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The 5 Stages of Kanye West Hype Grief

Friday saw a flurry of tweets on Twitter with news that Kanye West’s newest album Yeezus (a nod to Ye’s love of the Beverly Cleary book Beezus and Ramona) leaked ahead of Tuesday’s release date. The fervor was like the last day of school, and the tweets made you believe that Kanye was about to lead a summer of suffering fools behind the mic and boards. Like Will Smith movies of old, the sheer joy was like the self-hyped anticipation for Big Willie Weekend. (We were SO YOUNG!)

And like Big Willie Weekend, we’ve been there and done that. Past Kanye releases had a mountain of hype preceding their birth, and they’ve mostly delivered. (Cruel Summer, Graduation and Watch the Throne? Eh.) So Yeezus had music fans salivating. As the French say, C’est la vie.

Like past pre-Kanye Days, I emotionally went through what is known as the Kübler-Ross model–commonly referred to as the five stages of grief. I’ve illustrated them in picture form below.

STAGE 1: Denial

“Oh lord, there can’t be another few months of people calling the new Kanye West album the best thing ever,” I thought. “Just when the internet couldn’t get any more insufferable. I WON’T believe it. I WON’T!” 

STAGE 2: Anger

“Oh lord, there will be another few months of people calling the new Kanye West album the best thing ever,” I thought angrily! “Just when the internet couldn’t get any more insufferable! I WON’T believe it. I WON’T!” 

STAGE 3: Depression

“Oh lord, PLEASE don’t let there be another few months of people calling the new Kanye West album the best thing ever,” I begged of the Lord. “Just when the internet couldn’t get any more insufferable. I WON’T have believe it, I WON’T–will I?!?” 

Stage 4: DEPRESSION

“Oh lord, there will be another few months of people calling the new Kanye West album the best thing ever,” I mused through my smiling facade. “Just when the internet couldn’t get any more insufferable. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF MY LIFE?” 

STAGE 5: Acceptance

“Yeah, it’s a pretty good album.”

Don’t Be So Miracle Whip

If I’ve learned one thing from the critically-acclaimed TV show Mad Men, it’s that white folks be trippin’. If I’ve learned another thing from the show, it’s that advertising is about evoking emotion.

In the past few years, Kraft Foods Group seems to be concerned with keeping their salad dressing/mayonnaise-fearing product Miracle Whip on the collective forefront of America’s youth. The zenith of this entertaining attempt by Kraft’s marketing to be hip was the “Don’t Be So Mayo” campaign, and I thank the comedic geniuses of their marketing agency for the blurst (definition: a person, place or thing defined for the absurd nature of its positive and negative qualities) commercial of this young century.

Subsequent marketing efforts for trying to talk to the kids about the tangy zip of the Whip were similarly fucked up, like this ad campaign from last year that carried political undertones:

You’d think that the mockery of these endeavors would be enough to make Kraft do an about-face and stick to their demographic: old people that want to cut the fat and calories that mayo contains while cramming their sandwiches with white goop. But that’s what makes Kraft and Miracle Whip so EDGY, MAN! And I love them because they keep trying, like this new ad,

Miracle_Whip_Eblast_Subscriber_4.22

Stuff like the following ad give me strength when I’m at my lowest, for I have to live another day to mock the ever-loving hell out of dumb corporations. Why? Oh, I can give you a few reasons–FOR FREE:

  • The first sentence alone would be enough to dehydrate my tear ducts forever due to laughter.

“HEY, MAN,” some imaginary, sneering 18-35 year old that Kraft hopes will defend Miracle Whip, “Why are you ragging on Miracle Whip? Have you TRIED Miracle Whip? It’s, like, TOTES good, bro. You’re like, a hater.”

  • The second and third sentences would make my tear ducts spasm.

The accusatory tone in that ad copy suggests some hurt feelings on behalf of Kraft, that they’re still smarting from the online ass-kicking they got from their last few efforts to attract hipsters to their product. And biting back at the same audience savvy enough to ridicule the ridiculous pandering won’t get them on your side. But the holier-than-thou attitude in defense of FUCKING SANDWICH SPREAD is INSANE. And it is hilarious.

  • A corporation invoking the underdog plea is GOOFY AS FUCK.

Kraft Foods earned more than $18 billion in revenue in 2011. BILLION with a “B.” They’re not underdogs of anything. And yet they are positioning Miracle Whip as a scrappy fighter on its last legs by saying that they’re “fighting back.” From WHAT? Their CEO not getting a wing built on his gold house? Fuck them.

Kraft Foods CEO W. Anthony Vernon and his gold house

  • The innuendo in this ad brings out the inner 12-year-old in everyone.

Asking people to “open their minds” and “Keep an Open Mouth to our unique flavor”?  “Insert ourselves into the mouths of a million people”? Sounds like the beginning to a million nights of clumsy adult situations. And why is that video camera on, Kraft?

And “unique flavor”? Even YOU don’t know what Miracle Whip is supposed to taste like.

  • Who in the hell is going to endorse Miracle Whip?

These so-called “famous mouths,” “some which may have faced some prejudgment themselves,” will be as talented and pervasive as Rob Kardashian. This “epic music video” will be the blurst thing since CNN’s coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing and manhunt.

  • Their attempt to be funny is reason for throwing Redwood-like shade

The last sentence (“Together, we can end the unfair judgment of Miracle Whip once and for all”) should cause concern for optical surgeons dealing with emergency surgeries due to eye-rolls. I get it; they’re trying to be cute in standing up to the snickering and mockery from the past few years. But like that friend that doesn’t understand why every person they date is an asshole, Kraft and Miracle Whip brought it upon themselves with their bat-shit ads.

If Kraft is trying to cultivate the razzing they’re received with their stupid Miracle Whip ads, they’ve picked up what Don Draper’s been putting down. But if their tone-deaf plea for redemption with “The Year of a Million Mouths” is any indication, they’re in for a few more years of being taunted like the “It Gets Better” campaign never existed. And THAT’S not so mayo.

Ten Ways to be Racially Sensitive

Unless you live in a city or town that contains people of a similar ethnic background, you will encounter different cultures and races on a daily basis. Don’t fret! It’s 2013; you should be used to diversity. But that doesn’t mean that your brain does.

Despite minorities growing in number in the United States, people still do not know how to act around people of another race. Whether it is in the workplace or online, awkward and downright awful interactions occur because of ignorance and idiocy regarding understanding of cultures different than their own.

Thankfully, I am here to help. As one of those minorities, I am lending my unique set of diplomatic skills to aide people that let their mouths and fingers lead them into losing battles. These tips will be the difference between keeping your job/friends/teeth versus catching a beatdown.

  1. If you encounter someone with hair different than yours and you feel the urge to touch it, don’t say anything.
  2. If you have watched or listened to a stand-up act from a comedian of another race and you want to recite memorable quotes to a diverse audience, don’t say anything.
  3. If you spot someone of a different racial background in your vicinity and you want to know if one of the few minorities you engage with is familiar with this other racial oddity, don’t say anything.
  4. If the President of the United States does or says something you don’t agree with, and you feel that preceding your opinion with colorful commentary on his racial background will provide audiences with good insight on your views, take a breather and don’t say anything.
  5. If you know of pornography more than people of different backgrounds and you wonder if someone’s race influences their penis size, don’t say anything and read some statistics.
  6. If your viewpoint of a driver’s skills includes a discourse about their ethnicity, keep your eyes on the road and don’t say anything.
  7. If you wonder why certain economic problems are “concentrated in the African-American community” and have a microphone or keyboard in front of you, don’t say a damn thing; don’t you DARE say a damn thing.
  8. If you feel like going into detail about why you are not attracted to a certain race, don’t say anything and save it for your therapy session.
  9. If you are playing an online game and someone insults your pride via comment or game activity, hit the power button and don’t say anything.
  10. If you are anywhere near YouTube, leave immediately for fear of saying anything.

You may have noticed a trend in my advice. First of all, your observational skills will serve you well in the professional world. Secondly, it’s not an indictment of free speech. I’m helping to prevented unwanted ass-beatings. But you will only learn through practice. So go forth, be a cultural citizen of our diverse society, and remember that if you have to think before you speak or type, don’t say… well, you know.

Separating the Art from the Artist

When R&B singer/music festival toilet Chris Brown recently decided to claim Rihanna’s vagina as his property (I believe his eloquent words were “THAT IS MY PUSSY!”), it was par for the course that is the Pebble Beach of douchebaggery. Sure, Brown previously expressed words that sounded like regret about beating Ri-Ri, but you can’t linger on that maturity and retrospective shit when there are pussies to claim!

Stars like Brown and Justin “I’ll beat the fuck out of you!” Bieber are visible in the public eye for their music as well as their public outbursts. They are considered role models to millions, and their every move is as carefully scrutinized as their lyrics. Celebrities engaging in horrendous behavior is nothing new; I’m sure that Jesus handled a camel or two while drunk back in his day. While “they’re just like us” in the sense that humans do stupid things without millions of dollars and PR people bankrolling and explaining their idiocy, they also produce art (movies, music, television–hell, anything creative) that is expected to be purchased.

 

This begs the question: can you justify spending your hard-earned money on something created by a dickbag? As Depeche Mode once said, “people are people” in reference to humanity being the same despite their differences (though the lyrics strangely read like a plea to Chris Brown to stop being an ass), so it is hypocritical to expect more from the more visible members of society because they make more money and have better clothes and skin. But there’s more to it.

Financing their work is an indirect (or direct, if they have Kickstarter drives or products to buy right from them) way of validating their behavior. That hotel room that Charlie Sheen trashed while vacationing with ex-wife Denise Richards? Paid by contracts for his performances that came from TV ratings from “viewers like you.” Or when Lindsay Lohan wrecked her Porsche and may have had alcohol on her breath? Probably paid for with royalties from Herbie: Fully Loaded. (Heh–“loaded.”) And Amanda Bynes seemed hellbent on ruining her What a Girl Wants goodwill and paycheck by being a colossal dirt bag–hit-and-run and turbans, oh my!

What’s especially troubling is that for all of the bad examples stars display, whether it is getting into fistfights like it’s their job or letting proven car-wreckers borrow their automobiles with predictable results, their cult-like fans (Team Breezy and Beliebers, respectively) are there to excuse their acts and aggressively challenge those that raise arguments about the stars’ social faux pas. These fanatics have wrapped their identities around their appreciation for the artist’s creative works to the point that they cannot separate the entertainment from reality.

Lindsay Lohan, about to yell at and/or vomit on someone.

Lindsay Lohan, about to yell at and/or vomit on someone.

I know that I have had trouble with this at times. Growing up in the ’90s gave me good examples of dickishness and bizarre behavior to parse–whether it was the oafish drunk/drug binges and interviews of Oasis’ Gallagher brothers, Michael Jackson’s fall from grace, and Eddie Murphy picking up a transvestite–and debating whether I could excuse their deeds in exchange for their entertainment. In my high school days, I defended the idiotic, racist rants of Chicago shock jock Mancow Muller because I identified with his anti-establishment personality as a part of my brief teenage rebellion with common sense. And when I was younger, grade-school me got in an argument with my friend Taneisha because she said that the King of Pop looked like a girl, and I misheard of her as saying he was gay. (Funny end to that story: when she explained what she really said, I was all “okay, I can see that.”)

I know that it’s too much to demand perfection from artists because they are human–unlike many Beliebers and Breezy-ites–and I won’t call Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong misunderstood because he smashed up a stage before going to rehab. But acts that can (and do harm) people, like racism, violence against another person, and drunk driving will lead me to reconsider or stop purchasing their art. It’s not a perfect contract of conditions, but neither is anyone involved.

Going back to the Chris Brown example, it seems implausible that the shy character nicknamed “Baby” in the movie This Christmas is the same person that could beat a woman or dress like a terrorist for Halloween, but that’s why they call it acting.

And for me, the harsh light of reality made paying for a false image that much more despicable.

Hooters Gets Romantic

And when the boorish dickbag ripped up the picture of his ex, who probably left him for good reason, in an effort to woo the Hooters waitress he foolishly thought was hitting on him, the hostess sighed, shook her head and said “Just another Valentine’s Day at Hooters.”

Racial Apologies

I recently ran an errand to Wal-Mart, done more out of convenience (the store is a few-hundred feet from my gym) than affection of the store or corporation. (Both literally and figuratively smell like farts.) I stepped behind two men in the customer service line: one of them, probably a teenager, had music loudly playing on his cellphone; the other, older one, was talking on his Bluetooth headset. As I waited for what felt like hours, the younger guy occasionally broke into a spinning dance, rapping along to the music while he blocked shoppers trying to get by in the bottlenecked aisle. This was interrupted by random conversations with the elder of the two, who intermittently point with his thumb in my direction.

I was annoyed by their behavior for several reasons. The kid’s actions would be judged by normal social conventions as rude, nonchalantly getting in the way of people while distracting others with his music. The elder’s acceptance of the teen’s actions made him complicit, and the finger-pointing was disrespectful. If I were a sadistic person, I would have said something, but I accepted that it was the cost of being at Wal-Mart on a Saturday afternoon.

Me at 13 years old, easily confused with the millions of chubby kids with unfashionable hair

Me at 13 years old, easily confusable with the millions of chubby kids with unfashionable hair

But I was more concerned with how other people–shoppers, employees–were judging these dicks and me, for they and I are black. Like much of my life, I’ve battled with the notion of being judged against others based on my skin color and race. The fact that I could cure cancer, end poverty and bring about world peace by shooting a mind-numbing, cancer-eradicating money gun from an airplane would still pit me among murderers, domestic abusers, criminals and O.J. Simpson (alleged murderer, abuser AND convicted felon!) because my skin color and facial features bear a small resemblance to the negative examples of African-Americans they’ve witnessed–the only examples of African-Americans they’ve witnessed.

I was called over to the cashier to exchange my returned item. The two guys had already been dealing with the other cashier, trying to return their goods. As my transaction was made, a security employee came over to the other cashier and asked the two men what side of the store they came from. I wondered whether they were being profiled or if the cameras caught a suspicious event and wanted to see if they were in the same area. I sympathized with the situation; when I was 12 years old, I faced questioning at school from a police officer about my whereabouts when something may have happened. Given that my chubby exterior included a Kid-and-Play haircut long after it was unfashionable, an orange safety patrol smock, and a puffy green winter coat, I probably matched the description of one or two other black nerds (or “blerds,” as the media is stupidly trying to get to gain traction).

I left with my deal done, wondering whether I should carry the guilt for what transpired minutes before. Should I continue to feel responsible for the thoughts and preconceptions of others based on factors I couldn’t control? I know that it is wasted energy to be concerned with things beyond my realm of dominion, as I am ultimately bound to and liable by what I can do and say. The unfortunate thing is that I’ve felt that guilt for years, well before Chris Rock shed light on such arguments in his famous Bigger and Blacker performance. But to carry the weight of more than 30 million African-Americans because a bunch of bigots can’t and/or won’t separate my individual actions from the majority is as ridiculous as the thought process of a racist.

So I’ll be selfish and stop being a mental martyr, and I hope that American society can get to the point where I’m not thought of in the same way as Carlton Banks and Chris Brown. We have a black president that’s seen by some as a Socialist and Communist, right? Better those names than the N-word? Progress?

NRA CEO Accused of Insanity Doping

NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, doper on Insanity (picture courtesy of ABC News)

FAIRFAX, VA–National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, champion of and for gun advocates, tested positive for abusing mania-enhancing drugs, the International Olympic Committee reported Friday. The head of the country’s largest gun lobby agency was found to have traces of Insanity, a potent form of human hysteria hormone (HHH), in his urine. LaPierre is facing a lifetime ban from Olympic competition.

The 64-year-old, in training to represent the United States  in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia in biathlon, has been under fire for several months for his response to the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. of 26 children and adults.

The results come from years of suspicion that the NRA executive was clinically insane.Remarks about solutions being in arming  “a good guy with a gun,” accusing video games makers to be a “corrupt shadow industry,” and comparing the media’s focus on violence to be aired “like propaganda loops on Splatterdays” drew suspicion from many in the IOC’s top ranks. NRA initiatives like the “National School Shield” program and a recent advertisement accusing President Obama’s children of benefiting from armed guards assigned by an “elitist hypocrite” promoted discussions in the Olympic group to test LaPierre’s urine sample.

The IOC is cracking down on HHH to avoid behavior that led to acts like the 2012 Summer Olympics opening games ceremony.  HHH is one of the newer drugs to be placed on the IOC’s banned list. While it does not enhance athlete performance, it has been found to incite pronounced instances of delirium. Notable sports professionals found to be taking HHH include Mike Tyson, Latrell Sprewell and Argentinean soccer star Maradona.

LaPierre was “very upset” by the IOC’s findings, according to attorney/comedian Katt Williams.

“The IOC is a bunch of haters. They hate what you look like, whacha wearing, whacha drivin, whacha think about, whacha talk about.”

He added, “America is a bunch o’ haters! Tonight, we are getting fucked up!”

LaPierre is planning to appeal the IOC’s decision.

My Musical Puzzle

A few years ago, I noticed that much of my musical likes could be compartmentalized as Swedish rock. Bands like the Cardigans, The Soundtrack of our Lives, The Hives, and the (International) Noise Conspiracy occupied a definitive niche in my collection: music with roots in ’60s pop, classic rock, soul, punk, and garage rock. The deep basslines, howling vocals (except the Cardigans’ Nina Persson, whose sweet notes matured into a Sheryl Crow-like growl), searing guitar licks, and soulful organ notes tickle my earholes like few others. And I wondered why that was.

***

I’ve mapped out my musical inspirations in the past, with my parents filling the house with music from groups as diverse as Steely Dan to Gladys Knight and the Pips and everything in-between. Among their dozens of albums and 45s, I latched onto the Jackson 5 as my group, and elementary-school-aged me scoured record stacks for LPs that were nearly 20 years past their prime.

The reasons were plenty: Michael’s vocals were steeped in emotion well past his preteen age; Jermaine’s basswork hit notes that were akin to dancing stair steps; Tito’s blues-inspired guitar strumming often crossed into a buzzy, distorted weapon of choice; and when the organ was employed, the keys provided underlying soul that could reanimate Joseph Stalin’s preserved body.

The melodies are infectious, and they are still burned in my brain today. Songs like “Feelin’ Alright” capture that joy like lightning in a bottle or Goku from Dragon Ball Z going to town on some food*:

I kept up my love of the J5 even when it may have been considered uncool–especially my teen years–but my ears sought out new sounds. This led to discovering Green Day, my gateway into pop-punk and punk rock. Years of MTV (especially 120 Minutes) and The Box (remember THAT channel) fed me a steady stream of new bands–from the aforementioned Cardigans to Australian pop-punk rockers The Living End. One of the various groups had this super-minor hit back in 2001, and while I didn’t know their name, the controlled chaos in their music stuck with me:

All of those qualities that made me love the Jackson 5 are present in the music of the (International) Noise Conspiracy, but wouldn’t think so at first glance. They’re white! They’re punk rockers! They say English words funny! But those buzzing guitars, deep bass lines, hair-raising keyboards and ear-splitting lead vocals were distilled in a new form, and daddy needed a taste.

(International) Noise Conspiracy

It is not a coincidence that many Swedish artists instill R&B and soul in their work; popular American music, including R&B and soul, had made its way across the Atlantic Ocean to most of Europe (and maybe even all of it!) for decades. But Sweden had a special fascination with black music and culture–the latter seen in interviews of and features on Black Power visionaries (from Angela Davis to Dr. Martin Luther King) by Swedish journalists. The subject matter and culture may have been exotic to a lily-white country, but that fusion of Swedish perspective and black culture, seen most notably in the documentary the Black Power Mixtape, featured artists like Erykah Badu and Talib Kweli waxing poetic about the American revolution and its influences mixed with little-seen interviews with Black Power representatives. While representation of people of African descent in Sweden continues to be slim-to-none, the artistic endeavors continue to live on.

***

I finally made the connection in my musical past and the memory gaps over the past few years. I tracked down the (International) Noise Conspiracy song and collected their discography, continued expanding my musical horizons via music websites like Pitchfork and Allmusic and music blogs, and snatched up Jackson 5 re-releases and unearthed material. The latter became important a few days ago: for Christmas, my mom bought me the J5 boxset Come and Get It: The Rare Pearls, a 2-disc collection of unreleased songs, a lovely book filled with photos, and a vinyl 45 album of two songs from the set.

Among the songs was a studio version of “Feelin’ Alright,” something I thought I would never hear. The only way I knew of the song was a live performance from the album Goin’ Back to Indiana. The studio release lacked the backing organs of the concert version, which led me to cue up my MP3 player to hear the live song. And all the pieces fell into place: those vocals, guitars, bass and organs were all there, forming a musical ouroboros with the Swedish rock I loved with the soul music I grew up on.

Listening to the song in the gym made the workout fly by, and I would imagine that onlookers wondered why I was happily bopping along on the recumbent bike instead of doggedly peddling and sweating. It’s because I felt enlightened, my past and present making sense, my future looking bright. And that’s all I have ever known of and expected from music.

* The Dragon Ball Z reference is for my brother, Steve.

Diary of a Genial Black Man’s 4th Annual Blurst of the Year List!

Another year has almost passed (despite the potential end of the world and sentient robots that could have walked the bare earth), and with it has brought a wealth of best and worst moments in our society. Of course, our culture is easy to mock, and I like to do that with the yearly acknowledgement blog post known (to me and my single-digit readers) as the Blurst of the Year awards.

The Blursties originated from an episode of The Simpsons where 1,000 monkeys on typewriters attempted to replicate Charles Dickens (“It was the best of times, it was the BLURST of times?!”). “Blurst” celebrates the absurd for the positive and negative qualities, and OH LAWD there were some absurdities this year.

So attach your KFC Famous Feedbags and open your bowels, because here are the shittiest, Blurstiest moments of 2012!

Blurst Political Election: President of the United States

2012 saw the election of the new leader of the free world. It also saw an outpouring of crazy not seen since the Sentinels attacked Zion in The Matrix Revolutions. (Dated reference: CHECK!) Let’s forget out-of-touch GOP nominee Mitt Romney, as there were more inane developments in the lead-up to November 6:

Blurst Coming Out: Frank Ocean

R&B artist Frank Ocean had a banner year musically, garnering critical and fan praise for the excellent album Channel Orange. It was nearly (and at times definitely) overshadowed by his revelation of being gay via Tumblr. His announcement garnered positive support from fans and peers–with a few caveats: R&B singer Miguel questioned the timing of the news; and legendary artist Stevie Wonder believed Ocean to be confused about his sexuality.

Others were more ignorant with their comments. Rapper Lil Wayne referenced it with his lyrics “No, Frank Ocean, I’m straight” on the Future song “Turn on the Lights.” And in what should be no surprise, R&B singer Chris Brown greeted the news with “Man, no homo”–though he later pledged support on Twitter.

Speaking of Chris Brown…

Blurst Heir to Charlie Sheen’s Mantle of Worst Human Being: Chris Brown

Dressing as an Islamic terrorist for Halloween, flashing a tattoo that drew comparisons to the ghastly Rihanna police report picture after her beating at Brown’s hands, brawling with rapper Drake in a nightclub, and going nuclearly vulgar on a comedian on Twitter: it’s hard to remember that Chris Brown is a popular singer that plays to packed clubs and stadiums when he is moonlighting as a blithering sociopath and hatemonger. He even released a new album, Fortune, in June! He dated at least two women this year–one of them being his ex-girlfriend Rihanna!

Between supporting his new music and fighting the urge to be a dickbag, 2013 should be another remarkable year for that horrorcore of a human being known as Christopher Maurice Brown.

Blurst Introduction to Politics: The David Petraeus Scandal

A four-star general with a 37-year career with the United States Army (including service and leadership of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan), it took a resignation from his post as director of the Central Intelligence Agency for much of America to ask “Who’s David Petraeus?” And the media was more than willing to divulge.

Petraeus resigned due to “personal reasons” after it was discovered that the FBI was investigating emails that included details on an extramarital affair with biographer Paula Broadwell. Somewhat juicy info for gossip hounds, but then shit got crazy:

  • Jill Kelley, a socialite from Tampa, Florida, and familiar with Mr. and Mrs. Petraeus, contacted the FBI after a string of harassing emails from Broadwell
  • General John Allen, a four-star general who succeeded Petraeus as commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan in the International Security Assistance Force, was reported to be “close” (translation: knockin’ boots) with Kelley

Of course this lead to around-the-clock coverage on news channels, what with the handsome military men and hot-toddy women cavorting about. And it also led to a great mocking of said coverage on Saturday Night Live.

Blurst Use of White Whine: Social Media Outrage

With Facebook’s (disastrous) IPO earlier this year, the social media unleashed a slew of changes to increase traffic in key demographics and user clicks via increasingly obtrusive ads and submission of user data to advertisers. They also allowed data to be shared across services (such as Instagram) and put an end to users being able to vote on changes to the policies of their terms of service. Naturally, people complained.

When the previously-iPhone-only cellphone app Instagram became available to Android users, people complained. And when Instagram, after their acquisition by Facebook, changed their service terms in confusing language that made many fear their photos would be used and sold without their permission, people complained.

It’s funny that there is more visible backlash against terms of services for free websites. Social media outrage can be used for good. Remember the Arab Spring revolution? That was thanks to communication between frustrated people on social media sites. Betty White hosting Saturday Night Live? Thank a Facebook page dedicated to that cause.  (Okay, that may have not been a good use of social media.)

There are more constructive uses for dismay than simply bitching about it: gather people behind your cause; write to the folks in charge; explain why the issues are important. Simply complaining about the website’s terms of service on said website is like a dog chasing its tail: it’s useless, but damn is it funny. I bet starving orphans in Africa weren’t as upset about their Instagram accounts.

***

Despite the unlucky “13” in “2013,” I bet there will be bright, blursty sides to whatever hell on Earth we face in the upcoming year. And maybe, JUST MAYBE, I’ll poke fun at it. Engage!

“I’m Not Racist, But…”

STOP RIGHT THERE. Don’t pass GO, don’t collect $200.

Despite what you may have heard on 24-hour news channels, from your friend that talks too much about politics, or from your family member that spews bullshit whenever they speak, racism still exists. It may not be as evident as lynchings in trees or water hoses being turned on people, but it’s still around.

And comments like “I’m not racist, but…” are proof that racism is alive and well. Why, you ask? Seems like the person saying that innocuous quote is going to say something NON-racist. Oh, my gullible friend. OH.

It’s funny and sad that such statements are always–ALWAYS–followed by racist bile that your cranky grandpa reserves for Thanksgiving and Black History Month. I find it interesting that people start off such dickishness with “I’m not racist, but.” It speaks to many aspects of maneuvering in modern society. Most sane people know that racism is wrong, and they know that they shouldn’t admit such things in public. Yet their struggle with hateful thoughts and feelings come out in bizarre social media posts.

The use of “I’m not racist, but” is their way of trying to excuse their unenlightened words that will follow. Above all else, people seek acceptance from their peers, and the desire to be liked is evident even as they tear down a whole race, color or nationality. It would be like saying I’m not a chauvinist  but where’s my dinner, bitch! or I’m not a homophone, but gay people are yucky! YOU’RE STILL SAYING SOMETHING HATEFUL.

You can find all of this and more on social media where people feel empowered by relative anonymity to spout off hateful nonsense to questions that no one asked.

Imaginary conversation:

Hey, @pokefan1994, what are your thoughts on the smells in Indian restaurants? — NO ONE EVER

Im not racist, but Turbin heads like Apu be stinky always like curry! — @pokefan1994

And so on.

Thankfully, people with common sense and wit have come forward to hold up the magnifying lens on these not-so-covert bigots. Twitter accounts like Yes, You’re Racist (@YesYoureRacist) comb the social media site for posters that preface assholish comments with “I’m not racist, but…” (or similar) and call them out on their BS.

Here are some examples!

racist-2

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It’s a humorous  yet sobering reminder that idiots don’t have filters. The best/worst thing about it is seeing their stuff put on front street, making them accountable for their horrible words.

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I guess I won’t be dating Douchetin Bieber’s little sisters!

Being considered racist today is like advocating spanking or domestic abuse: you know some people are, but damn it they are going to hide it as much as possible. And yet much of the racist mess on social media stems from immature, moronic minds–mostly young. They know what they should not do, but they are not sophisticated enough to let their racism speak in other ways–like workplace hiring decisions or political discussions. And the worst punishment for their actions is having attention drawn to their hate, like when teens were disciplined after their race-baiting tweets about President Obama’s re-election were outed online. They have to LEARN to HIDE that shit!

But it also leads to an interesting question: should they have the power to say what they want on social media, even if it’s disgusting and hurtful to groups of people? Aside from the social media guidelines (that hardly anyone read) from educational institutions that hold students accountable for their actions, there are also terms of service (that hardly anyone read) that you agree to when creating your social media account.

Here’s the first item of Twitter’s terms of service:

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Making people be responsible for their words? How DARE THEY.

The shield of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech that people hide behind does not always extend to private websites. And even if you can say what you want (within reason) online, you are not guaranteed to not face criticism for it. Conversing with people in the real world follows norms and rules, and shouting the damnation of a billion people would draw more than a few raised eyebrows if uttered in public.

On the same racist tip, people that claim to be racist against everyone–usually after saying something horribly racist–are equally scummy and worthy of derision. Saying you’re willfully ignorant against all people is as much of a cowardly blanket statement of “I’m not racist, but” because you’re excusing your stupid behavior and trying to shy away from responsibility. You’re just as worthless to humanity as those that are scared as being seen as racist.

So I’m all in favor for people to be held accountable for their words–online or offline. If you have the balls to say them, have the balls to not be a chickenshit by issuing the false disclaimer of “I’m not racist, but.” And don’t be surprised when that stupid thing you say is countered by a dose of societal reality. Freedom of speech, right?

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