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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Damon Wayans is Now the Leper and Scum of the Earth? 


Let's see if I need to create a del.icio.us tag for hypocrisy. (I could apply it to that KFI post I wrote about a year ago, I guess.)

Before I launch into this, let me state my views.
  • In my view, the U.S. government does not have the right to ban the use of the word "nigger" (although there are exceptions, not always enforced, for media outlets controlled by the FCC).

  • In my view, private organizations (such as the Laugh Factory) have the perfect right to ban the use of that word, or any other word such as "dessert" or "Madonna."

  • In my view, private individuals have the right to ridicule private organizations who impose such a ban.


And, of course, private individuals may oppose the whole thing on moral grounds:


When I first read the news reports about the incident, I assumed Richards had a bad slip of the tongue. A horrible slip, but nothing more. Then I watched the actual video on You Tube, and was revolted. I was stunned speechless. I've never seen anything so vile. I also saw his "apology" on Letterman, and it made me wonder what kind of crack the guy is on. It was no apology at all. And for the first time in my life, I actually agree with what Rev. Al said. Richards' career is over, and rightfully so.


However, this cracker respectfully disagrees with Jennifer on this particular topic. While I agree that the word "nigger" can be used in a damaging way, I also believe that it can be used in a non-damaging way.

With that, let's move to Damon Wayans, who took to the stage at the Laugh Factory and said the following:


Club owner Jamie Masada had imposed fines and a ban for any performers who used the word 'nigger' in the wake of Richards' tirade. But Wayans fell foul of it the moment he took to the stage and said: 'Give yourselves a big round of applause for coming down and supporting Nigger Night.'

'I'll be damned if the white man uses that word last,' he told the audience. 'This is part of our culture now... don't take that from us.' According to the LA Times, the actor used the word another 15 times during his 20-minute set, costing him a $320 fine.



In addition, Wayans has been banned from the Laugh Factory for three months.

Well, I don't know if Gloria Allred will represent the victims of Wayans, but there is some real outrage regarding Wayans' comments. From The Think and Racialicious:


Sorry Mr. Wayans, but for you to stand up and say that “this is part of our culture now”, I hope you never see the light of day with a trademark for the word “Nigga” in your hands. At this point, I understand why white people chastise blacks for being so damned hypocritical when it comes to this issue. Yes, it is hypocrisy.


This cracker isn't chastizing Wayans for hypocrisy. While there is legitimate debate over whether Wayans (and Richards) were funny, Wayans (and possibly Richards) were pursuing a long-standing form of comedy. Brian Christgau knows about the tradition:


Author: Brian Christgau
Date: Dec 6, 2006 09:24

This damn saga just keeps getting funnier and funnier! Where's Lenny
Bruce when we need him? Oh, that's right - he got driven to his own suicide
by being persecuted for saying dirty words, silly me.



And I return to what Paul Rodriguez said:


“Once the word comes out of your mouth and you don't happen to be African-American, then you have a whole lot of explaining,” Rodriguez told CNN. “Freedom of speech has its limitations and I think Michael Richards found those limitations.”


Well, unlike the racist Paul Rodriguez, it's apparent that the Laugh Factory believes that the limitations to freedom of speech apply to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, religious preference, sexual orientation, weight, eye color, and sports team preference. In that regard, the Laugh Factory was consistent in banning Damon Wayans from its premises for three months - a consistency that I have not, so far, seen from Gloria Allred, Jesse Jackson, and the like.

But I can still make fun of the Laugh Factory for making such a ridiculous rule. And Damon Wayans is probably laughing at the whole "sanitized comedy" movement also.

P.S. Direct from Malawi (credit Jenice Armstrong):


It's a word that people pay attention to. Maybe that's why comedian Damon Wayans, star of "My Wife and Kids," tried to patent it so he could affix the racial epithet onto a line of clothing. He knew it would sell.

It probably would in some parts of Africa, too. I'll never forget hearing how Philly's David Hale Sylvester, a personal trainer, was bicycling across the continent when he came across a store named "Niggas." It was a rickety stand with the letters printed on a sign.

When Sylvester asked one of the proprietors, "Whassup with the name, dude?" he was told, "P. Diddy. New York City! We are the niggers!" Sylvester tried to laugh it off, but there really was nothing funny about how hip-hop music had infected those misguided Malawi residents.



Incidentally, when will be ban people of all races from using the words "whassup" and "dude"?

Actually, that's easy to implement. It's called the "old uncool" strategy. Inasmuch as I'll celebrate my 45th birthday this month, I am qualified to speak on this strategy. Therefore, I will admit that I use the words "whassup" and "dude" with some frequency. This admission itself will cause millions of people under the age of twenty to drop the words like a bad case of acne.

My next project - the next time someone drives by with a radio set at 11 blasting rap, rock, or ranchera, I'll start my geeky dance. That'll shut'em up.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

Comments:
I’m not sure what you disagreed with me on. I never said the word should be banned. I said Richards’ outburst was vile and that he effectively committed employment suicide. There is a way in which the word can be part of a comedy routine, but it’s not what Richards did. It was a personal attack. I think Paul Rodriguez hit the nail on the head. It’s only culturally permissible when an African American says it. The same as only Jeff Foxworthy can get away with his redneck jokes because he is one.
 
I disagree with you on Rodriguez - as far as I'm concerned, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Some argue that black rappers' use of the words "nigga" and "ho" is vile.

I've created some del.icio.us links to a Saturday Night Live sketch called "Word Association," performed by Richard Pryor and Chevy Chase and written by Paul Mooney - extremely funny in an unsettling sort of way. Mooney now regrets using the word, by the way.
 
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