Monday, July 30, 2007

What... the... ?

This "P.S.A" is one of the most mind-blowing things I've ever seen, and I personally saw it air on BET television about three days ago. I certainly don't have any commentary to offer--the video speaks for itself. No wait; I will say this: I can not believe this was on television in 2007.

Check out this video: Read A Book

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Daniel said...

So was it edited at all on BET? and does BET now stand for Black Educational Television?

Wishydig said...

Well my first question might reveal some of my density: why did you tag this under race?

Rhetorically I'm not sure how this piece works. Reading a book is pretty much the same as using deodorant and floss? So how does the PSA fit into this.

I'm all for encouraging people to read but at whom should the drive be aimed? Are teenagers likely to read because someone who uses 'fuck' tells them to? "Well books can't be that bad if the person who told me to read is cool enough to throw fuck around so eloquently!"

I'll watch it again but does the video actually give some argument for reading? Does reading do something for you? What about "Do a proof! Do a proof! raise the motherfucking roof!" as the next PSA?

OK. That's enough swearing for one comment.

Casey said...

Daniel: yep--it was bleeped appropriately.

Michael--in answer to your first question, note that I only ever tag under " 'race,' " ... never "race." But if that doesn't answer your question, I'm not sure I understand what you're asking...

The rest of your comment was right on... I kept saying to myself, if this is what it takes to get viewers of BET to read, nevermind!--it's not worth it.

But then that was the whole point: the video seems almost unbelievably condescending to its target audience (i.e., black people?). Is it possible for me to be offended as a person who, at the very least, wrote a dissertation chapter on race and "blackness?"

"Wear deodorant n*gga?" I mean, really? I'm just totally perplexed about this video--I want to think it's a conspiratorial joke on half-race-literate white people who actually subconsciously believe that some of this video might be redeeming... I dunno. Maybe "notarapper" is just kidding, playing the fool, wearing the minstrel mask?

Wishydig said...

BET is making some odd statements about it's target culture.

You've read all about the Hot Ghetto Mess issue right? How about the latest development: the name of the show is now We Got to Do Better.

Reginald Hudlin (head of entertainment for BET) says

The intent of the show is no different than what Bill Cosby is doing as he's going across the country and lecturing as he talks about the problems of the (black) community that we need to address.

Really? The intent is the same. He looks to entertain using stereotypes? When did intent become the same as rationalization?

I'm not saying the show is awful and needs to be stopped. I'm just saying it's pretty cheap to argue for it as a positive social force.

It's entertainment. It's not an important statement. C'mon. Take the criticism.

Casey said...

I hadn't read about "hot ghetto mess," but now I have... I have some thoughts, but none that I want to try to write down. They're more conversational kinds of thoughts, having to do with the distinction between "race" and culture and whether or not we can say with any degree of accuracy that something called "black culture" exists.

Davo said...

Wow---I'm uh, speechless.

Cathy said...

I'm breathing again. You young'ns thrash this out. I'm going to go read a . . . . OMG . . . . a . . . Oh, Lord have mercy . . .

Justin said...

You might be mistaking broad intent here for what could be largely individual artistic expression.

Viewed from the context of slam poetry or stand up comedy I can see where the creator might be coming from. This would be less specifically about race than perhaps one artist talking about the kinds of people who annoy him. He doesn't like talking to people who've never read a book or don't use deodorant so he's getting on people to do those things, hence the epithet. The confusion comes when people assume his style and method of delivery are pertinent to the core message. In some performance context "nigga" is a reference to individuals who may or may not be audience members and lacking significant racial implication; if I was at a rap performance the pluralization might refer to the audience as such and in many cases as an audience member would even include me.

That is largely conjecture, but it could fit. Even the reference to water exists in context to drinking alcohol. But I agree, it did make me do a double take and wonder as to the message.