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While I Was Away …

Paint the White House black! This and other things I pondered while I was away. (Read about the “Black House” ad here.)

Planning. Pondering. Procrastinating.

The Snob spent her two quasi weeks off from the blog working a job she semi-hates for cash; applying for better jobs that will hopefully (cross fingers!) come with health benefits; writing a pilot for a potential TV show (details to follow if anything materializes); discussing taking one of my screenplays and giving it the graphic novel treatment, a la “Watchmen,” with a graphic artist buddy of mine; occasionally updating the blog and my Facebook page; looking into Web hosting and a new design for the site and planning towards the site relaunch deadline of January 20, 2009.

It was a good use of my time off and while I’m officially back and blogging, things will be getting up to speed gradually with the help of some guest posts from a friend of The Snob. It might be a second before I’m rapidly posting six times a day as I was during the last two weeks of the election. Mostly because I want to be able to finish those new projects and keep the blog updated.

I’ll post some more this afternoon, but, if you weren’t on Facebook and missed what I was reading and talking about, here’s are a few of the big issues that popped up while I was away.

Barack Obama: The House Negro … Seriously? (Associated Press)

CAIRO, Egypt – Al-Qaida‘s No. 2 leader used a racial epithet to insult Barack Obama in a message posted Wednesday, describing the president-elect in demeaning terms that imply he does the bidding of whites. The message appeared chiefly aimed at persuading Muslims and Arabs that Obama does not represent a change in U.S. policies.

Ayman al-Zawahri said in the message, which appeared on militant Web sites, that Obama is “the direct opposite of honorable black Americans” like Malcolm X, the 1960s African-American rights leader.

In al-Qaida’s first response to Obama’s victory, al-Zawahri also called the president-elect — along with secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice — “house Negroes.”

Speaking in Arabic, al-Zawahri uses the term “abeed al-beit,” which literally translates as “house slaves.” But al-Qaida supplied English subtitles of his speech that included the translation as “house Negroes.”

The message also includes old footage of speeches by Malcolm X in which he explains the term, saying black slaves who worked in their white masters’ house were more servile than those who worked in the fields. Malcolm X used the term to criticize black leaders he accused of not standing up to whites.

It always fascinates me when people from other countries crack open some books and learn some of the racially explicit history of America and the terms that come with it. So, um, hearing a non-black American call a black American a “House Negro” is a little hilarious. You know? Where I want to say, Hey? I didn’t notice you on the plantation, Zawahiri! Where you picking cotton or tending to the horses? I suppose the “world” could be a plantation, but I think we’re giving the Masters of the Universe, aka the G-8, a little too much credit here.

(A)l-Qaeda didn’t say this to influence us Negroes in America, but other Muslims internationally, specifically the ones who may be impressed by Obama and his election. It’s not going to help them any if people are debating the merits of the Western world again. They work best when they’ve convinced everyone that we live in an amoral, racist wasteland with no soul, driven only by selfish desire and money. They’re trying to a win a propaganda war for the “hearts and minds” of the people. You can’t do that if people are all impressed with the cool black guy everyone else is talking about.

Michelle Obama in Paris Match Magazine

Nice. Very nice.

Alan Keyes won’t stop his Captain Ahab routine (Georgia NBC affiliate)

SACRAMENTO, Calif.- A former opponent of Barack Obama’s has come back to haunt him over questions regarding Obama’s citizenship.

According to a press release from the American Independent Party, former presidential candidate Alan Keyes and other members of the party have filed suit in California Superior Court in Sacramento to stop the state from giving its electoral votes to President-elect Barack Obama until documentary evidence is provided to prove Obama is indeed a natural born citizen of the Uni
ted States. A copy of the writ can be found here.

This is a joke right? Why, Alan, why? Why go down this rabbit hole when it’s dunzo? The man is president. He’s a US citizen and it’s hard to get all Jean Val Jean on the frickin’ president of the US. Are you going to bust down a citizen’s arrest on President-elect O-Man? You’re worse than the “Bill and Hillary Clinton murdered people in Arkansas” people.

Considering (Keyes) couldn’t get to the top of the Republican ticket and neither the Constitution Party or Libertarian Party wanted anything to do with him that should say something. I want to write Keyes and tell him that he obviously freaks people out and should consider a new line of work that doesn’t involve winning a popular or electoral vote count.

Barack and Michelle: The New Brangelina? (Washington Post)

Have Barack and Michelle become the Frosted Lucky Charms of the media? Everything they touch turns into ratings and revenue.

Perhaps it was the announcement that NBC News is coming out with a DVD titled “Yes We Can: The Barack Obama Story.” Or that ABC and USA Today are rushing out a book on the election. Or that HBO has snapped up a documentary on Obama’s campaign.

Perhaps it was the Newsweek commemorative issue — “Obama’s American Dream” — filled with so many iconic images and such stirring prose that it could have been campaign literature. Or the Time cover depicting Obama as FDR, complete with jaunty cigarette holder.

Are the media capable of merchandizing the moment, packaging a president-elect for profit? Yes, they are.

What’s troubling here goes beyond the clanging of cash registers. Media outlets have always tried to make a few bucks off the next big thing. The endless campaign is over, and there’s nothing wrong with the country pulling together, however briefly, behind its new leader. But we seem to have crossed a cultural line into mythmaking.

“The Obamas’ New Life!” blares People’s cover, with a shot of the family. “New home, new friends, new puppy!” Us Weekly goes with a Barack quote: “I Think I’m a Pretty Cool Dad.” The Chicago Tribune trumpets that Michelle “is poised to be the new Oprah and the next Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis — combined!” for the fashion world.

Whew! Are journalists fostering the notion that Obama is invincible, the leader of what the New York Times dubbed “Generation O”?

Between being on the cover of every newspaper and magazine at home and abroad and all over the TV I’m starting to think that if you just stand in the general vicinity of the O-Man and the O-Woman and click your heels three times God will begin to rain down whatever you’ve had your heart set on. Like men, money, actual rain. (Esp. in the case of California. You think they’d run out of spots the burn, but I lived there for five years. Sadly, they don’t.)

SNL totally doesn’t need people of color to accurately spoof a multi-ethnic Obama Administration (Entertainment Weekly)

SNL hired some new folks. No big. Just some more lovely white ladies. Maybe one of them is the next Tina Fey. Maybe. But you know who neither of them will be? Michelle Obama in any sketch about Obama over the next four-to-eight years.

Let’s put aside the fact that SNL often has trouble figuring out what to do with its black actors (Eddie Murphy famously hovered in the background of his first sketch) and rarely hires black actresses (only Rudolph, Danitra Vance, Yvonne Hudson, and Ellen Cleghorne made it to the cast in the show’s 33-year history). Are we really supposed to believe that in the two years the Obamas have been in the national spotlight SNL hasn’t been able to find actors of color who can portray them—in addition to being funny and versatile on the rest of the show?

Maybe all of this eye-rolling is premature. Maybe there’s an announcement coming soon from Studio 8H that they’ve discovered this apparently rarest of species: funny black people. We sure hope so. Otherwise, it’s going to be a long, dry four years.

I’m fine with SNL hiring whomever, I’m just really, really, really, really hoping Fred Armisen’s impression of Barack improves exponentially to make up for the light brown-face.

Seriously.

Although I had to laugh at the EW writer’s last line making it sound like “funny black people” are this rarity when in American comedy the only thing bigger than “funny black people” are “funny Jewish people.”

Biggest sitcoms of all time were The Cosby Show and Seinfeld. The market has spoken! Jews and blacks got comedy on lock! Now find me a black Jewish comic and sweet merciful Moses, all hell-larity would break loose. Jewish black mother jokes? Getting Jay-Z at your nephew’s Bar Mitzvah? Both bagel and fried chicken jokes?

I’m so there.

PS. A reader asked me if Whoopi Goldberg counts as the magical black Jewish comic. I say … she’s pretty close!

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22 thoughts on “While I Was Away …

  1. It’s good to have ya back, Snob. I hope you enjoyed your rest. Now get back to work! You ain’t getting paid by the hour. Zawahri is either misreading the tea leaves when it comes to African-Americans or his target audience is the Muslim world. I think it’s a little of both. If Obama expands the war in Afghanistan or delays pulling out of Iraq, he’ll prove to the Islamic world that he’s more like GW. “We’ll see,” said the Zen Master.

  2. How can Obama be a House Negro when he runs the damn house?Are they saying all the black people who voted for Obama are House Negros too? Folks need to get their slave analogies correct. Obama would be the Massa, not a house, field or patio negro!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’d like to to a bit of shameless self promotion here. My friends have a movie coming out in a year or so. Set in Post Katrina NO, it stars some old names but some up and comers have signed as well, including kevin phillips. I think method man has a small role as well. http://www.sinnersandsaintsthemovie.com/so, please, check it out.

  4. Oh, man, my friends also have a movie coming out at the same time. I hate when that happens. Now I don’t know which premiere to attend. So many choices, so little time.

  5. As far as SNL goes, I say why watch it? Don’t give financial support to those that ignore or denigrate. Also people could certainly write letters of protest and DEMAND inclusion.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Michelle looks amazing on that cover! Obama being called a house negro is hilarious, and his refusal to respond screams: Man, I don’t even see you!I’m torn over SNL. First of all, they need more Black writers. I don’t know how many they have, but from the type of comedy and the shoddy roles they give the Black actors, I can tell it’s not that many.I would agree with Faith and say just start our own comedy sketch program, but then you get bullshit like Chocolate News *cringing*.Come back Dave Chappelle! or maybe they can solicit Aaron Mcgruder to do some pro-bono jokes.

  7. Anonymous says:

    But Draven did you check the site out? I’m seriously just doing a little grassroots marketing for my friends. Who are on the periphery of the deal for the most part. I ain’t trying to get all high falootin or anything.

  8. the black independent says:

    Welcome back, Snob.On Obama the “house negro”:I got a good laugh and reacted w/ “nigga please” when I first saw this story reported on MSNBC. I had wondered who exactly was al-Zawahiri’s message directed towards. Blacks? Most of us like him here in the States. Muslims around the world? Would they even understand the term “house negro” enough to react the way we would? BTW, I like that Action Barack pic.On Michelle O and Alan Keyes:She’s gorgeous in that photo. Alan never knows when to quit.On SNL:I already gave up on Lorne looking for diversity on his semi-funny show. It’s not like I’d watch SNL more if it were ethnically diverse; up until the Weekend Update the jokes are hit-and-miss, and you can turn the tv off after that b/c it won’t get any better. The presidential campaign was the best thing going for it. In the EW article you linked, a lot of the people commenting mentioned a comedienne named Nefetari Spencer. Looked her up, the sista is funny and does a pretty good Michelle.

  9. Tanisha says:

    It’s interesting to me to see how racism in high (and not-so-high) places around the globe is exposed through statements about Barack Obama. From Zawahiri to Hugo Chavez to Schwarzenegger to Polish ministers and Austrian journalists (and let’s not forget Berlusconi) , more than a few of these jerks have gotten press coverage for their racist comments only to see their statements backfire. And Prez Barack – well he just goes on, and lets it all play out against itself, as it did during the campaign. Marvelous!

  10. Anonymous @6:53, I did check out the website and it looks interesting. Movie studios are getting so clever with movie trailers now that they make even turkeys like Quantum of Solace look exciting. I was only joking with you earlier, and I don’t think you’re a film snob. Whatever you do with the movie’s promotion, please don’t write a glowing review of it on Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB if the movie really bites the big one. I think that goes on too much. I wish your friends a lot of luck. It’s rare to get a film made. Peace and blessings always

  11. Anonymous says:

    Although the French photo of Michelle is very nice and high end, I had to do a double take when I first saw it – I thought it was a faked Got Milk? print ad.

  12. Chas says:

    [quote]I must say Michelle Obama looks stunning in that magazine cover. Simple, yet classy.[quote]Makes me think of pumping for new forms of energy. Drill baby, drill!

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’m pretty sure the EW writer was being sarcastic about there not being funny black people. They’ve been pretty consistent in wondering out loud why Lorne was dragging his feet about finding people to play the Obamas.

  14. I see you had a lot on your mind over your break.I thought Alan Keyes was a Republican.I can’t understand this hack and ay of his followers.He just will not disappear. He is in Cali now?I grew up in Maryland when he ran for something or other there, then I was in Chicago when this character was up here gunning for Obama.I do not know what his deal is.

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