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In chapter 10 of Hip:The History, John Leland talks about outlaws and their importance in the conversation of hip. By definition, outlaws are those who have broken the law. However, the book defines them as people who break the law for a good cause. One of the outlaws mentioned is Robin Hood. Everyone who has read the story of Robin Hood knows that he was a thief who stole from the rich, but he only did it to give the poor what they couldn’t afford to have. Although stealing is a crime, it is inevitable to think of Robin Hood as a hero because he did what he did to help people, and he never meant any harm. Outcasts are those people who even though they break the law, others still sympathize with them.
My favorite outlaw is Rumpelstiltskin, from “Once Upon a Time”. In the TV series, Rumpelstiltskin started off as a poor man who was made fun of, picked on, humiliated and seen as an outcast in the town in which he lived in. Due to the way he was treated, Rumpelstiltskin became bitter and wanted revenge, and he could only do this if he possessed the power of dark magic. When he become the dark one, he became so evil that everyone in town started to be afraid of him. Murdering, and getting rid of the people that once humiliated him, Rumpelstiltskin was no longer the humble man he once was when he was poor. Later in the show, Rumpelstiltskin falls in love with a girl named Belle. Belle also falls in love with him and even though he’s an evil man, she sees past that and knows that deep inside of himself he is good. Throughout the whole show, Rumpelstiltskin does everything possible to protect Belle from any harm that comes her way. Of course, he uses his dark magic, but he only does it because he wants to protect the women he loves. I sympathize with Rumpelstiltskin because of his terrible past, and I know that he became what he is because of what people did to him. Also, I know that he is madly in love with Belle and he only wants to keep her safe, even if it means hurting others. Rumpelstiltskin is an outlaw because he does not play fair, and kills people because of his terrible past and his love for Belle.
In the book, John Leland states, “Outlaws hold an elevated position in a nation founded by revels an runaways”(225) The point the author is trying to make is that even though America has grown because of rebellion, outlaws hold a position above rebels. I agree with this because like Rumpelstiltskin, outlaws are admired and thought to be brave, unlike rebels who are just seen as disruptive people who don’t conform to socialites norms. “He was noise! He was public! And he was ours!”(227) This proves that society praised and looked up to outlaws, regardless of them breaking the laws.
In Hip:The History, John Leland examines the avatar of hip, the pulp hero. The pulp hero is defined in the same way that a person describes masculinity and being masculine. In today’s world, our ideas about masculinity are culturally and socially influenced. When speaking about masculinity, people would say that its defined as a man who is aggressive by nature, has a high sex drive and gets involved with many different sexual partners. Also, being strong, engaging in manly activities such as sports and hunting is considered to be important aspects of masculinity. Often, men felt the need to live up to societies expectations of what it meant to be a man. Complying with these expectations gave men a sense of approval and belonging.
The idea of a pulp hero was therefore based on the characteristics of masculinity. A pulp hero was a man who didn’t care about having children with different women, and didn’t bother to stay and help raise them. Leaving a mother alone to raise her child, also effected the child in many ways.
Leland states that a pulp hero is , “The dashing, alcoholic,chronically unfaithful son of a dashing alcoholic, womanizing father”(94). This quote in fact proves that missing fathers could potentially lead to the birth of a pulp hero. For a women to raise a son alone meant that this boy never have a father figure to guide him and teach him the things that only a man can teach another. Because of a father’s absence, his son would follow those same footsteps and become what his father was.
I thought it was really interesting how Leland brings up the point that men were only interested in the physical attributes of a women. Geoffrey O’Brien, the author of Double Indemnity, states,”Desire is all there is”(101) This portrays the idea that anything other than the physical was irrelevant in a women. I don’t agree with this point because in today’s society, both physical and personality traits attract a man’s attention. Even though it is a plus to have a nice body and a pretty face, a book smart girl with a kind personality will always come out on top because beauty doesn’t last forever.
Leland also talks about the pulp hero and how it influences the way that music artists express themselves through their songs. Often, when I listen to hip-hop, i notice that there is a lot of vulgarity in the way that they express their masculinity. Artists such as Lil Wayne, talk about women as if they were a collectors item, once again reminding the public that he is manly and can get as many women as he wants. The lyrics from his song, “Thats What They Call Me”, say a lot about his masculinity.
"Man, I aint got nothing but some pussy and some paper I keep a bad bitch like a muthafucking laker I don’t love them hoes, fuck that pussy till its aching”
Through his music, Lil Wayne conveys that a pulp hero is a man who engages in various forms of sex and is able to have a lot of women.
Not only is music a way to express masculinity, but it is also a way in which men can talk about violence freely, as it correlates with being masculine as well. Violence is related to aggressiveness, which denotes masculinity. The rap artist Eminem often does this in his music. In his song, “Go to Sleep” he expresses masculinity through violent words and violence.
“I ain’t gonna eat, I ain’t gonna sleep Ain’t gonna breathe, til I see, what I wanna see And what I wanna see, is you go to sleep, in the dirt Permanently, you just being hurt, this ain’t gonna work For me, it just wouldn’t be, sufficient enough Cu we, are just gonna be, enemies As long as we breathe, I don’t ever see, either of us Coming to terms, where we can agree There ain’t gonna be, no reason, speakin wit me You speak on my seed, then me, no speakin Englais So we gonna beef, and keep on beefin, unless You’re gonna agree, to meet with me in the flesh And settle this face to face, and you’re gonna see A demon unleashed in me, that you’ve never seen And you’re gonna see, this gangsta pee on himself I see you D-12, and thanks, but me need no help Me do this one all by my lonely, I don’t need fifteen of my homies When I see you, I’m seeing you, me and you only We never met, but best believe you gon’ know me When I’m this close, to see you exposed as phony Come on, bitch, show me, pick me up, throw me Lift me up, hold me, just like you told me You was gonna do, that’s what I thought, you’re pitiful”
Challenging another men to fight, Eminem basically says that he’s going to kill him to show that he is stronger and more of a man.
Leland brings up the idea that conforming to society is unhip. He states, “In today’s splintered pop culture, it is hard to imagine a norm that anyone might conform to; the very notion is unhip”(115). I agree with Leland’s proposition because nonconformity meant that a person did not care about the laws and the rule or societies expectations. Being a nonconformist had positive outcomes because a person never loss their uniqueness or individuality.
In chapter 3 of HIP: The History, we gain some historical access of hip and how it came to be. In the chapter, John Leland talks about the origins of the word cool, and explains how in the beginning, cool was used to mean chill, relaxed or keeping composure. In the chapter, it is also argued that, “cool is the mask of mind itself”(58).To me this means two things: while cool is the appearance, hip is the soul beneath the appearance. Thus, we can conclude that cool is the mask and hip the thing behind it.
Moving forward, I arrived to the conclusion that hip is also technology. Through time, there has been a conversion of hip. This conversion has to do hip accelerating through technology. With the creation of the radio and new forms of communication, hip spread. In today’s world, when texting, we have a certain language, which is very different than spoken English. This is very common among young people, thus we can say that hip is carried through youth. In my opinion, it is easier for a young people to carry a trend because they are more accepting to new ideas, as oppose to a person who is much older.
It is hip to disregard social norms. This is proven by the new bohemians, as discussed in the chapter. The new bohemians were those who never followed rules; rebels we might say. These rebels brought a totally different ideas of what it meant to be hip and cool. They always said how lack of originality was not hip, and having your own essence was. Doing things their own way and not following social norms, the bohemians kind of lived a separate life from the ones who did things the way they were supposed to be. I think that when originality is lost, a person has no sense of direction, and so they copy someone else’s ways. Disregarding social norms can be dangerous because we can be seen as outcasts and receive negative remarks from society.
The Harlem Renaissance was a time in which all the tables were turned. This cultural movement was the birth of the place where hip was born. I say this because during this movement, things like music, dance, and literature were ways in which people expressed hip. Harlem was the place where the Blacks could be themselves and escape the reality of a racist and unequal society. This was the only place where there was freedom of expression at the time. For the first time, the Whites wanted to be like the Blacks. Some would go into town and watch them from afar, as they danced and singed. The Whites never wanted to be part of them though, they just wanted to watch as they engaged in their fun activities. We can say that The Harlem Renaissance was a time where the Blacks reclaimed their identity through music, dance and literature.
Many different things define hip. Music, dance and technology are some of the things that were considered hip a long time ago, and of course, are hip now as well. Hip is always changing, but never loses its cool.
When trying to define hip, it is hard to just come up with one definition because hip is always changing. One way in which this is proven is through dance. Many years ago when dances such as the Charleston and the Lindy Hop were born, those wore considered to be the hip dances at the time and everyone who did them were automatically thought of as “cool”. It is hard for this generation to have knowledge on these dances because we are young and are always creating a new hip, but in today’s world, not only are those same dances still hip, but combined with modern dance they become more interesting and entertaining to the youth of this generation. If you have ever seen Footloose or Hairspray, I can assure you that you know what I’m talking about. Look at the way the cast dances in both these movies. Isn’t it interesting how they take dances from long ago, and incorporate them into movies made now? Isn’t it also interesting how they mix both to create a new one? This says that even though something is old, if it was hip then, it is still hip now.
“Hip is an ethos of individualism but tends to grow in cliques” This quote in particular says a lot about hip. As said in the book, the bohemians of Greenwich Village in downtown Manhattan were their own hip in the years before WW1. Not following social norms, this was a place who was open to anyone, “the weird people from towns too small to accommodate the weird migrated to this village” (pg.68). This alone was hip, because different individuals came together in one place and gave it a new meaning.
It is interesting how today’s generation is valuable and influential when it comes to creating hip. As young people, we are always coming up with new ways to express it, dance being one of them. Twerking, the Rednose and Whining are some of the dances we have created and are popular everywhere. If you go to a party and you can’t twerk or whine, then you aren’t considered cool. In a way, being hip is a form of acceptance amongst this generation, and we are always looking of ways to be in the center of it. In a few months, some other type of dance will be invented and all the young people will be doing it too, and without even realizing it, they are hip even if it’s just for that moment.
Hip never loses its cool, even though it can change over time. As we go each day judging what is cool and what isn’t, we also wonder “what’s next?” Every day, we take old ideas and our new ideas and combine them to make a better one. That is the true beauty of hip, never ending enlightenment. So who knows what the next hip thing is going to be, and who knows if you are the one who’s going to create it.
Hip does not have one exact definition, but best believe that we can easily point it out if we see it. Hip is the way Michael Jordan’s sneaker brand is worn all around the world by woman, man and children, or the way that Jeff Lubell’s True Religion jeans fit with Ralph Lauren’s Polos. It is the way that the “city that never sleeps” lights up at night and comes to life through night clubs and white folks roaming the streets with their intoxicated bodies. Hip is the way in which America the great has learned to accept more and judge less.
You know what else is Hip? Hip is the way in which Ray Charles Robinson memorized every key on his piano and always blessed our ears with his soul music, or the way that the upcoming rapper J Cole reaches out to his fans through his music, making sure that he gives them the real him and shows them that neither money or fame can change him.
When a person isn’t afraid to be themselves in a world that is so judgmental and criticizes everything, that is Hip. Not losing one self’s essence but still be able to be a part of society; that is Hip. It is rather extraordinary how something so old can still up to this day hold such tremendous value, like that of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting – the Mona Lisa. It is Hip how the more time passes, the more the painting is worth and the more value it has.