Monday, June 07, 2010

No one on the corner has swagga like us...

Except these people apparently:

Now watch this one (you'll probably have to turn it up, b/c it's an old clip):

What are the similarities and differences between these two videos? What's your reaction to the first video? The second one? Are these videos racist? Racish? One one and one the other? Both neither? Why?

Let me know what you're thinking; leave me a comment.


  1. I couldn't even get through the second one.

    I don't think I'd call the first one racist. Stupid and annoying, but not racist.

    Did you catch the MTV Movie Awards? How would you classify Aziz's character Taavon?

  2. The first one didn't make me uncomfortable (until the dad squeezed the bottle's nipple just so, but that's a separate issue). The second one made me very uncomfortable and sad too.

  3. John C7:46 PM

    Had I wathced the first one in any other context I'm sure I wouldn't have even thought about it being racist. I would have found the second one deplorable under any circumstances. Should I think differently about the first one? I'm conflicted. When I'm conflicted about something I like to break it down to get things in perspective.

    First, what is the point of each? In the case of #2, to make people laugh at the expense of others, specifically by playing on negative racial stereotypes.

    In #1, to make people laugh using parody, specifically by the juxtaposition of what is cool or hip, performed by clearly uncool and unhip characters. As it turns out, what is hip and cool in this context is a music genre created and popularized by African-Americans. I've seen some of the other ads on this Toyota Sienna platform, and they all apply hyper-irony. No one thinks minivans are cool, and to try and convince people that the Sienna is the coolest minivan possible, the advertisers know they can't just come at you with "this minivan is cool." The goal is to pick the most anachronistic scenario possible.

    If rap was born of oppressed minorities in inner cities, then what could be more out of place than priveleged whites rapping about their suburban lives?

    It seems to me that the worst that one can say about #1 is that "black" music was coopted by a Japanese automaker to sell minivans to whites. Am I way off here?

  4. Anonymous10:12 AM

    The first is an example of self-deprecating humor, which I think is almost always funny. Here is another:
    This rapper happens to be of Indian descent, and he's making fun of the neighborhood I live in.

    I'm not sure the second was really intended to be sinister--from the description they were doing a kind of montage of different phases of American entertainment. But the whole black face thing is definitely inappropriate--I'll call the second one racish, the first one not.

    What do you think of the white dude in SNL who plays President Obama? Surely there's some makeup involved, but it doesn't seem as offensive as the second video.

  5. Anonymous9:16 AM

    The first video amuses me. It makes fun of white people in a way that is NOT socially appropriate to make fun of black people. Black is cool here and white is tragically unhip. As I'm also white and tragically unhip (and about to purchase a mini-van, sigh), I'm ok with it.

    The second is painful to watch as they adopt "black" some something entirely derogatory.

    Have you seen Bamboozled? It's a Spike Lee film with Damon Wayans playing a super smart preppy black guy at a TV network. He's basically a "token black guy" and expected to come up with a "black hit," but all of his proposals with successful smart black people are dismissed as in an attempt to get fired and released from his contract, he comes up with a black face show. If I remember correctly, it's black people in blackface. It of course becomes a HUGE hit, and he's horrified by the monster he's created. Anyway, it flipped blackface on its head in some interesting ways. I think you'd get a kick out of it.