Yo Momma! Viacom Lowers the Bar in Blackface
Gumby Dammitt! of Playahata.com
MTV is billing it as, "RAP UNPLUGGED, DEF JAM MEETS 8 MILE". The ads asks, "Can you throw the best smack in your crew? Do you want bragging rights in a battle of words? We're looking for the best hard-core street baggers out there! Are you an expert at "Yo Momma" jokes, amazing at witty comebacks, and so you "appear" to be between the ages of 18-22? Do you have creative, clean, unique and innovative material that'll blow us away?"
Aiight, so check this out. I get a call on the phone from Bruce Banter this past Saturday afternoon and he asks me if I’m hip to this new MTV show called “Yo Momma”. Bruce called cause he knows how the green one has done and still performs live standup, so bad comedy offends me. I was hip to the idea of the show and I had even just seen Wilmer “Fez” Valderrama promoting the show on Jimmy Kimmel during the week.
Now, when I first heard the idea for the show was being floated around, I was a bit alarmed. I know how the dozens go. Some jokes don’t need to be broadcast on television like it’s alright, and I knew it would only be a very brief matter of time before “Your mama is SO BLACK...” came out.
A very brief matter of time indeed.
No sooner had I hung up the phone and turned on the program when I see a corny ass white dude utter to a black competitor, “You’re SO BLACK...” Here we go. It’s okay to use the word nigg(a/er) because it ‘takes away the sting’ or it’s a ‘term of endearment between brothers’ or some other such justification nonsense.
Now it’s okay for white kids to tell “You SO BLACK...” jokes for the sake of television “competition”. Quite simply, this shit is unacceptable. Making someone’s blackness a punch line for public broadcast is nonnegotiable. It cannot happen. Forget the fact that the program is wack, with bum-budget production value. And forget that it’s so obviously cut together to make jokes heard a million times over in neighborhoods across Black America seem like they’re new and hilarious.
The question at heart here is, ‘At what point will people be offended by being made a joke?’ The question is also, ‘How much of one’s “culture” can Viacom co-opt for it’s own profit?’ Not to mention the question of profit versus respect. If you are going to co-opt my uniqueness and voice, then the least you can do is show me SOME LEVEL OF RESPECT.
From here on in, the aforementioned jokes shall be referred to as YSB (you so black) and YMSB (your mama so black). YSB jokes are bad enough when Black folks tell them in the privacy of common company. I have never liked them and I’m not one that such a joke would be aimed at. Blackness is not a punch line in my book. Such jokes come out of personal confusion and some level of self-hatred. Someone who doesn’t understand or even care about the psychological makeup of such speech truly has no business playing with it. So when you create such a program and add to the mix the little war on “political correctness” that so many seem content on waging, you have a pretty nasty mix. Next thing you know, there’s some corny White guy on MTV telling a Black person on television, “you’re SO BLACK,” pausing for effect, “you make Wesley Snipes look White.” WTF?! Yes, you read right. And if you didn’t find that offensive, then you should go and get your head shaved right now.
Your mama is SO WHITE, she gets sunburn from a 40 watt light bulb.
Your mama is SO WHITE, she makes Wonder bread look like PUMPERNICKEL.
Your skin is SO PALE, I can see your entire circulatory system.
Your mama is SO WHITE, her liver spots make her look like bleu cheese.
Your skin is SO PALE, snowflakes leave stain marks.
I wonder how people might react to such material? On television no less.
Released: April 24th, 2006
The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of Playahata.com.