Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Late Pass: Reviews for Blood Beats Vol. 2

For pop culture critics, fans and professors looking to engage their students, Blood Beats: Vol. 2 is a collection that illustrates the imbrications of race, ethnicity, sexuality and gender in pop culture through accessible language and unwavering wit.
Leticia Miranda, ColorLines, January–February 2009

Before comedian and sketch artist Dave Chappelle became what we might now call uncomfortably famous, he slyly provided his Comedy Central audience with a mantra deployable against the twin gods of realness and authenticity: “when keeping it real goes wrong.” In a far more deliberate manner, Ernest Hardy, insufficiently described as a “film and music critic,” offers his collection, Blood Beats: Vol. 2 / the bootleg joints, as a trenchant critique of our cultural worship at the throne of Ms. Representation. …With a refreshingly brash wit, Hardy considers everything from the archetype of the “R&B thug” as modeled by R. Kelly to the spaces of possibility opened up by the radical visioning of Black queer experimental filmmakers like Cheryl Dunye, Isaac Julien, and Marlon Riggs. …Hardy does the necessary labor that makes for deeply insightful and cutting cultural commentary.
Alisha Gaines, make/shift, Fall/Winter 2009

...While Hardy follows blood [in Blood Beats: Vol. 2], he does so while remaining critical of the hackneyed performances of authenticity that often dictate communal belonging. It is this renegotiaton of what "realness" looks, feels, and sounds like that provides coherence to the collection.

...Hardy reminds us to subvert, distort, and play with the edges of blackness. Or as he writes, "Blackness is experimental."

...Hardy ends his collection with two very sexy, previously unpublished "downloads"—an almost too lengthy genre-bending essay of personal reflection and multi-person interviews on the gay, mainly Latino, porn scene in New York, and a quilted "interview" with Lil' Kim stitched together from a series of other sources (her publicist let Hardy know she wasn't interested in a sit down). ...both pieces fly in the face of propriety, interrogating constructions of colored sexuality and gender that work to soothe and balm, as well as irritate.

Hardy theorizes the political through the banal and the spectacular, the funky and the vanilla, while unapologetically forcing his readers to take some necessary conceptual risks: to challenge categories of identity, agitate the status quo, and push the boundaries of what is counted as "culture."
This is black criticism.
Alisha Gaines, American Book Review, May-June 2008

Buy Blood Beats Vol. 1 or Vol. 2 at Amazon:
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