Sunday, August 10, 2008

Michael Eric Dyson’s fantasy interview with Martin Luther King, Jr.

Am I the only one who thinks Michael Eric Dyson is silly?

I know he’s rocking a Ph.D. from Princeton and has authored 16 books. But whenever I see Prof. Dyson on TV, he always confirms my earliest impressions of him as an attention-whoring gasbag and a paint-by- numbers ultraliberal.

Dyson’s latest book is “April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Death and How It Changed America,” which ends with a bizarre exercise of literary license. Dyson imagines himself interviewing MLK on the occasion of King’s 80th birthday.

That is to say, Michael Eric Dyson conjures a world where Martin Luther King wasn’t martyred in Memphis in 1968... so as to speculate on how Dr. King would’ve lived the latter half of his life.

Dyson, without inhibition, puts many words in Dr. King’s mouth. He fantasizes that Dr. King, during the 1980s, would have publicly acknowledged a long battle with depressive illness... complete with obesity and a drinking problem.

Also, Dyson imagines the elderly Dr. King being a full-throated advocate for gay marriage. (Seriously.)

I don’t know how this “interview” works on the printed page, because I downloaded the audiobook. In the audiobook, Dyson “acts” both parts of the Q&A. He literally speaks as an 80-year-old Martin Luther King.

I am streaming a 7½-minute excerpt on my Vox blog. Click here to listen. (This excerpt begins with Dyson speaking as Dr. King.)

It is mind-boggling.


Mulatto pride said...

Dyson, Shelby Steele, john Mcwhorter, Thomas Sowell, etc are all pursuing their particular beliefs on various social issues. At least they are smart enough to get paid for pursuing. It would be very interesting to know how Dr. King viewed the various issues of the 1980s and 1990s if he had lived.

It is like in Charles Darwin interviewing Plato and asking him about the theory of human evolution. Who knows what Plato would have said.

bklyn6 said...

But whenever I see Prof. Dyson on TV, he always confirms my earliest impressions of him as an attention-whoring gasbag

I have a colleague who calls him an "opportunist". I hadn't thought of him as such until he mentioned it. Actually, I had a little crush on him. That's over.

When he taught at my school a few years ago I took his seminar "The Black Experience: Race in America." He's got a knack for inventing phrases. In class he came up with "epidermal fetish." Can't remember the context in which he used it, but it had something to do with race.

Once a when a white student commented that he was "blitzed" by something Dyson had just said (the bombardment simply went over his head, maybe mine too) Dyson kind of lost it. At the time I thought he didn't like his intelligence dismissed by this white man. But perhaps it was just the student's word choice that pissed him off? Maybe Dyson knows he can be quite verbose, and he didn't need it pointed out to him.

Thembi said...

Total. Gasbag. Lately Ive been considering getting a PhD just to take his place. Did you see him on Colbert Report? The man takes himself so seriously its off-putting.

tanyetta said...

******an attention-whoring gasbag and a paint-by- numbers ultraliberal*****

love it ;)

Anonymous said...

He used to have a talk show here in the DC area. He is totally full of himself and obnoxious. The blown-out-of-proportion "big words" that he often uses show more about his obvious need to prove he is a smart guy than anything else.

I won't be listening to the interview. I deal in reality as opposed to Dyson's fantasy world.

MLK did not deal with this type of pompous a--ho--

jjbrock said...

When Cathy Hughes hired him for Radio One start up. I believe it was the best move she could have made.

I enjoyed listening to Dr. Dyson, to me he kept it real. He has an awesome way with words.

Kellybelle said...

Annoying. Michael Eric Dyson is annoying. I went to hear him at a book signing when he had the Marvin Gaye book out. He sang, preached, rapped, expounded. Women ate it up. He reminded me of a bookish, geeky guy in high school who had figured out how to turn the girls' heads.
He's like Cornel West without the brilliance.

Malik Shabazz said...

a) I used to respect Dyson until he defended Congressmember William Jefferson (the one who was caught with bundles of cash in his freezer).

b) The idea that MLK would have supported gay marriage isn't so far-fetched. Coretta Scott King did.

W is for Wanda said...

Am I the only one who thinks Michael Eric Dyson is silly?


Frankly I can't take a man seriously who seems to talk fast so people won't understand the bullshit that he is saying. That and puts out books faster than Stephen King.

W is for Wanda said...

daughterofthedream said...

Early in college I used to think MED and Cornel West were brilliant! Now I think they just have a knack for stating (and repeating) what to them is the obvious.

While MED maintains a startling academic flow that bamboozles, at least he doesn't play dress up like Cornel who sports that pseudo modern day Frederick Douglass meets Du Bois look. I mean, WTF!

Jackie said...

I don't agree with everything Dyson says but I enjoy listening to him. He is a fast talker and I admit that sometimes I am not listening to what he's saying as much as how he says it.

Jackie said...

OH I forgot to say that I agree with Malik Shabazz. Dr. King was for equal rights for gays and Coretta did support gay rights including marriage.

neptune said...

"Opportunist" would be putting it kindly. I wonder if he would have written this while Coretta King was still alive. Him, Shelby Steele, et al, are probably salivating at the thought of an Obama presidency because of the business it'll bring them.

Brandon | Fortyoneacres said...

fantasy interview with Dr.King...Dyson saw that on the Boondocks didn't he?

If I was Aaron McGruder I'd be pissed people are trying to resell my ideas. LOL...

MissLady said...

In addition, Dyson is one of the biggest phony feminists I have ever seen in my life. Why he loves black women? In his own words, because they know how to "back that thang up." The brother has issues.

Dan Coyle said...

While I've enjoyed Dyson when I see him on Real Time and other things, that book he wrote about Cosby was an ugly hatchet job. I'm what you'd call an "ultraliberal" but I didn't really see anything wrong with Cosby's outburst.

Some of the things Cosby has said since have caused me to raise an eyebrow ("and that's how we lost to the white man!" Er, nobody told this white man he won), but to bludgeon Bill C. for 150 pages like that on flimsy reasoning like Dyson did is childish.


And since MacGruder's Boondocks King episode was one of the worst things I've ever seen, I have a feeling Dyson's imaginings won't be much better.

Undercover Black Man said...

Why he loves black women? In his own words, because they know how to "back that thang up."

Thanks for commenting, MissLady. Part of what always bugged me about MED was his hip-hop posturing.

The hell with that. Nerd pride!!

ebog said...

total gasbag and a mediocre scholar. He wrote that last Katrina book in a week using google. Apparently couldn't be bothered to do real scholarship around the most important crisis of the last 20 years.

Coquinegra said...

Crabs in a barrel, much? Speaking as an academic myself, i'd *like* to have the ability to make my complex subject matter as accessible as Rev. Dr. Dyson does. (Fast talking or not.) I haven't mastered that yet and can appreciate a college professor who can.