That History Day Guy

August 15, 2008

Tu Pac Kurt Cobain and Marlyn Monroe

Filed under: theme — historydayguy @ 1:36 pm

So the question is, beyond cheap bedspreads at flea markets, do these figures represent historic individuals who should be remembered in effigy?

Certainly we don’t have to go very far to look at the cultural implications of their lives, lifestyles, fashion, and even music. I myself sat with friends and watched the unplugged shows and mourned Curt’s tragic passing. I owned a nappy green sweater and a striped shirt. I still hear the angst and cries of his work repeated time and time again in today’s popular music. But Kurt did not affect my civil rights. Or redefine how I power my home. Or make a decision that determined my nationality for the next 200 years. Are you following me?

There are many kids who could give a flip about pursuing a HD project and being able to explore the musical influence, and fashion and cultural circumstances behind a cult or popular figure may engage them in an academic pursuit that will give them important academic experiences. It should be encouraged. But who was the figure in history that really started Rap or Hip Hop? What historic structures and events produced the world that led to the explosion in musical movements? How did early Bluesmen, who are at the roots of American Music, affect Tu Pac today? How did white flight, the crack cocaine epidemic, and the disproportionate number of African Americans serving and dying in Vietnam affect the culture that led to the emergence of Hip Hop culture?

Now with Kurt, he is just another angry suburban white boy. I can’t help you there.

In these situations it is a teaching moment. As an adult it is up to us to point out these larger cultural and historical connections. This will open the eyes of our students and broaden their world views.


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