Thursday, August 26, 2010

My latest post on What's so funny about Antoine Dodson?

One night, an intruder broke into the Huntsville, Alabama, home of Kelly Dodson and attempted to rape her. Her screams alerted her brother Antoine, who came to the rescue. The intruder escaped and in local news coverage of the incident, Antoine Dodson expressed his anger and issued a warning to the community. The resulting video of a young man frustrated by the violence in his community and his sister's near assault has reportedly generated more than 2 million hits, a Facebook page and a remix by Autotune the News seen below and available on iTunes.

I can't help thinking that Dodson's new-found popularity is not about shared frustration over crime or violence against women. On threads around the 'net, Dodson is branded "hilarious." But what is so funny about Antoine Dodson? Part of the Dodson meme is, I fear, about laughing at mannerisms that the mainstream associates with blackness, gayness and poverty. There is nothing amusing about a young woman assaulted in her home. And so, I worry that people are laughing at Antoine: his flamboyance and perceived gayness; his use of black colloquialisms, like "run tell dat," his grammar and accent.

I agree with Baratunde Thurston of The Onion and Jack and Jill Politics, who is quoted in a recent NPR report: "As the remix took off, I became increasingly uncomfortable with its separation from the underlying situation. A woman was sexually assaulted and her brother was rightfully upset. People online seemed to be laughing at him and not with him (because he wasn't laughing), as Dodson fulfilled multiple stereotypes in one short news segment. Watching the wider Web jump on this meme, all but forgetting why Dodson was upset, seemed like a form of ‘class tourism.’ Folks with no exposure to the projects could dip their toes into YouTube and get a taste."

I say it is cultural tourism.

True Blood Weekly Review: "I Smell A Rat"

Weekly podcast by Renee at Womanist Musings and me:

Listen to internet radio with TTBatMerlottes on Blog Talk Radio

Excerpt from weekly roundtable at Racialicious:

Quit Playing Games with my (Social Justice) Heart, Alan Ball

Thea: I guess I should be more upset and shocked that the whole Bill/Sookie love affair that started this entire show was engineered by Sophie Anne, but I’m not, see aforementioned Sookie rant. The whole “you’ve set our cause back” speech that Bill gave Eric, then when Compton Manor gets vandalised and Bill tells Jessica to restrain herself, even though it is “against their nature” made me growl…just because I don’t think it is fair that Alan Ball gets to say that the show is not an analogy for civil rights – when it clearly is.

And I said this last week but I just keep on feeling uncomfortable with the vampire/black people analogy (as it was intensely drawn this week) because if vampires are a cipher for black people, then the suggestion is that black people have violent natures they must control in order to walk among, the uh, living. I cared not for the burning cross. It seemed very cheap (and also who would vandalise the home of a brutal creature of the night? Talk about foolish) and especially rankled me in light of the slave plantation imagery we saw at Chez Edgington earlier this season.

Latoya: Yeah…the Klan burned crosses at night to disguise their activities. But since vamps walk at night, wouldn’t they burn crosses during the day? Or at least at dusk?

Tami: Thea, I agree. Ball’s claim that he is making no analogy between POCs or the gay community and vampires becomes more disingenuous with each passing episode.

I wish the show would make a commitment to go one way or the other. If you want to make the link to marginalized groups, then make it responsibly. I think True Blood could do that and still be a a cheesy, entertaining sexfest.

Joe: Why not just burn Vamp houses down during the day, a la season one? I guess bigots aren’t that bright. Maybe they should freeze crosses during the day. It would make as much sense as (literally, all) these plots are making.

Latoya: I think Ball is trying to dodge controversy by spilling the contents of a lot of different marginalized groups together. He (and the writers) seem to hope that by just making a grab bag of references, no one looks too closely at where the analogies fail, or the inherent references to make. In sum, they hope we drop off the face of the earth. That, or go back to heckling whatever Tim Kring is doing next.

Andrea: Sort of like Kring, he’s simply being irresponsible with his allegories about supernaturals and marginalization. But this hopscotch approach seems to be Alan Ball’s writing approach to too many aspects of this show.

Tami: ***POSSIBLE SPOILER*** (Following is info from the books that helps make my point. I don’t think it is terribly important, but in case anyone doesn’t want to know…)

One of the really interesting backstories in the Sookie Stackhouse book series is Pam’s. If I recall my lore correctly (Joe, let me know if I’m messing this up.), Pam was an English woman, chafing at all the restrictions placed on women in the Victorian era. In fact, she had slipped out for an assignation when Eric found her and turned her. Pam eventually relished being a vampire, because she relished moving from marginalised and powerless to powerful and immortal. That is an interesting dichotomy to explore. How do people marginalised as humans move in the world of vampires?

Joe: You are correct madame. She was, in the books, an incredibly independent woman from a time where women weren’t allowed to be so. Blah, blah, rebel in her time, blah Pam is awesome blah.

Latoya: *laughs* I see what you did there. And that was a good line.

Tami: We never get this kind of exploration, though. Instead Ball plays around the margins, inserting burning crosses and “God hates fangs” signs, only to play coy and pretend people are misreading him. The result is a product that is too often trivializing and annoying to boot.

Thea: A propos the vampire/marginalised group analogy, what does it mean that Tara has conflated all vampires with Franklin, when we have been told several times by several different characters that only close-minded hillbillies of low education and low moral character have prejudice against vampires?

Joe: I think maybe we’re supposed to be led to believe that Vampires, for the most part, really are dangerous. That’s why I think comparing a race of murders to actual groups of people that exist outside of the Sookieverse is not only counter intuitive to making you believe whatever point they’re trying to make (Lord knows what it is at this point), it’s dangerously irresponsible.

Latoya: Clearly, black folk are the real racists. Cue Sookie’s speech on tolerance for all in the next two episodes…maybe they’ll name the last ep “Go Tell It on Fangtasia.”


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