exegesis. No surprise given that the founders were smarty-pants Yalies, but way too smarty-pants and brainiac for the average prole who actually wanted to engage in rap exegesis. So the name became Rap Genius, which flatters the exegesis contributors without having them brain-strain around the meaning of exegesis.)

Rap Genius also provides News Genius:

News Genius helps you make sense of the news by putting stories in context, breaking down subtext and bias, and crowdsourcing knowledge from around the world!

Well, breaking down subtext and bias is good –it’s kinda/sorta what Pink Slip does, at least on occasion -  but I guess I just don’t have a ton of faith in “crowdsouring knowledge from around the world!”, with or without the exclamation point.

Anyway, over the weekend, Moghandam – not just a Yale grad, but a Stanford-educated lawyer who left a white-shoe firm to pursue the greater rappin’ good – took to the metaphorical airwaves and stepped in it.

(I never thought I’d argue that the world could use a few more suits, but wouldn’t you think that a Stanford Law grad could find something better to do with his time?)

Well, now that he’s been forced out at Rap Genius, I guess he’ll have to figure out what that something better might be.

Moghadam has left after doing a bit of untimely and incredibly insensitive thinking – and doing -  out loud, in which he provided some “annotation” of Santa Barbara psycho murderer Elliot Rodger’s pre-rampage YouTube screed.

Now there’s nothing wrong with trying to parse what was going on in Rodger’s mind. As Rap Genius has it, they decided that Rodger:

…was worthy of close reading – understanding the psychology of people who do horrible things can help us to better understand our society and ourselves. (Source: Rap Genius)

Unfortunately, the annotations that Moghadam offered up:

…not only didn’t attempt to enhance anyone’s understanding of the text, but went beyond that into gleeful insensitivity and misogyny.

What did he say that was so awful?

In a series of comments on the site, now deleted, Mahbod Moghadam called accused shooter Elliot Rodger's 141-page manifesto "beautifully written" multiple times, guessed that Rodger's 18-year-old sister was "smokin hot", and described an acquaintance of Rodger's as going "on to attend USC and turn into a spoiled hottie". (Source: The Guardian)

“Beautifully written?”

Gee, was this the time and place to gush about Rodger’s writing ability? Hitler liked dogs, and all that.

Maybe he could have said “seemed to be intelligently written”, rather than encourage those who are going to be worshipping at Rodger’s virgin-martyr altar.

And to speculate on whether Rodger’s sister was “smokin hot”?

Wow, just wow.

All this sick focus on “smokin hot” babes, and who “deserves” to get them, and whether any woman who isn’t “smokin hot” is worthy of any male attention at all – and the opposite (though lesser) number in which women discount any guy who isn’t “smokin hot” enough for her (or the Internet’s) liking – is just the sort of cultural current in which unbalanced individuals like Eliot Rodger become even further unhinged than they might have been in a world that put less value on “smokin hotness”.

Wouldn’t you think someone smart enough to graduate from Yale and Stanford Law would be smart enough to recognize this?

Apparently not.

Just as apparently it’s not really a matter of intelligence.

Maybe it’s just a matter time to grow the hell up.

No comments: