I came across this article today. Basically Gwyneth Paltrow is giving advice to Joaquin Phoenix regarding his recent decision to give up acting and begin a career in rap. Yes, it's quite funny, but we're all sort of used to celebrities making seemingly-insane decisions, and hey, they are entertainers, after all. Gwyneth is quoted as saying, "What advice would I give to Joaquin? Hmmm...maybe to go live in the projects for a few years to get some authenticity, maybe."
Are you fucking kidding me? Omg, where to I begin with what's wrong with this statement? This looks like a job for a list!
- She assumes that rappers are only from the projects--untrue. What about Eminem? He grew up in Detroit, not "the projects." Or Lil Wayne, who grew up in New Orleans (projects being associated with large--northern--cities like Chicago).
- She assumes that authenticity in rap lyrics can only stem from growing up in the projects, and can simply be gained by "walking in their shoes," so to speak. This is bullshit. First off, Joaquin is rich. He is white. He is privileged. Living in the projects unnecessarily will not give him whatever it is that Gwyneth refers to as "authenticity." If we were to assume for a moment that rap lyrics gain authenticity from living in the projects, Joaquin would still not gain it since he did not grow up in that environment, and even living there for a few years will not afford to him the same emotions about it that people who actually do live there experience. For him, it would just be a little vacation--there would not be this overwhelming sense of "this is where I live; anything else is above my means."
- She assumes that rap reflects what occurs in the projects. Rap's origins stem from a dissatisfaction with the situations for many young black men, and it was an outlet. It encompasses an array of styles that generally reflect the personal lives of the rapper, and one of its more distinctive features is the use of poetic language, that is the sounds and manipulations of words as a form of spoken poetry. Rather than advising him to listen to examples of the genre, she tells him to go to the projects.
- She assumes that "street-cred" will validate anything he will rap about, despite not all rappers having "street-cred," and not all rap songs are about gangstas, hos, and the projects. Shooting a gun and living in the projects will not teach you about rap music any more than playing Dungeons and Dragons will teach you to write epics like Lord of the Rings.
- Her use of the word "projects" bears its own racial imagery in society, and is thus condescending coming from her. Since people of color represent most of society's poor, people of color are most likely to be inhabitants of housing projects. Gwyneth (who was born in Los Angeles) also has white privilege, and she ignorantly illustrates what she thinks of rap music. Her telling Joaquin to go to the projects is essentially telling him that if he wants to make "black music" he should "live like the black man" to gain some credibility.