Tuesday, October 24, 2006

little red corvette

i guess i should've known by the way you parked your car sideways...

i don't fuck with terence howard. i have one major reason for this. no, it's not because that nigga was in
the whitest movie of the 21st century (not starring ben stiller, vince vaughn, et. al), crash. it's also not because i think he's a liar. (forgive me, but when that nigga starts talking about his daddy it sounds like an audition to me.) rather, what disturbs me most about howard's high yella ass were a couple of comments he made in two separate interviews. first, in the immediate aftermath of hurricane katrina, howard appeared on late night with david letterman. during the segment, howard chastised new orleans residents for choosing to wait for someone to help them rather than helping themselves. i think the stupidity of that remark is pretty self-explanatory.

if that wasn't enough to piss me off (it was), a few months later, howard appeared on the oprah winfrey show just prior to the academy awards. for those of you living under a rock, howard was nominated last year for playing a pimp turned rapper in the film, hustle and flow. during this interview, an ardent howard tried to explain the interiority of his character, dj. in a performance reminiscent of the dialogue of his daddy, howard looked winfrey in her eyes, and seemingly pleaded with her to understand the fictional character. he told winfrey, as he'd told others, that the reason he decided to play this particular pimp was because this portrayal wasn't stereotypical. and he went on and on... though i don't have a direct quote of howard's bullshit, i believe what else he said can basically be summed up like this: can you imagine what it must be like to have to force the person you love to go out and have sex so that you all can live, eat, etc.? winfrey, as was expected, didn't take her guest to task, or at least ask a rather simple follow-up question that might've compelled howard to recognize a slight flaw in his logic.

all winfrey had to say: [but] can you imagine what it must be like to not be able to transfer your oppression on to another body? but, of course, she simply nodded.

i guess i must be dumb...

this post really isn't about howard, or his intellectual sloppiness. i've my own assumptions about most actors and hollywood, but that's neither here nor there. although this is a prime opportunity, this entry also isn't a lament on winfrey's seeming lack of desire to ask those hard questions. i understand that's not her steez. besides, she's homies with halle make me feeeeeellll goooood berry. so whatever. rather, i chose this lil anecdote as a point of entry. see, playa, i'm trying to break into the pimp game.

it works out quite nicely for me that howard made the above statement on a show based in chicago. for, the bishop magic don juan is one of the most famous pimps in the united states. and where can you find the verdant bishop when he's not rolling with the d-o-double-g? why, the west side of chicago, of course.

bear with me, this will all blend perfectly by the end. i hope...

i guess i shoulda closed my eyes when you drove me to the place where your horses run free...

a few months ago, i was working when i heard some obviously suburban white kid and his girlfriend or whoever describe the shoes he was trying on as "pimp." this comment slightly perturbed me, and then i thought about hip hop culture and not only how it has been irreversibly sucked into the superstructure, but also the way certain behaviors within the culture influence how we talk. then i realized that said white dude's use of the term "pimp" was completely and utterly apposite. so maybe i shouldn't really be all that mad. don't follow? well, here's a brief etymology of the word...

though the specific origins of the term are unknown, the word has apparently been in use since the 1600s. initially, the word pimp was used as we commonly understand it: someone who procures a sexual partner for another. however, the term has also been linked to the french, "pimper," which means attractive in dress. thus, maybe homeboy meant the latter definition.

but it was saturday night, i guess that makes it all right...

part of me, however, really doubts that. for me, a young white kid with sagging pants and an oversized baseball cap calls a pair of shoes "pimp" because he wants to employ the latest slang he heard on his ipod care of 50 cent. and that troubles me.

incorporating the term pimp in one's daily vernacular isn't the only way we see this aspect of hip hop culture in our everyday. monday, the chicago nightclub, transit made local news when rachel durchslag of the chicago alliance against sexual exploitation and others decided to protest their upcoming halloween party. protesters want to get promoters to change the name of the event, which is the club's 6th annual pimp n ho soiree. not surprisingly, pictures of last year's party show mostly white partygoers.

'cause i felt a little ill when i saw all the pictures fo the jockeys that were there before me...

though i understand durchslag and other's concern about the overall portrayal of women at such events, i am also troubled by this perpetual appropriation of what is allegedly black culture. and in this instance, as it is in hustle and flow, black women get the shaft. (i totally intended that double entendre.)

the implicit acceptance of this apparent aspect of black (read: hip hop culture) isn't present in our society by us using the term with little to no criticism (i don't think they don't mean "borrow" when they suggest "pimping your ride."), or by witnessing yet another instance of really tasteless white performativity; it's not just the mainstream acceptance through mtv shows, the oscar nominations of both berry and howard (films both written and/or produced by whitey), and 3-6 mafia's win for best song--let us empathize with a pimp because, as both howard and the song say, the nigga has it real hard. it's the fact that this, one of the most deleterious aspects of hip hop culture, is the thing continually extracted and used most. it's happened before, and it will happen again.

a body like yours ought to be in jail. 'cause it's on the verge of being obscene...

straight thuggin' ghetto parties and pimp and ho joints continually get chalked under the category of "corny white people" acting silly, i'm just keeping tabs on the variety of ways they (un) consciously continue to hate us. pre or post civil rights movement, why does it seem that my nigs provide the spectacle? granted, such parties aren't lynchings, but either way, at the center of white people having fun, is (y)our body; and that shit--as always-- is at (the) stake.

[they] gonna run your body right into the ground...

language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting post . . . gave me a lot to think about. I'll definitiely come back around to read more of your thoughts.

25/10/06 10:22  
Blogger Harold Gibson said...

One sure sign that you are middle-aged is when you are often unable to decode the vernacular in modern conversation. How many times must someone say to me "What up pimp?" before I stop looking behind me expecting to see circa mid 70's Max Julien reincarnated (white fur and all) walking in behind me?

A radio host who I hearing is growing in popularity in the Negro community, Michael Baisden regularly refers to clergy men (who every heard of clergy women) as "pimps" in the pulpit.

I am still not sure I get why anyone is angered when little white boyz adopt the persona of their black singing rapping idols. For is any less authentic when the suburban black children adopt this "hard" persona with as much exposure in some cases as their white counterparts?

Now about what makes a great black performance in celluloid what African American actor post Sidney in Lillies of the the Field and maybe Denzel's Glory has ever been honored with an Oscar for playing something other than a black stereotype?

26/10/06 03:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't know who i love more, harold or summer. ok, of course it's summer, but harold you just made it to my list. pimps in the pulpit(!!)

sum sum, this is brilliant, as usual.

l, rrrrrr

28/10/06 18:12  
Blogger Jdid said...

the problem really starts with us and why we meaning hip hop and black folk promote thuggish and pimpism as desirable traits. and dont give me the we just telling the truth and telling it like it goes down on the streets ish. they straight promoting it. its cool to be hard and thuggish its cool to be a pimp.

and of course white folk trying as always to steal the essence of cool from us will misappropriate that crap.

as for Oprah I guess the only one she asks hard questions of was Luda.

great post by the way.

6/11/06 14:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so, jdid, what does pimpin and thuggin have to do with "the essence of cool" exactly?


7/11/06 12:11  
Blogger summer m. said...

@shana: thx for stopping by.

@harold: oh, how i've missed you.

@jdid: thx for hollering. check rrrr's last comment.

@rrrr: thx, homie.

8/11/06 00:27  

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