Wednesday, February 25, 2015

From Zappa to Zendaya

I listened to Frank Zappa back in the day with the avidity of a history student hearing from Thomas Hobbes himself.  It's a pity that some people thought then, and some still do today, that Zappa was "that weirdo" with hard-to-understand lyrics and odd rhythms on his albums with The Mothers Of Invention and subsequent bands.  

I and untold millions of others found his philosophies helpful in getting to know myself and where I fit in in this crazy old world. Frank's whole point was the wonder of being what one was capable of becoming.  Listen to the album "We're Only In It For The Money" from 1968.  Over and over, we hear the theme: there are the freaks, and there are the superstraights, and you don't have to align with either group.  You can be one of the Other People and make your best life that way.

You remember that crazy thing people had with playing records backwards to hear Satanic messages, like when you spun a KISS album backward and were supposed to hear Gene Simmons asking you to give your soul to the devil?  (And this from Gene Simmons, a man interested in two things only: himself, and all of your money.) Zappa paid tribute to that by putting this verse on the end of the track called "Flower Punk" - "Take a look around before you say you don't care, and shut your #)@ing mouth about the length of my hair."

You wouldn't think Frank would have met with such resistance for something as helpful as telling people to do their best to be their best, and not to get all involved with the hair on the heads of other people,
Zendaya (l), Rancic
but you know how people are.  "People" are like Giuliana Rancic.  Rancic works on the E! channel, and part of her job is to stand around as celebrities arrive for events and comment on what sort of clothes they are wearing, how they have their hairdids, and whom they are with. 

What a worthwhile job!  

Meanwhile, I am so far removed from Youth Culture that I have no idea who Zendaya Coleman is. I read that she goes by her first name only, and is an actress, singer and dancer.  And I see that when she arrived for the Oscar awards the other night with her hair up in locs, Ms Rancic said, "I feel like she smells like patchouli oil and weed."

And then, you know what happened.  We see it every day. Insult, mad reaction, apology based on "I had no idea you would be offended by my offensive actions!"  

Zendaya tweeted: “To say that an 18 year old young woman with locs must smell like patchouli oil and weed is not only a large stereotype but outrageously offensive."  And she pointed out that plenty of people wear dreadlocks without being slammed about it.
She was wearing her hair the way she wanted to wear her hair, and did not deserve to have drugs dragged into it!

Rancic, predictably, grabbed her Twitter and tweeted: “Dear @Zendaya, I’m sorry I offended you and others. I was referring to a bohemian chic look. Had NOTHING to do with race and NEVER would!!!” 

So now we know that if we want to compliment someone for being "bohemian" and "chic," the thing to do is to say they must reek of that 60's essence from a species of plant from the genus Pogostemon.  

Or just say they smell like dope.  

Or, shut up about it.

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