Firstly, I appreciate everyone who took the time to read and comment. Without the support, I would exist in but an echo chamber.
Of the many commenters who chimed in, Diedra struck me to the quick. She took exception with my use of ‘coonery’ in the piece and we exchanged a few mails discussing each other’s point of view. While I don’t agree with all her points, I do appreciate the spirit of her dissent. Her email is below:
It was around the time that Taraji P. Henson, Tyrese and a possibly drunk Ving Rhames took a Baby Boy sketch too far that the BET Awards lost me.
Before that, the show had been riddled with the chuckle-inducing–Aaron Hall trying breathe through his set with Guy; the mildly embarrassing but somehow digestible–Don Cornelius during the O’Jays tribute; and the applause-worthy–Jay Z performing “DOA.”
But the Baby Boy sketch made a show already failing to respectably honor Michael Jackson something that could only careen headlong into coonery. The kind of coonery that brought shame goosebumps to my skin up until Janet Jackson walked out on stage and showed BET and those who participated in this farce what grace and class and simplicity really looks like.
I understand Michael Jackson’s death threw a monkey wrench into their show’s plans. But you know what? Don’t one monkey wrench stop no show. They didn’t have to make some historic adjustment to acknowledge Michael’s passing; they merely needed to honor him; to gracefully acknowledge that his musical contributions were such that marking his passing was far bigger than anything that was scheduled to take place that night.
But they didn’t.
Instead, it was The Niggers Acting Up While Sometimes Acknowledging the Death of a Cultural Icon Who They Claim to Admire and Respect Show
Many spoke words of reverence, but they rang hollow. The energy of the show was of the macabre sort: Death was acknowledged, but not respected. Gravitas didn’t truly enter the building until Janet Jackson walked onstage and reminded people her big brother had died. The mood didn’t respect a legend’s passing until one song was sung in his honor.
But I don’t just lay the blame on BET, a network I’ve long known to expect little of. I found myself puzzled by the artists themselves. Beyonce often spoke of being strongly influenced by Michael, feeling as though she owed her career to him. It seems curious that while she had the time to collect her BET Awards and sing some forgettable medley, she did not have time to honor her idol with a song. She left that to Ciara, a dancer not known for her strong vocal abilities.
Where was Usher? Justin? Maxwell? Alicia? Where were the superstars?
Maybe they all offered to do a real tribute to Michael and BET balked, saying it’s the network’s way or the Santa Monica freeway. Maybe. But I doubt it.
For one night, they could not forfeit their opportunities to shine to honor a man they are quick to say was a driving musical force in their lives? Rather than show us their appreciation and celebrate this man’s work through song, they told us about it ad nauseum because, you know, it’s the thought that counts.
A pop icon who was, at times, the best of us, was dishonored by a network that is, more often than not, our worst.
Perhaps this was a job better left for MTV. Or Vh1. Or CNN. Or anyone else.
Let’s do as the man says.
This piece was originally posted on THE ROOT
Michael made us dance.That is an often-ignored fact as we try to grapple with the phenomenon that was Michael Jackson. For 80 percent of his life, he wasn’t merely famous. He was a megastar. Indeed, he rose to almost inconceivable heights of stardom, into such rarefied space that it could only be inhabited by the very peculiar and the personally uncomfortable.
Bubbles, Emmanuel Lewis, Neverland Ranch. Just a few bizarre plot points on the timeline of a life that became increasingly strange as the years went on. But the last 15 years, bizarre and troubling as they were, were not the full measure of the man. Those years and circumstances are a part of his myth; a part of his legend that we, at times, allow to speak for him. And in doing so, we forget. We forget Off the Wall and Thriller and Bad.We allow the bizarre behavior to obscure the greatness. Will the music he made be interred with his bones?
There will be plenty of time to speak to what Michael wasn’t, on who Michael wasn’t, on what Michael may or may not have done. Deserved or not, it’ll happen. But let us not forget that, once upon a time, Michael was the very best of us. He was young and black and handsome and charismatic. He was a talent who managed to have one of the great pop, rock and soul voices ever. And he wasn’t a bad dancer, either.
Michael Jackson’s brilliance, for those who saw it, was something unforgettable. No current celebrity can begin to fathom just how famous he was, and frankly, still is. Michael is on a very short list of people with global reach. Consider this as a measure of his fame: If your friends told you they’d never heard of Michael Jackson, you’d think they needed their head examined. A friend of mine, perhaps, tweeted it best.
“Well Michael Jackson broke Twitter.”
Still, his stardom did not matter as much as the fact that Michael made us dance.
My father tells a story of a workshop in which he was required to bring in something representative of his culture. Some brought in flags; others sacred books. My father brought in Off the Wall, still in its original album cover, beaten and bruised from many a nights sweatin’ hairdos out. This was no collector’s item; this was an artifact, for his generation’s zeitgeist. As he put it, “We were young and black and beautiful and everybody loved us.”
The man had eras of music which provided the soundtrack for so many lives; grandparents, parents, kids.
I’m not one who’s shy on the dance floor, but there are few artists who could drag me to it, broke-legged and thirsty. Plenty of folks like me are just marionettes when that drum beat for “Rock with You” comes on. What choice do we have but to shake our butts when that bass line for “Billie Jean” drops? Michael told us to just blame it on the boogie, and we did.
Anaesthesiology has to be the most thankless medical field.
Not too long ago, I had knee surgery and the anaesthesiologist was explaining the multiple ways the drugs could kill me which is a pretty harrowing prospect considering. Think about it: if you die mid-surgery, you’re probably the last one to know. If you die from the drugs, you’re probably the first one to know. In this case, my death would have been particularly troubling since the alternative to not having surgery would have been to limp around with floating cartilage in my knee.
As I sat considering my death options, something occurred to me: anasthaesiologists are the place kickers of doctors.
If they do they’re job correctly, it’s like whoop-dee-doo you got things going so the real doctors can do what they need to do. No one cares. But if they screw it up and kill you, there are lawsuits, other doctors throwing their masks down in disgust…’Oh come on Stojanovich! Get it together!’ That’s just terrible.
You know who doesn’t have that problem? Dermatologists.
They’re like the 3rd string quarterbacks who give the dummy signals from the sideline but still make a healthy living. No pressure, no real expectations. I mean, has a doctor been called out of bed in the middle of the night ever? Ever? I imagine it’s unlikley you’ll hear “Dr. Cassavetes, we need you down here stat!” That doesn’t happen. And even if, by some miracle it did, if any real problem went down, they’re kicking that up to a real doctor.
The lesson here? Universal health care.
Baby butts are small. Adult butts? Less small.
Why then are baby wipes gigantic, moist paper towels devoted to baby butt crack while the adult equivalent are little better than the moist napkins that come with a platter of baby back ribs?
I’m a baby wipe fan. Have been since the ’05-’06 season. They’re versatile; they’re not only are a welcome finish to seated bathroom moments but are also a far superior alternative to a beat down towel after a roll in the hay. In fact, it’s not a terrible idea to give yourself the once-over with a wipe pre-roll, just to make sure you’re squared away.
After dropping off my laundry the other day–I stunt saditty baby–I hit Walgreens for some household needs. In one of my generally worthless, quasi-green moments, I elected to buy the adult wipes, which are about a third of the size of a regulation baby wipe but are flushable.
That’s baby wipes’ one flaw: You can’t flush ‘em. I do anyway, but being on this responsible kick of late, I elected to go with the 42-count adult wipes.
Fuck kicks and fuck adult wipes. They’re tragically insufficient in both the bathroom and post-coital realm. If you want to be clean and not get filth on your hands, you’re using two, which is a waste.
I realize baby wipes are giant because there’s a lot more material to deal with. But adult butts, while better wiped post-movement, have more area to cover. If that’s not enough, our hands are bigger. And, being the guy I am, I don’t care to touch poop.
Can’t we find some butt-appropriate size in the middle?
And now, some loosely-related coonery
I just don’t get it.