Sunday, November 30, 2008

Let them be artists!!!!

I was just in a discussion about the new show on Comedy Central, "Chocolate News". This seems like an ongoing discussion I'm having with my friends, with me being on different sides at different times.

Basically, the criticism of "Chocolate News" is that it reinforces too many Black stereotypes, and isn't thought provoking enough. I have raised these same criticisms of commercial hip hop today. I bring this up because I do understand this criticism and I feel it has its place. But I feel that its being used too often to generalize too many things.

There are claims that "Chocolate News" is not thought provoking and only reinforces stereotypes. I watched the episode from last Wednesday (11/26) and found it pretty interesting.

There was a skit about Nickelodian hiring a Black guy to do a TV Show. These are some of the questions posed that I'm sure are going on in many of our heads about many of these networks, including:
- why don't they have any Black shows?
- why do the few Black shows that they do have always seem to fail?

That's not to say that the show isn't above criticism, but just because a show has a skit with a Black person with gold teeth it doesn't mean the show can't be thought provoking. I feel like some are so quick to run away from certain labels (stereotypes) of our community that we do everything possible to avoid that label. So what's left - particularly in Black America - is that those of us who are ignoring these labels are unable to understand those of us who have these labels. I know there's a stereotype that Blacks LOVE fried chicken, but there do actually exist Blacks who like fried chicken. So to label any skit that shows an example of this as a reinforcement of stereotypes places a great limit on an artist's creative ability. The same goes for many other stereotypes that it seems like the moment we see one, we're turning into the police and calling an artist names.

These limited views of what's good versus bad reminds me more of how people like C. Delores Tucker and Tipper Gore attacked Hip Hop because it spoke of violence and contained graphic language, ignoring the actual content of the songs. Thats what I feel like is being done with "Chocolate News". I really wonder how many people who are criticizing the show are actually watching it, versus just seeing the commercials and saying "that's not right". What it really reminds me of more is an artist being called 'a sellout' or 'an uncle tom' for sharing his artistic vision.

I know that the show is not above criticism, and I have seen skits that I have been heavily critical of. But I don't like to throw around these trigger words like 'stereotype' without a more precise description of why they believe this.


poetess58 said...

Hey Thought,
I came to you by way of AJ's Revenge. I agree with you on the 'let them be artist's' point totally and my point is not to eliminate anything. I just want the writing for the show to get better. I like DAG's impersonations but his skits, to me, just don't translate or make the point often enough. He could use that fat man character in so many satirical ways and he misses it. but that is just a matter of writing. the character doesn't offend me the way he uses it does. the only character that made me want to fight him (lol I'm playing to stereotype now, right ) was precious wiggins, eye roll.
But I agree with you that just calling everything a stereotype and demanding a boycott is not the way to go either. enjoyed reading your posts. and for the record, I ignore those comments about people needing medical help cause I don't think it's meant that way and differing opinions make life so much more interesting.

Thought said...

haha, I haven't seen the Precious Wiggins character. I'll admit that there are some skits on the show that I have said, "ya know what, I'm not willing to give you the benefit of the doubt" and didn't even watch them. I mean, I've got to have my limits. The skit about the porn guy falls into this category. But at the same time I try not to criticize the ones I didn't see because I'm criticizing based on assumption. All I can offer is why I didn't watch the particular skit.

poetess58 said...

I hear you. You can watch them online. If you get a chance, please do and tell me what you think of Precious Wiggins. and YES that porn guy sucked, no pun intended. :)I'll admit that I have laughed at some moments during the commentary especially when he told Steve Harvey to stop with the suits. I think his commentary isn't a total dud but the interviews/characters seem to be the basis of the show. I like the set up with a bryant gumbel/tony brown-type host reviewing segments. Can you tell I still have hope for the show? I've been wanting to see something like this for a minute. here's a chocolate martini(well after work lol) to DAG translating his vision into more hits than misses.

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