The troubling viral trend of the “hilarious” Black poor person
May 7, 2013

Charles Ramsey, the man who helped rescue three Cleveland women presumed dead after going missing a decade ago, has become an instant Internet meme. It’s hardly surprising—the interviews he gave yesterday provide plenty of fodder for a viral video, including memorable soundbites (“I was eatin’ my McDonald’s”) and lots of enthusiastic gestures. But as Miles Klee and Connor Simpson have noted, Ramsey’s heroism is quickly being overshadowed by the public’s desire to laugh at and autotune his story, and that’s a shame. Ramsey has become the latest in a fairly recent trend of “hilarious” black neighbors, unwitting Internet celebrities whose appeal seems rooted in a “colorful” style that is always immediately recognizable as poor or working-class.

Before Ramsey, there was Antoine Dodson, who saved his younger sister from an intruder, only to wind up famous for his flamboyant recounting of the story to a reporter. Since Dodson’s rise to fame, there have been others: Sweet Brown, a woman who barely escaped her apartment complex during a fire last year, and Michelle Clarke, who couldn’t fathom the hailstorm that rained down in her hometown of Houston, and in turn became “the next Sweet Brown.”

Granted, the buzzworthy tactic of reporters interviewing the most loquacious witnesses to a crime or other event is nothing new, and YouTube has countless examples of people of all ethnicities saying ridiculous things. One woman, for instance, saw fit to casually mention her breasts while discussing a local accident, while another man described a car crash with theatrical flair. Earlier this year, a “hatchet-wielding hitchhiker” named Kai matched Dodson’s fame with his astonishing account of rescuing a woman from a racist attacker. But none of those people have been subjected to quite the same level of derisive memeification as Brown, Clark, and now, perhaps, Ramsey—the inescapable echoes of “Hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wife!” and “Kabooyaw,” the tens of millions of YouTube hits and cameos in other viral videos, even commercials.

It’s difficult to watch these videos and not sense that their popularity has something to do with a persistent, if unconscious, desire to see black people perform. Even before the genuinely heroic Ramsey came along, some viewers had expressed concern that the laughter directed at people like Sweet Brown plays into the most basic stereotyping of blacks as simple-minded ramblers living in the “ghetto,” socially out of step with the rest of educated America. Black or white, seeing Clark and Dodson merely as funny instances of random poor people talking nonsense is disrespectful at best. And shushing away the question of race seems like wishful thinking.

Ramsey is particularly striking in this regard, since, for a moment at least, he put the issue of race front and center himself. Describing the rescue of Amanda Berry and her fellow captives, he says, “I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway!”

The candid statement seems to catch the reporter off guard; he ends the interview shortly afterward. And it’s notable that among the many memorable things Ramsey said on camera, this one has gotten less meme-attention than most. Those who are simply having fun with the footage of Ramsey might pause for a second to actually listen to the man. He clearly knows a thing or two about the way racism prevents us from seeing each other as people.


Now that you know this is a thing, please stop sharing these memes. Poor Black people speaking candidly about various serious incidents isn’t a hilarious joke.

This is a great article.

Gay TV and Me


How my life would be different if boys were kissing boys onscreen 40 years ago — like they are today.

The boys were kissing, I was crying, my friend was laughing at me. It was the evening of March 15, 2011, and during that night’s episode of Glee, Kurt and Blaine had finally kissed — full-on, mouth-to-mouth, no “tasteful” cutaways. A friend called to ask what I’d thought of it; when I answered the phone, I could hear the noises of his weekly Glee get-together in the background, with some celebratory woo-hoos added to the mix.

My own mood was different. The boys’ kiss left me in tears.

Read More

Reblogged from I'm the Most Horrible

It’s okay to critically analyze your pop culture as if it were literature.



Pop culture is culture. It IS literature. Every book you ever read for English class, every play and poem and short story, it once was new, and fresh, and contemporary.

Shakespeare was like the Whedon of his time (or the Kripke, or the Rowling, or the Moffat, whoever you like). People lined up to see his plays, they lost their everloving mind over his dirty jokes and innuendos, and yes, they even asked themselves, am I reading too much into this? Is all this really there?

And look, look, five hundred years later we still lose our everloving mind over these plays because pop culture is literature. It always has been and it always will be.

They teach you these skills of analysis and critique in school for a reason. Because they expect you to use them.

So go ahead. Pick apart your pop culture. Examine it from every angle. Dig through canon. Make theories. Read too much into things. It’s okay. You’re not just allowed to do this; you’re supposed to do it, because that’s the point of story: to engage, to inform, to inspire. It’s why we invented it in the first place.

I think the major problem here is that women were clamoring for “strong female characters,” and male writers misunderstood. They thought the feminists meant [Strong Female] Characters. The feminists meant [Strong Characters], Female.

So the feminists shouldn’t have said “we want more strong female characters.” They should have said “we want more WEAK female characters.” Not “weak” meaning “Damsel in Distress.” “Weak” meaning “flawed.”

Good characters, male or female, have goals, and they have flaws. Any character without flaws will be a cardboard cutout. Perhaps a sexy cardboard cutout, but two-dimensional nonetheless. And no, “Always goes for douchebags instead of the Nice Guy” (the flaw of Megan Fox’s character in Transformers) is not a real flaw. Men think women have that flaw, but most women avoid “Nice Guys” because they just aren’t that nice. So that doesn’t count.

So what flaws can female characters have? Uh, I don’t know. How about the same flaws a male character would have?

The World Talks Back to Nick Kristof


Over the past few weeks, New York Times journalist Nick Kristof has found himself in a bit of hot water with the blogosphere over two of his recent columns: the first, a piece entitled “In Iran, They Want Fun Fun Fun” and the second, “Africa on the Rise”. What the two pieces have in common is their attempt to show, respectively, Iranians and Africans as being “just like us.” In the case of Iran, that means portraying young Iranians as fun-loving people who–like most of the world–do things like have sex and use drugs. In the case of Africa, Kristof’s goal seems to be to show the economic opportunities that await foreign companies.

Read Jillian York break it down here.

Max Fisher had a good piece on the Atlantic about a twitter conversation between The Kristof and TMS Ruge (<3) on this same subject that was quite good.

Reblogged from DYNAMIC AFRICA


film about a group of men getting into shenanigans= “comedy”
film about a group of women getting into shenanigans= “chick flick”

film about a friendship between two men= “buddy flick”
film about a friendship between two women= “chick flick”

emotional film about father/son relationships= “drama” 
emotional film about mother/daughter relationships= “chick flick” 

film about a young man finding identity= “coming of age”
film about a young woman finding identity= “chick flick”





Levis Ballet Commercial

Well.. this the best ad for jeans I’ve ever seen..

Absolutely beautiful and extremely well-made commercial.

Who: Kim Li-Hoe and Lee Dong Hoon

Number: Levi’s Stretch to Fit Jeans 2012 Commercial, with the Korea National Ballet

Style: Ballet

Reblogged from CHECK IT, TROUTY!!!


what if there was a show where every character was gay and you had the token straight guy character who acted really stereotypical and was into cars beers and women and everyone was like OH STRAIGHT LARRY YOU’RE SO FUNNY AND STRAIGHT