Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Digital Laughter

The video is so ubiquitous, I won't even bother linking to it.

The young man's face adorns tee shirts now, and his most likely unintended catchphrase is sweeping the nation. It provokes giggles and snickers whenever it's uttered.

"They raping everybody out here."

Most of y'all have seen the video of that young Southern man with his wild hair wrapped in a red bandanna earnestly proclaiming just how dangerous things are in the projects. His sister has just explained to a somewhat stunned reporter that she awoke to find a strange man in her bed attempting to sexually assault her, and her excited brother is letting the world know that things are out of control.

He speaks with a somewhat effeminate tone, and his mannerisms are over the top. That, combined with his dress, hairstyle and hyperbolic utterances, has captivated folks across the Internets who are lining up to laugh at him. I've had numerous people forward me the video, and I've seen it on several social networking sites. There is no doubt, that this young man is the latest to enjoy an extended 15 minutes of fame thanks to viral video.

I must admit that I understand why folks find the video humorous. The animated monologue is funny, and it doesn't hurt that the speaker doesn't seem to be taking himself all that seriously despite his boisterous and distressed tone. I'm pretty sure there was a twinkle in his high, I mean "eye", as he spoke to the shocked white female reporter. I'd even be willing to wager that he wanted to see just how crazy he could be before they turned the camera away.

But, I wonder if most people got that nuance. Hell, I wonder if I just imagined it and what I really saw was just a sad commentary on the lives of folks with little education and little hope. And if that's what I was watching, then I'm curious about what's so funny? To be honest, I got a sick, sinking feeling in my stomach watching the young man make his comments to a news crew, and wondered if they would have been eager to run a similar rant delivered by someone of a different hue.

It seems like people are laughing at this young man because he doesn't know how to act. And while I'm in no position to throw stones considering my glass abode, I feel it's incumbent upon me to raise the issue of whether this is really who we want to be. I mean that "we" in the sense of black folks, and humans in general.

Humor in the digital age seems to be about laughing at people who don't fit the norm. Folks can't make up their minds whether they want people to be original, or whether they want them to fit in seamlessly with the herd. We laugh at folks when they fail to behave "properly", while not bothering to consider how many situations there are where we would look just as foolish.

I'm not trying to preach, just trying to make folks think about why they are laughing. There are all kinds of humor in the world, but just because something makes you laugh doesn't make it funny.



Anonymous said...

I'm not laughing with him or at him it's just funny and truth be told he was the one he did it. So he basically brought it on himself.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous WTF? nice victim blaming ass hole

I avoided watching the video because I failed to see how someone being emotional discussing the attempted rape of his sister could be funny. But I just watched it so I could respond knowing what everyone is talking about.

do people not understand? He stopped a rape in progress.

I seem to find fewer and fewer things humorous as I learn more about the world and privilege.

Anonymous said...

How the hell am I 'victim' blaming asshole?!! At least he's getting something out of it unless the MANY times the media finds the most ignant black person.

Raving Black Lunatic