If you use the internet and you’re unfortunate enough to know or be the type of person that enjoys laughing at sadness and failure, then you have probably seen the Antoine Dodson video. You know the one, the “They rapin’ errbody up in here” video.
Now, I’m no hypocrite. I’ve done my fair share of internet video forwarding. Most of them are fight scenes from bad old Indian kung-fu movies or theme songs from long forgotten cop shows. I don’t normally get involved with the more popular trends, or memes as they are now known. But I have to admit, I was at the very beginning of this Antoine thing. I posted it the very day it occurred. And I didn’t post it and tell my friends how hilarious I was, no. I posted it because I was saddened by its existence, embarrassed for those involved, and both saddened and embarrassed by the fact that it was from Alabama.
But my sense of pride and shame is no match for the internet, because the World Wide Web LOVES a good display of ignorance. The video took off and became one of the most popular memes ever. Some guys took it upon themselves to create a music video from the interview and it generated enough revenue to help buy Dodson and his family a house. He even ended up performing the song live for an audience at the B.E.T. Hip Hop Awards (or something like that, I don’t know—Hip Hop is dead).
I am cut from a cloth that holds Public Enemy, Malcolm X, and Spike Lee in higher esteem than Tyler Perry, Tyra Banks and The Black Eyed Peas. I believe in a sense of cultural pride that has to constantly be uplifted and fought for because no matter what THEY say, racism is NOT over. People like Dodson still feed into the commonly held stereotype of the loud, ignorant country black man. And sure, Dodson IS a loud, ignorant country black man—but he’s the exception, not the rule!
I also believe in working hard at whatever it is you love until you get what you want out of life. Me? I consider myself an artist and a writer so that’s all that I do and all that I really care about. Sure, I hold down the occasional day job so that I can try and keep the power on but my love is to create. It’s not easy. In fact, it has been a rough year for me. I won’t go into it here, but if you see me and want to ask me about it, feel free.
My point is, if you’re me (or you) and you spend 20 years grinding and hustling for your dream and you see that some guy gets to buy a house based SOLELY on his inability to speak properly in public, it might knock you back a little. You might begin to reevaluate your life. You may wonder why the NAACP and GLAAD didn’t form a secret uneasy alliance to have this flaming embarrassment assassinated before it got this far.
And, what about the Jersey Shore people? They’re a bunch of loud, orange freaks and they get to live their dreams on television in front of the entire world forever. And what did they do to earn this? What did they do to deserve it? Nothing but be themselves—loud, orange freaks.
Why do women keep marrying Charlie Sheen!? I haven’t managed to have a decent date in 15 years, and Sheen keeps getting married, knocking these dames up then getting drunk and coked up, calling them nigger and trying to kill them with hammers. I mean, we all know the real answer thy keep coming back. If I made 2 million dollars a week, I’d probably live just like Sheen. I guarantee that every girl I’d ever asked out would immediately say yes if I had 50 million dollars lying around, even with the knowledge that I chased the last girlfriend around a Toys R Us with a broken Boones Farm bottle. Sad, ladies. Really sad.
I let Dodson bother me for a little while, then I stopped and really thought about it. Good for that guy. He managed to get his family out of the ghetto. Good for him. Was it hard work or philosophy that did it? No. It was the fact that he became a punch-line—but he managed to turn it into a positive. Good for him. I can’t base my success or failures on another person’s triumphs. That’s not how it works!
As I mentioned before, it has been one incredibly sucky year for me so far, but the one thing I think I have taken from all of it is a new found patience. I have found a new sense of calm in the face of the rampant suckiness around me. It feels good.
So, if you were one of the people that contributed to the success and popularity of the Auto- Tuned rape attempt, I have found peace with you. If you are one of my loyal fans that looks forward to meeting me here in the back of the paper, I thank you once again. And if, by some small chance, you are Antoine Dodson and you are actually reading this—good start. Next, try Roots or Invisible Man. You’re in the public eye now. Don’t embarrass yourself.
Just—just, tone it down a little.
J’Mel Davidson is the founder of a local improv comedy troupe called The Feminist Debutante Guild. You can send him the love— or a link to the Double Rainbow song— via firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.