A Male Belly Dancer, Social Activism On Instagram, 'Thriller'

Nov 2, 2013
Originally published on November 2, 2013 5:08 pm

The online magazine Ozy covers people, places and trends on the horizon. Co-founder Carlos Watson joins All Things Considered regularly to tell us about the site's latest discoveries.

This week, he tells NPR's Arun Rath about a socially conscious photographer who has chosen Instagram as his platform, a man who's shaking up the world of belly dancing, and the timeless innovation of Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


From NPR West, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Arun Rath.

It's time for the New and the Next.


RATH: Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine Ozy. Each week, he joins us to talk about what's new and what's next. Welcome back, Carlos.

CARLOS WATSON: Arun, always good to be with you, and belated happy Halloween.

RATH: Happy Halloween.


RATH: Obviously, this is not a new tune. But I have to say, I was kind of shocked when I read on Ozy that this month marks the 30th anniversary of the "Thriller" video. Makes me feel old.

WATSON: Absolutely unbelievable. Michael Jackson, the red jacket, the incredible moves, the 14-minute-long video. I don't know if you remember that.

RATH: Vividly. Vividly. So young kids, go there and watch all 14 minutes of that music video, learn something.

WATSON: You know, once they start on that, did you see the remembrance that was done for Michael in the Philippines?

RATH: Was this the prison group?

WATSON: Correct, correct. The inmates did the "Thriller" dance. So for those who want a little something extra, they definitely got to go take a peek at that as well.

RATH: And there's also a great Indian knockoff I would recommend.


MICHAEL JACKSON: (Singing) 'Cause this is thriller, thriller night, and no one's gonna save you from the beast about to strike...

WATSON: Many of those who came to enjoy the success of MTV often say that that video was a turning point not only for music but for music videos.


JACKSON: (Singing) Killer thriller tonight...

RATH: Something else you have - it's, I think, my favorite from this week - these amazing photographs from a man who calls himself an Instagram activist.

WATSON: Yeah. Forty-three-year-old Ruddy Roye was a writer and journalist in his native Jamaica - born in Montego Bay - but ultimately got frustrated with his fellow photographers who often didn't come up with real enough photographs and pictures. He began taking them himself. And then once he discovered Instagram, he puts together pictures of people who've been marginalized, whether they are poor, whether they are homeless, whether they face some other kinds of difficulty.

And his thought is that so often in life, particularly these days, we're able to gloss over some of the difficulties. And he wants to be what he calls the pothole in our road. He wants to make us stop and face things that are difficult, not going well for others. I mean, he's developed a really incredible following.

RATH: They're unbelievable pictures. I mean, they're really haunting. You feel like the eyes are just following you, boring into you.

WATSON: Well, you know, one of the things that intrigued me about his work and the way he approaches it is he often spends hours learning the backstory. And again, he started his work off as a writer and as a journalist and only later came into photography from the backend. And now, he may lead with photography, at least to our eyes, but also add some beautiful prose to it as well.


RATH: Another story this week - I don't really need to do much to set you up - just three words: male belly dancer.

WATSON: Arun, there is a terrific young fellow named Rachid Alexander, who grew up in part in Curacao - down in the Caribbean - as well as in Netherlands and, at a very young age, discovered what some people would call male belly dancing but which he refers to as Oriental dancing, owing to its longer, almost 6,000-year lineage. He's magical with it, and it's led people all over the world to enjoy his work.


WATSON: Now, Arun - now, we've talked a little bit about dance today. I guess the big question on the table is can you dance?

RATH: I'm good dancing on the radio. I'll put it that way.

WATSON: We're going to leave it to Rachid and Michael. Fair enough.


RATH: Thanks, Carlos.

WATSON: Always good to be with you.

RATH: Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine Ozy. You can explore all the stories we've talked about at npr.org/newandnext.

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