I hate to blow anyone’s grand illusions of my degrees of snobbishness, but I wasn’t raised a Negro “sophistocrat.” Sure, I was taught to assimilate and enunciate words correctly, I took piano lessons, but I’m not an actual stuck up person. Quite honestly, I hate uppity people.
Case in point, The Root.
I’m trying desperately to warm up to the site and while it is ten-thousand percent not as offense to me as, let’s say Bossip or MediaTakeOut, I’m just not feeling it. It’s just … how would one put it? A joy killer.
The Snob is trapped in two worlds, ya’ll. But my two worlds both exist in the black side of the universe. I feel so much guilt when I am not able to relate to certain members of my family because we grew up with such vast disparities in class, income and education that one us is speaking Pig Latin and the other Esperanto.
Yet, in my bland, suburban childhood all the black people I knew were these dull ass-clowns who only cared about name-brand everything and making fun of “poor” black people. I swear. If we weren’t all Negroes at least 75 percent of them could have become Republicans.
I shudder at the thought.
So this is what I’m dealing with here.
The Root has not one, not two, but THREE articles on the new Tyler Perry film. Two articles are about how Tyler Perry’s movies are bad for you and one why they’re kind of bad, but it’s OK, because it’s a good thing the chitlin’ circuit is going mainstream.
Perry’s brand of evangelical entertainment may be unabashedly black, but is also unabashedly conservative. A Tyler Perry product, whether in film or on television, in play or book form, plays directly to his black Christian female audience by building on a simple synthesis of everyday black narratives with recognizable black characters and standard black church rhetoric.
The resolution of each piece of work is grounded in simply having a stronger Christian faith. But that message, while sold as an empowering populist articulation of the black experience, is ultimately not empowering at all. To the contrary, Perry’s formula seems to call for more docility from black folk, manipulating them to be more accepting of their social conditions, and encouraging them to turn primarily to God to solve secular problems.
Tyler Perry’s encouraging black Christian conservative stereotypes! Were you born black yesterday? The majority of black people are socially conservative. That’s why The Snob, a secular raised, urban friend-o-the-gays, does not like Perry’s films any more than liberal white people enjoy NASCAR and the humor of Larry the Cable Guy.
Please, The Root’s Andrew C. Willis. Stop clutching your pearls and jangling your heart medication. Save the outrage for BET. That’s were black women are being assailed every day. And aside from my issue with black men in drag, black women tend to be presented in a more favorable light in a Perry production. Like, they get actual speaking parts and get to look pretty and laugh and fall in love. If the shit weren’t so corny I would watch it.
I wish black people were more socially Liberal but you’re going to have to come a little hard than this to compete with Perry’s box office gross. Your energy would be better spent fighting to get blacks more integrated politically, socially, educationally and in the workplace. Your arm is too short to box with black folks love of Jesus.
I’ll confess that part of my antipathy is just old-fashioned player hate. Nothing gets under my (colored, nearly-middle-aged) skin like the spectacle of a twentysomething white kid doing what twentysomething white kids do all the time, namely, play on some or another aspect of their race for smug fun and profit. Lander has already reportedly been offered a $350K-plus book deal from Random House. (Can a VH1 Special be very far behind?) People of color are constantly accused of playing various race cards, but “White boy makes good by being white” is hardly a man-bites-dog story …
Seen in that light, SWPL’s innovation … is a classic blue-eyed soul (white) power move: take a colored discourse, eliminate the messy colored bits, and watch the hits roll in. Does every discussion about identity have to be about colored folks? No, of course not. Talk amongst yourselves, white folks, really. By all means.
By the end he’s referring to Greg Tate’s Everything But the Burden, but wait? Isn’t the Stuff White People Like guy making fun of … gasp … white people? Justin Timberlake wants to be black without the burden, grindin’ on Janet Jackson but dashing away from the nipple-gate fall out. This white dude wants to make fun of other nervous, yuppie white Liberals. Those left-leaning nervous nellies we’re all friends with!
You know? The nice white people. Why are we bashing the white people we like? Why is it not OK for them to make fun of the little guilty white Liberal who lives inside of them? My word, fellow snobby black people, sometimes it isn’t about you!
And see! This is where I live. I live with one foot in “Schlitz drinkin’, Flo-Rida-is-an-ass-jigglin’-poet” country and the other in “The Land of the Pretentious Jerks Who Occasionally Write For The Root.”
I don’t know who I can’t stand more. The hicks who call me bourgeois or the bourgeoisies who accuse me of not being bourgeois enough! I’m sorry. I don’t like hot pickles and Now-Laters. Especially not together! And I don’t want to spend hours dissecting Cornell West while pretending to be into Pan-African culture. I’m sorry I always forget to lock your car door because I’ve never known life without automatic door locks. I’m sorry that I don’t own an iPhone and that I eat pork. What do you crazy people want from me?
I swear, if I didn’t love black people I’d just run off and go hang out in the gentrified part of the city with the white middle class Liberals and Asians who’s idea of upper class is shopping at the Target across town instead of the Wal-Mart near us. Non-black people who couldn’t afford to get into the fancy colleges and had to go to state schools, who like literature but still enjoy comic books. Who shop at Banana Republic and eat McDonalds and like NWA. Those people! I will never press my hair straight again. I will let the naps run wild. Or maybe I’ll get a relaxer and wear it straight all the time. And I will marry a part-German, part-Dutch, half-Japanese Filipino American State Farm claims adjuster and live in a downtown loft apartment where our furniture was bought at a local Rent-to-Own and Pier 1. We will eat pizza and vanill
a milkshakes three times a week and will enroll our 2.5 children into nothing but Catholic School, soccer and math camp, so help me God, I will do it!
But I probably won’t.
The blackness has got me, ya’ll. It’s got me wide open!
OK. I’ll apologize, The Root. I didn’t mean those things I said about the Banana Republic and Target. I don’t like that hip hop junk either. Nah. Too funky. I like jazz now. But only Joshua Redman. And I love India Aire, but not Erykah Badu. And I’m going to send my kids to Jack and Jill and I’ll start wearing all my money on my back from now on. Nothing but Donna Karan this and Dolce & Gabbana that. Hair did. Nails done. Oh? You say you want to take me to an NAACP fund-raising dinner? Oh my. I guess that could be fun. I promise to drink tea with my pinky finger extended. Oh, what’s that? Say “Z-Phi” in a Whitley Gilbert accent? Sure!
Was that too much snark? I can get a little Shaggy from time to time. They call me Ms. Bombastic.
Seriously, though, The Root. I won’t dump blackness, but I might go back to reading only Slate again.