Thursday, June 23, 2011

The 21st Century Political Minstrel Video Show

Some of my questions have been answered and new ones take their place. This is hopefully my last post on the political media connections to the traditional form of minstrel theater.

It is my exploration. If you don't know what minstrel theater is check out my prior posts on the subject:
Once again, this isn't about white people bashing. Minstrelsy is the mother of burlesque, vaudeville, stand-up comedy, slap stick, Bugs Bunny, Laugh-In and The Onion. It is also the foundation of social media defining a group of people with stereotypes, mis-information and hatred.

Minstrel theater is institutional racism that makes a profit at the expense of other people. It is a living laboratory of prejudice, class and power. It is not just a white/black dynamic. It is an uncomfortable, itchy culturally shared history.

For the record, there were black performers who willingly wore the cork. There were many people who refused.

There are African American performers today who wear the invisible cork and can't deposit money fast enough. There are other performers who refuse and still need two trucks to carry it to the bank.

I've selected this video as the 21st century representation of current political video minstrelsy:

I dogged it back to the source of TurnRightUSA where the creator is very proud and ecstatic that his video has had such as response.

The creator of the video has been supported with comments that ring with hate for anyone with a liberal/progressive point of view, of support of the message of the video and, "Why are black people upset? Have you seen a rap video lately?

Why This Video Is 21st Century Minstrelsy

1. Minstrelsy needs fear. It needs to generate anticipatory fear and make it tasty. Red demon eyes on stripper. That would be a check in the affirmative column.

2. Minstrelsy depends on the presentation of black people as the other. The other is presented as a fool, a grifter or a predator. The other is always lesser than the viewer.

Let's see now, two black fools with money and guns. Check to the second power.

3. Minstrelsy needs an Interlocutor acting as the Voice of Authority guiding the audience into the super secret black world, in this case, two black men and a white woman acting as a stripper.

Instead of proving the allegations the video spends a great deal of time invoking images of assorted criminals flashing across the screen.

It is just a buzzing repetition over and over as our modern day Mr. Tambo and Mr. Bones get busy with a bucking azz in hot pants wiggling in anticipation.

4. That is also a feature of minstrel theater. Sex and violence. The early minstrel shows before E.P. Christy were loaded with stereotypical sex and violence; with black men going stone cold crazy over white women.

Let's see, AK-47, check, flipping fanny being stuffed with money, double check.

5. The big finish is a call to action. Support the one (white) man who can deliver you from evil, skanky stripper women running for congress and gangsters who threaten to take our country.


There will be much more sophisticated political videos to come in the current election cycle. There will be more trashy ones too.

If the video or political media messages needs racism, sexism and stereotypes to convey their point of view then yes, they are partying like it is 1849.

All I'm asking thinking people to do is look and see if those communications are applying the minstrel template to sell their message. Sometimes it will be tricky but the template will rat them out most of the time.

Like I said, this is my opinion. I based it on my readings, research and my own understanding of my experiences as an African American woman. For some of you that isn't enough.

To borrow a well known Twitter hashtag from Mrs. Erin Kotecki Vest, #suckit

In a few days or weeks, there will be another video that will make this one look like cotton candy. How will you handle it?

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