Saturday, February 9, 2008

Hillary Clinton cries again..and Bill Clinton is a Pimp Daddy

We are Respectable Negroes has enjoyed a "two for one weekend." First, the wisdom of the mass public reveals itself once more, as 1 in 10 listeners officially agree that Bill Clinton is a Pimp Daddy:

Second, as we have discussed here, and here, and also here, why is ol'Hillary crying again?

As The Associated Press reported:

Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., wipes her eye as she listens to a disabled U.S. veteran in the audience tell his story during a campaign stop at The City of Lewiston Memorial Armory in Lewiston, Maine., Saturday, Feb. 9, 2008.

You know what is so funny? Billary didn't shed a tear in public when Billie Bob was using his magic cigar with Monica Lewinsky, but now she cannot seem to turn off the water works. So sad. ol'Hillary we actually thought more of you:

Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday Five: 5 Overlooked Expressions of Victimology

In light of yesterday’s Victimology Blues post, this week’s Friday Five features expressions of victimology that tend to come from the relatively privileged. Since mainstream media accuse only minorities and women of “playing the victim,” the following statements are never linked to victim mentality:

1.) White people are being denied college admission and work promotions because Affirmative Action rewards mediocre minorities in order to promote diversity.

2.) Immigrants are taking all of the jobs that rightfully belong to Americans like me.

3.) Hollywood and New York cultural elites are forcing the homosexual lifestyle on our kids.

4.) When a woman accuses a man of domestic violence or rape, law enforcement and the courts are biased against the man.

5.) The secular left and the Jews are persecuting Christians by trying to remove Jesus from our government and culture.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Victimology Blues Part 2: Privileged White Men as the New England Patriots

Read Part 1 here

Throughout their great run over the last seven years, the New England Patriots have sounded like a broken record: “We get no respect…Nobody believed in us…It’s us against the world.” All successful sports teams spout these clichés, but the Patriots have perfected them. The Patriots continued to play the put-upon underdog role, even as they became the first team in NFL history to complete a 16-0 regular season, and won two additional playoff games before being upset by what turned out to be the better team in the Superbowl.

Anybody with a lick of football sense knows that the Patriots’ underdog shtick is laughable. It’s clear that New England has been by far the most successful organization in the NFL this decade. They have the best offense, the best coach, the best front office, and the best QB. They also have one of the best defenses—maybe not statistically, but when the game is on the line, the Patriots’ D usually comes up with a big play. This year, the Pats were favored in every single game they played, often by more than two touchdowns. Before they lost the big game, sports pundits were talking about The 2007 Patriots’ place in history. Chauncey will disagree, but I think that the referees exhibit a subtle bias toward The Patriots. The Pats’ only credible claim is that, outside of New England, public opinion is largely against them because they win (they believe that Spygate is just the excuse). On the surface, this football talk might seem to be unrelated to victimology; however, I submit that the Patriots are like the “traditional” white American male: successful and privileged, especially in relative terms, yet committed to a narrative of victimhood. [1]

This mindset of victimology isn’t limited to the current generation of privileged white men. Throughout this country’s history, in fact, the most successful purveyors and beneficiaries of victim mentality have been elite Christian white males. Consider the American Revolution: our nation asks us to extol people who framed their taxation at the hands of the British as the greatest injustice in history (while they owned and raped other human beings and excluded from participation the vast majority of its residents.[2] Consider the “threats” posed by Bloodthirsty Injuns, Black Brutes, the Yellow Peril, the Red Scare, and more recently, Middle-Eastern terrorists (internationally) and Mexican immigrants (domestically). I don’t wish to single out white men—many people have partaken in these various forms of fear mongering[3]—but elite white males have benefited most from them.

The point is that despite what certain bloated, racist drug addicts and Easter Island-headed token negroes seem to suggest, victimology is not the exclusive domain of black people or “minorities” of any sort. To the contrary, victimology is imprinted onto the very core of the “traditional” (read: Anglo, Judeo-Christian) American history and identity favored by liberals and conservatives who vehemently oppose multiculturalism and “revisionist” history.

The strategic rationale for fashioning one’s group as victims is clear: the public sympathy gained from victimhood can mean the difference between political support and indifference or opposition. Victimology allows activists to rally the troops, to build solidarity by conceiving an existential threat from outside. This strategy is often effective in the short run. Over the long term, though, emphasizing such a strategy can only be detrimental to the less privileged and to those concerned with social progress. But this strategy has different implications depending on the status of those wielding it.

When it comes from the privileged, victimology signals one of two things about the privileged victimologists: 1) that they have no respect for the intelligence of their adversaries and the public at large, or 2) that they have a tenuous grasp on facts and common sense. Either way, their victimology both reflects and contributes to a stunning disconnect from reality. It’s both disheartening and scary to know that there are people in positions of power and authority who think that elite white men are disadvantaged. Because it helps to reinforce privilege, this kind of victimology, by default, has an adverse effect on the less privileged. To return to the original analogy, not only have the Patriots played the victim; they’ve used this perceived victimhood to fuel their dominance, as their “everyone’s against us” attitude bolsters their intensity in walloping opponents.

When it comes from those who aren’t as privileged, victimology has a more insidious result: crippling political discourse and collective action. An emphasis on victimhood leaves people ill-equipped to deal with problems that do not fit the convenient “one of them wronged one of us” narrative. Because of the lure of victimology, discussions about practical strategies to put a dent in a serious problem—such as crime, low academic achievement, teen pregnancy, and fatherless children—too often turn to slavery. Victimology leads otherwise sensible people perpetuate batshit conspiracy theories. Victimology does not simply prompt political actors to exploit symbolic victims who have been harmed by those from other groups; victimology encourages actors to crave victimhood. Every year, a few bleeding-hearts stage “hate crimes,” usually on college campuses. These actions are obviously aberrant, but the mindset isn’t. Hate crime hoaxers aren’t insane; they are merely expressing pathological victimology politics taken to the logical extreme. Relying on fear and demonization of the other in order to define and build political communities is the only mode that a number of less privileged people know.

In short, I am troubled by the extent to which victimology is embedded in our culture.[4] One need not be a Nietzschean to argue that victim mentality exemplifies rhetorical (if not psychological) weakness. While there is certainly virtue in overcoming hardship and victimhood (as the history and resilience of scores of oppressed people attests), there is no inherent virtue in victimhood. Sometimes, victimhood, while life-changing for the victim, has no broader social import beyond the person involved; sometimes, claims of victimhood are absurd, and sometimes, “victims” are idiots or miscreants who deserve neither sympathy nor millions of dollars for making the bad decisions that allowed them to be victimized. But the issue is not whether victims exist (of course they do) or whether certain figures warrant the victim label; the issue is what role victims should play in the narratives (both backward-looking and forward-looking ones) that construct our political identities and frame our political action.

Next—Victimology Blues Part 3: The Racist Duke Lacrosse Team, the Hooker, and the Suckers Who Blindly Supported Them.


[1] The analogy breaks down once we move beyond perceptions and outcomes—more specifically, beyond the success to cries of victimhood ratio. Because the best, most deserving teams almost always win, especially in big games, the NFL is closer to a true meritocracy than America (or any other country) will ever be. But the meritocracy only applies to athletes on the field. There’s still a notable racial disparity in coaching and front office positions.

[2] This does not, however, absolve those who refuse to acknowledge the brilliance, or at least the effectiveness of the rhetoric and institutions that these elitist, racist slave owners crafted.

[3] And as Zora correctly implies, all of us, even those who are from historically disenfranchised groups, carry some form of privilege, depending on the context.

[4] But this isn’t an American phenomenon either. Pick an issue locally, nationally, globally—immigration, multicultural education, The West Bank, secularism vs. public religious expression—each side of every major conflict deals in the politics of victimhood. Victim mentality pervades all societies, garroting political discourse and identity.

Bill O'Reilly Cautions bro'Bama that He Best not Avoid the "Fair and Balanced" Fox Network

One, Two, Bill O'Reilly is coming for you:

We try to watch out for our respectable negro brethren, so please Bro'Bama, whatever you do, don't fall asleep!

By the way, isn't this theme song a wonderful bit of (deservedly) forgotten hip hop history?

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Power of White Women's Tears Redux for Super Tuesday

Told you so last month.

I love being right...

Courtesy of Reuters News Service


By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (Reuters) - An emotional Hillary Clinton and rival Barack Obama pushed for votes in the U.S. Northeast on Monday, the day before a coast-to-coast Democratic presidential showdown that is neck-and-neck in opinion polls.

On a visit to Yale University in Connecticut, Clinton's eyes glistened during an introduction recalling her law school days there. It was an echo of her emotional display before the New Hampshire primary, credited with helping turn the tide for her eventual victory in the state.

"Well I said I wouldn't tear up," the New York senator said. "Already we're not exactly on the path."

Obama, an Illinois senator, campaigned in New Jersey and Connecticut ahead of "Super Tuesday" voting in 24 states, the biggest single day of voting ever in a U.S. presidential nominating race.

"We cannot wait to bring change to America," Obama said in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where he was joined by Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy, his niece and daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy.

Republican front-runner John McCain, hoping to score a knockout blow over rival Mitt Romney, invaded the former Massachusetts governor's home turf and told supporters in Boston he could win the state.

"I believe we have every good shot at carrying the state of Massachusetts tomorrow," McCain, an Arizona senator, told hundreds of supporters jammed into historic Faneuil Hall.

In New Jersey, he said Romney presided over a "big government, mandated health care plan" in Massachusetts and he promised to compete in the general election for votes in traditional Democratic bastions in the Northeast.

"When I get the nomination I will come back and compete for New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and these states in the Northeast," he said in Hamilton, New Jersey.

Romney swept through Tennessee and Georgia before dashing to California, the biggest prize, where a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll showed him taking a lead over McCain. McCain also hastily scheduled a stop in California on Tuesday.

"If I win California that means you're going to have a conservative in the White House," Romney told reporters after eating breakfast with voters at the Pancake Pantry restaurant in Nashville.

The presidential contenders in both parties are aiming on Tuesday to win a big share of national convention delegates who choose the nominees. More than half of the total Democratic delegates are up for grabs, and about 40 percent of the Republican delegates.


Obama and Clinton have waged a bitter battle for the Democratic nomination in November's presidential election, competing for votes from coast to coast after splitting the first four significant contests.

The physical toll of the campaign showed on Clinton, whose voice was hoarse and faint after days of nonstop activity.

A coughing spell also brought tears to her eyes in New Haven and forced her to pause and sip water at an event where she contrasted her universal health care proposal with Obama's, which she contends could leave up to 15 million uninsured.

"My objective is to get everybody into this system," Clinton said. "I am running for president because I know we can do better than we have."

Polls show tight Democratic races in many of the biggest states, although a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll showed Obama opening a 6-point lead on Clinton in California, which has 441 delegates to the nominating convention -- more than one-fifth of the total needed to win.

Because Democrats distribute delegates in proportion to their vote statewide and in individual congressional districts, candidates can come away with big chunks of delegates even in states they lose.

As a result, neither Obama nor Clinton are likely to deal a knockout blow on Tuesday, prolonging their battle for the nomination to March contests in Texas and Ohio and an April contest in Pennsylvania.

"The likelihood is the nomination will be decided somewhere in those states," Clinton strategist Mark Penn told reporters in a conference call. "This race will continue until someone has the delegates necessary to secure the nomination."

In contrast, many Republican contests are winner-take-all when awarding delegates, meaning a strong day by McCain could give him a commanding lead.

McCain said in Boston he hoped "to do well enough to hopefully draw this process to a close, but if not we'll be prepared to continue to go out and campaign."

Romney has tried to take advantage of conservative qualms about McCain's views on taxes, immigration and campaign finance reform. He said the race would not end after Tuesday.

"Across the country, conservatives have come together and said 'You know what, we don't want Senator McCain. We want a conservative to be in the White House,'" Romney said.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the first contest in Iowa, also remains in the Republican race, and has siphoned conservative votes from Romney in some contests. He is aiming for a strong showing in the South.

(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason in New Jersey, Claudia Parsons in Tennessee, Steve Holland in Massachusetts; Writing by John Whitesides: Editing by Chris Wilson)

(For more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online at

Chuancey DeVega Says: The New England Patriots have Lost and I am Rendered Speechless

I am hurt. I am sad. I have been made mute. I am getting myself prepared for The End of Times because The Apocalypse is truly upon us:

Florida Evans said it best:

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Jim Brown: A Pre-Superbowl Respectable Negro of the Weekend

Thanks Jim for speaking a little truth to power. But Brother Jim, please don't waste too much time and energy on Tiger Woods because he is a lost cause, a "New Negro," Canablasian, tragic mulatto and simply not worth too much of your (or our) time. Tiger may see nothing in wrong in a sports commentator saying he should be "lynched," but those who know better can't help but shake our heads in disgust at Mr. Woods's non-response:

The full text of the article follows from:

Brown not backing down regarding Tiger
By Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports
February 2, 2008

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo! Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Tiger Woods is not just one of the world's most popular athletes, he's one of its most popular people. He is relentlessly positive, as appealing away from the game as he is on the golf course.

Some of that is his natural personality; some, presumably, part of a calculated (and understandable) attempt to navigate a public life that impossibly asks him to be all things to all people.

Woods glides through the world like one of his shots toward the green; a breathtakingly precise, yet soft-landing approach.

It takes a tough guy to criticize Tiger Woods, to demand more, to square off and to risk the inevitable backlash of challenging such a personality. In the end, you can't really win.

Jim Brown has no such concern, of course, no such fear. His approach to life – particularly in addressing social issues – is like his old football running style. He just squares his shoulders, buries his head and blasts right at you.

That's how Brown, the product of the contentious 1960s, believes it needs to be done; the same way Woods, a far calmer generation later, probably feels his way is best.

Brown recently criticized Woods for being "too politically correct" in not speaking out sooner or with more force when a Golf Channel anchor said opposing players' best bet to stop Woods was to "lynch" him.

"He should have come out right away," Brown told ESPN. "Instead, he waited until it was politically correct (to comment)."

Even then, Woods brushed the entire episode aside.

For Brown, much of the backlash for criticizing Woods was swift and thorough. In some quarters, he was as vilified as the announcer. But as you'd expect, he isn't backing down.

"Someone asked me a question and I gave them an answer," Brown told Yahoo! Sports at a Super Bowl charity golf event this week. "And the answer, I thought, was very thoughtful and very meaningful.

"And if it is understood, a lot of people will go into their history and learn something about who developed this country, who helped develop it, who are the people who made it as great as it is today and at what cost."

Here's the thing with Brown, he asks questions and gives answers that few of us in comfortable positions sometimes want to hear. This includes me.

It's not that you have to agree with him, but simply contemplating his point can take energy, thought and even study in a day and age that prefers instant, simple-minded agreement or dismissal.

But life isn't "Hannity & Colmes."

Brown's point is that in the fade of history the true meaning of lynching had been forgotten.

"Lynching was the weapon of the greatest terrorist group in this country, the Ku Klux Klan," he said. "That was their weapon of choice. So if you don't know that, then you should really become educated because a lot of people have suffered many years because of the sickness of that terrorist organization."

To Brown "evil is evil." To joke about lynching is no different than joking about a hijacked plane on 9-11 orphaning a child, a roadside bomb in Fallujah taking out a Marine's knees, or an explosive-packed car murdering innocent shoppers in some far off land.

It's not just about race, it's about rememberance and perspective. It's a point that, at the very least, makes you stop and think.

Woods has been criticized for not being as socially outspoken as many great athletes of Brown's era. Clearly, Woods has the kind of immense power that was unattainable a generation ago.

His response is that he is socially active through his charities, which is a fair point. And he certainly doesn't have to apologize for not being Jim Brown or thinking like Jim Brown.

Brown has no more the final say on this than anyone else. If Woods thought Kelly Tilghman's two-week suspension was enough and this was, indeed, no big deal, then that's fine.

But Brown certainly can have a say. The worst thing that happened from the lynching fallout was some of the instantaneous, outright dismissal of everything Brown and others articulated.

The powers that be, especially in golf, wanted no part of looking in their sport's historical (or current) mirror. So they rallied with a simple message, "Just move on, it's no big deal, just an innocent mistake."

It would seem that at least some in the golf establishment and some of its lock-step media were as angry with Golf Week at attempting to continue the debate than the magazine's terrible choice of cover art.

But that's always the moneyed-power reaction; kill all discussion, protect the status quo. Woods – knowingly or not, purposefully or not – became their perfect spokesman on the issue.

That's Tiger's right, of course. But doing what Brown demanded – examining the past, educating people to history, challenging Woods' approach and opinion – can never be a bad thing either. Even if it becomes rarer and rarer in a sports world now mostly devoid of socially outspoken stars.

"(Athletes don't speak out today) because the most difficult part of the struggle is over," Brown said. "Now an African-American athlete can enjoy pretty much everything that everyone else can enjoy.

"When you are in an era when you can utilize the fruits of someone else's labor, it takes a thoughtful person to think the battle still goes on, the struggle still goes on and there (are) still barriers that we still have to break down."

At age 71, Brown refuses to stop challenging athletes to think about the world outside of endorsements, parties and public relations. No matter how much it costs him in all of those things.

"That's the life I live," he said. "The life I live is to try to be a part of change. A lot of youngsters, once they become educated they become advocates. They really try to do the right thing."

It's too simplistic to say Brown's approach is always right or always wrong; just as it would be to say about Woods'. Both have their merits.

Here's what is wrong in discussing race in America: taking the easy route and just say be quiet, just say it's over and no one cares anymore, to just say the other side's opinion has no merit or meaning.

The thing is, it takes courage to listen.

Jim Brown, no doubt, has that courage; the courage to fight even against an overwhelmingly popular conventional wisdom articulated by no less than Tiger Woods.

Maybe, in the end, he changed few minds in golf or anywhere else, but America remains a better place because Jim Brown, all these years later, keeps trying to fight these mostly un-winnable fights.

For all his faults, Jim Brown was, and is, one hell of a man:

Thanks again Jim.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Zora on Film: Has Hollywood Helped Pave the Way for Obama?

After voters have seen several black presidents on screen, are they more likely to elect one in real life? NPR's Michele Norris recently raised this question to Dr. Todd Boyd, Professor of Critical Studies in the USC School of Cinematic Arts aka The Notorious PhD. "I'm a bit hesitant to say that because James Earl Jones or Morgan Freeman or Dennis Haysbert played a president on a TV show or in a movie, it means Barack Obama can be president," Boyd responded. "I think that's a bit of a stretch."

Boyd goes on, though, to say that such representations — especially those like 24's, beamed weekly into American living rooms — "may have unconsciously made some things in society seem less troubling" than if there'd been no pop-culture pictures of a black president.

I'm betting that a lot of folks will take issue with Dr. Boyd's response. Leaders within the African-American community have been pushing for decades to have more positive representations of Negroes in the media. The result is that we regularly see African-Americans playing the roles of well-to-do professionals who are in positions of power. (For some reason, television casting directors love seeing African-American women in the role of judges -- the Law & Order spin-offs must be the most consistent employer of middle-aged, black female extras in the industry.) The irony is that the majority of the most blatant stereotypical imagery we see in popular culture today is produced by ourselves and for ourselves --> T_ler P_rry.

With Hollywood favorites like Denzel Washington, Bill Cosby and Will Smith, we've been looking pretty damn good on television and film over the last two decades (local news broadcasts not included). Some might say, too good. The problem is that the progress we've made on the cinematic screen does not reflect the progress we've made on the street. Liberals in Hollywood are producing symbols that are not grounded in reality. These symbols may actually be negatively affecting African-American progress.

The power of the media in shaping American perceptions of reality has been a regular theme on this blog. Because we are still a very segregated nation, most white Americans get a lot of their information about black Americans from the television. In places with marginal black populations like New Hampshire, Vermont, Montana, Utah and New Mexico, media images are even less likely to be balanced by real life interactions with African-Americans. If all they're seeing is images of well-off, powerful Negroes, then tales of black poverty and racial discrimination must fall on deaf ears.

I live in a small, New England town where I can count the number of African-Americans on my fingers and toes. All of us are professionals who are associated with the local college. We are surrounded by a lot of deep and profound poverty. It is nearly impossible to talk with Whites who have grown-up in this area about racial inequality and discrimination. From what they can observe, African-Americans have actually moved ahead of Whites. Most of them barely have a high-school education, so you can forget about discussing symbolic imagery and media manipulation with them.

All of the positive images of African-Americans are surely feeding what social theorists would term realistic group conflict. This is especially likely in this time of economic difficulty with the competition for jobs and benefits growing more fierce each day. We should not have been surprised at all that Obama lost in New Hampshire. Bill Clinton wasn't surprised. He knew immediately why Obama lost and sought to nourish the seeds of conflict with his comments on the "race card." The Clinton camp knew that they couldn't win the South Carolina battle, but they are looking long-term at the war. For all of Obama's talk about "hope," he has to also acknowledge (at least among his strategists) that he also inspires a lot of fear.

With all of the black presidents we have seen on screen, only African-Americans are more likely to elect a black president. For them, the symbols represent possibilities that were perhaps unimaginable before: "Maybe we can win? Maybe we can be successful?" For other groups, the media symbols of Negro success are more likely to inspire fear, or apathy at the very least. I would argue that the lack of support for Obama among Latino Democrats is further evidence of this.

Does this mean that we should go back to being portrayed as maids and field hands? Of course, not. We do, however, have to make sure that we are portrayed in a balanced and realistic manner. It doesn't serve any of us to live in a "fantasy land."

A Few Words on the Hillary-Obama Debate

I have little to say, except that the debate was a spectacle of conviviality and (almost) friendship. You know? I almost feel cheated.

Fittingly, 2 songs were running through my head during the debate.

Song number one:

Song number two:

One great parody came to mind as well--just substitute Obama and Hillary as needed:

And bro'Bama when you gave that weak answer on immigration reform I wanted to "insert hand into throat" in order to vomit. Bro'Bama, you better wake up and come stronger on this issue because the "brown" part of the coalition you are pulling for has no love for a brother.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wrestlers, Black Elvis, and our 2008 Presidential Candidates--You Know, Sometimes You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Every presidential election has its collection of odd, funny, and bizarre moments. But this year has got to take the cake. We have Hillary, co-president in a political "dynasty" and wife of the first "black" president (soul pass revoked as of 1/26/08). Her chief rival Obama is a "halfrican," a man who also happens to be a legit contender for the presidency of The United States. The campaign also features a Mormon--insert joke here. And we have Mr. McCain, a man who I can't bring myself to make fun of given how he spent years in that hell hole, The Hanoi Hilton.

The stars must have really aligned because it seems that professional wrestlers are now giving endorsements to candidates. In this corner, we have Hulk Hogan endorsing Obama (I don't know if this is a gift or a curse):

It must be a trend. Let's match each wrestler with the candidate they have endorsed.

The immortal Ric Flair has endorsed a man on a mission from God, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Huckabee also has the support of the toughest man alive Mr., yes I call him Mister lest he come over my house and kick my ass, Chuck Norris.

Kane has endorsed Republican candidate Ron Paul.

Jimmy Snuka, who is a Mormon, ostensibly supports Mitt Romney.

John McCain, who is a very vocal critic of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts gets no support. No, just kidding. For the sake of argument let's give him the UFC's, "The Iceman" Chuck Liddell.

And Hillary has Black Elvis...Old girl just can't catch a break can she?

If we were taking bets here at We Are Respectable Negroes who would you pick to win this battle royal?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Movies and Fun for Ghetto Nerds

One of the fun things about the immediacy offered by a blog is that one can chase a random idea and see where it goes. I was watching television and stumbled upon Flash Gordon, which as I mentioned in my Cloverfield review, is one of my favorite "bad movies" of all time:

This got me thinking, am I the only ghetto nerd (as Zora has christened me) who thinks that Flash Gordon is one of the greatest movies of all time. I know I am not the only brown person who loves some Queen. I know I was not the only young man who had amazing masturbatory fantasies about Ming's daughter Aura--that racially ambiguous goddess was a queen among queens who I dare say looked better than any of the women that pygmy, Prince, had on his arm during the 1980's:

Plus, I know for a fact that I am not the only respectable negro who can quote Flash Gordon at length.

We have the classic conundrum: if Flash Gordon was ohh so amazing, where does that leave my other perennial bad movie favorite, They Live? Remember its classic line, "I am here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum."

And am I the only ghetto nerd who has fond memories of Zardoz?

What are some other "bad movies" that should be added to our We are Respectable Negroes Bad Movie Hall of Fame?

Monday, January 28, 2008

The We are Respectable Negroes News Roundup

It seems that January is the month of Obama. Don't despair, the world continued to turn, and for the less politically inclined among you I have 14 points of fun, mayhem, human depravity, and man-ape news to report.

But, we have to feed our Obama fever first.

1. Obama wins, no he dominates in South Carolina. As I pointed out in an earlier post, Obama did a Lamont Sanford on Hillary. Jesse won South Carolina in '84 and '88 so Obama's victory wasn't a total surprise. However, this victory will be remembered as the moment where Billy Clinton got his ghetto pass revoked. He hated on MLK, he cast the Obama campaign as being a "fairy tale," and accused Obama of playing "the race card" (whatever the hell that is--I think we need to do a whole post on non-sense statements such as this one). Billy Bob, as The New York Times and The Washington Post have suggested, you need to be reigned in lest you do more harm to ol' Hillary's campaign. Apparently, there are still some black folk who think Bill was right for having his wife's back. You know what, and please readers help me out with this one, am I the only person who is starting to suspect that Bill Clinton is maybe, just a little bit, jealous of Hillary? Could his foot in mouth syndrome be rooted in a little resentment for his wife? And now with the Chapaquitic/bootlegger/family dynasty of funky ol' dirty drawers wearing Marilyn Monroe lovers/Kennedy endorsement, Hillary and Bill are going for blood--I suspect Bro'Bama may eventually need to get his razor out for the big payback.

2. My boy Edwards may play the kingmaker. I sincerely hope that Edwards does well enough on Super Tuesday to hold up either Hillary or Obama in order to make sure that his platform is represented. Bob Novak, rumor monger extraordinaire is hinting that an Edwards-Obama deal is in the works where Edwards, in exchange for his support, becomes Attorney General in the Obama administration. Interesting prospect, but I think Bro'Bama may have to groom Edwards a bit for the position:

3. Osama's son wants peace. Apparently Osama Bin Laden wants peace as well. More interestingly, doesn't young Bin Laden look like a character out of The Matrix?

I can see it now, "My name is Olive Branch, you are all living in a digital simulation. This world you take to be 'real' is only a simulation. My father is not a 'terrorist,' no, he is your liberator, a man sent to wake you from your slumber. Please, come with me and be witness to the desert of the real." Readers, if you would like to join Junior Laden's peace crusade you must stop here and pick up some appropriately styled clothing.

4. I interrupt this news update to bring you a damn, dirty ape news update. It seems that one of these damn apes outperforms us upright walkers on tests of basic memory. If true, this test does give me some solace, because the ape's ability to retain simple information (in all likelihood to the exclusion of more complex data) explains the popularity of minstrel-hop and crap-rappers:

5. In other animal related news, researchers have developed technology which decodes the barking of dogs. Maybe researchers will apply this technology to develop a translator which will allow me to understand T.I., Young Jeezy, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy and all those other shit-hoppers?

6. The devil was busy these last few weeks. A man throws his kids off a bridge. A man kills his girlfriend and cooks her up in a pot (collective sigh-Why did he have to be black? And why did she have to be white? Lord, I thought that was something "they" did?). A man cut off his hand and microwaved it because it was stained by "the mark of the beast;" a woman has killed her four children because they were "possessed" by demons; and there are ritualistic killings in a small town in Iowa. A crazy, hillbilly, The Hills Have Eyes type, is killing people out West while another nut case goes on a rampage with a chainsaw...damn, typing this stuff makes me scared to go outside. Final note: a mother cooks her baby in a microwave. We are indeed a society too sick to survive.

7. I love it when stupid people get their comeuppance because it makes that Middle School science lecture on natural selection seem so relevant. Case in point: don't get drunk and taunt lions, tigers, monkeys, or any other animal that can easily layeth the smackdown on your weak homosapien ass. For a summary, see The Darwin awards which "honors" folks whom have advanced the species by checking out early (my personal favorite is the couple who fell off the roof while having sex).

8. Speaking of stupid people, Presidente Bush went to the Holy Land and apparently had a moment of religious transcendence--no comment. As I have said these last few years, one of the great tragedies of the post 9-11 era is that Jesus freaks and Christian Nationalists are on a terminal collision course with a bunch of Islamo-fascists (here is one of my favorite interviews). Again, may we live in interesting times:

9. We have several shit-huffer awards to give out. Shit-huffer number one, the fool who got arrested for driving around during a Jena 6 march with a noose on his truck. Shit-huffer number two, the sports broadcaster who said that Tiger Woods should be lynched. Shit-huffer number three, Tiger Woods for saying it was a misunderstanding. Ohh,I forgot, Tiger isn't black he is a "mocha baby"/Canablasian so only 1/32nd of him should be offended.

10. Random news happenings. Holy Sand is apparently a drug. Oprah, my least favorite handerkerchief head is being reminded that she is black. Apparently, Oprah's viewers are upset that she has ostensibly "chosen" race over gender in supporting Obama for president. Ha Ha! Sacha Baron Cohen padded his pants for his role in Sweeney Todd. Thank goodness because after seeing Borat and then Sweeney Todd I was beginning to develop an inferiority complex. We have discovered a source of anti-matter (Scotty I need more power!) Astronomers have discovered a new blackhole of unimaginable denseness and mass at the heart of a quasar (doesn't that sound sexy?). Guess what the quasar's name is? OJ287..insert joke here.

11. The near shooting incident between Iranian speed boats and the U.S. Navy in The Straights of Hormuz may have been orchestrated by a prankster with the nom de guerre of "Filipino Monkey" (which takes Crank Yankers to a whole 'nother level doesn't it?). It could still have been a misunderstanding, or maybe a set-up, sort of like The Gulf of Tonkin incident which "provoked" The Vietnam War. In related news, researchers have documented how Bush and Company orchestrated a campaign of truth distortion prior to the 2nd gulf war. FYI, "truth distortion" is Neo-Con speak for lying. Did you know we will be in Iraq until at least 2012? Not a surprise to us respectable negroes and thinking people everywhere, but lest the unwashed masses (and many Republicans) be fooled again, we suggest that all citizens annually watch both The Fog of War and Eisenhower's prescient speech where he warns against the dangers presented by the military-industrial complex.

12. On a light note. Two kinky folk got their groove on and one of them is now dead. I am GGG, but I draw the line with putting electricity through nipple clamps 'cause it can kill folks. Next time, do it right. Shop at a reputable purveyor of kink, get the needed equipment, know your limits, and use a safe word. If you don't, your evening of sexcapades may end like this:

13. On a lighter note, Richard Simmons is nice to fat people. I sincerely believe this to be one of his best traits. Richard Simmons is also crazy, a phony, and a miserable soul with more money than God--grrhhh I am so jealous of him. Apparently, Richard lost it on The Today Show:

Random factoid: Richard Simmons was once a monger of exploding steam cooking machines:

14. Kwame Kilpatrick, the mayor of Detroit, is in big trouble. Apparently, he has been running his administration like a cross between Flavor of Love, 106 and Park, and We can do Better. Kwame's the "hip hop" mayor. He has strippers, parties, and security guards covering up his mess. Now, Kwame is caught creeping with his senior aid. It seems that Kilpatrick and his lover have exchanged 14,000 text messages over the course of a year, yes, 14,000. The rub of the story is that few of the text messages that have been released to the public are any good. I want some steamy, I am cheating on my wife, nasty and dirty text messages. For example, how about a few, "I am gonna come over and put you in the chicken wing girl;" "I want to put you in the camel clutch later tonight;" or "I am going to wear you out like a pair of shoes from Payless." In honor of our first hip hop mayor, a mayor by the name of Kwame, I present a classic cut from the original Kwame (see it makes sense in the end):

It seems Kwame thought he was a smooth operator:

But, Kwame may have just played himself:

Till next time, this has been your We are Respectable Negroes News Roundup

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Chauncey DeVega says: Obama wins South Carolina!

I will be covering this and other other stories in our news roundup Monday, but this clip really sums up how Bro' Bama whooped ol' Hillary in South Carolina:

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Five: How do you spell it?--5 “black” terms with indeterminate spellings

Students and purveyors of negro language often come across terms that they hear on a regular basis, but rarely write or see in print. I’ve seen such words spelled several different ways, and I always have trouble translating them into writing. I present the pronunciation of 5 such terms below:

1.) sə-'dĭt-ē

2.) 'bü -zhē

3.) 'ĭg-nĭnt

4.) nĭm

5.) ô 'sʊk-ē 'sʊk-ē

I invite everyone to offer their best guesses about how any of these five is spelled…and feel free to offer other relevant words/pronunciations. For your convenience, I’ve included a handy pronunciation key. Cut and paste away!:

\ ă \ as a in pat
\ ā \ as a in ace
\ ä \ as a in father
\ au \ as ou in out
\ b \ as in baby
\ ch \ as ch in chin
\ d \ as d in did
\ ĕ \ as e in bet
\ ē \ as ea in easy
\ f \ as f in fifty
\ g \ as g in go
\ h \ as h in hat
\ ĭ \ as i in hit
\ ī \ as i in ice
\ j \ as j in job
\ k \ as k in kin
\ l \ as l in lily
\ m \ as m in mom
\ n \ as n in own
\ ng \ as ng in sing
\ ō \ as o in no
\ ô \ as aw in law
\ oi \ as oy in boy
\ p \ as p in pop
\ r \ as r in red
\ s \ as s in yes
\ sh \ as sh in shy
\ t \ as t in tie
\ th \ as th in thin
\ th \ as th in the
\ ə\ as u in cut
\ ü \ as oo in loot
\ ʊ \ as oo in foot
\ ûr \ as ur in fur
\ v \ as v in vivid
\ w \ as w in away
\ y \ as y in yet
\ z \ as z in zone
\ zh \ as si in vision

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bill Clinton Must have Eaten a Luther Burger Before this Speech Honoring Dr. King

It looks like our first black president has a case of "The Itis":

He must have eaten a Luther:

Maybe that tired, black preacher affected speech lulled brother Clinton to sleep?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Chauncey DeVega says: It's True, I Caught Cloverfield from a Toilet Seat

This is not a spoiler free review. In fact, I do not want you to see this movie and all respectable negroes and our friends should avoid this movie like the plague. I will also not provide any details about the characters or specific plot moments as to recall them would be too painful.

I will not make a habit of writing movie reviews because my girl Zora has staked out this turf and made it clear to me that if I sit on her porch she will shank me (Are you impressed? I picked up some of that prison speak while watching The History Channel). On Monday, in honor of Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., I, like all negroes everywhere, went to the movies (in my case 2), bought my monthly comic books (Walking Dead is returning to form; The Punisher and Barracuda have upped it one more level in their on going "feud"; I just discovered Pax Romana and it looks promising; and The Ultimates is mixed at this point--beautiful art, but too dark, and the characters are sort of blah), and went to Chipotle for a pork carnitas fajita burrito.

On that day, I was blessed to see a great movie, There Will be Blood (TWBB), and a horrible movie, Cloverfield. The former is an undeniable classic. As I told a friend, by comparison, TWBB makes P.T. Anderson's body of earlier work look like a set of movies shot by well-intentioned (but untalented) 5th graders. TWBB is the work of a master, working with a master actor (Danielle Day Lewis), on a set of universal topics (greed, the human heart, faith, nationalism, religious zealotry, family, and human frailty).

By comparison, Cloverfield is the work of an amateur who is grappling with a motif and genre he does not understand. Yes, I took the bait. Yes, I was excited by the viral marketing. I also believed that JJ Abrams had the skill to reimagine the monster movie genre, and perhaps introduce something new to science fiction story-telling. I was wrong, horribly wrong. Cloverfield is the girl in the 5th grade who promises to show you something special if you go behind the bushes with her, but instead you see nothing. By analogy, one thinks Cloverfield is a beautiful woman, but instead your love/lust object is oiling up her inner thighs and playing a man like he is a naive trick. I have long asserted that in order to either innovate upon, or to reimagine a genre, one must have mastery over it. Cloverfield demonstrates that JJ Abrams has neither mastery over, nor any particular insight into, this particular sub-genre of science fiction.

Don't be mistaken, I am not a film snob. I know and love bad movies. In fact, I am a connoisseur of them (They Live, Armageddon, Flash Gordon, etc.) As a point of reference, I was one of those unfortunate souls whom saw Prince's magnum opus, Under the Cherry Moon, in the movie theater--a film so horrible that the audience cheered when Prince, our protagonist, is contemplating suicide because his death would have mercifully ended the film. Under the Cherry Moon is the first film I contemplated walking out of before its conclusion. Prior to watching Cloverfield, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe occupied second place on my list of worst movies of all time:

And compared to the masterpiece which was He-Man, Cloverfield is a failure on almost all levels. Akin to my experience with Under the Cherry Moon, this was one of the most divide screenings I have ever been to. Half the audience booed and hissed at the main characters (and cheered when we thought they were killed), and the other half--mostly teenage ign'ts, hipsters, and other victims of group think--clapped and cheered reverentially at the film's conclusion.

First, as a point of serious criticism Cloverfield uses the device of a monster destroying NYC as a means for exploring how people grapple with the incomprehensible. What would we do if a 30 story tall monster appeared in a major city and proceeded to destroy everything in sight? How would the average person process the unimaginable? Cloverfield fails in this regard because it fails to acknowledge one obvious fact: on 9-11 we saw both the unimaginable and the incomprehensible (see The New York Times, Salon, and Slate for reviews which speak to this point). As a society, we witnessed what was thought to be impossible. Abrams's use of the monster as a thinly veiled reference to 9-11 places a heavy, almost insurmountable burden on his film. Unfortunately, Cloverfield uses the device and fails to bring anything new (here meaning real inspiration, compelling story telling or even a novel narrative device) to the story. This is Abrams's greatest failure: in playing with such heavy topics his reach never equals his grasp.

Moreover, I am all for exploring 9-11 and its visual lexicon, and a great film maker could use the monster movie genre to effectively do so. Abrams is simply not up to the challenge, and ultimately, what remains is a rehashing of 9-11 with little innovation beyond that of substituting airplanes for a whale beast summoned from the deepest parts of the ocean by an incessant demand for Slusho Cola (sounds like Slurm soda on Futurama). Sorry Mr. Abrams, that cheap slight of hand is not enough to carry a movie.

Second, for a monster movie to "work" we need to have either 1) sympathy for the victims; or 2) to cheer on the monster as a device of righteous justice because it is punishing humanity for our sins. Cloverfield fails because the main characters are unlikeable. In a multiracial, polygot, New York City the main characters are remarkable for their diversity: a clique that has seemingly walked out of an Abercrombie and Fitch or J Crew ad, with the obligatory racially ambiguous brown woman, and a wannabe, miserable, cynical hipster. JJ Abrams wants us to feel sympathy for these characters and to be empathetic to their plight. Instead, we want the monster to kill these folks--especially the cameraman--because they are foul people, truly vacuous, grating to one's eyes and ears, and frustrating to our intelligence.

As a proud negro geek, I take my genre films seriously. Here, I look for small details in the story telling which make a movie feel real and signal a commitment to good film making. I ask two questions. First, do the things I see look so ridiculous as to convey the filmmaker's intent to invite and court the absurd? Second, if the film maintains a pretense to "realism," does it do the little things right? Beyond the big monster running around and destroying the city, do the details ring true?

Cloverfield clearly fails the detail test. For example, our main characters have an indestructible camera with super batteries that never run out. Through monster attacks, gunfire, building collapses, and the like, the camera works without fail--in fact, they should make the Space Shuttle out of whatever this camera is made from. Second, our beautiful, obligatory, racially nebulous brown sister has on a silver necklace from Tiffanys and high heeled shoes. The necklace never breaks because it is monster proof (certified by Elsa really is). The 3 inch heels on these shoes, even when climbing over corpses, rubble, or running from our beast, never break. Moral of the story: super powered cameras and indestructible heels can ruin a film if you aren't careful.

Cloverfield fails the absurdity test because the monster is sort of "blah". He is a device, but he lacks personality. The monster is present, and a marvel of CGI and practical effects, but he is looming in the shadows. Yes, I understand that was Abrams's intention, this idea of what one sees is less scary than what one imagines, but a compelling monster would have added some measure of salvation to a failed project. It is in this regard that Abrams could have benefited from a deeper understanding of monster movies as genre entertainment. For example, the fun of Godzilla (or Kaiju films more generally), is that there is generally no pretense to seriousness. We enjoy the spectacle, the battle royal of men in suits beating the hell out of each other. Godzilla is interesting. She is an anti-hero who punishes mainkind for his sins. Yet, she protects us when we are in peril. It is this loving care which endears lady Godzilla to audiences. She is a friend, sort of a kinder, simpler version of Deebo from Friday:

Simply, Godzilla and man in suit monster movies "work" because they are fun. Cloverfield is not fun. Sure, it courts the eternal geek question of how one would defeat a 30 story tall monster or an alien invasion? I have always voted for a combination of superheroes and giant robots to do the job. Alternatively, we could bring in Charles Barkley to save humanity:

In Abrams's monster movie one would have to drop a nuke on the beast to kill it because the MOAB apparently couldn't do the job. We viewers could kill the monster far more easily by simply not seeing this movie.

Postscript: courtesy of the Internet Movie Database here are some answers to the mysteries of Cloverfield--

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

We are Respectable Negroes Mourns for You: Actor Heath Ledger Found Dead

Heath Ledger was one hell of a gay cowboy. He was ready to shine again as The Joker, but now we will only have those fond memories. Hopefully, Heath will find the peace in death that he could not find in life.


Heath Ledger found dead in NYC apartment

28-year-old actor was nominated for Oscar for ‘Brokeback Mountain’

NEW YORK - A New York Police Department spokesman says the actor Heath Ledger has been found dead at a downtown Manhattan residence.

According to, Ledger, 28, was found dead in his bed in one of his residences in Soho by his housekeeper at 3:35 p.m. ET Tuesday.

The actor has a two-year-old daughter with former fiancee Michelle Williams. Ledger was set to play the Joker in the upcoming Batman film "The Dark Knight." He received an Academy Award nomination for his work in "Brokeback Mountain."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr.

All Things To All People...

In America’s poorest ghettos, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s portrait is one of the most popular subjects of public art. These images, which I have been documenting since 1977, regularly appear on the walls of the liquor stores, auto-repair shops, fast-food restaurants, mom-and-pop stores and public housing projects of Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and many other cities across the country. The majority are the work of amateur artists. Though Dr. King is usually front and center, he is often accompanied by other inspirational figures: Nelson Mandela, John Paul II, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, Pancho Villa. He is often accompanied by his famous phrase, “I have a dream” – a reminder that in many of the communities where these murals exist, the gulf between hope and reality remains far too wide.
-- Camilo José Vergara

New England Wins One More: It is Hard to be Tom Brady

My boy Brady is only human. Watching the game I felt like this:

To be honest, the game made me feel like this:

In two weeks our victory over the Giants will be more like this:

It is good to be the King.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Five: 5 stereotypes that whites and blacks share about each other

As I stated in response to Zora, not only was Toni Morrison’s “Bill Clinton is the first black president” comment not racist, it was aggressively anti-racist in that it was meant to underscore the inherent ridiculousness of racial stereotypes. I was extremely disappointed (though not surprised) when pundits and cultural critics in the mainstream media tripped over one another to condemn Morrison’s “racism.” If they’d only read Morrison’s short story “Recitatif,” they’d understand that Morrison would never condone essentialist racial stereotypes. The story follows the lives of two women—one white, one black. From childhood to adulthood, the women harbor racial stereotypes about each other, but Morrison uses ambiguous language and signals, so it is never totally clear which woman is white and which is black. “Recititaf” draws its force from one of the cruel (yet hilarious) jokes of American race relations: due to our historical and cultural proximity, black people and white people have many of the same stereotypes about each other. To be fair, these stereotypes apply to all groups that position themselves opposite another, but as I’m most familiar with black-white relations, that will be my focus.

1.) They stink

…as in, their bodies smell funny. “White people smell like wet dog,” “white people’s hair smells like wet dog,” “white women’s diggum smacks smell like wet dog.” Clearly, wet dog smell figures prominently in black stereotypes about white people’s odor. And any casual perusal of white supremacist literature and music will turn up assertions of black people’s supposed stink. Cooler heads have suggested that argue that genes, diet, cultural preferences for hair and body products can account for different racial odors. I can’t say that I’ve noticed, but then again, I don’t go around sniffing folks.

2.) They are sexual deviants

Many white people believe that black women are promiscuous and have a primal sexual energy (signaled by the hypnotic movement of black women’s hips and asses on the dance floor). Many black people say that white women are nasty and loose. Black men, in particular often brag about the relative ease with which they can bed or turn out white women. White folks (and black folks too) have bought into the idea that black men are sexually potent and promiscuous. Black people often say that white men are into “freaky shit” (s and m, interracial cuckolding, bisexuality). Nowadays, black men are getting some of that with the overblown D.L. panic, but the “freaky” stereotype is still relatively rare for them.

3.) They have terrible taste

…in music/movies/books/clothes/food/comedy/beauty, etc. Black people like Tyler Perry plays and movies, crappy stand up comics, lowbrow rap and derivative R and B, gross, greasy fast food, and tacky, bright colored clothes. White people like “Friends,” crappy stand up comics, unlistenable rock and country music, bland food (or sometimes “exotic” cuisines), and lame clothes. What makes this one an interesting stereotype is that it often goes beyond generalizations about cultural preferences. This stereotype tends to bolster the idea of differing racial aesthetic capacities. The white vs. black “tastes” typically break down along the binaries of affect vs. authenticity, formal training vs. instinct, script vs. improv, craft vs. style…in other words, (white) mind vs. (black) body or (black) soul.

4.) They don’t discipline their kids

Without this stereotype, 95% of black hack comedians wouldn’t have material. According to popular stereotypes spread among black people, white kids can curse, disrespect, and hit their parents, all without being punished. White people, on the other hand, look at unruly, vulgar black kids in public space like malls, schools, public transportation, and think that black kids are generally out of control due to absentee parenting or disrespectful black culture. There’s no shortage of asshole kids who have little respect for others’ property or public space, but racial tunnel vision makes us see only what confirms our prejudices. When someone has destroyed or defaced public property in an interracial neighborhood, many white people just assume that black kids did it; most black people probably think that drunken white fratboys did it.

5.) They are untrustworthy

I’ve come across quite a few old black people who tell me that white people are shady backstabbers, not by nature, but certainly by having been raised in a culture of white supremacy. As for white perceptions of black dishonesty, I will offer my first hand experiences. Occasionally, I’ve had to duck out of sporting events, museum visits, and symphony concerts at the last minute. Rather than waste time trying to sell the tickets outside of the venues, I’ve opted to give them to the first taker. But since I’m black, especially a black man, white people refuse to take the free tickets from me. One might argue that white people aren’t responding to my blackness; they’re responding to my suspicious behavior of giving away free stuff. That’s somewhat understandable, but then why do I never have issues giving them away to the first black person who shows up?

Can you all think of others?