Do you have any book recs about critical thinking/debate skills/media literacy?
Agh, off the top of my head that’s tough. There was a really great book I read about critical thinking for an archaeology class in undergrad but that was literal decades ago and I don’t have the book anymore. Most of my critical thinking training was, well, “on the job” as it were. I had a really good mentor who often modeled oppositional thinking for me – taking the opposing side of an argument in order to strengthen the one we were making, or in order to take it apart. He never “played devil’s advocate” for the sake of it – he just tried to always come at a question from all angles in order to make sure that the eventual answer was the strongest it could be.
Okay, I have one general recommendation for you and two weird workbook recommendations.
General recommendation: George Bernard Shaw. He was a playwright in the late 19th and early 20th centuries up through WWII (he lived to be 94 and only died when he fell down a flight of stairs, I’m pretty sure he’s an immortal who faked his own death). He was a Fabian, a vegetarian, an advocate for the total revision of the English language’s spelling structure, a genius, a feminist, to an extent an anti-racist, and a nutball. He wrote plays that deeply challenged peoples’ most basically held beliefs about the roles of women, violence, and politics in society. Some of his stuff is a little dated compared to Tumblr discourse, but watching his characters challenge basic assumptions is a great way of learning how to think about the most deeply held and unquestioned beliefs we have. Try Mrs. Warren’s Profession (sexism), The Devil’s Disciple (one of my particular favorites, mostly religion), or Major Barbara (violence and industry) to start with. His short plays are quite good too.
And here are two exercises you can do:
Go to www.chick.com and read any comic you like. As you read, position yourself in opposition to whatever the comic is advocating, and work out how you would argue against it. If you can’t, google around a little for how other people may have argued. There are very few things that are wholly and entirely wrong in this world, but I believe Chick Tracts are one of them; they are evil and predicated on preying on hate and fear, but they’re good practice. You can confidently assume that they are wrong, so the workout is to figure out HOW they are wrong and how you would refute them. (This is presuming you don’t have past traumas associated with religiously driven *ism that make it hard to read these – if you do, don’t do this, it’s not worth it.)
(I once decided to really apply myself to getting to the root of chick tracts, and I discovered that there is no root. These comics are not produced by a church or a ministry; they’re just a company that caters to a specific brand of evangelical church, which is why they are so generic and so much about what you should hate, as opposed to what you should have love and compassion for.)
You can also find and watch any episode of Ancient Aliens, or any television show that features Giorgio Tsoukalos, Erich von Daniken, or David Childress. The theories of Ancient Aliens are full of “science” so you will probably have to google for refutations, but you can study how they are refuted by real scientists and also you can pick apart how the show presents speculation as truth (the most obvious technique is to ask a question and then say “the answer may lie in [total change of subject]”). The whole alien debate is full of both whackjobs and earnest, dedicated scientists, and you can learn a lot from both.
One final thing I will say, and again this was taught to me by my mentor, is that critical thinking is not about winning. That is the opposite of critical thinking. Critical thinking is about learning, and discerning truth not just from lies but also from ego. You don’t use critical thinking to trick yourself or others into affirming a position that you know to be wrong; you use it to study your position and, if necessary, change it. It requires humility as well as diligence. But the upside is that once you know you are right, you have a myriad of tools at your disposal to prove it.
Readership, recommendations for books and websites about critical thinking, debating, and media literacy are welcome – toss ‘em in comments or reblog, as per usual I don’t repost asks in response to other asks.
This is a long-ass shit, and I’m not forcing you to read. Also, please be reminded that this is just MY opinion. We all have different opinions, and I’m here to simply share my thoughts, and not to convince you to change yours. So please don’t go to my ask pushing your opinion. I already heard yours. I woke up to a bunch of “asks” and I already know that some don’t like it, while some do.
My initial reaction:
• why is this so auto-tuned? Okay, Dinah’s voice sounds like smooth warm caramel on top of a sundae. Why is this so basic? Lauren’s adlibs tho! Why are the lyrics so generic? Oooh WFH melody… It’s gonna be a bop! Wait why is the chorus so blandly repetitive? But it’s not that bad. Why do they sound so alike?
• and picture me with my earphones on listening to the first verse, pre-hook, chorus and shit with a pensive look on my face, and disappointment running through my head like damn I wanted more…
But then Gucci Mane came in, (and I know I’m the minority in this one), but for me, the first authentic reaction the song elicited from me was his part.
Why? Because his part was so off and out of nowhere that it took me out of the rut I was in. Like imagine a flat line where the song was just monotonous, like a car cruising on a smooth freeway (not bad, but also kind of boring) but then you run into a pothole and you get jerked off your stupor…
That’s what gucci’s part was for me. A tiny spike on that flat line. A deviation that held my attention. I’m not saying it’s amazing. I’m saying that the grating sound of the bass and the randomness of it was what made me smile while listening to it. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that I was smiling the whole time I was listening to that weird bass with a tiny bit of goosebumps on my skin because I knew then that I COULD like Down without lying to myself. It was the only thing that caught my attention, aside from Lauren’s adlibs (which, girl, I wish she did more. I live for Lauren going offffff)
Don’t get me wrong though, I’m so done with these collabs with rappers, like I wanted to hear them alone, like they did with Boss (idc if you say that one is trash lmao, Boss is a bop for me. I fucking love that shit 😂), but if they really have to collab with rappers, I wish it wasn’t Gucci. Maybe Chance, or Migos damn…
But if it were up to me, I wish they would have collabed with female rappers. I still am salty that NTKG wasn’t utilized much. A missed opportunity with Missy Elliott like bitch you had to release TMG over NTKG? NTKG was at least more authentic with the sound it’s trying to project. It was old school and it owned it. Like Voicemail was reminiscent of 90’s bops and not lacing it with today’s trendy dancehall or tropical vibe. It has its own sound, and not a mix of everything generic we hear today where we hear a song and we automatically hear the edm producers more than the artist.
But OMG I digress, sorry.
So yeah, DOWN…
So after my initial reaction, I gave it a couple more listen, and then I watched the live performance, then I slept, then I woke up the next day and I listened to the audio a couple more times, watched the live several more, and here’s my conclusion:
• Down is that kind of a summer bop which grows on you. It’s not a bad song. It’s simplistic but also season-friendly. It’s probably what the label insisted on as their first release.
The reason why it probably feels lacking for me, aside from its repetitiveness, is that maybe it lacks another verse. It’s shorter than WI and WFH so it feels incomplete. There must be a reason for it. It could really be just a teaser.
• at this point in my 5h-stanning life, I’m not even expecting anything mind-blowing. All I want is for 5H to slay the charts, because this should be their era. They seem genuinely happy now and my god after everything they’ve been through (label shit and all), ALL FIVE OF THEM deserve our unwavering support.
• Sure, Down isn’t what I expected. Yes, I wanted more. I wanted more lyrics. I wanted a kickass sound. But, idk man, after several repeats, I think it’s a good enough bop.
• with regards to the vocals, I still hate the auto-tuned shit. I get that maybe they’re finally utilizing Lauren’s range, but I prefer that they don’t auto tune much because I could barely hear her rasp (which was still obvious in her live performance, despite the higher tone she’s using).
Maybe they’re doing it on purpose, making them sound the same as a symbol of their new sound’s “cohesiveness”, but I prefer old 5h where their voices are uniquely different.
• and I’m not even complaining that it sounds like WFH. I don’t have a problem with an artist using a tried and tested formula for ONE of their album’s single. It’s meant to hook the audience. It gives them that familiar sound which could make a NON-FAN recognize their older hits and draw them to the new one. Just because they said “NEW ERA” doesn’t mean that they should change their ENTIRE sound. There’s always that one or two singles that are meant to hook the general public. It’s a constant compromise a mainstream artist makes with their label.
(I mean, The Chainsmokers basically generate the same sound over and over and they’re charting as if they created music. And no, I’m not a big fan of the chainsmokers.
Point is, re-using WFH is not something unheard of. It’s a business move.)
You really can’t please everybody. Because when Lady Gaga released an album that felt authentic for her, some people criticized it and kept saying they wanted the old “Bad Romance” Gaga. When Lorde released her new single, Green Light, her hipster fanbase called her a sell-out and didn’t like that she’s deviated from her “sound” to be more mainstream and I was like bitch can’t an artist explore a different side of her artistry?
And on the flip side, can’t an artist use their old sound? My point is, Down was produced by the same people who made WFH for a reason. They are playing safe. They wanted a single that would generate enough attention like their previous ones did. Then maybe, just maybe, their next singles which probably showcase their authentic sound and lyrics will have as much impact since now people are paying attention.
Because no matter how much we want them to be authentic, they’re still a girl group under a greedy ass label who needs them to maintain what their idea of a girl group music and image should be..
And while Down is not something I’m particularly excited about, it’s starting to get stuck in my head, and I don’t hate it. It’s a light summery chill song that’s good to play with your friends while sipping on your drinks by the pool.
It is what it was supposed to be.
I get it, I was disappointed too. Down is a downer. But I’m not gonna judge the whole album with one single yet. I’m gonna wait.
This is why I wrote this one before Down was released:
Because I knew that I wasn’t expecting much from their music. I sure hope for more, definitely, BUT stanning 5H isn’t always about their music.
And just because I don’t like a few of their songs, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve my support.
I’m supporting 5h because they represent girls who are not a standard definition of what society thinks a girl should look like or how they should act like. They symbolize us. They showed us that one can achieve their dreams through hard work, and while they have been mistreated before (by their label and by fans alike) they still kept their heads up high, with grace and maturity, and kept on spreading love and inspiration, and they kept on smiling even if their hearts were breaking. They kept striving to be the best they could be, and it’s inspiring. And to see genuine warmth from these pop stars, their love and appreciation for their fans, is something that makes me wanna stan them forever. That’s why even if i really don’t like their music, I’d still keep on stanning them, because what they shared to us, the representation they gave us, the beauty and poise they all showed us, man, even if they fucking screeched for an entire album, I’ll be fuucking putting that on loop and still support their asses.
And I know it’s blind support, but I knew what I was getting into when I started supporting 5h. I wasn’t a pop person before this, I knew I won’t love their music so much. I stan them because I like them, plain and simple.
And I know it’s different for everybody. It’s all just a matter of preferences. Some could unstan just coz they don’t like the song, and that’s totally okay. We’re free to stan or unstan whoever we want. But like I said, it’s just one song. Let’s wait for the other singles and the album.
Ideally, I would love for them to show us everything they have as artists. This is their chance to go big. They have so much potential and I would have liked to see it shine while they’re still in the group. I want the brand Fifth Harmony to leave a lasting mark in this industry. I want them to be on the same spot as TLC or SG or DC. I want them to legit deserve their title.
And Down is not it. But guess what? Down is just one single. I’m gonna wait patiently for the rest of their stuff. I ONLY NEED THAT ONE CLASSIC HIT I’VE BEEN CRAVING FOR SINCE I STARTED LISTENING TO THEM. ONE CLASSIC SONG THAT WOULD STILL BE PLAYED GENERATIONS LATER BECAUSE IT’S JUST SO DAMN RELATABLE AND HEARTFELT.
That’s all I want. And I hope I’ll find that in 5H3.
Yes, Down is empty.
But I won’t unstan just because of one song. We can be disappointed (as I sure was), but I think that 5H is worth more than a few musical disappointments.
This shot…it bothers me, it bothers me, it bothers me so hard!!!
Why put so many nameless, generic looking scouts in it when you have amazing characters like Goggles, Nifa, Keiji, Marlene, Klaus and Dirk.
I know those last three do not appear for a while but still, this shot hardly make sense to be in that line up with shots of the 104th and our main characters afterward. I mean, even Moblit is hardly noticeable in it.