Jesse Jackson Does Not Want You To Read a Book (but keeping watching BET!):
By now, you've probably seen the video for Bomani "D'mite" Armah's Read A Book (some of you may even remember reading about it on this site well over a year ago). Not surprisingly, the video has generated a fair amount of controversy, but it suprises me just how many people are throwing around the word "racist" when describing it. Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition are the latest to completely miss the point of the song, releasing this statement over the weekend:
"If Benjamin E. Mayes challenged us to reach for the stars, the not-a-rapper video "Read a Book" on YouTube takes us into the abyss. Billed as a satirical look at popular culture, a viewer is left with the distinct impression that nothing matters, that life is futile, knowledge fruitless, manners meaningless.
A common definition of satire is witty language used to convey insults or scorn. The video is plenteously scornful and insulting, but not of crassness. The video insults reading, personal hygiene, family values and frugality. "Read a Book" heaps scorn on positive values and (un)intentionally celebrates ignorance. The narrator is obviously illiterate, unkempt and disrespectful. So who takes his advice seriously?
The best Hip-hop is clever, with allusions to politics, history, great music and literature. Part of the fun is finding the hidden meaning. I was prepared to forgive the crude language and lack of creativity if there was as message encouraging viewers to read and otherwise conduct themselves responsibly. I was disappointed. Thesimplistic repetitive rhyme and tune made it clear that the creator had not taken his own advice, i.e. to Read a Book." Link to the full press release
If there was any doubt in your mind that Jesse Jackson had sold out to corporate interests, this would seem to settle the issue. By turning a blind eye to the minstrelsy of 99% of the videos that get played on BET and criticizing the one song that actually speaks out against some of the problems within rap, he's essentially giving the major record labels license to continue to perpetuate the stereotypes that have become a central theme in today's hip hop.
8/26/2007 8:28:29 AM posted by Fresh
Uhm... that is NOT the definition of satire. AT ALL.
Further down on that page is a definition that is more in line with Read a Book:
"Blending criticism and humor to expose a fault or problem; often used ironically."
By the way, thanks for coming through Jesse. I'm a fan of your show, great stuff on there.
8/26/2007 9:25:47 PM posted by fresh
Bomani does put out "real" music, too. His live show is pretty good, though I'm not sure if he has any plans on making it up to Minnesota. Here's his myspace.
Out of curiousity, Major, what'd you end up reading?
8/27/2007 10:08:05 PM posted by fresh
I never read Post Office. The description on Amazon says 'Post Office is the ultimate "I hate this job" story.'... I might have to go check that one out, I think I can relate.
I like James Baldwin's stuff. Going To Meet the Man was another good one if you're looking for more.
8/29/2007 6:46:58 AM posted by fresh
To reduce Spam on this site, I'm testing out Disqus.
Let me know if you like it/dislike it.