My madcap adventures in Germany during my year as a Fulbright Scholar.

27 February 2007

Fulbright teaming up with... MTV?

At first I thought my sister directed me to The 9 (for February 27) to look at the random cat generator, but then I spotted number six.


You can officially register me as a skeptic.

First of all, this seems like a shameless publicity stunt. Fulbright is a legitimate organization with an international reputation, and they're going to let Fiona Apple and that guy from the Shins help pick the winners? The only word I can think to describe it is "pathetic."

Secondly, if I understood this correctly, the application deadline is March 23 for a fellowship in the 2007-2008 academic year, and I'd like to know why they're fucking around with the normal deadlines for the Fulbright. I started my proposal in January of 2005, turned it in to my campus committee in September of that year, sent the final version off in October, learned at the end of January 2006 that my application had advanced into the second round of competition, and by March 23 had received my final acceptance. Why is this fellowship different, and, more importantly, why the hell don't they have any real information on their website? At this point they can only hope to receive applications thrown together at the last minute. Is this supposed to be a real competition for a prestigious fellowship, or is it merely Fulbright's poor cousin?

I also have a serious problem with how they're soliciting projects: They want students to "propos[e] unique projects on 'the power of music' as a global force for mutual understanding." No, I didn't put the irony quotes around "the power of music;" they were already there. I do, however, fully concur that such a lame, hackneyed sentiment should be taken with a grain of salt. My real problem is that in describing the desired projects in this way, they've made it clear this is a closed competition where only projects that toe the party line are acceptable. Granted, some countries are only open to Fulbrights in specific fields, like business, law, or ecology, but most are wide open. More importantly, it is up to you, the scholar, to define your proposal and what you hope to accomplish. It is not determined in advance.

Lastly, why MTV? That seems to indicate a focus on popular music, and isn't that troubling? I thought the kind of vapid, narcissistic, contrived pop music that America exports to the rest of the world was one reason other countries don't like us. Perhaps that piece of conventional wisdom isn't really accurate, but nonetheless, I find most of MTV awful. Remember when they used to have intelligent, thoughtful programming? Gone are the days when "Daria" was on and the "Real World" wasn't only about sex and partying. Quite frankly, I don't think MTV has any redeeming value. It's shallow, materialistic, and reactionary.

A perfect example is Jay-Z's "99 Problems." First, in the wake of the botched Superbowl halftime show, MTV bowdlerizes the, admittedly nasty and violent, video, but then gives it no less than four awards at the VMAs. In case you're not familiar with the song, this tells you all you need to know:

"if you're having girl problems, i feel bad for you, son / i've got 99 problems, but a bitch ain't one."

Fulbright just teemed up with the people who endorse that lovely, misogynistic sentiment in order to foster international cultural understanding.

Hmm, but I suppose both Islamic fundamentalism and most rap music do objectify women. Perhaps we could channel that force to bring about mutual understanding, but somehow, I don't think that's the kind of mutual understanding Fulbright had in mind.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell us how you really feel, OK?
Seriously, your points are well taken.

5:21 AM

 
Anonymous Em said...

But seriously, the Random Cat Generator is worth visiting.

10:53 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my God, the random cat generator makes even me want a kitty. Pam

11:57 PM

 
Anonymous andrea d said...

hi, interesting blog! I landed here through bitchphd, looked in because you mentioned FB-- I was in Berlin through them last year, am back in the states at my germlit grad program now. fun to see someone else's Berlin impressions.

4:47 AM

 

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