Following up on his offer six months ago, rapper Juicy J selected a winner from his $50,000 Scholarship contest. To give some background, contestants had to create a video and upload it onto World Star Hiphop, where the top 10 would be final contenders for the scholarship. The scholarship contest yielded positive benefits for the recipient, but the submissions were additionally intended to benefit the audience as well. Applicants were encouraged to upload videos of them twerking, or booty shaking, as part of their entry. As a result, this generated a lot of outrage due to its nontraditional, controversial requests.
Originally, the Juicy J Scholarship was a promotional tactic to generate buzz for Juicy J’s “Scholarship” single. The song is about the rapper offering money to strippers and dancers so that they can continue their education as a reward for their dancing. If you needed a further picture of the nature of the song, here’s a sample of the song’s lyrics:
Say you need some extra cash to pay for college with
And it just so happens I got a lot of it
Spin around the pole while you’re doing splits
By the end of the night might earn you a scholarship
Since Juicy J has a history of hardly wealthy behavior, it comes as no surprise over here that Juicy J came up with the brilliant idea to toss $50,000 at the person who could twerk the best and win over an audience on the urban video sharing site. In mainstream hip hop, the glamorization of the objectification of women is nothing new. The only new idea presented in this case was the fact that Juicy J attempted to allocate this money for the sole purpose of a scholarship and not just random money. However, the symbolism of weaving together scholarship money with shaking your butt screams the messed up priorities of a hardly wealthy person.
Scholarships Shouldn’t be Tacky
The fact of the matter is that some people do have to resort to exotic dancing, porn, or prostitution to make ends meet. However, it is nothing that should be encouraged by enlisting aspiring college students to depict in exchange for scholarship money. If it had been simply branded as a “dancing contest” then it would have been less scandalous, but it became branded as the “twerking contest”. Asking a bunch of barely legal teens to shake their butt online for money? Not good….at all.
Setting aside the content of Juicy J’s “Scholarship” song, the idea of granting an individual scholarship money is a very worthy cause. As a matter of fact, more hardly wealthy entertainers should follow suit instead of tossing their soon-to-be-needed-for-the-IRS money around in strip clubs by the burlap sack loads. Luckily, in this case Juicy J (but more than likely his record company) made the twerking component optional. According to Complex magazine, the award was given to 19-year-old Zaire Holmes, a full-time mother and college student attending community college for an A.A. in “biological sciences”. In her case, there was no twerking offered, only a compelling video that captured the rapper’s attention.
These are charitable deeds we’d love to witness more from artists. However, they shouldn’t arbitrarily place people in predicaments where they have to do compromising things for money. Since this was a public submission, we imagine many an individual did indeed send in twerking videos to World Star Hip Hop. Ironically, if these students are seeking career paths with their education, these submissions may do them more harm than good. So, entertainers should definitely put more thought into the actions they condone and choose to highlight.
As the minority spending power continues to grow, we have to take ownership of what we give value, and whether a millionaire or a “dollar-aire” we all contribute. In this instance, we congratulate Juicy J for spending his money in a noble fashion but caution him to think more carefully on the bigger message that he chooses to endorse. The hardly wealthy mentality must die if we are to thrive.
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