Essay 3: Critical Lens
Due Thursday, April 20, at the beginning of class.
Length: 4-5 pages in MLA format, in addition to a Works Cited page.
For this paper, you will use one or two of the readings (The required readings are in the description with this order) as a critical “lens text(s)” through which to view one or two music videos or television shows, which we’ll call “focal texts.”
NOTE: The reading you will use for this assignment is in this link: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1994/05/the-code-of-the-streets/306601/
The lens text is your frame of reference; view the focal text through it. The point of this assignment will be to analyze how the lens text(s) modify, qualify, extend, corroborate, illustrate, and/or complicate your understanding of your focal text(s), and vice versa. The lens text’s argument is your frame of reference here. If you choose Harvey, for example, you might view a gangsta rap video through the lens of subjectivity; if you choose Kendall, your frame of reference might be that “people’s reading and viewing habits and their patterns of living reflect vicarious living” (211). You should spend more time discussing your focal texts than your lens text in this paper. A good way to think about this paper is that you’re taking the theory espoused by the lens text and applying it to the real-life examples discussed in the focal texts. Assume that your reader has read the lens text but is hoping that you’ll illuminate its concept by relating it to focal texts.
Your essay’s thesis should be an analysis of the focal text(s) through the lens of the frame of reference. If you’re looking at the Migos video “Bad and Boujee” through the lens of Kendall’s argument, your thesis might possibly go like this: “Bad and Boujee” illustrates Kendall’s argument about conspicuous consumption.
You have broad leeway in choosing your focal text(s) for this assignment. A plethora of television shows would work wonderfully to analyze through the lens of Kendall’s argument. If you’d rather write about rap videos, you also have a plethora to choose from.
Here is a the required essay topic; notice that this is topic, not arguments. The argument is up to you. Feel free to use any of these or come up with your own.
Find a music video or two that illustrate, qualify, or complicate Anderson’s “code of the streets.” Relevant texts might include Compton’s Most Wanted’s “Hood Took Me Under” Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message,” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” among literally hundreds more (find them on YouTube).
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