Thursday, March 27, 2008

Brain Candy 101

Literally 15 minutes ago, a Jewish friend of mine over watching NCAA Tourney games asked what's the difference between black readers and movie fans and white readers and movie fans. Hmmm. He must've been watching too much Fox "News" Network. Well to honor his favorite media outlet, let the gross generalizations roll:
I guess it comes down to aspiration and role replacement (for we negroes) rather than pure escapism. Mind you, everybody loves escapist entertainment, brain candy. It's better than the hard cold facts of the cold hard and complex world. It's tough challenging cherished stereotypes, comfortable creeds-prejudices-sacred cows-power-entitlements. But black folks will read a "street lit" novel or a watch a Tyler Perry flick and say, "Uh-huh, that's how it really is on the streets," and "Uh-huh, my family's just like that," and "Uh-huh, my pastor fell in love with a jezebel in the same way, have mercy," and so on... The trick is, too many of these stories are attenuated from reality and channel old hackneyed formulae. Pretty much they often like old Saturday morning cartoons...except for adults (supposedly). Yet we interpose and/or insert ourselves into them. Why? History, creolized African folkways, perhaps. Intellectual laziness inherited and parroted from dumbass white people, lest we forget. Escape for escape's sake? Not really. We have a need to somehow build ourselves up-- as we've been broken apart in real life. Sadly, too many of our authors, screenwriters, directors, music producers, artists etc. trumpet this crap in the same way: as if it's deep, as if it's real. You don't hear too many black authors echo the words of Stephen King: "I'm a salami writer. I try to write good salami, but salami is salami."
For white folks it's a bit more complex than escape for escape's sake, just as with us. So yes, there is that particular commonality/comparison element, along with intellectual laziness. Then the contrast takes over. Now, a white author can write the 987th inane book about Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and it'll be a bestseller. A white author can likewise write a dreamscape novel about a male butterfly who becomes a dude and tries to romance the blind chick who admired him in a Central Park utterly devoid of Puerto Ricans and empty McDonald's cups...and then the book's optioned and producers line up Dane Cook and Katharine Heigl--with Queen Latifah playing the voice of the sassy beetle who tells the butterfly he must come back to bugdom...perhaps a rapper as a cockroach. Even in those inspid examples, you see a subtext of subconscious denial, not mere diversion. They require entertainment that won't challenge sacred cows, that'll re-affirm stereotypes, cherished beliefs. Keep cognative dissonance to a minimum. That's why ignorant fat guys on sitcoms have hot wives, or explosions and long stringy blonde hair are good. Or that Ellen Degeneres isn't actually a dyke and a liberal. Or people can shoot semi-auto pistols with dead accuracy whilst flying through the air, or endings are always happy, and everyone's got great healthcare and no one's cashing out $300 Million in stock and outsourcing to East Timor whilst folks lose their homes, or criminalists and Homeland Security agents can use outlandish sci fi technology to catch evil pedophiles and shady Arab terrorists (and such agents are always hot, with killer outfits and pithy rapport--not overweight, underpaid civil servants working in cinderblock 1950s office buildings), or mythical wizards and warlocks talk trash like Cali skateboard punks, or the average ghost in a "supernatural romantic comedy" looks like Carrie Underwood, or black characters are always loud/dangerous/fat-n-sassy/mean, Jews are always overly "Jewish," gay men are always raging queens, Jack Russell terriers and tabby cats can solve the murder of the vicar's wife, female characters are always tough/fiesty/irreverant/pine for "McDreamy"/are skinny with big breasts. White people invented the ironic misnomer "reality show." White people invented Fox News. Give me the show. Give me three penny opera for Wal Mart shoppers. Give me Nancy Grace when it comes to criminal justice; give me Sean Hannity on issues of public concern. Dis-engage me. Disassociate me. Numb me. Don't give me alternatives. I want to be fat and happy. For if I'm not, the ice facade melts...
I don't know which axis worse. Bad portends for this nation, though. Hey...it at least explains why both black folks in the ATL and white folks in Peoria avoided The Wire...LOL.
So now can we go back to the damn Louisville game?! Tennessee's within 6 points now and have no clue how that happened...

7 comments:

your brother from another mother said...

You all must've been drinking a lot of Killians Red when you typed this out but I understand your points.

Oh and: GO BRUINS UCLA baby!

Godlings from the Left Coast

Christopher Chambers said...

Actually I was grading papers once I got home from Hoyaville WHILE watching the games. And it was leftover Guiness from St Patrick's Day, not Killians. I always drink when I grade papers. Keep the rage down.
I pine for the days when my cousin George and I would just play hooky from work invade the First Round games at the old Cole Field House at U of Maryland(remember back when college and pro teams named their gyms and stadiums after war heroes, or the actual place in which they were located, rather than the Pizza Hut Memorial Field?). Now you have to shell out $100 for hard seats at the Verizon Center...in downtown DC.

The Bruins almost got smoked, so don't pop the champagne yet. Tar Heels loom...

Tchaka said...

Chris, I've posed the point to my GF many times about how beautiful women in sitcoms keep getting shortchanged with ignorant fat guys as partners. Thanks to you, I now have the reason.

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

That is an interesting question....in the mean time go MEMPHIS

Anonymous said...

Your premise is stolen is H.L. Mencken. You are basically saying everyone is stupid regardless of race, and you are right. Unoriginal, but right.

ingridspeak said...

Well now. I agree with your post and to take it one step further, I remember and interview with Tina Turner around about the time "What's Love Got to Do With It" the movie came out. In the interview she said that she decided to do rock and roll because it was fun. Period everything about R&B Soul depressed her. Somebody was always leaving, lying or dying for love and the white boys had it right...They just wanted to party.

That is the biggest difference between out to entertainment cultures. We want to be represented and acknowledge. The white folks just want to have fun.

Your review has posted and again thank you so much for your time and energy. I appreciate you making time in your schedule to allow me the opportunity to introduce your work to the folks that read my blog.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Who cares about any of these points?
White people can't save black people or any other type folks' we have are own problems that we can't solve.