Friday, August 11, 2006

MTV and 'social satire'

(This is a collection of my experiences from training. Start at the beginning for more information.)

I'm still recovering from this week, and I have a few difficult tasks ahead of me which prohibit an effective exchange of my experiences with your attention. For now, I'd like to just tag this article concerning MTV and 'social satire':

A new MTV cartoon depicting black women squatting on all fours tethered to leashes and defecating on the floor is drawing fire from several prominent African Americans who call the episode degrading.

I'd like to say abso-goddamn-lutely to the degrading comment, but there are those who feel this cartoon is simply satirical, and that critics have missed the context of this cartoon, which is a parody of Snoop Dogg's posse's strange attire. How on earth depicting black women as shitting dogs is appropriate social satire is beyond me, not to mention the fact that the cartoon appeals to a younger audience who doesn't even know what context means, let alone know the context of the cartoon was a strange sighting of a popular rap star. We've got your double-whammy reinforcement of genderism and racism in society, all wrapped up in a cute cartoony form with toilet humor. Grand.

I'm also halfway disgusted by one of the phrases used in the article:

A statement released this week by the Viacom Inc.-owned cable network, whose president, Christina Norman, is black, defended the episode in question as social satire.

Yes, she's black, so what does that fact change, and why include it? Why would her background somehow add or detract from the statement she supports? The implication is that, because the president of the network is black, she is qualified to speak for the black community on this racist cartoon, and her words somehow hold more value for this reason, or, since one black person said such-and-such about this issue, it then follows that it is a valid argument and raises dissent among the entire black community, when it is merely just another argument that anyone could make.

We are so accustomed to this type of logic when discussing perspectives of underrepresented groups. As an example, how weird for you would it be to read:

"Chris Smyr, who is a male, feels strongly about supporting women's rights."

Am I somehow not expected to support women because I am a man? Further, is it necessary to explain that I am a male to suggest that at least some males believe in sexual equality between men and women? And are we operating under any assumption of the male perspective that dictates one response to women's rights and not another? Not at all, and the descriptive term is nonsense. In general, there is no assumption of the male perspective, but there is for the black community in the article and often in other situations.

We're often fed this faulty notion of minority representation by the media, and it is important to remain cognizant of it.

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