Monday, December 3, 2007

Actors, Clowns, and Nerdy Black Women

Someone once posed the question: Why do we have actors and comedians for spokepersons? Other countries had Aristotle, philosophers, etc.

I wondered about that too. The only thing I can think of is this: Our mainstream media 'greats' are sportspeople, actors, and comedians. They are the one who stand out to the world in the general public "representing" the black community.

Also, usually the well educated ones don't usually speak in the same way that many BP do. You won't find an educator, a lawyer, etc speaking with words like 'crunk' 'whadup doe?' 'know what am sayin?' etc. The ones who really mastered this type of talking are the actors and the comedians.

This kind of reminds me of two things.

I know that Creole is a funny language. Its with a lot of imagery and otomatopias and sure made me laugh to hear it. To hear someone called "pied atais" (barefeet on the ground), and one doesn't get overwhelmed with something one gets 'jus au dent!' up to the teeth! A crippled person is a 'kokobe' etc. Its lots of imagery and allegory way of speaking. One can say its like poetry, music or some form of art.

But its not the sound of some intellectual analysis. The intellectuals from the Creole speaking world would probably be found speaking French instead. A more analytical language maybe?

The other thing this reminds me of is Moses and Joshua. Moses was a great leader for his people. With the help of God, he single handedly led a people out of bondage out from a whole other country! He then led them through the dessert and onto Mount Sinai. But the people were nervous and timid around him. He seemed to them ....too great. They prefered Joshua who was "one of theirs" (i.e. who probably knew how to talk 'their language')

And I think these two scenarios are at play in the African American world. The Actors and Comedians can speak the people's tongue and people can feel at ease. Ah, I remember one lawyer who also did the same, "if the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit!" Remember that one?

Whereas the intellectuals among them, perhaps because they needed a "dryer" language of analysis in order to organize, analyse, interface between the BC and the general populace, and protest things, had to resort to a different way of speaking -and perhaps THAT has alienated folks.

So, what to do? What's the solution. Well, me being a religious person, I say look to the Bible! When Moses was ruling, upon the advise of his Father in Law, Yethro, made leaders of 10, leaders of a hundred, and leaders of thousand. Each one fit for his group.

Well, I put that on the side. Until something happens what of the 'nerdy black woman'? Those among the 'mass' but who don't speak ebonics or the like? Are they doomed never to have their leader of hundred? Are they outcasted until its officially recognized (by the NAACP?) that its okay to be like us? lol. don't know. Just mild ranting.


Anonymous said...

There is something which connects to this which the blogs seem to avoid facing head on: that there exists in the AA world a tremendous pressure militating against self-refinement and education. This pull is incredibly entrenched and pervasive; I personally know people who struggled with it and suffered because they wanted to get an education and not be part of "ghetto" culture. But there you have it: AA public figures are comedians and clowns, whereas those public figures who leave pop culture and pop culture slang behind are seen by many as almost white. In fact, I believe that this pull is probably the most debilitating internal force in AA culture today. Granted, the mass media almost glorifies this element and plays a significant role in perpetuating it. But someone's watching!

Also, I don't think that AA pop culture slang is analogous to criole. There is a sophistication, a nuance to true crioles (including non-black crioles such as Yiddish) which can be used to cleverly and colorfully make a point; someone can express themselves intelligently in criole, using the phrases and tone for emphasis. On the other hand, AA's who express themselves intelligently are practically forced to break away from ebonics!

Tania said...

Girl, you have deep thought processes for real! all I can say is that for me I am who I am and I don't need to be validated by any community. I let that go a long time ago and the older I get the more I don't care to be defined, but I do understand the dilemna.

Mes Deux Cents said...


I talked about this is a post which I believe you commented on, that there is more than one African America.

I don't speak in slang and neither do the people I associate with. So a celeb speaking slang just turns me off, especially if a company thinks that is the way to get me to buy their product. In fact it's likely to have the opposite effect and turn me off to their product.

So I think that marketers in this new century need to understand which African America they are trying to sell their product(s) to.


diva said...

I think mes deux cents hit the nail on the head: it is about product and marketing. The figure of black people as entertainment is part of global media- and though I have no issue with talented people using there talents it gives a narrow view of a whole community.

GoldenAh said...

We live in a time of the "Paris Hilton" celebrity. I think there used to be "public intellectuals", but they no longer get media coverage and probably have died out by now. My favorite authors were bell hooks and Orlando Patterson.

Nerdy Black Woman: hmm, yeah, I like that. We're out here.
I spent my teen years reading books and playing with computers. I'm almost sorry I did, but that was the environment I had available to me. I can't read as much as I used to.

We pretty much have to build our own reality.