Natalie Pesqueira

Social Media Manager

This Spring, graduate students at San Diego State University will get a crash course on the reigning King of Billboard, Bad Bunny. The course will be taught by Dr. Nathian Rodríguez, the associate director of The School of Journalism and Media Studies at SDSU. He created the course to teach students about activism, representation, and media. 

Bad Bunny, the stage name of Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, is a Puerto Rican singer and rapper known for making reggaeton and Latin trap music. Bad Bunny has spent the past eight weeks as the No.1 artist in the world according to the Billboard Artist 100 chart. His latest album, Un Verano Sin Ti, has held the No.1 spot on the Billboard 200 for the past twelve weeks. This is only the fourth album this century to reach this feat. In addition to his feats on the Billboard charts, Bad Bunny has also been the most listened to artist on Spotify for the past two years straight.

Rodríguez wants people to understand the importance of this course, pointing out that it’s not just a course about a celebrity. “The Latinx community needs representation, and we really don’t see that in English-centric spaces, especially in the United States,” Rodríguez said. He continues on by saying, “[h]ere comes Bad Bunny, somebody who speaks Spanish, sings in Spanish, is unapologetically him, and he is still selling out tours; he is still getting movies and all these types of commercial offers.” 

When Rodríguez announced the class, he was met with mixed response from the public. Many people thought that the class was just going to be a class about Bad Bunny’s lyrics, but Rodríguez says the class is so much more complex than that. “It’s about using Bad Bunny as a lens to figure out what’s happening, what’s really going on, and how we can use him to better understand the social-political world and how the media is involved in that,” he says

This is not the first time that Rodríguez has created a class on an influential musician. In 2020, Rodríguez created a class at SDSU on Selena Quintanilla, focusing on the late Tejano musician and her impact on Latinx media and representation. The class was meant to be a specialized course, but it became so popular among students that it has become a permanent class. Rodríguez said he had students tell him that after taking his class about Selena, they discovered more about their identity and culture. 

There is no denying that Bad Bunny is one of the biggest artists in the music industry right now. His success should not go unnoticed, and he’s definitely not afraid to make a statement. At the 2022 VMA Awards while performing his song “Tití Me Preguntó,” he kissed one of his female backup dancers then turned and kissed one of his male dancers. The shocking kiss made headlines everywhere, which sparked a conversation about his sexuality among fans. Although he has stated in the past that he identifies as straight, kissing a male dancer on such a public stage breaks a stigma of toxic masculinity that can be quite prevalent in the Latinx community. Later that night he went on to win Artist of the Year, the first non-English language performer to win the title.

The reggaeton artist has been known in the past for speaking out on important issues. For instance, his newly released music video for his song “El Apagón,” which translates to blackout in English, serves as a documentary centering on the energy crisis in Puerto Rico. He also actively criticized the way the United States offered support during Hurricane Maria back in 2018. Four years later, Puerto Ricans are still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Maria and are currently battling the same issues with Hurricane Fiona. 

With this new class, Rodríguez is hoping to bring awareness to the activism and the significance of Bad Bunny’s popularity. “He is an artist of del pueblo (of the people),” he says. “It’s about what he represents and what he is doing, and how he is using the media to build his brand, to build awareness, and to be authentic.”  

Latinx Heritage Month is celebrated across the United States from September 15 to October 15. The news of this class emphasizing on Bad Bunny comes at just the right time to highlight the positive effect that a Latinx artist is having on the world. Like San Diego State University, Whittier College is also a Hispanic Serving Institution. Having a class centered around someone like Bad Bunny at a Hispanic Serving Institution is such a big deal in terms of representation for students who can identify with their culture. It would be incredible to see a class like this offered at Whittier College that highlights influential Latinx artists. While the College does have a Latino Studies minor, adding a class that focuses on the influence of artists like Bad Bunny or Selena would be really valuable to help students understand the ways that Latinx artists can make an impact on the world not just during Latinx Heritage month but year round. Like Rodríguez said, Bad Bunny is an artist del pueblo after all.

 

Photo Courtesy of Eric Roja

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In collaboration by Quaker Campus staff members.
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