Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Black Superpublic Fails Again: Behold the "D*ck Slang" Video in All of its Horror

Once more, this is how we lost to the White man.
Moreover, in the Age of Obama can't we do better?

Here, we witness a failing of the intimacy and immediacy of technology melded with the stupidity of the lumpen proletariat ign't knuckdragging hoodrat crowd. The first time I reflected on this problem, I linked the failing of the Black family and fatherless boys performing a la Beyonce to the monumental Moynihan Report. After watching the above video, the immortal words of Stuart Hall in his seminal, What is this Black in Black Popular Culture? were echoing in my ear.

For students of Black popular culture this essay is a requirement. For others trying to make sense of young men performing their version of black masculinity by dancing shirtless while practicing pseudo-frontage through their sagging athletic wear, Hall's piece is both illuminating and invaluable.

Some choice excerpts from Hall's What is this Black in Black Popular Culture?:

Black popular culture, like all popular cultures in the modern world, is bound to be contradictory, and this is not because we haven't fought the cultural battle well enough. By definition, black popular culture is a contradictory space. It is a site of strategic contestation. But it can never be simplified or explained in terms of the simple binary oppositions that are still habitually used to map it out: high and low; resistance versus incorporation; authentic versus unauthentic; experiential versus formal; opposition versus homogenization. There are always positions to be won in popular culture, but no struggle can capture popular culture itself for our side or theirs. Why is that so? What consequences does this have for strategies of intervention in cultural politics? How does it shift the basis for black cultural criticism?

However deformed, incorporated, and unauthentic are the forms in which black people and black communities and traditions appear and are represented in popular culture, we continue to see, in the figures and the repertoires on which popular culture draws, the experiences that stand behind them. In its expressivity, its musicality, its orality, in its rich, deep, and varied attention to speech, in its inflections toward the vernacular and the local, in its rich production of counternarratives, and above all, in its metaphorical use of the musical vocabulary, black popular culture has enabled the surfacing, inside the mixed and contradictory modes even of some mainstream popular culture, of elements of a discourse that is different -- other forms of life, other traditions of representation...

There are deep questions here of cultural transmission and inheritance, and of the complex relations between African origins and the irreversible scatterings of the diaspora, questions I cannot go into. But I do believe that these repertoires of black popular culture, which, since we were excluded from the cultural mainstream, were often the only performative spaces we had left, were overdetermined from at least two directions: they were partly determined from their inheritances; but they were also critically determined by the diasporic conditions in which the connections were forged. Selective appropriation, incorporation, and rearticulation of European ideologies, cultures, and institutions, alongside an African heritage -- this is Cornel West again -- led to linguistic innovations in rhetorical stylization of the body, forms of occupying an alien social space, heightened expressions, hairstyles, ways of walking, standing, and talking, and a means of constituting and sustaining camaraderie and community.

The point of underlying overdetermination -- black cultural repertoires constituted from two directions at once -- is perhaps more subversive than you think. It is to insist that in black popular culture, strictly speaking, ethnographically speaking, there are no pure forms at all. Always these forms are the product of partial synchronization, of engagement across cultural boundaries, of the confluence of more than one cultural tradition, of the negotiations of dominant and subordinate positions, of the subterranean strategies of recoding and transcoding, of critical signification, of signifying. Always these forms are impure, to some degree hybridized from a vernacular base.


Anonymous said...

Umm, wow. Just wow. I know I'm going to get a lot of flack for this, but 6 years ago I left the U.S. because I realized that I no longer understood my people.

I got tired of middle class blacks defending thugged-out posing as "culture". Since I obviously had no common cause with most of my non-black fellow Americans, I knew it was time to go.

This (along with a myriad other things) just justified my decision.

OhCrapIHaveACrushOnSarahPalin said...

Lol that video is really dl.

marzolian said...

Oh, man. What can I say? Those guys do more damage than a thousand Stephanie Graces.

chaunceydevega said...

@Anonymous--You may be the first Dick Slang expat. They literally drove you to leave America!

@Ohcrap-dl and outloud...but don't tell them that.

@Marzolian--they are killing us from within.


Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

The entire nation is devolving.