Two Words: Shut Up

September 13, 2005

First, a little context for those of you who don't listen to rap. Two Words is the title of a Kanye West song (my favorite, in fact). OK, read on…

When I first heard about Kanye West asserting that "George Bush doesn't care about black people!" on the air, I just rolled my eyes and didn't give it much thought. When I saw the footage for myself, I laughed out loud. He looks like a six-year-old that's trying to remember what mommy told him to say to the camera. The comment about the President is getting all of the attention, but you have to go back a couple of minutes to spot the real problem with his thinking.

Earlier in the broadcast, he said "I hate the way they portray us in the media." What the hell are you talking about, Kanye? Are you a looter? Do you shoot at rescue workers as they attempt to save lives in a crisis? Have you been freeloading off of others all of your life? I'm guessing it's "no" across the board, so who are you talking about when you say "us"? No one's talking about you. What do you have in common with the people in the Katrina reports other than skin color? And how can that one factor outweigh the significant behavioral differences? When I see Dahmer or Manson on TV, I don't think "Dang! I wish we weren't so fucked in the head." I don't pat myself on the back when I see Donald Trump and think "Wow. We sure know our real estate!" You know why? Because it wasn't fucking me!

A similar psychosis was displayed by Dave Chappelle when he did a game show sketch called "I Know Black People". There were a bunch of questions that led to humorous responses, but the final question to his contestants was "How can black people rise up and overcome?" I'll tell you how. Get rid of the mindset that leads to dumb questions like that one. I mean, Oprah is black and she's crazy rich and crazy responsible. The guys that always bother me for money and cigarettes when I'm getting gas at the Texaco are also black. There will always be some people that succeed and some that don't, so how is it even possible for black people in general to rise up and overcome? What is America supposed to look like when we "get there"? You'll never get a straight answer to that question. If you define a tangible goal for Americans, there's a good chance we'll meet it, leaving nothing to complain about. Unfortunately, complaining, pointing fingers, and demanding compensation are a way of life for a large percentage of black Americans. If people started taking responsibility for the way their own lives turn out, it would mean the end of an entire industry. We wouldn't want Jesse Jackson to have to go looking for his first job at his age.

In other celebrity moron news, I saw a snippet of a Green Day show recently where they were performing American Idiot. Billie Joe said something to the crowd about screaming so loud that every redneck in America would hear it. I assume that rednecks are the subject of the song, or at least interchangeable in his mind. It's fine with me if that's how he feels, but I wanted to ask the crowd, "If you're in a situation that really matters — a life or death kind of thing — who do you want with you? Billie Joe or a redneck?" I don't care if you're talking about something small, like getting bitten by a snake, or something huge like an enemy army marching into the U.S. I can't think of a serious situation where I wouldn't choose a redneck. Can you?

I like Kanye West's music (enough to buy one album anyway - fool me twice, shame on me), I love Chappelle's Show, and Green Day has been consistently putting out good music for over a decade. That just means they're good entertainers. It doesn't mean we should consider the words coming out of their mouths. In fact, it's probably safe to say that if an entertainer comments on an important issue and you agree with what they've said, you should reexamine your stance.

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