Archive for Jamaica

Jamaica 2.0, Part 2

Don’t you hate it when you post something about a phenomenon, and then the VERY NEXT DAY something totally explodes all over the scene that is really relevant to what you were writing about?

Check this headline I saw today: “PNP ‘pimps’ candidates for virtual friends“.

In addition to being endlessly hilarious, this article is also about an attempt from both of Jamaica’s major political parties to “reach out” to young people by, um, creating profiles for their candidates on social networking sites?

The whole article leaves you feeling kind of sorry for whoever is in charge of these campaigns. Clearly, they just wanted to throw technology at a problem and make it go away, but social networking profiles with no content and tiling heart backgrounds isn’t really going to make the youth of Jamaica stop thinking that politicians are total scumbags. It’s not even going to get them new supporters. Social networking has two sides: representing your current social network (in this case, supporters), and finding new people. Clearly, these pimped profiles are only useful for the first without additional content and strategies.


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Jamaica 2.0

Jamaica is pretty much on the other side of the digital divide, except for weird parts of the entertainment industry that seem to be embracing web 2.0. Check it:

This video, by popular group Voice Mail (hilarious, I know), features itself on what is obviously a parody of YouTube, “VTube”. What’s really interesting to me is how meta the video is–the video is about the video teaching everyone how to dance. It’s almost Mims-quality. Also, the VTube logo looks mysteriously like Gmail’s…hmmm…

Another great example: reggae star Sizzla, known for his devotion to the Bobo Ashanti branch of Rastafarianism and his Alien-esque headwraps, has just released a new album called “I-Space“. Yes, the name is a mashup of Iyaric and web 2.0. Yes, it’s AMAZING. None of the songs have to do with Myspace, of course, but Sizzla, like almost all Jamaican artists, has a Myspace page.

Really, the Myspace approach makes total sense for Jamaica, where the music scene is much more bottom-up than it is in the states. In fact, the #1 song in Jamaica right now, Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls”, only got produced when Sean Kingston repeatedly bugged Beyonce’s producer on Myspace until he gave him a chance. What doesn’t make sense is that much of the force behind this bottom-up culture comes from downtown Kingston, where internet access is not really readily available. What does it mean when most people don’t have access to the internet, but the artists are starting to rely on MySpace? I have no idea, but I guess Jamaica is about to find out.

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As a Chinese-American, I’ve always understood that in America, when we are talking about hipness, or street cred, or any of those things that are attributed to cool people, the racial hierarchy goes like this:  Black, White, everyone else in the whole world, and then Asian. Face it, we’re just not really cool. No one expects us to have rhythm, or style, or sweet shiny pink sneakers. At best, we can maybe be badass mob leaders who kick a lot of butt while speaking broken English. That’s why the Rush Hour series is such a masterpiece: Jackie Chan trying to be jive like Chris Tucker? COMEDY GOLD!!!

I’m the only one who’s rooting for Rush Hour 3 to come out, aren’t I?

I’m explaining this at great risk to my own cred because that isn’t the case here at all, and I’m trying to figure out why that’s so weird to me, I guess. Here, the hierarchy is very much Black, Asian (sometimes tied!), and then White trailing far behind. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the dancehall scene, which is the arbiter of cool in most of Jamaican culture. Take, for example, the international dancehall queen competition that takes place in Montego Bay every year. In 2002, the first non-Jamaican winner of this prestigious booty-shaking battle emerged: Junko “Bashment” Kudo, a 24 year old Japanese girl. Not Japanese-Jamaican, but straight up Japanese. How dancehall got to Japan, I have no idea, but the number of obscure muscles this girl can move independently while standing on one precariously tall stiletto heel is pretty damn superhuman (skip the first 1:20 for action).

The weird thing is, when she won there was no great backlash. The audience was like “alright, Jamaican girls got beaten by a Japanese girl. Whatev.” Junko has gone on to be immensely popular in other things, the dancehall scene in Japan got a boost, and yellow fever spread in Jamaica.

Flash forward to this year’s competition. A Canadian white woman wins the competition, and BOTTLES are thrown on stage. I was even told earlier in the week that Black men like Asian women better because they’re “closer to black”. While that’s certainly true melatonin-wise, why isn’t that the case in America?

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Election Shenanigans

Not in the US, for once!

The Gleaner’s Jamaican Election Blog has a great collection of major oopsies by Jamaican politicians. My favorite:

“Gangsta fi Life!”
– PNP candidate for Northern Clarendon Horace Dalley got a little overexcited on a campaign platform with microphone in hand when he chose to imitate the refrain popularised by deejay Mavado. This might be viewed by some as a Freudian slip about the political system given recent violence and the widespread belief that both political are tainted by associations with gunmen.”

Given that the PNP’s major argument for why they should win is that change is bad and that the JLP’s most convincing defense is that they should be given a chance because, hey, what else can go wrong…maybe Jamaica should just roll FCC-style and just flip a coin or something.

Next post: favorite Jamaican music videos. Yeaaaah!

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Strange Tings A Gwan

Larisa and I spent Saturday cruising New Kingston–we went shopping at Sovereign Centre, saw The Simpsons Movie at the movie theater there, and walked all the way down Hope Road to Half Way Tree for more shopping. Here are some funny sights along the way, followed by a report of the bizarre world of movie-watching in Jamaica after the jump.

Our cab driver is, as you can see, a proud fan of the Memphis Red Sox.

The theatre was a member of NATO! Maybe the RIAA should take a leaf out of this book: make your acronym sound like a really terrifying pan-national defense league, and maybe those pesky movie pirates will finally stop downloading all them motion pictures!


And down the road, they’ll harvest your organs while you get your nails done…?


And, my favorite, which merits a medium sized picture:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Three Weird Things

1) This past Saturday, Larisa, the Ant Alliance crew, and I headed to Downtown Kingston to wander around, buy some crafts, and generally stick out like sore thumbs. One of our stops was a bookshop, and we were very surprised to find many copies of the new Harry Potter with no lines, no crowds, and generally no interest. Totally different vibe, I imagine, than one would have encountered on the first day of its release in the states.

2) Once upon a time I blogged about this strange scene I came upon on the subway–it’s a heartwarming story of breaking stereotypes and, er, Pokemon. I now get 150+ hits to my blog EVERY DAY from people googling “pokemon” or “rare pokemon cards”. Sweet…I think.

3) Lasco Food Drink is a very popular product here. Dear Lasco marketing team–what the fuck were you thinking??? You couldn’t come up with a better name than “Food Drink”? Come ON.

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Excellent Mural of the Day

Photo by Ria Bacon

The only thing that makes this mural better is its location: the outside of Shaggy‘s studio.

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