Sunday, September 13, 2009

This Week in White People Saying Stupid Shit - now with bonus Kanye backlash!

Bill Maher on Obama's big healthcare speech, during the Friday night broadcast of his show Real Time:
It was a great speech. Y'know, when Black Elvis gets jiggy with his teleprompter... (4 second pause for a laugh that doesn't come) there's nobody better!
Elsewhere, Matt Welch of Reason Magazine found Obama's vow to push back against slanderers a "nearly Snoop Doggesque display." When Joan Walsh of called him out for his "totally gratuitous racial imagery," Welch fell back on the ol' I Have Plenty of Black Friends excuse by professing his undying admiration for Mr. Dogg: "I'm from Long Beach..."

It's a pity Maher's too in love with the sonorous hum of his own voice, and Welch is a little proud of his "keeping it fresh" to heed the pointed observation that Maher's own buddy, Chris Rock, made about Colin Powell thirteen years ago - a point that, unfortunately, is too easily tailored to fit Obama.
What do you mean, "he speaks so well"? What, did he have a stroke the other day? He's a fuckin' educated man! ...What voice were you looking to come out of his mouth? What the fuck did you expect him to sound like? I'ma drop me a bomb tuh-day! I be pray-zo-den'! Get the fuck outta here...
Updated Sept. 15th: Sweet merciful crap, this is what I get for posting about white people saying stupid shit before the MTV Awards aired on Sunday night: a tsunami of Twittered racism in the wake of Kanye West's ill-advised, alcohol-enabled (but kinda hilarious) hijacking of the spotlight from jailbait android Taylor Swift. Harry Allen has done the unenviable task of rounding up a depressing array of posts from around the web that go so far as to advocate lynching.

Kanye's bumrush recalls another stage invasion during a highly-publicised awards ceremony: Ol' Dirty Bastard's considerably less topical commandeering of the 1998 Grammys. Perhaps everyone was more relaxed during those halcyon days of the Clinton era, or maybe racists were just more zipper-lipped & self-policing at the time, or quite likely Michael "SOY BOMB" Portnoy managed to steal ODB's thunder, but I recall much bemusement and no outrage (manufactured or otherwise) when Russell Jones swiped the mic to proclaim that, "Wu-Tang is for the children."

Also, that was at the Grammys, an event so devoid of tension or thunderbolts that even accidental spontaneity is met with that quietly insolent eye-roll perfected by the ruling classes and the French. The MTV Awards, on the other hand, are fueled by the screams of dumbfounded teenagers and so have to up the Faustian ante annually, concocting evermore ridiculous & grotesque spectacles to elicit shock & awe instead of yawns. But in its quest to appear freewheeling & hedonic, MTV's "events" are reduced to a dully predictable procession of micro-stage-managed cockteases - so much so that, prior to the genuine purge of badwill, many speculated that the Kayne/Swift collision was staged. Staged or not, the hysterical pitch of the proceedings doubtlessly encourages less measured & more vehement audience reactions, as per below:

There laid bare is the loathsome side of the democratization of communication. Social media as a solipsistic emetic does as much to encourage the laxative expression of people's most splenetic & debased thoughts as to enable reconnecting with old classmates. It's no mere coincidence that now the western world is awash in a rising tide of race-related violence and screeching harpies decrying the collapse of civilization as they knew it. This seedy undercurrent has always existed, as testified by the initial hoots of laughter audible at the onset of Michael Richards' infamous onstage shitfit. But it took the election of a non-white to the highest office in America to trigger the socially atavistic's Howard Beale moment. As Driftglass elaborates in this astute essay:
Because during the Bush years, people... never saw their love of their Dear Leader and their fealty to his Administration as something "political". They saw it as normal. As the Universe being at its proper, wingnut default setting: White, male, fundamentalist Christian, Conservative, flight-suit clad and killing scary brown people.

And once the Dear Leader's reign ended... the natural order of mindless obedience in exchange for a smug and blissful ignorance collapsed.

And worst of all, "their country" suddenly had a Scary Black Man living in their Dear Leader's pretty White House, probably having dirty, Muslim sex in the Dear Leader's sacred, Christian bed and putting his filthy, Kenyan hands all over "their county's" pure, white Constitution.
And thanks to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Yahoo chat groups, these reactionaries & racists can clasp hands across time & space and mobilise.

But as Newton's Third Law teaches, there can and must be a push back against this sickness. While the web can easily operate as a Stasi-esque Panopticon ordered upon intimidation & paranoia, it also offers nowhere for racists, thugs, fascists, and obstructionists to hide. There is no excuse to offer for allowing this aggression to stand uncontested. It is all of our responsibilities to live up to Obama's oath: We Will Call You Out On It.

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