WBEZ | Rihanna http://www.wbez.org/tags/rihanna Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Even the most successful black women are not 'good enough' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-06/even-most-successful-black-women-are-not-good-enough-107881 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP124216093615%20%281%29.jpg" title="Yosra El-Essawy/Invision/AP" /></div><p dir="ltr">You&rsquo;re not good enough and you never will be and we need to remind you of this again and again. Do not get comfortable. What you&rsquo;ve done matters little. For every act is just an act, existing in a vacuum, not representative of the whole, or even a part of who you think you are.</p><p dir="ltr">This is what I imagine is being said to someone like Beyonce or Rihanna or Michelle Obama by the media and by society at large. It might not be said explicitly, but it is implied forcefully and continuously. They are three of the most visible black female public figures and they are three of the most controversial. Controversy, I realize now, is largely a manufactured tool, one that is used to control the narratives of the people around us. And the narrative of the black woman &ndash; public or not &ndash; rarely changes: you will not be good enough. Do not forget.</p><p dir="ltr">Regardless of what Beyonce or Rihanna or Michelle Obama does, they will get criticized for their actions. To the public, there is no such thing as a good or respectable black woman. They are women who are almost &ldquo;good,&rdquo; but not quite. The ways in which society tries to find and develop these characteristics of &ldquo;bad&rdquo; rarely differ from figure to figure.</p><p dir="ltr">All of their actions are up for debate, even when they are personal and non-threatening. What has Beyonce done but work hard to be the best performer she could possibly be? Well, for one they say, she is not a good enough feminist. One of my friends said that she was uncomfortable with the fact that Beyonce named her tour &ldquo;The Mrs. Carter Tour.&rdquo; But why is a woman&rsquo;s feminist cred eliminated because she changed her last name? Why do personal decisions that threaten no one eradicate one&rsquo;s support of equality between the sexes?</p><p dir="ltr">My mother changed her last name and I can&rsquo;t think of a better representation of feminism lived in the everyday world. Her strength, her work effort, her words about hard work and personal achievement, the visibility of shared responsibility &hellip; all of these things led me to feminism before I knew what that was.</p><p dir="ltr">Beyonce is not a good feminist. She is not feminist at all. This is what they say. A recent <a href="http://msmagazine.com/blog/2013/05/16/beyonce-rocks-the-cover-of-ms/" target="_blank"><em>Ms.</em> magazine article</a> fueled the flames not for what it said about Beyonce&rsquo;s feminism, but because anything was said at all. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/msmagazine/posts/10151597253413540" target="_blank">Readers</a> were upset that anyone could try to relate the two. Beyonce is not a feminist because she dresses &ldquo;provocatively.&rdquo; Beyonce is not a feminist because she changes her last name, because she shows vulnerability, because she is proud of her motherhood and her marriage. Beyonce is not a feminist because she is not what a feminist looks like. She is not a feminist because we say she is not. If we seek to promote the value in feminism and challenge the negative connotations of feminism in the public eye, tearing down a performer who speaks openly about women doing right for themselves, who literally called herself a feminist, does more harm than good.</p><p dir="ltr">When I see Michelle Obama on the screen, I see a woman like the women I grew up around. She is poised and beautiful and intelligent. She is also real. There is an argument to be made about the decorum of the First Lady, but I don&rsquo;t think Obama has ever questioned this.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP202679480534.jpg" style="float: left; height: 375px; width: 250px;" title="(AP/Abdeljalil Bounhar)" />Perhaps it is because she exists not as a wallflower, but as a powerhouse that we are threatened by an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/22/politics/michelle-obama-eye-roll" target="_blank">eye roll</a>. Perhaps because she is literal strength that we find her reaction to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/09/michelle-obama-heckler-handled-badly" target="_blank">heckler</a>&nbsp;as a wrong. As an outsider, these reactions shock me. Why are we upset that Obama reacts? What do we expect of her?</p><p dir="ltr">As an insider (an insider of the black female experience), they do not. Black women can&rsquo;t show their cards. If you have achieved something, the only way to continue rising is to keep one&#39;s head down. Opinions? Emotions? Reflections? Please! Take a seat!</p><p dir="ltr">In a recent, ridiculous story for the UK&#39;s <em>Daily Mail</em>, Liz Jones <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2347680/Rihannas-toxic-role-model-army-young-fans-says-LIZ-JONES.html" target="_blank">chastised</a> Rihanna for not acting as a perfect role model. Ignore the fact that one of the most consistent things about the singer is that she refuses the label of &quot;role model.&quot; Why do we expect this of her at all? Why is she not allowed to live her life as she chooses? Yes, she has young fans. But why do we act as if good parenting is no longer a viable option in preventing our children from &quot;bad&quot; influences? If we are to talk about the actions of pop stars, why is Rihanna criticized more than her peer, Lady Gaga, who too <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/27/lady-gaga-drugs-inspired-_n_696842.html" target="_blank">speaks openly</a> about drug use and recklessness? There exists a double standard, one that has become abundantly clear.</p><p dir="ltr">There exists, in the life of a black woman, public or not, the notion that the other shoe will drop. You are waiting for the challenge, the comeuppance, the moment in which others will tell you who you are and how you should live. This extends to the general female experience, too, and the Other experience as a whole. The other shoe waits. You wait.</p><p dir="ltr">This is why our interpersonal bonds are so important and public. I&rsquo;m remembering a man who said that black women are catty. That made no sense to me. The ease in which I build friendships with women who look like me cannot be explained. But perhaps there is the reality of what we must face and what we have been told. One can never overstate the importance of knowing your stories and feelings are important and true.</p><p dir="ltr">I am reminded of what my parents &ndash; my mother in particular &ndash; used to say: You will have to work twice as hard to get half as far. You do not always have the luxury to dress down, to not always be your best, to mess up. Any sign of weakness, of humanity, is a reinforcement of stereotypes we have yet to eradicate. I did not know this to be true then, but I understand it now. The world reveals itself.</p><div><em>Britt Julious blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></div></p> Thu, 27 Jun 2013 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-06/even-most-successful-black-women-are-not-good-enough-107881 Calculated exploitation in the evolution of Miley Cyrus http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-06/calculated-exploitation-evolution-miley-cyrus-107795 <p><p dir="ltr">It is rare that someone young would use the word &ldquo;urban&rdquo; as coded language for a style. But the fact that Miley Cyrus <a href="http://www.vibe.com/article/miley-cyrus-asked-black-sound-single-says-songwriters-rock-city" target="_blank">reportedly</a> used it when working on new music such as lead single &ldquo;We Can&rsquo;t Stop,&rdquo; speaks volumes. As much as she is the fan, in the back of our collective minds, we wonder how much of it is an act.</p><p dir="ltr">Maybe that speaks to the calculated creation of her new music. To use &ldquo;urban&rdquo; is to reflect an outsiderness that reveals more about the speaker than those being spoken about. The only people I ever regularly hear or read using &ldquo;urban&rdquo; as signifier for &ldquo;black&rdquo; are surburbanites fearful of the city.</p><p dir="ltr">Pop music is difficult to create because it must have the greatest potential to appeal to the largest audience possible. A calculated effort is inherent. When does a calculated effort then jump too far into reckless posturing?</p><p dir="ltr">Cyrus&rsquo; look is easier to swallow, not quite fitting succinctly into any one aesthetic. First came the tattoos. Then the smart haircut. Then the perfect crop tops. Then the jewelry, the accoutrement of a new, fresh, and raw Cyrus. Why do we reward calculated efforts in style? Perhaps because style is of the surface. Not that style is shallow, but rather we can&rsquo;t hide our choices. Style &ndash; to the discerning eye &ndash; is rarely subtle. But when does a series of calculated efforts turn into exploitation? When do actions become cultural tourism?</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP356114337538_0.jpg" style="width: 310px; float: right;" title="(John Shearer/Invision/AP)" />If a new rule book has been written as to how a young singer can transition into adulthood, Rihanna has crafted and edited the words and images. Rihanna was 17 when her first album, <em>Music of the Sun</em>, was released. Although older than the age in which Cyrus had her peak, Rihanna still made concerted efforts in her style of dress, music, and outspokenness to transition from a Barbadian Beyonce into star she is today. Her third album, <em>Good Girl Gone Bad</em>, released when she was 19, was the turning point. For that album, lead single &ldquo;Umbrella&rdquo; became a worldwide hit (after a noteable rejection from Britney Spears). More importantly, Rihanna revealed a new image to the world: a dark, short haircut and an abundant use of designer blazers constructed with over-the-top power shoulders. It was in this look that Rihanna unveiled a new level of sophistication and adulthood. We no longer saw or felt original Rihanna. This was something newer and better. Viewed through that lens, Miley&rsquo;s efforts make sense.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We Can&rsquo;t Stop&rdquo; is a Rihanna reject, a noteable tell in the evolution of Miley 2.0. For someone like Rihanna, often known to produce solid and explosive singles (and mediocre album cuts), to reject an enjoyable if not bland manufactured single reflects the lack of personality and imagination in the final product.</p><p dir="ltr">Experimentation in pop music (aesthetically at least) is a tried and trusted tradition. In the realm of the pop world, it&rsquo;s an accepted representation of growth and cultural knowledge. The pop star is saying, &ldquo;I am more than my peers and more than myself.&rdquo; In the song, Cyrus sings about &ldquo;shaking it like we at a strip club&rdquo; and &ldquo;trying to get a line in the bathroom.&rdquo; What a rebel. But the line between exploitation and experimentation remains thin.</p><p dir="ltr">The video for &ldquo;We Can&rsquo;t Stop&rdquo; is a strikingly weird effort, one that prompted confusion and a general turnaround from the muted admiration of newer, older, and temporary fans like myself. What sticks out most is the image and <a href="http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/18rbxkx3puecogif/original.gif" target="_blank">use of the black female body</a>. Seen not necessarily as friends or collaborators but as props, the women, much like her Rihanna Reject of a song and the new haircut and the over-accessorized new sense of style, are little more than coded attempts to present an older, &ldquo;hipper&rdquo; image. One can argue too that her recent knowledge and appreciation for rappers like Juicy J and Gucci Mane are other tools in her widely publicized pop star debutante ball. There was a time when Cyrus sang about liking Jay Z in the single &ldquo;<a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=4&amp;ved=0CEsQtwIwAw&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DM11SvDtPBhA&amp;ei=fVDEUaaNM4nIyAHB-ICICQ&amp;usg=AFQjCNF5SX2TeGKlV7DTsTK53_BdAtmUZA&amp;sig2=XNdTwqXB_Z5GOSixfAwecA&amp;bvm=bv.48293060,d.aWc" target="_blank">Party in the U.S.A.</a>&rdquo; and then later admitted to not knowing any of his songs. Miley is &ldquo;down.&rdquo; But did we ever ask her to be in the first place?</p><p dir="ltr">In the end, the clothes and the music are fine. It is the use of actual bodies that most unnerves. They are relegated to their own scene away from the actions and partying of Cyrus&#39; non-black friends. Cyrus wears white while they wear black. She stands in the middle, attempting to twerk and failing.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;In a white-centric world, putting white women quite literally in the center of the frame while women of color are off to the side is a powerful, disrespectful visual message,&rdquo; <a href="http://jezebel.com/on-miley-cyrus-ratchet-culture-and-accessorizing-with-514381016" target="_blank">writes</a> Dodai Stewart in a necessary and surprisingly frank discussion of Cyrus on Jezebel. Black women are not tools for one&rsquo;s public rebellion. They are not signifiers of one&rsquo;s transition into adulthood. They are not manifestations of your goals, desires, and pursuit of pop riches. They are actual human beings. Really!&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">This is not about Cyrus not using them in the scenes in which she hangs out with her friends. This is not about wanting to belong. Inclusions matter most here. Rather, this is about following along in a long tradition of ridiculousness masked as admiration.</p><p dir="ltr">In an essay Geoff Dyer wrote about photography, his reflections apply just as well to images as a whole. &quot;It occurs to me that another important component of a photograph is the things that are <em>not</em> in it,&quot; he wrote. &quot;The inclusion of certain things can not just diminish a photograph but destroy it.&quot; What was chosen to create the video is more important than what was not.&quot;&nbsp;Isn&#39;t this so silly? the whole scene seems to ask. No, it&#39;s rather pathetic. But a surprise? Certainly not.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Yes, that might be hard to swallow in a disgustingly gluttonous, devouring, and image-based culture, one that chews bodies up and spits them out with little thought. But it is true. Although images and identity are often intertwined, that does not mean one should exploit to enhance their own efforts.</p><p dir="ltr">What does it mean to be a good storyteller? This question might seem out of place, but all entertainers, even the vacuous ones, are telling stories about who they are and what they like or who they want you to think they are and what they want you to think they like.</p><p dir="ltr">This does not mean Cyrus (or Rihanna or Beyonce or any other pop star) must live their lives and release their music as perfect beacons of responsibility. That would ultimately make the music (and their appeal) boring. Taylor Swift does what she does and does it well. She needs no further competition. But if one&rsquo;s story can not be told without the shameless exploitation of the visual livelihood of others, than perhaps it is not a good story in the first place. Perhaps it is not a story that needs telling at all.</p><div><em>Britt Julious blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></div></p> Fri, 21 Jun 2013 13:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-06/calculated-exploitation-evolution-miley-cyrus-107795 Rihanna, Bieber and the dangers of celebrity worship http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-03/rihanna-bieber-and-dangers-celebrity-worship-106255 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rihanna-barrington-high-032213-600x337.jpg" title="Rihanna speaks to students at Barrington High School on Friday, March 23, after arriving nearly 4 hours late. (Celebuzz)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">The gymnasium of Barrington High School exploded with <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/barrington_area/chi-rihanna-barrington-high-school-20130322,0,5100849.story" target="_blank">Beatlemania</a>-like screams on Friday as <a href="http://www.mtv.com/artists/rihanna/" target="_blank">Rihanna</a>, pop princess of the Billboard charts and racy queen of the tabloids, made her grand entrance.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Never mind that she was over three hours late, a delay she attributed to &quot;<a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2297876/Rihanna-holds-2-000-Chicago-school-children-hours--stays-just-12-minutes.html" target="_blank">Chicago traffic</a>&quot; in an Instagram photo she posted just an hour prior. The meet-and-greet for students who had won a video contest about &quot;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/barrington_area/chi-rihanna-barrington-high-school-20130322,0,5100849.story" target="_blank">giving back to your community</a>&quot; was obviously low on Rihanna&#39;s priority list, as she offered &quot;thanks for waiting&quot; non-apology to the 2,500 person crowd--the majority of them young girls--and stayed for only 12 minutes.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Fans grew disgruntled waiting for Rihanna to arrive, deeming her behavior &quot;<a href="http://chicagoist.com/2013/03/23/rihanna_visits_barrington_high_scho.php" target="_blank">rude</a>&quot; and <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2013/03/23/rihanna_visits_barrington_high_scho.php" target="_blank">pathetic</a>.&quot; However,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.celebuzz.com/2013-03-23/riri-tardy-for-the-high-school-party/" target="_blank">most were quick to forgive her</a>&nbsp;when she finally showed up. &nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;It was a really long wait, but Rihanna is so inspirational,&quot; freshman Batul Yawer told the <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/19029873-761/barrington-students-shine-during-3-hour-wait-for-rihanna.html" target="_blank"><em>Chicago Sun Times</em></a>.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/021212-justinbieber.jpg" style="width: 320px; float: right; " title="Justin takes a selfie on an audience member's phone. (SugarScape)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Yeesh.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">What do these teens find &quot;so inspirational&quot; about Rihanna? Sure, she caught the attention of hitmaker Jay Z in 2004, and with the help of some very talented songwriters, churned out <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/rihanna-equals-madonnas-record-of-number-1450160" target="_blank">12 num</a><a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/rihanna-equals-madonnas-record-of-number-1450160" target="_blank">ber one singles</a>&nbsp;to tie Madonna&#39;s record. However, the 24-year-old singer is also famous for <a href="http://hollywoodlife.com/2012/04/20/rihanna-drugs-use-coachella-cocaine-weed-pic/" target="_blank">rolling drugs</a> on her bodyguard&#39;s head,&nbsp;<a href="http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/11/23/rihanna-apologizes-to-press-for-grueling-777-plane-tour/" target="_blank">acting erratically</a>&nbsp;on several occasions and, perhaps most disturbingly,&nbsp;returning to <a href="http://www.vibe.com/article/chris-brown-rihanna-confirms-we-are-back-together" target="_blank">boyfriend/abuser</a> Chris Brown after he was convicted of physically assaulting her in 2009.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Of course, everbody makes mistakes, and even chart-topping royalty like Rihanna should not held to standards unattainable by mortal beings. But her questionable conduct in the public eye (irresponsible at best, nihilistic at worst) sets a horrible example for her young fans to follow: be a bad girl, behave unprofessionally,&nbsp;<a href="http://gawker.com/5960967/the-new-rihannachris-brown-duet-is-great-unfortunately" target="_blank">record a love song</a>&nbsp;with the man that punched you in the face and <a href="http://www.justjared.com/2013/02/04/rihanna-dont-call-me-a-bad-role-model/" target="_blank">make no apologies</a> for it.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Fans also cling with troubling rabidity to one <a href="http://bieberfever.com">Justin Bieber</a>, pop singer and babe magnet extraordinaire. His tween devotees (they call themselves &quot;Beliebers&quot;) have&nbsp;slammed him with false&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1673747/justin-bieber-paternity-suit.jhtml" target="_blank">paternity suits</a> just to get his attention, issued death threats to his now ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez and<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/cut4bieber-trending-topic-draws-shock-outrage-article-1.1235624" target="_blank"> threatened to cut themselves</a> over his alleged drug use.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Bieber is a talented-enough kid, but this whirlwind of insanity around a 19-year-old who frequently throws temper tantrums (he had the &quot;<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2013/mar/04/justin-bieber-worst-birthday-club" target="_blank">worst birthday</a>&quot; ever, you guys) and doesn&#39;t even know how to spell &quot;<a href="http://wzlx.cbslocal.com/2013/03/13/5-things-justin-bieber-could-learn-from-janis-joplin/" target="_blank">Janis Joplin</a>&quot; is downright terrifying.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The hero-worship of athletes is also way over the top. From high school to college to professional leagues, sports stars are showered with inconceivable amounts of money and praise. The greats (Michael Jordan, Tom Brady and even the recently<a href="http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1966486,00.html" target="_blank"> scandalized</a> Tiger Woods) are revered as gods. But besides being masters of their game, what have they really done to better society as a whole?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" on="" pbs.="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Gloria%20Steinem.jpg" style="height: 240px; width: 320px; float: left; " title="Gloria Steinem circa 1972, featured in the PBS documentary 'Makers: Women Who Make America.' (USAToday) " />Some of my role models are actors and musicians; however, they also possess many qualities outside the realms of &quot;acting&quot; and &quot;singing&quot; &nbsp;that I hold in high regard. I look up to these people not just because of their talent, but because of how they carry themselves through the world.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jessica-massa/four-reasons-millennial-w_b_863420.html" target="_blank">Tina Fey</a> inspires me as a writer, feminist and whip-smart businesswoman. I admire Andrew Bird for being a positive influence on other aspiring musicians through the <a href="https://rockforkids.ejoinme.org/?tabid=221218" target="_blank">Andrew Bird Scholarship Fund</a>&nbsp;for Chicago arts programs. Many more of my role models are featured in the PBS documentary <a href="http://www.pbs.org/makers/home/" target="_blank"><em>Makers</em></a>, which chronicles over 50 years of trailblazing American women: from Hillary Rodham Clinton to Maya Angelou to the original leader of the feminist movement, the incomparable Gloria Steinem.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Outside of the entertainment industry, I implore our nation&#39;s youth to look to the people in their own communities for inspiration. Our life-changing teachers, nurses, neighbors, social workers, mentors, counselors, close family and friends are the true unsung heroes of our society; never to receive the same widespread media coverage as Rihanna and Justin Bieber, but always the ones whom we should value the most.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Who are your role models? Leave a comment below, tweet&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>&nbsp;or join the conversation on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.&nbsp;</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 25 Mar 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-03/rihanna-bieber-and-dangers-celebrity-worship-106255 The state of Harpo Studios http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-02/state-harpo-studios-105575 <p><p><img 2011.="" alt="" class="image-original_image" honor="" in="" legacy="" may="" oprah="" s="" show="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/harpo-way.jpg" style="height: 419px; width: 620px; " talk="" the="" title="The block of Harpo Studios in Chicago was named &quot;Oprah Winfrey Way&quot; to honor the talk show queen's legacy in May 2011. (NBCNews) " to="" winfrey="" /></p><p>If Chicago declared a patron saint for media coverage, no one person (save the current President of the United States) would be more fitting of such an honor than Oprah Winfrey.&nbsp;</p><p>Her daily talk show, taped at <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harpo_Productions" target="_blank">Harpo Studios</a> on the Near West Side from 1986 to 2011,<em>&nbsp;</em>drew&nbsp;an average of <a href="http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2007/12/07/4425062-breaking-down-oprahs-numbers?lite" target="_blank">7.4 million viewers</a> per day and was nationally syndicated for 25 wildly successful seasons. Her 2008 endorsement of then-Senator Barack Obama for president all but cemented his seat in the Oval Office, her 2009&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3R9YPLOmZJc" target="_blank">surprise Black Eyed Peas concert</a> swamped Michigan Avenue with a flash mob of <a href="http://www.oprah.com/entertainment/Oprahs-Kickoff-Party-Flash-Mob-Dance" target="_blank">over 20,000 people</a> and her final season culminated in a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/17/oprahs-star-studded-farew_n_863220.html#s280239" target="_blank">star-studded extravanagza</a>&nbsp;(oh, hey Michael Jordan, Beyoncé and Stevie Wonder!) that nearly blew the roof off Chicago&#39;s United Center.</p><p>She was our Mama O, and we haven&#39;t had someone of her lightning-in-a-bottle dynamism to rally around since.</p><p>After the last Chicago taping of&nbsp;<em>The Oprah Winfrey Show</em> in May 2011, Oprah moved to Montecito, California to run her new cable channel <a href="http://www.oprah.com/own" target="_blank">OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network</a>.&nbsp;Harpo Studios tried to pick up the pieces by launching&nbsp;<em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rosie_Show" target="_blank">The Rosie Show</a>&nbsp;</em>in its place&nbsp;that&nbsp;October, but the evening talk program starring actress/comedian Rosie O&#39;Donnell suffered from dismally low ratings and was&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/2012/03/rosie-odonnell-show-cancelled-by-own-described-as-f-king-hellhol/" target="_blank">cancelled</a>&nbsp;by OWN after only one season.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rosie-odonnell-oprah.jpg" style="float: right; " title="Oprah and Rosie before OWN's cancellation of &quot;The Rosie Show&quot; in March 2012. (RadarOnline) " /></p><p>According to <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/17/rosie-o-donnell-s-disastrous-oprah-winfrey-network-experience.html" target="_blank">this article</a> from the Daily Beast, <em>The Rosie Show</em> was a disastrous experience for everyone involved (&quot;a f*cking hellhole,&quot; allegedly) and proved to be yet another disappointment for Oprah&#39;s fledging network. OWN struggled to connect with audiences since its premiere in January 2011, prompting a major overhaul of low-rated programming and numerous staff replacements over the next two years.&nbsp;</p><p>The channel&#39;s losses were estimated to be <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/07/oprah-own-losses-vein_n_1495878.html" target="_blank">$330 million</a> as of May 2012; however, the much-publicized <em>Oprah&#39;s Next Chapter</em> series has provided a sizable ratings boost. And after a raise in OWN&#39;s <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retransmission_consent" target="_blank">retransmission consent fee</a> (the channel was given to cable providers practically for free during its first year on air) the network expects to break even in 2013.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Oprah-Lance_WashingtonPost.jpg" style="float: left; " title="&quot;Oprah's Next Chapter&quot; with Lance Armstrong--in which the seven-time Tour de France winner admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs--was a ratings hit, with over 3.2 million viewers tuning in to OWN on January 17, 2013. (ABCNews) " /></div><p>So while Oprah&#39;s career post-Chicago got off to a rocky start, recent sit-downs with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/rihanna-oprah-interview_n_1817559.html" target="_blank">Rihanna</a> and <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/lance-armstrong-oprah-interview-doping-confession-winfrey-18246627" target="_blank">Lance Armstrong</a> have helped cement her status as a top interviewer.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/heres-the-katie-couric-we-havent-seen-in-a-while_b164140" target="_blank">Katie Couric</a> tries, but she doesn&#39;t have the majestic &quot;it&quot; factor that Oprah possesses in spades.&nbsp;</p><p>My two cents: OWN should tape more shows in Chicago. Oprah&#39;s celebrity interviews are entertaining, revealing and a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2013/01/18/oprah-lance-armstrong-ratings/1845373/" target="_blank">huge ratings</a>&nbsp;coup&nbsp;for her network, but I&#39;d like to see her take on Chicago&#39;s struggles with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/chicago-school-closings" target="_blank">public schools</a>&nbsp;and <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-01-31/news/chi-hadiya-pendleton-20130130_1_gun-laws-gun-violence-gun-control" target="_blank">gun violence</a> from her old stomping grounds at Harpo Studios. These local issues should matter on a national level, and having Oprah in our corner could help to bring about the positive change we need (or at least, a high-profile media platform to spread awareness in moving forward).&nbsp;</p><p>The 2013&nbsp;<a href="http://\www.oprah.com/pressroom/OWN-Announces-New-Programming-2013-and-2012-Ratings-Gain" target="_blank">lineup</a>&nbsp;for OWN&nbsp;includes four new original series, a half-hour sitcom and a one-hour scripted drama from Tyler Perry, all filmed in either Atlanta or Los Angeles. Personally, I would love to see more Harpo productions&nbsp;occupying the soundstages here in Chicago, instead of producers always relegating their forces to the overutilized backdrops of Hollywood.</p><p>Also, new episodes of<em> Oprah&#39;s Master Class, Oprah: Where Are They Now?</em>&nbsp;and <em>Oprah&#39;s Next Chapter&nbsp;</em>should feature more&nbsp;Chicago talent. The first people that come to mind: local production designers, editors, musicians, artists, graphic designers, personal chefs and camera crews that had steady employment when Oprah was in&nbsp;town, and have struggled to find work since.&nbsp;</p><p>Has Oprah forgotten about us? When former&nbsp;Mayor Richard M. Daley named the block of Harpo Studios &quot;Oprah Winfrey Way&quot; in May 2011, the talk show queen declared the honor &quot;better than an Oscar or an Emmy.&quot;</p><blockquote><p>&quot;It is really just a full circle, a miracle story,&quot; said Winfrey, &quot;that a little colored girl born in Kosciusko, Mississippi on a red dirt road ends up with my name on a street in the greatest city in the world, Chicago.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>The legendary studio still stands at <a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz/harpo-inc-chicago" target="_blank">1058 W. Washington Boulevard</a>, but who knows how long it will remain. The film division of Harpo<a href="http://www.deadline.com/interstitial/?ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.deadline.com%2F2013%2F02%2Fharpo-films-prez-kate-forte-out-as-harpo-shifts-attention-from-films-to-scripted-tv%2F" target="_blank"> just folded</a>, and most of the scripted shows are based in California. Will the lingering effects of Oprah&#39;s legacy last much longer, as her once constant presence in Chicago becomes more of a distant memory with each passing year?&nbsp;</p><p>We all know how much Oprah loves giving back (&quot;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CAscBCdaQg" target="_blank">You get a car! You get a car!</a>&quot; &quot;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzYPJV9LtJg" target="_blank">AUSTRALIAAA!</a>&quot;and the once annual freakout spectacular &quot;<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=t1HxdxRc9UY" target="_blank">My Favorite Things!</a>&quot;) so here&#39;s hoping that she will return to &quot;the greatest city in the world&quot; with open arms.&nbsp;</p><p>Confession: I can&#39;t stand the Black Eyed Peas, but I watched this entire video in awe.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/dbTb4-ShtsQ" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em>Follow Leah on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a> or add her on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett">Facebook</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Tue, 19 Feb 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-02/state-harpo-studios-105575 Meet Chris Brown's tattoo artists http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-09/meet-chris-browns-tattoo-artists-102488 <p><p><a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2201616/Chris-Brown-reveals-new-tattoo-beaten-woman--denies-ex-Rihanna.html"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chris%20brown%20tattoo_0.jpg" style="float: left; height: 322px; width: 300px; " title="An article in the Daily Mail about Brown's tattoo." /></a>Described as a &quot;Grammy-winner, girlfriend beater and real-life trainwreck&quot; by <em>The Paper Machete</em> producer Kim Bellware, Chris Brown made headlines last week by debuting a new tattoo that some said looked like the face of his ex-girlfriend Rihanna after she had been abused by him.</p><p>Though <a href="http://www.tmz.com/2012/09/11/chris-brown-tattoo-sugar-skull-day-of-the-dead-rihanna/">Brown denied</a>&nbsp;it, explaining that the tattoo was actually inspired by a Mexican Day of the Dead sugar skull, the world was left wondering about the how and why in choice in body art.</p><p>We went straight to the source: Comedians Brendan Dowling and Tim Sniffen, who -- luckily enough -- know exactly how that tattoo came to be. Read an excerpt below or listen above:</p><p><em>Tim:&nbsp;Since the first Egyptians used crude pigments injected beneath their skin to make mystical symbols and designs, the allure of the tattoo has been with us.</em></p><p><em>Brendan:&nbsp;But God knows we didn&#39;t expect to wind up running the hottest tattoo parlour in Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>Tim:&nbsp;Nope: #8 on Time Out LA&rsquo;s list: &#39;The Twenty Underground Tattoo Parlors We&#39;re Not Going To Tell You About&#39;.</em></p><p><em>Brendan:&nbsp;Look at us now!</em></p><p><em>Tim:&nbsp;That&#39;s right, it started at some afterparty, we had just filmed a multi-episode arc for </em>2 Broke Girls<em>--</em></p><p><em>Brendan:&nbsp;We kill the horse.</em></p><p><em>Tim:&nbsp;Well, there&#39;s that ruined.</em></p><p><em>Brendan:&nbsp;So we&#39;re at this party and Bonnie Raitt won&#39;t shut up about how bored she is with her body.</em></p><p><em>Tim: No, and when she corners you, that hair, you&#39;re not getting away.</em></p><p><em>Brendan:&nbsp;So she&#39;s whining about how she has to be a cronesmaid at Katy Perry&rsquo;s divorce party and the dress shows off her shoulders, and she hates her shoulders.</em></p><p><em>Tim:&nbsp;Finally we can&#39;t take it anymore. We grab some wire from Fred Savage&#39;s basement...</em></p><p><em>Tim and Brendan:&nbsp;Fred Savage! That&#39;s where we were.</em></p><p><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a>&nbsp;<em>is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It&#39;s always at 3 pm., it&#39;s always on Saturday, and it&#39;s always free. Get all your&nbsp;</em>The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/paper-machete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 20 Sep 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-09/meet-chris-browns-tattoo-artists-102488