Genre of the Week: Dub Poetry on Auto-Correcting Humanity

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Originating from Jamaica in the 1970s, dub poetry is on par with slam poetry in terms of popularity today. With a focus on political and social topics, dub poetry uses rhythm and music in a form of rap, reggae or hip-hop to address a message to the public. Dub poetry is a you love it or you hate it genre, just like goat cheese. It just takes a poem to determine your preference. 🙂

And this takes us to another Genre profile and this time on communication. Not just in a form of phone booths and free calls to ask for God’s prayer, as seen during a cross-country Christmas trip last winter. It is amazing that America has phone booths still.  It has more to do with iPhoning. Whether it is with a Smartphone or an iPhone, this phenomenon, once having gained popularity five years ago, is becoming the key aspect in life today, as almost all of population of adults in the US and Europe owns this portable device that has multiple functions, whereas 80% of all owners use this device as a means of communication instead of having a social conversation in person.

And this takes us to this dub poetry, entitled “Can We Auto-Correct Humanity.” Performed by an unknown rapper, the poem takes you to the world of iPhoning and what can be done to put down the device and take on a traditional role of talking to people directly. The film and poem both speak for themselves. Have a look at the video and ask youselves the following questions:

1. How often do you use and/or communicate with people with the iPhone/Smartphone?

2. Do you feel isolated when you communicate with the iPhone/Smartphone?

3. Do you feel the need to just take a break from the iPhone/Smartphone and if so, why?

If you feel that your device is dominating your life, then perhaps you need a break from it. After watching the video, you might even consider it right away. After all, devices can be replaced, people not. Think about it.

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Genre of the Week: The Twelve Dancing Princesses (Ger.: Die zertanzten Schuhe)

Amanda and her 11 sisters after being discovered dancing. Photo taken during the MDR film produced in 2011. Courtesy of Nik Konietzny and MDR. Used with permission

Love: How far can a man go to win the love of the woman of his dreams? Even more so when the woman is not in love with him at the beginning? Sometimes it takes courage to even make the attempts to capture a woman’s heart. In many cases these attempts take time, patience and in the case of this week’s genre profile, a lot of curiosity to get inside a woman’s inner self, find that secret that is revealed, and in the end, the key that will open the gates of love and live happily after after.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses was one of over 300 works of literature written by the Grimm Brothers. Between 1812 and 1857, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm collected and wrote many German folklore tales, most of which have either been adapted to film, used in the classroom or found in many book collections found at a book store or library. One will never get an appreciation of literature, regardless of language, without reading at least three works by Grimm. Some of them were most likely read aloud by the parents without the child knowing who wrote it (click here to see the list).

The Twelve Dancing Princesses was one of the first tales written in 1815 and has since been produced in different variants, all of which are structured around the 12 dancing daughters of the king, the soldier who wins the love of the oldest, and Amanda (or Azalea) the oldest of the 12 daughters. The plot is as follows: The king has 12 daughters who have a secret that leaves him perplexed. Each of them has a new pair of shining shoes which mysteriously have holes in them the next morning, The King offers his kingdom and the hand in marriage to the eldest daughter, Amanda, to the person who can discover the secret within three days. A soldier returning from war takes up the king’s offer and is well received. His role varies from variation to variation of the book and film. In the MDR-film version produced in 2011, he was a puppeteer and an actor. In either case, he is offered a glass of wine various times by the eldest, Amanda, which he rejects indirectly by pouring it out when she left. The wine was meant to put him to a deep sleep while the girls go dancing in the night.  He later pretended to sleep in order to find out the secret of the 12 princesses. which when he does, he’s due for a surprise that is unexpected.  The explanations will not go on further as one should watch the versions below to find out how the story ended. The German versions feature both the shortened cartoon version as well as the longer version produced by MDR. There is an English version featuring Barbie, yet they are rarer to find than in the German version. In either case, enjoy the films but don’t forget to scroll down to the commentary at the end. 🙂

Die zertanzte Schuhe (Shortened version)

Die zertanzte Schuhe (lange Version) Produced by MDR in 2011

The Twelve Princesses (English Version)

The theme of the 12 Princesses is love and ways to win it, no matter what the cost and the number of rejections the pursuer faces. This was a topic of a recent discussion I had with some students at a private firm, especially as one of them had taken an interest in a student colleague of his during a project- a rather religious girl in her mid-20s living in the eastern part of Germany. When he said that she was not interested in him at all despite his attempts of even befriending her, my response was to give it time, for the worst thing a person can do is to rush into a relationship, only to find that neither partner would be happy in the end. Put love on cruise control  and let things unfold. Sometimes women can be coconuts: they need time to soften before they can be opened.   I hope he takes this advice seriously, as it appears that the person  fits the description of the eldest daughter- not interested in someone lower than her because of differences in personality, and other items unknown. Sometimes by letting things fall into place, love will blossom in more colorful ways than in a shotgun relationship. This was my experience meeting my wife during my days in college in the US, almost 20 years ago.  Sometimes it’s better off to leave it and find someone else. And sometimes, maybe that person would rather be a friend than a partner. I had those experiences and it’s also ok. It shows interest but not all the way. Sometimes if you really want to love that person  of your dreams and you refuse to give up, you might have to have to play her game in order to find her secret and what you are looking for. In either case, the main character in the story found his way to her heart by revealing more than he thought, but it came at a price, which is what you can expect from love. So in other words, be careful with who you are pursuing to love. As shown in this Grimm piece, you may end up receiving more than you expected. Sometimes the unexpected can be an everlasting one. 🙂

Love was one of the main themes that the Grimm brothers wrote about in their 40+ years of collaboration together. There are other themes that they covered, but these will be discussed later, for more of their work will be profiled in the Files in the near future. In the meantime, have a look at the film and think about the following questions:

Was/Is there a person who you are/were truly interested, yet that person was/is not interested? If so, what attempts did you make to win her love/attention? Were they successful? What could you have done differently?

Think about it and discuss it with others. Perhaps others may have some advice for you. 🙂 ❤

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Author’s Note: The photo was taken during the filming of The 12 Dancing Princesses by MDR in 2011. The author would like to thank Nik Konietzny and the public TV station for its use in the article. MDR stands for Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk and is based in Leipzig/Halle, serving east central Germany.