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"Sociologists consider culture as the formation of traditions and trends that link humans in a common group" (Wertz, 2010). "Perhaps, William Shakespeare was the western world's first pop culture superstar due to his timeless classics he used to write and stage for a mass audience, thus fulfilling pop culture's requirement of art that is meant to be enjoyed by the masses". (Wertz, 2010). According to the Collins English Dictionary, "Popular culture is the general culture of a society including ideas, music, books and the mass media as opposed to high culture". However, here we are in a century where popular culture has negotiated several curves in its untimely struggle to attain permanent dominance. This drives me all the way to this big question, "Does popular culture as manifested in films, television and music have any influence on the way of life of people in a particular society?" I can boldly say that popular culture actually has a great influence on our way of life. In this paper, I will show that "Popular culture as manifested in Ghanaian Hip-Hop music video "Bo Wonsem Ma Me" by Eazzy projects the influence of African-American Hip-Hop on Ghanaian music, leading to a multi-cultural hybrid Ghanaian youth culture today.
Mildred Ashong, popularly identified by her stage name Eazzy, is a Ghanaian hip-hop, afro pop and R&B singer. She is known over the world for her participation in the Big Brother Stargame in 2012.She believes that hardships can be surmounted with patience and ease, hence her stage name, Eazzy. Her first single, "Bo Wonsem Ma Me", was released on Friday 13th November, 2009 but she released the music video later in 2010. Literally, "Bo wonsem ma me" means Clap your hands for me in fante. In this music video, Eazzy stresses on the need for every women to see themselves as beautiful and respect themselves based on the fact that even she has managed to avoid falling in the hands of crooks. (Actor biography, http://www.tvsa.co.za)
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles, on the other hand, was born on 4th September, 1981 in Houston, Texas. She was the lead vocalist of the R&B group Destiny's Child. She later established a solo career and ended up becoming one of top-selling artists. (Beyoncé Knowles' Biography, http://www.biography.com) She originally released her "Sweet Dreams" Video in July 2011, In this music video, she talks about her obsession with some guy she happens to come across. Watching these two videos alone makes hybridity self-explanatory.
"Hybridity is the new realities of the world evolving not only in the economic arena but also in the cultural arena." (Davis, 2003; Coombs and Brah, 2000; Tomlinson, 1999). Looking at the Ghanaian Hip-Hop music video "Bo wonsem ma me" critically, it is obvious that Eazzy copied most features Beyoncé used in her "Sweet Dreams" music video. Virtually all her make-ups and entire video set-up was an exact reflection of a hybrid Ghanaian hip-hop star. Eazzy went to the extent of wearing the same dress, doing the same curly hairstyle and also dubbing Beyoncé's spotlight effect. Our creativity has been sold because of our love for western cultures. However, Eazzy is not the only person who has been trapped in the net of hybridity but hybridity is like a virus Ghanaian youth have also contracted. Currently on the streets of Ghana, the youth sag their pants hence exposing their boxers, guys pierce their ears, have tattoos on every parts of their bodies, wear geeks, try to use an American accent popularly known as LAFA" (Locally Acquired Foreign Accent), use vulgar words and so many more.
Not only have the youth copied these western cultures but they have also copied them blindly. Pant sagging started in male correctional facilities many years ago, no one knows exactly when. However, it indicated that a male was the gay partner of the other and thus he is available for any sexual intercourse whenever the other half of the couple has the urge to actually have sex. (Donemostofit, 2001). African American Hip-Hop stars such as Lil Wayne started sagging in their music videos and within some few months, Ghanaian youth made sagging trendy and it became a common trait amongst her youth. Geeks, which is a nerdy glasses was also originally known as Urkels since it was first worn by Steve Urkels. The Steve Urkel-style glasses have currently gained popularity among the young adults and teens. These sudden urge to wear these glasses is as a result that the look has now been categorized by masses as "hipster" thus fashion again muddled its way through making something that is considered outmoded to something that is so in. (Why has nerdy glasses become cool?, 2011) African-American hip-hop stars such as Chris Brown started wearing them in their music videos and it became trendy among Ghanaian youth. Here we are in a century where youths tend to adapt to cultures they see on the television and internet which has now become the order of the day. I do understand that culture is dynamic but that does not give us the lincense to copy those negative cultures that will tarnish our country's reputation .We have actually exchanged our dignity for gross disrespect.
According to the book "Hybridity: Or the cultural logic Of Globalization", Hybridity has different dimensions of understanding. "It has been qualified as a corruption of political and cultural supremacy" (Bhabha, 1994; Joseph, 1999) or "instead as a retrogressive discourse that celebrates the experience of privilege intellectuals" ( Friedman, 1997). Other scholars have also accused their colleagues who write positively about cultural hybridity of being complicit with the structure of inequality" (for example, Ahmad, 1995). Location of culture is an epitome of how critical theory creates its dualism between elite theoretical discourse and other understanding ways of writing. Homi K. Bhabha, who happens to be one of the leading post-colonial theorist actually used concepts such as hybridity, mimicry, interstice and limitation to criticize cultural production as being most productive where it is most uncertain (Bhabha, 1994)
According to the Social Implications of Music Videos: An analysis of the contents and effects of MTV,"Television is believed to have considerable impact on youth"(Baranowski, 1971; Murray, 1980; Pearl, 1978). "By the time an average young person graduates from high school, he or she would have spent approximately 12,000 hours in the classroom and an average of 18,000 hours watching TV" (Gimlin, 1982). "In 1986, an analysis was instituted to determine the types of content found in videos and seen on MTV and to figure out the effects of these videos on the attitudes of adolescents. After the analysis was made, it was observed that 50% of the videos contained love and romance, 47% sexual references, 29% general feelings, 15% violence, 13% parent or adolescent conflict and 0% drug themes. Participants who took part of this analysis were slightly more likely to say they will buy items portrayed on MTV". (Greeson, 2008)
According to Word web, "Multiculturalism is the doctrine that several different cultures (rather than one national culture) can coexist peacefully and equitably in a single country". Unfortunately, Ghana has fallen victim to this menace which is really making the bridge that separate us from civilization and development longer. Yesterday, Ghana was a country blessed with rich and enviable cultures with her youth very well-mannered than any human can be. Yesterday, Ghana used to be very dependent on their cultural trends and a country that never embraced western cultures. But today, all we see is a breach of all these rich cultures we used to have. "The culture and customs of Ghana today is a product of diversity in indigenous forms, determined by a long history of Islamic and European contacts. The culture and customs are not static. They represent a dynamic representation process of adoption and adaptation, integrating elements that are useful and flinging those that are not" (Salm, S; Falola, T).
"A widely held opinion about popular culture is that it tends to be superficial in the sense that cultural items that require extensive experience to be valued rarely become items of popular culture." (http://www.fact-archive.com/encyclopedia/Popular_culture) and that is exactly what is currently ongoing in Ghana. We do not treasure our popular cultures anymore so we tend to adapt western cultures and consider ours as indigenous. However, others may disagree with me by saying that Eazzy normally uses her local language in her songs but cultures are not only dependent on the tongue but basically on our way of life. Observing the "Bo wonsem ma me" music video very closely, you get to figure out how she was influenced by Beyoncé's Sweet Dreams Music Video and that is the picture hybridity frames up with its entirety. Influence are like hybrid spirits that once imbibed in you one way or the other is extremely difficult to let go without making it a part of you.
Popular culture has a great influence on our way of life. Initially, I proved that popular culture as manifested in Ghanaian Hip-Hop music videos projects the influence of African-American Hip-Hop on Ghanaian music and I went ahead to talk about how it has actually led to a multi-cultural hybrid youth in Ghanaian culture today. Some people may argue that Eazzy uses her native tongue when singing so I do not have any point trying to say she is a victim of hybrid Ghanaian Hip-Hop but culture is not dependent on our tongue but on our ways of life. In a nutshell, I managed to prove that Popular culture as manifested in Ghanaian Hip-Hop music video "Bo Wonsem Ma Me" by Eazzy projects the influence of African-American Hip-Hop on Ghanaian music, leading to a multi-cultural hybrid Ghanaian youth culture today.
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