Author Topic: WHERE'S DAVE CHAPPELLE WHEN YOU NEED HIM?  (Read 2957 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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WHERE'S DAVE CHAPPELLE WHEN YOU NEED HIM?
« on: September 21, 2009, 12:43:13 pm »
"Where's Dave Chappelle When You Need Him?"

http://www.esquire.com/features/thousand-words-on-culture/obama-and-race-100
9?click=main_sr

Nobody wants to hear it, but this fact is too important to ignore: So far,
the first African-American presidency has been one of the worst ever for
African-Americans. The economic crisis has predominantly hit non-white
working class men; the collapse of the auto industry is threatening to
destroy the basis of the Midwestern black middle class. Key matters for
African-Americans languish < the over incarceration of young black men
that makes a mockery of American justice being the number one example.
Government aid? That goes to bankers in Connecticut. If the President were
white, there would be riots. In this contradictory atmosphere < pregnant
with the tension between symbolism and reality < the Henry Louis Gates Jr.
scandal has landed with a force out of all proportion to what may or may not
have happened in Cambridge. While the bizarre story of his arrest in his own
home may seem like an anomaly, it has emerged from a deep national confusion
evident everywhere in popular culture. Call it the Obama Discrepancy: Race
is much less prominent as a subject while its effects are no less toxic.

Network television has somehow become even whiter since the inauguration, a
nearly impossible feat. The Game is gone. Everybody Hates Chris is gone. In
May, the Congressional Black Caucus sent a letter to the networks wondering
why the Sunday morning talk shows weren't asking any of them to the grand
festival of pompous palaver. Fred Armisen does blackface nearly every
weekend on SNL, and the main objection to his performance is that he's not
objectionable enough; he has no bite, no edge. To make matters worse, the
first post-election crop of new shows starring African-American characters
coming out this fall is dreadful. Cleveland, the black spun-off character
from Seth MacFarlane's The Family Guy, loses every molecule of his funniness
the moment he leaves Quahog. "We have a black president," Cleveland's new
friends say. "It's about time we had a black friend. We can talk to him
about the President." Fox's second offering in the we-have-a-new-president
line is Brothers. It's just another dumb sitcom, but I guess I hoped the
political transformation of the recent past would leave some mark. Nuthin'.
Obama offers America a new model of black male power: become a lawyer, be
nice to everybody, marry a good woman, be loyal to her, fight hard, and
eventually you will be in charge of whether to blow up the world with the
push of a button. The model of black power in Brothers? Play football well
and your brother might open a restaurant. The comedy in Brothers is
terminally dated; the jokes deflate before your eyes like a soufflé when the
oven's been turned off unexpectedly.

One could argue that since the creators behind both Brothers and Cleveland
are white, the shows never really had a chance: white people have never
known how to talk about race, hiding their shame and fear behind silence or
awkwardness. But African-Americans are beginning to retreat from race as
well. Chris Rock < half-comic genius, half-prophet < has been keeping busy,
and quiet, with a documentary about the culture of African-American hair.
Dave Chappelle remains in hiding. Tyler Perry's oeuvre is, essentially, one
long-running, feel good "yo momma" joke. The kind of monumentally new,
staggeringly fresh hip-hop album the Obama Event seems to cry out for has
not emerged. The Wire proved that virtually all the best actors in America
are African-American. Why is Idris Elba not doing Othello on Broadway right
now?

I grant that the situation is tricky. Now that an urban African-American
male is the world's most powerful person, the cultural symbols of race and
disenfranchisement have become much more complicated to negotiate. The
social context has been pulled out from under even the most sophisticated
iconography. Take the case of Kehinde Wiley, one of my favorite new painters
from the past decade. His most famous portraits present hip-hop stars in
scenes culled from the Old Masters: Grandmaster Flash holding a scepter,
Ice-T as Napoleon. His contrasts between the European and the
African-American modes of projecting power are slippery and fascinating. Or
rather they were. Now that Obama wears a crown, Wiley's work has moved from
art into the realm of the art-historical. And he's only thirty-two. The
problem is that every day, just by his existence in power, Obama makes race
seem less relevant. Take any of his major decisions, good or bad. Iran?
Closing Guantánamo? How have any of them been shaped by his race? The
quantity of melanin in his pigmentation has not meaningfully affected the
world. All of the best African-American comics used to do bits about the
First Black President. It was a hilariously preposterous concept even a few
years ago. Eddie Murphy imagined him giving all his speeches on the run to
stay a moving target. Chris Tucker thought he wouldn't bother with
bodyguards and just pack his own gun. Rock did a regrettable feature length
film on the premise (Tag line: "The only thing white is the house"). To me,
Chappelle's Black Bush was the finest of them all and the funniest skit in
the whole show. ("Stankonia has said they're willing to drop bombs over
Baghdad.") But last November, the world called their bluff, and the color of
Obama's skin doesn't make a damn bit of difference in the daily business of
running the world.

It's easy for Eric Holder to say that America is "a nation of cowards" for
not talking about race. He's the first African-American Attorney General in
history, a figure of transcendence from the nausea and awfulness and
brutishness of quotidian experience. Imagine a New York City subway car if
it weren't filled with "cowards" but instead with honest and frank
discussion of what everyone is really thinking. No one would get to work.
Everyone would be murdered by the end of the ride. So why are we forcing
Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley to have a beer together at the White
House? Surely, this small gesture isn't going to accomplish anything and has
to be one of the more preposterous, awkward bits of political theatre to
emerge from recent media cycles. A little chat is not going to deal with the
reality that a short, grey-haired and somewhat fragile old man was led out
of his own house in handcuffs for absolutely no good reason. No. We need
artists and entertainers to confront the nastiness that the rest of us don't
want to confront. The difficulty and confusion of the present moment are
bursting with potential. Let's not waste it.


Read more:
http://www.esquire.com/features/thousand-words-on-culture/obama-and-race-100
9#ixzz0RZvEV5PR

Offline bluezulu

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Re: WHERE'S DAVE CHAPPELLE WHEN YOU NEED HIM?
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2009, 12:54:46 pm »
Dave Chapele and President Obama would both say that you expect too much from me. I mean symbols they both are but the world is still the world and more of us need to follow their examples or make our own. But 11/4/08 wasnt a day that a great off on switch was turned to the on position and every thing was supposed to be all good in the world of black folks. Damn less then one year in? I secretly predict with one year left in his second term Obama is going to be as tired of black folks as he is whites. Going back to Chicago...hell naw. Let me retire to Hawaii and leave me the hell alone.

Offline jefferson L.O.B. sergeant

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Re: WHERE'S DAVE CHAPPELLE WHEN YOU NEED HIM?
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2009, 01:01:34 pm »
Where is THE BOONDOCKS?

Obama's candidacy and ultimate victory is a godsend of which any Black social critic would dream for. In the face of this there is absolutely nothing from Mcgruder.

It would be the greatest season just by default given the elements that are now present.

Offline bluezulu

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Re: WHERE'S DAVE CHAPPELLE WHEN YOU NEED HIM?
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2009, 01:31:54 pm »
How he said basically that Obama isn't black, I am not hopeful on getting much from McGruder. Season 3 scripts are in so it should be soon.

Offline Vic Vega

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Re: WHERE'S DAVE CHAPPELLE WHEN YOU NEED HIM?
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2009, 02:22:08 pm »
Obama is the one Negro alive that Macgruder can't sneer at without looking like a Tom. I'm sure this turn of events has him utterly confused. The whole "he ain't Black enough" bit revealed the blind spot in his logic. Guys very much like Tom Dubois are RUNNING THE f*ckING COUNTRY now. Where the heck does that leave Huey Freeman except on the wrong side of history?

I was at a restaurant in Harlem yesterday full of church folk and to segue into the comedy portion of the evening they showed a clip of Fred Armisen's Obama doing a version of "Put a Ring On It". Nobody was shocked or offended. It was more like "Who's he? He's kinda funny". Nobody's watching SNL anymore so nobody cares what Armisen does.

Guys like Sinbad and Wayne Brady would probably have as much comedic insight in Obama as Chris Rock would.  Maybe more.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2010, 02:55:19 pm by Vic Vega »

Offline Battle

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Re: WHERE'S DAVE CHAPPELLE WHEN YOU NEED HIM?
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2009, 04:20:36 pm »
It's easy for Eric Holder to say that America is "a nation of cowards" for
not talking about race. He's the first African-American Attorney General in
history, a figure of transcendence from the nausea and awfulness and
brutishness of quotidian experience.


I hope Mr. Holder's investigation of the C.I.A.  leads into the agency being completely dissolved.