Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Words abound...

I'm not going to beat this already undead horse into the ground...You've probably heard the cries of shocked indignation and outrage that someone so loved for a character portrayed on TV could have issued such an hideous racial slur in context and with vigor and vehemence. That his apology seems to have been less than favorable has done his image no favors, to be sure, but before you light the torches, write up your 'Do not buy' list of advertisers and endorsers, and innundate your friends lists with multitudes of forwards full of righteous fury, I ask you take one step back and three to the left.

I mentioned on Dwights blog some time ago, about the power of words and how the N-word, in particular has such a strange and necrotic effect on any sort of intelligent debate on race and racial issues in the country. As black people, is it enough to condemn someone who is non-black for using the slur but then allow and relish in it's use in popular culture by some of our favorite comedians? You can't have your cake and eat it too and you can't be surprised that if you cuss in front of your children, eventually, they will learn to swear just as well.

Dave Chapelle listed, among many other things, an intriguing (to me) reason why he left his staggeringly successful and popular show and a check for $50 million. He felt that his satire about race and racial issues was becoming so mainstream that the behaviors he was lampooning were being emulated, not because they were bafoonish and stupid and necessarily the subjects of ridicule, but because they were funny. He really started to feel the effects of seeing the word proliferate all over cable television, without editing, and without much fanfare. He was instrumental in helping to bring the word back into mainstream usage by all peoples, for good and for bad. Perhaps he had hoped (and I believe this) that by talking and using the word and making the whole thing so utterly ridiculous, that he could rob it of some of it's power to shape our dialog and get in the way of actually solving our problems of race. But I think he saw that goal unsurprisingly derailed.

While the Michael Richards Incident is sad, it's really just a flash in the pan of a much larger debate about the identity of african americans and our relationship to all aspects of our own popular culture, both what was homegrown and authentic, as well as what is reflected back onto us or fabricated and fed down our throats. THAT debate is much more complicated, harder to tackle, and ultimately, nearly impossible to solve.

Does knowing Michael Richards used a racial slur (and he really went to town on the guy...it didnt just slip out...) make his work on Seinfeld any less funny? Do you stop watching the show in syndication? I never watched the show (The TV gets turned on for sports, Grey's Anatomy, and the Xbox360) religiously but I've caught a couple of episodes, some of which were gut-wrenchingly hilarious. But I noticed (as with Friends and a couple of other High profile, mid to late 90's sitcoms) the strange absence of black people with any sort of actual merit in the show. Sometimes, there would be no black folks at all. But then again, sometimes I just look real hard for stuff like that. But then again, its very easy to notice.

Anyway...um...didn't I say something about not beating this dead horse?

*Kicks the rotting corpse of a horse*

Thats it...I'm done

Turkey Day is fast upon us folks! I hope you all are hip to the Brine method of cooking your turkeys. If not, I suggest you get yourselves and those responsible for cooking your bird HERE with all alacrity and due haste. Your tastebuds will thank you as the method will ensure your bird will be the most succulent your mouth has ever had the pleasure of dining upon.

The Sickness spreads! Cammy, our dear sweet child, has contracted a contagion of the nasty throat-filled with phlegm, runny nose, low grade fever variety. I stayed home with our sickly princess yesterday and Grandma has the duty today. Normally school is one of her favorite activities and she regularly asks on days she isn't going if the schedule can somehow be arranged to accomodate her desire for learning and fun. Today, she just wanted to go back to sleep. Poor thing.

Tune in next week when Benticore, Raquita, Grandma, Great Grandma, and Anubis serve as phlegm incubators in the small 1-act play entitled; 'Not without my Tissue!'



Justin said...

Hey, you seem to be a happy man!!keep rocking!!!! And hey you can check out my post on my avian companion . I hope u'll like it.
Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sherri said...

Happy T-Day, Benti, to you and yours.

LolaGetsLife said...

I enjoyed reading your blog. Pleae check mine out for an interesting perspective on the use of the word nigger. L