"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one." - Charles Mackay
Thursday, July 31, 2008
CORRECTING and REPLACING 19% of Senior Marketers - or One in Five - Say Their Organizations Have Bought Advertising in Return for a News Story, According to MS&L/PRWeek Survey


A rather sizable number of senior American marketers - 19 percent - say their organizations have bought advertising in return for a news story, despite growing criticism of these "pay-for-play" practices, according to a recent survey conducted on behalf of PRWeek and Manning Selvage & Lee (MS&L) by Millward Brown. The sixth annual Marketing Management Survey polled 252 U.S. chief marketing officers, VPs of marketing and marketing directors and managers about digital media and marketing ethics.

The survey also found that 10 percent of senior marketers said their organizations have had an implicit/non-verbal agreement with a reporter or editor that anticipated favorable coverage of their company or products in exchange for advertising. And 8 percent, or about one in 12, said their organizations paid or provided a gift of value to an editor/producer to place a news story about their company or one of its products.

Questionable marketing practices such as those explored in this survey have generated controversy in recent months, raising questions about the deterioration of news coverage, as well as broader questions about industry ethics.

"Any kind of undisclosed paid placement spells trouble for consumers, the media and the marketing industry," said Mark Hass, worldwide chief executive officer of MS&L. "Without full disclosure and transparency, media lose credibility and their value as an unbiased source of information for consumers. That a substantial number of marketers - about one in every five - engage in 'pay-for-play' year after year is even more troubling, and that much more damaging to the credibility of news media."
The results from this year's survey are consistent with results from previous years: Last year, for example, 17 percent of senior marketers said their organizations bought advertising in return for a news story, 7 percent said their organizations have had an implicit/non-verbal agreement with a reporter or editor that they expected to see favorable coverage of their company or products in exchange for advertising, and 5 percent of marketers said their companies had paid or provided a gift of value to an editor or producer in exchange for a news story about their company or its products.

The issue of paid placements in news media raises serious implications for the marketing industry. Marketers and advertisers often say they view this type of activity as an extension of product placement in entertainment, no different than featuring a car in an action movie or a movie star drinking from a particular brand of soda. But with those programs, the stories are fictional, and their purpose is to entertain. The news media, on the other hand, need to operate by a different set of editorial guidelines, to ensure that trust is at the core of their message delivery.
Marketing efforts in the online world are subject to the same rules of disclosure and transparency that consumers expect with traditional news media. But despite widespread criticism of online ethical breaches such as creating fake blogs and cloaking bloggers' identities, there is little indication that marketers plan to stop trying to engage with consumers in these ways. When asked whether the marketing industry as a whole is following ethical guidelines in new media more than they did a year ago, 53 percent of the survey respondents said no.

"The online world creates a whole new unsettling platform for marketers who are willing to engage unethically," said Hass.

The 2008 PRWeek/MS&L Marketing Management survey was conducted in partnership with PRWeek by Millward Brown. Survey results were collected between May 1 and May 19, 2008. Results are not weighted. Based on the sample size, the results are statistically tested at a confidence level of 90%.

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posted by R J Noriega at 3:58 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Monday, July 28, 2008
Chew on This: Hit Song Is a Gum Jingle

Sharp-eared pop-music fans may have noticed a brief reference to an old chewing-gum jingle buried in "Forever," Chris Brown's top-10 hit. "Double your pleasure/double your fun," the R&B singer croons in the chorus.

What listeners don't know -- and what Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. planned to reveal Tuesday -- is that the song is a commercial.

"Forever" is an extended version of a new Doublemint jingle written by Mr. Brown and scheduled to begin airing next month in 30-second spots for Wrigley's green-packaged chewing gum.

Mr. Brown is one of a trio of pop stars enlisted by ad agency Translation Advertising, a unit of Interpublic Group of Cos., to update the images of three of Wrigley's best-known brands.

The campaign includes spots featuring R&B singer Ne-Yo doing his own take on Big Red's "kiss a little longer" jingle. And "Dancing With the Stars" regular-turned-country-singer Julianne Hough recorded a twangy version of Juicy Fruit's "The taste is gonna move ya."

But Mr. Brown's "Forever" is the most ambitious part of the campaign. Mr. Brown was commissioned to write and sing both the pop song and a new version of the Doublemint jingle, introduced in 1960.

First, Mr. Brown updated the jingle and recorded it with hip-hop producer Polow Da Don. Then, during the same Los Angeles recording sessions in February, paid for by Wrigley, Mr. Brown added new lyrics and made a 4½-minute rendition of the tune, titled "Forever."

In April, Mr. Brown's record label, Jive, released the song to radio stations and digital download services as a single. After the song became a hit, Jive added it to his 2007 album, "Exclusive," and re-released the album in June. "Forever" reached No. 4 on Billboard magazine's Hot 100 chart last week.

All three new Wrigley jingles are scheduled to be unveiled at a news conference Tuesday in New York, with each of them to be performed by the artist involved. Mr. Brown is slated to sing "Forever" and segue into his jingle. New television commercials and radio spots featuring the jingles and print ads showing new packaging for the gum are set to appear in August.

The campaign illustrates a deepening of the ties between pop music and advertising. Rappers frequently mention luxury products like liquor or cars in songs, and occasionally serve as paid spokesmen for the brands. And for McDonald's Corp.'s 2003 "I'm Lovin' It" campaign, the burger chain, with the aid of Translation Chief Executive Steve Stoute, enlisted Justin Timberlake to write and record a song using the slogan as its chorus. But the song was never released on one of his albums.

Tom Carrabba, executive vice president and general manager of Sony BMG's Zomba Label Group, which includes Jive, says label executives initially had qualms about releasing and promoting a song recorded at an advertiser's behest "But the song was so potent and strong. That overruled us being maybe a little hesitant," he adds.

Sony BMG is a joint venture between Bertelsmann AG of Germany and Japan's Sony Corp.

Other than the "double your pleasure" line, the lyrics to the song and the TV jingle are different. But the melody and the music behind it are nearly indistinguishable. A 60-second radio ad scheduled to air starting Friday further blurs the line between the song and the commercial. It starts with a section of "Forever," and moves seamlessly into lyrics promoting the gum. "I'ma take you there, so don't be scared," Mr. Brown sings. "Double your pleasure; double your fun. It's the right one, Doublemint gum."

The campaign was conceived and executed by Mr. Stoute, a former senior executive at Interscope Records who counts rapper Jay-Z as a partner in his business. The idea was to connect the hit song and the jingle in listener's minds. That way, Mr. Stoute says, "by the time the new jingle came out, it was already seeded properly within popular culture."

Mr. Brown said in an email that he wrote "Forever" and the related jingle in about 30 minutes each. "I actually thought it would take longer to write a jingle they would like," he wrote. "But they said it was a perfect fit after the first try."

Paul Chibe, Wrigley's vice president for North American gum marketing, declines to disclose how much Mr. Brown was paid for his role in the campaign.

Wrigley's push to update its older gum brands started earlier this year, when the company began selling them in new slim, envelope-style packages. Some of the gum was reformulated to improve its flavor and make it last longer. Juicy Fruit -- Wrigley's oldest brand, launched in 1893 -- Doublemint, Big Red, Spearmint, Winterfresh and the newer Extra line, represent around 30% of the company's U.S. gum business.

Wrigley chose Mr. Brown to develop the new Doublemint song, in part because the company's consumer research showed that African-American consumers prefer Doublemint to other gum brands. Mr. Chibe calls the move "the future of the brand."

Mr. Chibe added that the mildly suggestive lyrics have never given the company pause. "Everything he's done with 'Forever' represents the brand and it fits our brand personality for Doublemint," Mr. Chibe added.

While Wrigley has had strong sales in emerging markets, it has lost market share in the U.S., where it faces strong competition from Cadbury PLC, maker of Trident, Stride and Dentyne. Last year, the company's North American sales were flat, at $1.75 billion.

During the company's annual meeting in March, Chairman William Wrigley said he was "far from satisfied" with the company's domestic performance in 2007, though results improved in the first quarter of 2008. In April, Wrigley agreed to be acquired by Mars Inc., the closely held maker of M&Ms and Snickers, for about $23 billion.

Chris Brown - Forever
by kevinb1984

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posted by R J Noriega at 10:24 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Universal Perspective


posted by R J Noriega at 1:37 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Monday, July 14, 2008
Deconstructing Illmatic
by Dan Love

Although I’m not a big one for New Year’s resolutions, I did make a promise to myself to up my commitment to Oh Word and increase my frequency of posting in ‘08. Of course, given Rafi’s recent unveiling of future plans for the site it seems like my days of venting hip hop geekery upon you at this particular corner of the wild and treacherous internet are now numbered: that’ll teach me for breaking with tradition and actually setting myself some goals at the turn of the year.

Anyways, what better way to celebrate the end of an era at Oh Word than by celebrating the greatest hip hop album of all time? What follows is a breakdown of all the key samples that went into the making of Illmatic, beat by beat. It’s not entirely exhaustive, but all the key grooves and some drum breaks are included in the following deconstructions. And yes, you’re right, this took a while…

Genesis Grand Wizard Theodore – Subway Theme
Main Source – Live At The BBQ

Given that this post is intended to purely deconstruct the samples used in the making of Illmatic, this brief note on ‘The Genesis’ is really just for the sake of pedantic completism. If you didn’t already know, which I assume you do, ‘The Genesis’ is comprised of Nas’s first appearance on wax with the Main Source crew on the classic posse cut ‘Live At The BBQ’ and excerpts from the equally classic and genre-defining film Wild Style. With Grand Wizard Theodore’s ‘Subway Theme’ reverberating throughout what seems like the whole of the borough of Queens, Nas takes the opportunity to remind us that, “niggaz don’t listen man, representin’, it’s Illmatic.” It’s on…

NY State Of Mind
Donald Byrd – Flight Time
Joe Chambers – Mind Rain

The first of the three Premo produced cuts, ‘NY State Of Mind’ is the darkest and most chilling of his contributions to the album, aptly setting the grimy yet melodic tone that permeates the LP. The harrowing high-pitched guitar notes that open up the track are lifted from Donald Byrd’s ‘Flight Time’ from his 1972 release on Blue Note, Black Byrd. This is of course just one small instance of Byrd’s work finding a home in a hip hop context, and his legacy as an artist still burns brightly in part due to the amount of sample fodder he provided for a wide range of legendary producers over the last two decades or so. It’s only a small touch in ‘NY State Of Mind’, but it’s a detail that complements the vibe of the track perfectly.

The more prominent groove of piano notes is taken from the 1.08 mark of Joe Chambers’s song ‘Mind Rain’ from his Double Exposure LP. I know very little about Chambers as an artist, but from brief research on the net it seems that he played a prominent role in the mid-’60s Blue Note releases as well as playing backup to many of the more prominent figures in jazz of the day and beyond. It’s a fantastic discovery on Premo’s part, an almost perfect one bar sample that is rounded off by the flurry of two higher notes at the end of the bar.

Throw in some heavy drums and it’s done: one of the greatest openers, if not the greatest opener, of any album in the history of the genre.

Life’s A Bitch
The Gap Band – Yearning For Your Love

‘Life’s A Bitch’ has always stood as an anomaly for me on Illmatic. Not only is it the sole track that features a guest MC spot, it is also by far the smoothest beat to be found anywhere on the album. This is of course in no small part a result of the sample source, lifted by L.E.S. from The Gap Band’s rather self-explanatory titled Gap Band III (although I believe that there may have been two albums that preceded this numbered series during the band’s formative years). The LP spawned several hits as the group began making steady progress into the charts, including ‘Yearning For Your Love’ which peaked at #60 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June of ’81 and forms the backbone of Nas and AZ’s classic collaboration.

The sample doesn’t take much spotting as it’s essentially a two bar loop with a little EQ tweaking, found after the intro to the track at the 0.22 mark. L.E.S. doesn’t leave it completely alone though, placing a few extra kick drums into the groove and layering over a more prominent rimshot/snare hit for that extra dose of flava. Beyond that there really isn’t much to it, although ‘Life’s A Bitch’ is special for one final reason, as it’s the only example of live instrumentation to be found on the album. The trumpet solo that brings the cut to a close is in fact played by Nas’s father Olu Dara (born Charles Jones III), and it provides a beautifully wistful end to a track that feels drenched in the dying rays of a crimson sunset over the city.

The World Is Yours
Ahmad Jamal – I Love Music

I can’t remember exactly where I sourced this titbit of information, but apparently when Premier listened to Pete Rock’s lone contribution to Illmatic, he went back to the lab, scrapped what he already had and started over. Whether this is true or not is open to debate, but it is a pleasingly romantic vision of the creative process that went into the construction of the album and a tale that confirms what you already know: ‘The World Is Yours’ is one of the Chocolate Boy Wonder’s finest moments on wax.

Rock sources his pianos from Ahmad Jamal’s ‘I Love Music’, the second song from his heavily-mined LP The Awakening. It’s a deft act of chopping from Mt. Vernon’s Finest, jacking a sequence from the 5.00 mark and subtly rearranging it to create the loop that forms the backbone of one of my favourite cuts from the album. ‘I Love Music’ is of note for those interested in Premier’s digging habits as well, as it also provides the sample for Jeru’s exceptional ‘Me Or The Papes’ from his sophomore outing Wrath Of The Math.

Although I’m not sure where Pete Rock sourced the drums for ‘The World Is Yours’, there’s one detail to the programming that I feel compelled to point out. The cowbell hits that are laid over each snare and immediately follow on the eighth of a bar are an incredibly subtle touch, but their inclusion is masterful: attention to detail is undoubtedly where it’s at.

Average White Band – Schoolboy Crush
Gary Byrd – Soul Travellin’ Pt. I
Hair OST (Japanese Release) – ‘Dead End’

Average White Band’s impact on hip hop culture is significant, with a handful of extremely significant breaks that have at times transcended the genre and made it into the popular consciousness via artists such as Janet Jackson, TLC and Color Me Badd. In the case of ‘Halftime’, it’s ‘Schoolboy Crush’ that receives the sample treatment at the hands of Large Pro, and it’s those inimitable sleigh bells that help give the cut its undeniable swagger. Check the vocal at 4.25 as well to complete the picture: you’ll know it when you hear it.

For the horns Extra P gets his fingers dusty on a copy of Gary Byrd’s ‘Soul Travellin’ Pt. I’, an artist whose presence on the internet is extremely limited (and as such, so is my knowledge). You only have to listen to the first few seconds of the track to feel in familiar territory, although there’s some nice reverb on display here from Large Pro, effectively playing on the first couple of notes from the slammin’ horn track to be found in the original song. From what I can garner, Byrd eventually went on to form the group named Gary Byrd & The G.B. Experience who released a few records on Motown in the ‘80s, but that’s about all I can tell you. Brother of Donald? Who knows: speak ya clout and drop some knowledge on my ignorant ass.

The final element to note in Large Pro’s composition is the filtered bass line lifted from the Japanese version of the Hair OST. ‘Dead End’ was originally cut from the run and only added at a later date, hence its inclusion on the Japanese edition and its omission from versions released elsewhere. Extra P’s innovation is astonishing here, completely transforming the break that occurs at the 0.14 mark, and I particularly like the fact that small traces of the vocal manage to endure, giving the groove a sense of space that is truly remarkable given its otherwise simplistic aesthetic.

Memory Lane
Reuben Wilson – We’re In Love
Lee Dorsey – Get Out My Life Woman

Although ‘N.Y. State Of Mind’ is probably the more highly revered cut, and ‘Represent’ demonstrates the more innovative use of a sample, ‘Memory Lane’ ranks as my favourite Premier production on the album. Backed by the ubiquitous Lee Dorsey drum break, there is a brilliance to this song that allows it to peep its head over the shoulders of the other giants on the LP. Those _drums_…

For the main groove Premo grabs a chunk of Reuben Wilson’s ‘We’re In Love’ from his 1971 album Set Us Free, the final chapter in his Blue Note odyssey that saw him release five albums in the space of three years. The two bars in question drop at the 0.20 mark, a fantastic break comprised of Wilson’s Hammond organ, guitar, vocals and percussion, and although Preem slows the groove down a little, this is essentially a straight loop with absolutely no fiddling. The adage ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ has rarely seemed as pertinent, and it is the sheer bangin’ simplicity of ‘Memory Lane’ that makes it so incredibly captivating. Man, they just don’t make ‘em like they used to…

One Love
Heath Brothers – Smiling Billy Pt. II
Parliament – Come In Out The Rain

What I really dig about the Abstract’s production style on ‘One Love’ is that he resists the temptation to chop up samples too heavily, thereby keeping the sound fluid and warm. This cut is a case in point, with Tip jacking the first 23 seconds of the Heath Brothers’ ‘Smilin’ Billy Suite Part II’ from their 1975 release Marchin’ On and doing very little with it beyond the addition of drums and volume changes as the sample is introduced. This introductory section really is masterful, with Mtume Heath’s percussion part from the original source gradually building into the mix before its complete introduction after the initial eight bar sequence which brings with it the unveiling of double bass and piano tracks. From here on in there really are very few changes, the different musical elements of the track creating a mystical and hypnotic platform for Nas’s musings that simply doesn’t require too much fiddling around with. No extra loop at the chorus, no bridge section, only a handful of breakdowns: it’s a veritable lesson in measured, instinctive and thoroughly considered hip hop production techniques.

For the drum track Tip turns to Parliament’s song ‘Come In Out The Rain’ from their first official LP entitled Osmium, released on Invictus in 1970. The break crops up right at the beginning of the track, and although The Abstract’s skilfully executed chops disguise the original sample source, there’s no mistaking the kicks and snares that form the bangin’ percussion that drives ‘One Love’. Of course, Parliament themselves need little introduction in hip hop circles given that George Clinton’s legendary group are rightfully regarded amongst the godfathers of funk and have acted as a sample source for a list of acts that reads like a who’s who of golden era hip hop, particularly for artists based on the West Coast. Crazy hair and breaks: it’s a legacy made in heaven.

One Time 4 Your Mind
Jimmy Gordon – Walter L

Although the liner notes of Illmatic state Gary Burton’s ‘Walter L’ as the principle sample source contained within ‘One Time For Your Mind,’ things ain’t quite that straightforward. It transpires that it is Jimmy Gordon’s version of the ‘Walter L’ song that finds its way into Large Pro’s composition, a straight one bar loop jacked from the section beginning at the 0.20 mark made up of guitar and ascending bass notes. In real terms it is the simplest beat that Extra P contributes to the album, with both ‘Halftime’ and ‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’ both featuring a wider range of sample sources and more complex production techniques.

However, trying to find out the origins of the Jimmy Gordon song is challenging to say the least (particularly when you are limited to internet-based research). With no listing on Discogs or any mention on Wikipedia, the song seems to have been swallowed somewhat by the sands of time. The chief contender appears to be Jim Gordon, a prolific session drummer who recorded for a myriad of artists during the ‘60s and ‘70s before being incarcerated for bludgeoning and stabbing his mother to death (I think it’s fair to say the man may have experienced some ‘issues’). As the rights to the song clearly belong to Gary Burton, I would think that it’s safe to assume that the version that gets jacked for ‘One Time 4 Your Mind’ was recorded after 1966, and the vibe of the Gordon track is certainly in keeping with this timeframe. This is further consolidated by the fact that he did also appear in the Scorsese directed documentary The Last Waltz playing the sax as part of The Band, and was also the drummer for The Incredible Bongo Band on their Bongo Rock LP, the home of the legendary ‘Apache’. These various pieces of evidence suggest that it is a cover performed by Gordon, although there is no information available that confirms a release date or in fact the existence of his version of ‘Walter L’, so a definitive answer eludes me.

Whatever the case may be, I opened a can of worms with this one. Just goes to show that there are still holes in the substantial knowledge base that is the world wide web…

Lee Erwin – Thief Of Baghdad

(Shouts to Scholar @ Souled On for the hook up)

‘Represent’ is the result of undoubtedly the most innovative piece of crate diggin’ on display on Illmatic. Whilst the majority of hip hop jams are comprised of small chunks of funk, soul and jazz from the ‘60s and ‘70s, Premier eschews this trend for something completely different on the album’s penultimate track. Thief Of Baghdad is a silent film that starred Douglas Fairbanks and featured a soundtrack composed by organist Lee Erwin that was released in 1924. That’s right: 1924. If ever you needed the beat diggin’ capabilities of DJ Premier confirmed, this would surely be the break to do it with.

The original song is a haunting piece of music that sounds almost oriental in places, and its filmic nature is clear from the high drama of the opening section. However, when this is stripped away at the 0.55 mark, a remarkably familiar beast emerges. What amazes me about this sample is how well it works in its new context, and its not only a demonstration of Preem’s sophisticated musical ear, but also of the organic and time-bending nature of hip hop itself. I think there’s something incredibly beautiful about the way in which this song gels together seemingly disparate elements: an organ from 1924; drums that draw their influence from the funk and soul of the ‘60s and ‘70s; the words of a young kid from Queensbridge from the ‘90s. I’m guessing that you feel the same way.

It Ain’t Hard To Tell
Michael Jackson – Human Nature
Kool & The Gang – NT
Stanley Clarke – Slow Dance

And so it is that we arrive at the album closer and one of my personal favourites from Illmatic. ‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’ seems to be a song that splits opinion somewhat, and although it was arguably a strange choice for a 12’’ release, I don’t really see how anybody can overlook the sumptuous nature of the production to be found on the final chapter of the LP. There are actually more samples involved in the composition than I present to you here, but these are the most easily identifiable and obvious a part of ‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’.

‘Human Nature’ needs little introduction. One of Michael Jackson’s finest ever slow grooves, the guitars and synths of the opening couple of bars make up the loop for the main verse sections, but Large Pro takes the time to fuck with Jackson’s vocals as well for the intro and chorus sections of ‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’, taking four descending notes from the final section of ‘Human Nature’ that arrive around the 3.29 mark. From here there are several more layers to account for, the most prominent of which comes from Kool & The Gang’s heavily used ‘N.T.’ song, found on their relatively sought after album Live At P.J.’s. The sax loop is lifted from a section of the track that feels almost like a veritable journey through a sample odyssey, such was the popularity of the break amongst proprietors of that good ol’ boom bap, although the section in question here can be found at the 3.11 mark.

Other than that it’s just the drums, and these can be found on Stanley Clarke’s ‘Slow Dance’ from his 1978 album Modern Man. In some ways it surprises me that this break hasn’t seen a little more use, as its clear kick and snare pattern seems tailor made for hip hop production, but to my knowledge it never seemed to gain particular favour with the producing elite during the early to mid ‘90s. Go figure…

Hope you enjoyed this level of nostalgic indulgence: I know I did. After all, who wouldn’t grab the chance to revel in the joys of Illmatic? If you wouldn’t, the only question that remains is simple: what the hell are you doing here?


posted by R J Noriega at 10:15 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Coded prejudice is cloaked dagger
Subtle slurs still shock, humiliate targets; federal officials see increase in complaints

By Dahleen Glanton

Tomeika Broussard thought it was so absurd when she overheard her supervisor refer to her as a "reggin" that she just laughed. Then she realized it was the n-word spelled backward.

The only African-American in the small medical clinic in Los Gatos, Calif., Broussard said she was subjected to racial slurs almost daily. They were not the overt ones that most people would immediately recognize, but rather subtle, surreptitious code words that sometimes take a while to figure out.

"When 'reggin' came up, I'd never heard that word but I knew it was negative. So I had this kind of nervous, shocked laugh," said Broussard, 31, who was awarded $44,000 in damages last year in a racial harassment lawsuit filed after she was fired from her job as a file clerk. "I didn't know whether it was illegal, but I knew it was not OK. It was humiliating."

Federal officials say they have seen an increase in harassment complaints involving coded words and images in the workplace. Whether it is geared toward racial groups, religious affiliations, sex or sexual orientation, code words have proliferated in recent years through the Internet, where Web sites provide forums for creating, discussing and spreading new words promoting intolerance.

With Democratic Sen. Barack Obama as the first African-American to head a major-party ticket, political analysts predict race will become a central issue in the presidential election. Negative messages about race used in the campaigns and in the media could spill over into the general public, the analysts said, conjuring old stereotypes and stirring fears that create racial tension.

"Historically, when a political party is identified with African-Americans, the opposing party uses race as a way to peel off white support," said Michael Dawson, a political scientist at the University of Chicago. "You can't do that by invoking the Civil War anymore, so what we have seen is this way to tap into racial resentments of some white Americans by talking about issues that are perfectly acceptable but have, in some minds, linkage to blacks and Latinos."

Terms such as "welfare queens" and "crime-ridden neighborhoods" have long been used to refer to African-Americans, Dawson said. In recent years, other analysts said, discussions about patriotism have increasingly become coded with phrases such as "full-blooded Americans" used to exclude certain ethnic groups, particularly Latino immigrants.

During the Democratic primary season, Sen. Hillary Clinton was accused of using racial code when she said that Obama's support among "hardworking Americans, white Americans," was weakening. The inference, critics said, is that only white Americans work hard.

The media played a role in promoting that concept, said Steve Rendall, senior analyst at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a liberal media watchdog group. The biggest coded message, he said, was when pundits turned "working-class voters," into "white working-class voters."

Reading the subtleties
"We hear code words all the time in talk radio. It's a constant drumbeat," said Rendall, who also co-hosts FAIR's national radio show, "CounterSpin." "Code word bigotry is a secret code, a secret handshake between the listening audience and the host.

"Either conscious or unconscious, there is sometimes a mispronunciation of [Obama's] name or dwelling on his middle name [Hussein], suggesting that he is some covert Muslim. It is not overt racism but it is xenophobic."

Since the first racial code word lawsuit in 1996, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has seen an influx of cases involving racially coded messages. In the earlier case, the federal appeals court in Philadelphia overturned a lower court ruling and found in favor of a credit manager who sued Cort Furniture Rental. Carol Aman said she and other black employees were referred to as "you people" and "that one in there."

"People are smart and know they cannot use blatant terms, so they get the message across in other ways," said Sanya Hill Maxion, an EEOC lawyer in San Francisco who represented Broussard. "We are seeing different things trickle out."

As the country becomes more diverse, cases also have resulted from culture clashes between African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians, according to the EEOC.

For example, an assembly technician in San Jose, Calif., sued the company he worked for last year, claiming he was harassed by a Vietnamese co-worker who repeatedly played loud rap music with anti-black racial epithets. The lawsuit charged the co-worker also sang the lyrics within earshot of him.

In another case, a black employee was repeatedly called "Cornelius" in a reference to the ape character from the movie "Planet of the Apes." Another case involved a man of Chinese and Italian ancestry who was taunted daily by his foreman, who referred to him as " Bruce Lee."

Coded messages also have long been seen in political campaigns. During the presidential campaign 20 years ago, supporters of George H.W. Bush were accused of using code to ignite racial furor among white voters against Michael Dukakis by running an ad featuring the case of Willie Horton, a black man convicted of raping a white woman in Massachusetts. Two years ago during a tight Senate race, Tennessee Republicans featured a television ad that portrayed a white woman saying she had met Rep. Harold Ford, who is African-American, at a Playboy party. Ford lost the election.

Recently, Fox News Channel identified Michelle Obama as "Obama's baby mama," a term used to describe unwed mothers. Fox officials said that a producer "exercised poor judgment" during the segment.

Complaints overblown?
Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, said the topic of code words has been overplayed.

"Any criticism of Obama is translated as a coded racial attack because he is black," said Bozell. "Conservatives have a language to their fellow conservatives. Liberals have a language to fellow liberals. African-Americans have a language to African-Americans. I don't see anything wrong with that.

But the University of Chicago's Dawson said code words can do damage even when their speakers say they were just joking or that they made an innocent mistake by using them.

"They're invoking harmful stereotypes," Dawson said.

Earlier this month, Maurica Grant, 32, who was fired from her job as a technical inspector with NASCAR, filed a lawsuit claiming that she was repeatedly harassed. Grant, who is black, said co-workers called her "Nappy Headed Mo" and "Queen Sheba." According to Grant, they also said she worked on "colored people time," meaning she often was late.

EEOC officials said they also have seen cases of code words used to identify ethnic groups in job applications.

"Racial harassment is alive and well and manifesting itself in so many forms, especially with advances in technology allowing programs that screen out certain addresses and names associated with certain groups," said Paula Bruner, appellate attorney for the EEOC in Washington. "It is a lot more pervasive than people appreciate."

According to Bruner, code words also show up on age and gender cases.

"An employer might use terms 'youthful' or 'enthusiastic' to describe the person that they want. Or they might say, 'We want someone who is more progressive.' That's like saying you can't teach an old dog new tricks," she said.

Meanwhile, Broussard, who was 26 when she filed the lawsuit, has tried to move on. But the memories are still painful, she said.

"I can't believe I put up with that kind of racism. It was 2004, and I thought that was unheard of," she said.

Four years later, new words crop up every day, fueled by the Internet.

Contributors to the online Urban Dictionary offer several uses for "reggin." Among them: "Used to trick black people."

Another Web site, the Racial Slur Database, defines 2,649 slurs. According to the site, its mission is "helping to make the world a better place."

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posted by R J Noriega at 2:02 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
Saturday, July 05, 2008



posted by R J Noriega at 12:08 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
Go to ChappelleTheory.com for T-Shirts, Not Conspiracy

Voodoo dolls riddled with safety pins, inexplicable late-night telephone calls, clandestine hotel rendezvous and secret messages sent over the airwaves sound more Stephen King than Oprah Winfrey.

But according to a popular Internet conspiracy theory, Ms. Winfrey, along with Bill Cosby, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and others, employed those tactics and more to oust Dave Chappelle from his Comedy Central hit, “Chappelle’s Show,” because its “outrageous tone” was “setting race relations back 50 years.” For months this conjecture has inundated the blogosphere and e-mail in-boxes, but recently it has enjoyed a resurgence with the premiere of “Chappelle’s Show: The Lost Episodes.”

ChappelleTheory.com, supposedly written by a retired public relations executive with connections, claims that a cabal of African-American leaders, known as the Dark Crusaders, used their influence and wealth to harass Mr. Chappelle out of his now infamous $50 million contract.

Not too shocking to most, none of this is true. The hoax, while as imaginative as a Chappelle skit, was a marketing scheme employed to sell T-shirts.

“I think we all recognized it was a joke when it first came out,” said Tony Fox, a spokesman for Comedy Central. “I don’t think it requires any official comment by us.”

Tomorrow Comedy Central will broadcast the last of Mr. Chappelle’s finished work in the third installment of “The Lost Episodes.” Mr. Chappelle has called the network’s decision to show those sketches “a bully move.”

Mr. Chappelle’s spokeswoman, Carla Sims, had little to say about the conspiracy.

“If we responded to every hoax that was out there, I wouldn’t get any work done,” she said, before adding that commenting officially about the site would do nothing but give it unearned credence.

The overblown theory has been deflated as a viral Internet marketing scheme, a way for a Web site to gain popularity through file sharing and blogs. The original postings about the theory all came from Jason Hill, 33, co-founder of the Philadelphia-based Web development company WebLinc LLC.

According to several sites, WebLinc registered the domain name ChappelleTheory.com in October, two months before its unofficial debut. The plan was to use the site to promote a clothing site called anti-social.com, which sells Dark Crusaders T-shirts for $18.

“We’re definitely getting a resurgence of traffic now,” Mr. Hill said.

After a lull of several months, the Chappelle Theory site reached a high this month of 4 million hits in one day, compared to about 2 million in the last few months, according to the Internet traffic monitor Alexaholic.com.

WebLinc attributes the spike in interest to the broadcast of Mr. Chappelle’s newest material.

Chappelle Theory first came to fame on the gossip site Defamer, and then made the rounds on MySpace and Friendster in early December, a time when the Web was rife with Chappelle conjecture.

This was before Mr. Chappelle’s interviews with Oprah Winfrey and James Lipton and after the rumors of drugs, insanity and his escape to Africa. But Mr. Chappelle, though much talked about, was not talking.

“So that was the perfect time for it because everyone was sort of wondering,” said Todd Jackson, editor in chief of dead-frog.com, a news blog for what he calls “comedy nerds.”

Mr. Jackson was one of the first to debunk the conspiracy theory.

“When I first saw the site I was pretty certain it was obviously a fake,” said Mr. Jackson, 35, who, as the former editorial director of Comedy Central’s Web site, once worked down the hall from “Chappelle’s Show.”

He pointed to one of the more fantastic claims as proof. It alleges that while Ms. Winfrey interviewed Tom Cruise in January 2004 (the couch-jumping incident occurred in May 2005), she faced the camera and said, “Dave Chappelle, you should be ashamed of yourself.” She added, “I’m going to make sure you never work in Hollywood again.”

According to the conspiracy, as written by Mr. Hill and his friends, Ms. Winfrey taped that message and somehow transmitted it solely to Mr. Chappelle’s home television in Ohio.

Through the blog tracker Technorati.com, Mr. Jackson discovered the connection between WebLinc and the theory. He later exposed it on his blog.

“A lot of people were savvy enough to know this was viral marketing, but I still see the link every once in a while, and I still see people saying, ‘Hey, I don’t know if this is true or not,’ ” said Mr. Jackson, who said he received a free Dark Crusaders T-shirt in the mail.

Darren Hill, 30, Jason Hill’s brother and co-founder of WebLinc, admitted that Chappelle Theory was published to “promote the Anti Social brand.” Still, he said, he saw some value in the Web site.

Mr. Jackson agreed. “As long as it’s making people laugh, there’s some validity to it,” he said.


posted by R J Noriega at 12:07 AM | Permalink | 0 comments

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