If I were to name an MC that was fun to listen, challenged me to go beyond the lyrics and contemplate what they really mean and also teach me something, Mos Def would be on that list. Helps that Black Dante not only is a hip-hop artist, but is an actor and avid comedian because I have seen how he is in mediums that are not just music related and he seems like a class act and an extremely knowledgeable dude. On to the meat and potatoes of this piece because that is why you come.
This summer I had the opportunity to do some rather interesting and meaningful research at the request of my college advisor. (Editor’s note: Ok, it wasn’t at his request, it was a suggestion on how to finish off two credits) Dr. Kolmes, a true scholar/scientist/dope wise man, said that he had a research project in his back pocket but had never found the right student, or willing student, to do the project. Me being in a relatively tight spot because I couldn’t find an internship to do the “reflective paper” route and also impatiently wanting that piece of paper that I will be paying off in loans for the next eon, I decided “What the heck, sock it to me Kolmes; it can’t be that bad.” He got that look that professors get when they feel they have cornered a student, you know what I’m talking about? You know, the one where they are thinking, “O, you fancy huh? Thinking your shit don’t stank?” and the student is posturing back with, “Hell yea, hit me with your best shot; shit ain’t nothin’!” and a stare down accompanied by a semi-awkward silence ensues? He smirked, and began to tell me about how he had this nagging suspicion that movies, particulars movies that focused on the topic of climate change, have drastically altered how the public views the debate, as well as how much information the public knows about the issue (we are talking about issues such as glacier thinning, to greenhouse gases, to the human impact, to how dangerous carbon dioxide is).
At this point I am thinking, “Sweet movies? Just watch a couple, knock out a simple pape on my findings and reflections, pocket those two credits, jet and wait by my mailbox for that degree.” BZZZZZZZZZ. Wrong, this was something on a different level, like next gen-video game stuff back when the 360 was the hot console to have. He had a list of 15 movies chosen to be watched, some 20 minutes long and others pushing Regal Cinema numbers at 90 minutes long. This research project idea went from pretty cool and carefree to why would anyone subject themselves to this! It got a bit worse, as one, or I, watched all these movies I would have to make a list of topics that were either recurring topics, topics in certain movies only or topics known to be associated with the overall discussion of global climate change. Daunting, eh? That’s only a third of it… the second third was to time how much of each film was dedicated to said topics. And finally, since they always come in threes (well no shit since I said thirds, forgetful and silly Clement), I had to put all this data in a graphical representation so that people would know what the hell I was talking about and what it all means in the scheme of things. So the research project went from daunting to “why do I want to ruin my early to mid summer slaving on this when I can take an easy fine arts class?” Well, no offense to the arts, but eff ’em… that ain’t me. Plus, I wanted to show Kolmes I could do work son; call it a pride project people.
I embarked on this journey May 26th and spent the next 3 weeks watching these movies and gathered the data…. watched them straight through in block hours (spent one evening from like 11pm until 3:35am powering, drudging, and grogging through these films). Spent a week and half trying to live a life and put the data into an Excel spreadsheet. Then for half a week I got blindsided (not really since it happens and I let it sweep me away) by Hurricane ProcrastiClement… apathy set in faster than ever. I was already a graduate, technically, and it was summer… July is fast approaching and I’m bitching and moaning but I am so blinded by my complaining to know I am real close to finishing this thing… the calender peels slowly from June 31st to July 2nd and I find myself with a scant (I mean skeleton bare, Olson twin status) draft of 6 pages and 11 pages of graphs that have no discussion to go with them other than the simplest of outlines. I have just left Kolmes like a dog with his tail between his legs, admonished, embarrassed and disappointed that I just put myself in a position to get my pride trampled on. “Hurricane ProcrastiClement, why do you still trouble me man? Why bug me on this right now?” as I look in the mirror and I see my downtrodden and sleep deprived face. Can’t go out like this, forget Hurricane ProcrastiClement, and from July 2nd on (I did go out that night and also on the 3rd… it was the America’s Bday, ain’t missing that) I hammered out this paper with the help of my mom typing out what I dictated (slowest typer in the world, snails on Red Bull could beat me). By the time the 6th or 7th came, 6 pages of intro/methods and 11 pages of graph transformed into a 39 page report on climate change in the movies. Yea, whipped out a 22 page discussion on how each topic was discussed in each film and any important trends that came from the overall study. Here is the fruit of hard, dedicated and meaningful work. Go ahead, click it and scroll through. Admire the presentation if you want. Not suggesting you read it unless you’re truly are curious, but I suggest you at least give it a glance through (a good peruse, whatever have you). 7 weeks of work, maybe some 60-70 hours, 15 movies, and 39 pages for 2 credits and a degree. What a game, huh? (Editor’s note, part duex: I beast moded that paper and received an A, literally [not technically] graduated and got that degree fam)
So that’s what I did for most of my early to mid summer, gained knowledge on a troubling and pertinent issue that will affect this generation and many generations after it. An interesting trend noticed from this research experience is that while it is pretty much a given that human impact has pushed the world to this limit, there is unbelievable amount of optimism that the human race can and will be able to overcome this adversity. The films after about 2005 (the films ranged from 1998 to 2008) started dedicated a good portion discussing the many renewable energy portfolios being invested in, as well as cities and companies that are taking measured step to reduce their carbon footprint and also increase their efficiencies. Getting back to Mos Def and the topic of mathematics (as well as what drives this world, i.e. economies): sense makes dollars better as much as cents make up dollars. Better the sense in the cents and you can increase your dollar. Best mathematical addition out there right?