Sunday, July 22, 2007

Not a smart-ass question. (Okay, maybe a little bit...)

I hate to ruin anybody’s Sunday with shocking and offensive viewing matter. But I have to ask a question: Which of these videos is more objectionable? This one...



... or this one?

31 comments:

SJ said...

For me it's the second one, because it glorifies gang life.


The first one is just stupid and silly, though it does perpetuate black stereotypes. It's the 2nd video which brought those stereotypes though.

Dougfp said...

Not being Black or Asian, I should tread carefully here...but I have to say I found the second video more offensive, if only because the people in it seemed to be living their "real" lives and the people in the first were clearly actors. The first video at least has a satiric, if terribly un-PC intent. There was something funny (at least the first few times) about Asians trying to act "Black", although its one-note joke became tedious long before it was over. The intent of the second video seemed to be the glorification of gang culture and all its inherent crassness. I think when (some) Blacks use the N-Word so openly they invite satire and its use by other groups. Another reason I find gang culture so offensive.

Undercover Black Man said...

Indeed, gents.

Now ponder all the energy that was spent condemning Michael Richards... when the real crisis facing black America -- the capital-C Crisis -- is an insane subculture of violence, greed, anarchy and exhibitionism.

susie said...

The first one left me feeling embarrassed, the second one left me feeling horrified and sad.

In the first one I was more interested in the set than in what they were saying.

In the second one I was wondering if the person who made it was trying to show what they perceived to be good stuff or bad stuff. It was hard to tell.

Christopher Chambers said...

Man...I'm speechless. How come we don't want to face this stuff?

justjudith said...

the first one took me back and in a way, i get the point. or the point i took from it is if you're offended when these people throw it around so freely, then maybe the word is offensive. it is for me, so i got that. but the second video is disturbing on a much deeper level for me, david. all i see when i look at that is waste. wasted youth, wasted hope, wasted minds. these are young men who most likely will not work, not vote, not live over 30. and if they do, what skillset will they be able to use once they tire of this lifestyle? and that makes me sad.

runeba said...

Definately the second video.

The first one is too satirical to be offensive and, while it may not have been the intention of the writers to make a higher point, I think it does just that about the N-word.

The second one is just horrifying and depressing.

ThatDeborahGirl said...

As a black female, the first one was offensive but in a Dave Chappelle doing an Asian version of "The Niggar Family" kind of way. Still a couple of parts set my teeth on edge, including the over-stereotyping of the Asian family.

But these folks obviously know better.

The second one is just sad. It's people who have no hope for anything different but the life on the streets.

If anything is offensive it's that we allow people to get away with sh*t like the first one and that we allow people to live in conditions like the second one.

Invisible Woman said...

Neither were offensive to me. Maybe I shouldn't say this about the first, but as a former Roscoe's Chicken N' Waffles regular, I was LMAO at the way they were prepared Asian style. And no one slipped and said "er" instead of "nigga". It was over the top. It was kinda like Chapelle.

The second one weighed on me like a 500 pound piano. I've been to neighborhoods like this sometimes, and know that they are way more common than we'd like to admit. It shows us how very far we still have to go.

The solution is not trying to do everything at once, but helping a few at a time. If EACH person of color did this, mentoring, joining Big Brothers or Sisters, donating money, showing a young kid something besides the "hood" it would start to build a foundation of progress.

Undercover Black Man said...

Dang... looks like I did ruin a few Sundays. Thanks to all for responding.

On top of all the madness on display in video #2, the topper is that it's being commodified... packaged on a website and sold on DVDs. I wonder how many young people -- across race and class lines -- would think there's something cool about Mr. Fuck-Graduation-I'm-Crippin'?

justjudith said...

^right! i forgot to mention the website glorifying not only that video but promising even more. great.

Anonymous said...

The depressing thing about the second video is that ultimately, I think it's a recruiting video.

The scarier thing is that depending on the audience it would be an equally effective recruiting video for either the Thug Life or for White Power.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Or the pretext for a Fox News Channel "special report."

WildMagnolia said...

Earlier today I was talking with friends about disappointment. The kind that makes you not only not want to know a person any longer but also makes you regret having ever known them. Our disappointment was in a friend that had succumbed to alcohol, drugs and infidelity.
This second video surpasses that to a degree which I cannot even express accurately. Not only in them and for them but the heartbreaking disappointment that the ripple effects surrounding them and others like them creates for their families, friends and society. It's immeasurable.

runeba said...

UBM wrote:

"Now ponder all the energy that was spent condemning Michael Richards... when the real crisis facing black America -- the capital-C Crisis -- is an insane subculture of violence, greed, anarchy and exhibitionism."

But what can be done? This is a nice goal and all but how feasible is it? It's so abstract.

I don't think you can simultaneously have talk of a Black America and voriciously condemn this stuff without alienating blacks. Once you identify it as a cultural problem...you're done for. You're a sell out who's vindicating racists!

This is one of those things that's going to have to work itself out...

S.O.L. said...

David,

I admit these were the last videos I wanted to see on a Sunday but maybe sitting back in my nice house with my nice view, it's exactly what I should be watching.

I agree with a lot of the comments here, the most pointed being that the first one was too over-the-top and by the 10th 'nigga' or so, you start to feel dirty just watching it. I think that's probably a good thing, even if it's delivered poorly.

The commercialization of the gang life was too hard to watch. They're already doing it with poor white people in Cops, which I think glorifies that kind of life. I'd love to see who's behind these gang-life videos.

Undercover Black Man said...

Runeba wrote: "Once you identify it as a cultural problem...you're done for. You're a sell out who's vindicating racists!"

Then let that be the starting part... just allowing ourselves to talk about it frankly. Because ignoring the Crisis sure as hell isn't making it go away.

Look to 150 years ago, the public leaders and spokesmen of black America were focused on abolition. Look to 100 years ago, the leaders and spokesmen of black America were focused on the anti-lynching movement.

Fifty years ago, the focus was on voting rights and dismantling Jim Crow.

Now, the Crisis is and internal cultural problem. It can't be fixed with federal legislation or white folks' good will.

More black people are killed in one year by other blacks than all the Negroes who were ever lynched since the end of the Civil War...

So why isn't this the No. 1 issue that public leaders and spokesmen of black America are focused on? Why don't we demand that it be?

It ain't gonna work itself out, Runeba. Matter fact, that's what white Southerners used to say when they opposed federal anti-lynching laws... they said it would work itself out, the South would grow out of the practice of lynching.

That wasn't a satisfactory answer then. It ain't one now.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing but I think the first one is about the Americanization of Japan/Tokyo: The American style kitchen, the breakfast (waffles), the music, the sit-com feel of the scene with mom and dad and and the two requisite teenagers (the girl whiny and the boy boisterous)and -- last but not least -- people affectionatly or jokingly calling each other nigger every few seconds.

The point of this sketch (I think) is that the Japanese pick up all kinds of things from Western culture and have next to no understanding of the original meaning (a pretty unoriginal observation and a lame sketch).

The "punchline": A real life black guy arrives on the scene. But we don't really get to see how he reacts to 'nigger'.

My son (who has spent a lot of time in Japan) tells me that the subtitles are in Japanese. One gets the feeling that this is produced elsewhere though.

The second video reminds me of The Wire (1st season which is all I have seen).

Anonymous said...

Forgot the signature in the above post: Anna

bumpster said...

"the capital-C Crisis -- is an insane subculture of violence, greed, anarchy and exhibitionism." I see this shit every day at the school where I work. "Go dumb y'all." One of my colleagues calls it the culture of the clown. Clowns on dope with guns. UBM, who could actually get away with starting and leading the discussion? Let the racists babble someone has got to step up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHRlJjXbMEc&mode=related&search=

John said...

Bumpster, didn't Cosby try to start this discussion?

Rottin' in Denmark said...

As a graduating-not-cripping kind of white dude, I don't find either video offensive per se. The first one is just really tedious, and the second one is sad and just incredibly shocking because I've never seen anything like it before.

It's funny to think about policy solutions to the problems and issues demonstrated in the second clip. A right-wing politician would see each person in that video as completely responsible for their actions. The world hasn't failed them; they've simply failed to educate themselves and accept the values of the society that has cradled them from birth.

A left-wing politician would see them as victims of a world that has neglected them, to varying degrees, for generations. It's not their fault, the Clinton in my head says, we have to fund more inner-city education, schools, welfare and literacy programs.

Like everything else, the correct solution is probably a lot more complicated than either viewpoint has room for. I seriously have no clue where lawmakers (or teachers, or parents, or writers, or anybody) could even start on this. Which means we should be talking about it a lot more than we are.

Inglewood nani said...

As a Latina growing up and living in Inglewood and commuting every day to work in the film industry in Beverly Hills, I can say that the point for me is to try harder to reach out to the kids who live in my building and who are so clearly locked in that Video 2 mentality. I live with these kids but many times I don't talk to them, and don't even know many of their names. Thanks a lot for the guilt trip! It's a good wake up call, and something that's been on my mind since I realized I will probably move out of the wood very soon.

Yes Video 2 is the more offensive, and yes, if we all practiced a little mentorship, we would open eyes to new and better possibilities.

"If you want to save the world, paradoxically, you have to pay more attention to individuals, not less." - Bill Strickland

bumpster said...

John he sure did and he got crunched for it. So what keeps folks' mouth's shut? Money? Fear? Who could stand up and say enough is enough?

DeAngelo Starnes said...

I didn't get to it on Sunday, but it wouldn't have ruined it.

I dig perspective though because Video #1 was made because of videos like #2. And the sad thing is that people are laughing at us.

The Crisis must be attacked and resolved. We really have to get out of excuse-making. We really have to stop appealing to non-Black morality. We really must start respecting ourselves and each other. It is true that legislation is not the answer any more. Those laws are on the books now, and they still only half-assed enforced them for a very brief period of time.

It's time to stop the glorification of violence and self-demeaning. It's beyond time to stop the violence and self-hatred.

God, we are so goddamned lost.

A.man.I said...

Ignorance is ignorance, but in the the case of the Japanese video, it was just a humorous TV skit. The unfortunate thing is that "gangbangin ass" video is real life. By the way... check out my blog www.myurbanreport.com and if you feel it.. add to you roll please... I'll do the same for you. PEACE!!

The Pop View said...

Some background on "Tokyo Breakfast."

It was produced in 2000 by Propaganda Films' Mike Maguire and Tom Kuntz, who have also done commercials and music videos.

Amid hip hop, streetwise music, a Tokyo family communicates through the use of intense ebonics and rap lingo. A heavy laugh track accompanies the piece.

"There's a huge trend in Tokyo where kids will overly fake [a] tan and darken their skin," explains Maguire. He is referring to a Tokyo subculture: "People are paying $500 to get dreads in their hair. This film shows the absurdity of it all." Kuntz and Maguire brainstormed the risqué script in one morning, but had little luck at first when pitching the piece. "We sent out the scripts, and all the casting agencies wouldn't do it," explain Maguire. "We ended up sending out a disclaimer stating that it wasn't meant to be taken with any meanness. On the contrary, it was meant to highlight the absurdity of language and trends."


Are they two white guys? Yes, they are.

legallee said...

Both are the same, slices of an unfamiliar culture exploited for profit. We tend to make assumptions when viewing same, as if we understand the underlying assumptions of the Japanese family "being Afri-Americanized." When in reality, we don't know. One might have been able to appreciate the novel idea of humor (regardless of quality) from an Asian, generally voiceless and unfamiliar, perspective. Knowing that it was a Two White Guys production changes things. It feels more exploitive. The second reminds me of Bangin' in Little Rock, also exploitive and also marketed because one does not imagine such a fuss is made when cameras aren't present. Wouldn't surprise me if the same Two White Guys produced #2. Anyone remember Jerry Heller?????

Undercover Black Man said...

Pop View, thanks so much for that info. As Legallee says, the fact that it was written by two white guys shifts the context a bit.

But I'm still unclear... did they create this film for a Japanese audience? Who was the intended audience for this piece? Indeed, where was it broadcast before it ended up as a bootleg on that humor site?

Undercover Black Man said...

Oh hell... you mean all I had to do was look up "Tokyo Breakfast" on Wikipedia?? I'm ashamed of myself.

ThatDeborahGirl said...

More black people are killed in one year by other blacks than all the Negroes who were ever lynched since the end of the Civil War...

I beg to differ with this statement, even if it is a deliberate exaggeration.

You need to check out the site, Without Sanctuary.

http://www.withoutsanctuary.org/