I remember a time when I thought Mike Myers was cool. Expiration date: today. I hope the guy from Haloween gets him. Austin Powers was on script while Kanye was off & speaking his mind. Myers even turned ready to disagree when Kanye said "Bush doesn't care about black people". Maybe he's just a bad ad libber,(which I find hard to believe, see that the comedian got his start in IMPROV) but look at those askew glances while Kanye was saying something difficult to speak but easy to know. You don't have to look far; sites like this: http://www.snopes.com/photos/katrina/looters.asp show it in plain English; albeit that this one tries to temper it somewhat. It’s the famous two photos; one of a white couple “finding” food, whereas the other is of a black guy “looting”. The AP called the black man a looter, whereas the other photo was courtesy of the AFP. So let’s get into it. We can’t clearly make out what the white couple is carrying (Please correct me if you can, because I sure as hell can’t), but besides the trash bag, the brother is clearly carrying a 12 pack of soda. Let’s talk about the difference between looting and foraging. In a state of emergency, requisitioning food & water is survival, not profit. Looting is an attempt to get luxury items for free, like a plasma screen or a DVD player. Trying to pick that kind of stuff up in the middle of a flood is just foolish. It would be like trying to carry handfuls of salt while swimming through a lake, and then have the audacity to wonder where all the salt went. Soda is sealed in cans, and therefore is safe for drinking. The sad irony of the flood puts the residents in a similar position to the sailor from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner where he encounters “water, water, everywhere and all the boards did shrink. Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.” (forgive me if I misquoted, I’m going by memory.)
I think I’ve belabored this point. To defend Kanye quickly, I saw Barak Obama on CNN last night being interviewed by Anderson Cooper, and he was asked the hard question of why there is such a discrepancy in perception of the hurricane response by whites and blacks. The cited poll, (which I do not have in front of me, so numbers are approximate and from memory) said that 12% of whites polled think that race played some factor in the delayed response, whereas 60% of the blacks polled thought race was a factor. Obama pointed to the fact that in ghettos and lower class neighborhoods, there is a feeling that the poor are left to their own devices. Federal aid is small and getting smaller thanks to Republican efforts, the police are overworked and apathetic, thus crime is rampant and…well, I’m sure I don’t need to explain to anyone the difference between an affluent community and an impoverished one. When you take a look at the demographic of the lower class areas, they are predominantly black and Latino, and that is why this sentiment is so pervasive among that population: because the Katrina response does not feel like a new thing to those citizens. Handicapped people, lower class people without transportation or money to afford a hotel, the elderly barely living on Social Security that Bush wants to privatize so as to make futures less secure – all of these people already feel left behind, so it’s no surprise to some that they were left behind in New Orleans. He then talked about ways to reach out to people in those communities, which obviously had nationwide import, but was also a bit of politic-ing. What is important is that he introduced legislation that requires cities to have evacuation plans in case of natural disaster that allow for the aforementioned demographic to be able to safely and effectively be evacuated.
But this is 2 weeks later. Kanye’s response, albeit a bit stunted, was immediate, and was also immediately censored and repudiated. I guess what I'm trying to say is that when a musician is our most articulate critic, the 4th estate has been reduced to a shack, despite their attempts to do otherwise. Think about this:
The FEMA argument is that journalists shouldn't take photos of corpses. I've seen the photos of the rebels who decided to take pics anyway. What did the victims all have in common? They didn't look like my lily white ass. Bush says that photos may not be distributed of flag draped coffins coming back from Iraq, out of decency to the families. I can appreciate that, but can you tell the inhabitant of one flag-draped coffin from another? I sure can't. Every press photo I've seen has been of a covered corpse or of one floating face down in the water. Every tagline that I've seen has been, "shot in the face" or "shot in the chest", rather than an obvious victim of drowning.
Kanye West points this out, and immediately the critics rush to crucify him, using such high-faulting rhetoric as, “Well, we never considered Ryan Seacrest's opinion on the subject, why should we pay heed to Kanye's?” or, “What he’s saying may have some truth to it, but this is not the time nor place.” Then when is the time? Where is the place? Can we really call Michael Moore wrong for exercising his 1st amendment rights and soap-boxing at the Academy Awards, when all that shit is just obscenely affluent and untalented half-wits engaging in self-congratulation that verges on mutual masturbation? The media is an oligarchy. To prove it, show me someone on TV making less than 6 figures that isn’t attacking a person who is both their mother and wife on Jerry Springer, or who isn’t eating pig uterus in a vain attempt to join the 6 figure club on Fear Factor. When an outsider attempts to seize media time and speak in a serious manner, we need to applaud this, not condemn it. How much flak would Kanye have received if instead of speaking his mind on an important issue, he had ad libbed, “Yo, Big. We miss you. Big up’s to Pac too. R.I.P. my brothas.” or, “Yo, Mariah Carey is a ho! She’s had more dicks in her than a club where the only membership requirement is that your name is Richard.” But he didn’t say that kind of nonsense. He said something real & got shit on for it.
But what is the difference between Ryan Seacrest and Kanye West? Beyond the obvious - that Kayne grew up in an environment that is at best alien to Ryan Seacrest, and as such has authority to speak on it in a way that many other media personae cannot - there is an implicit class distinction problem in the treatment of this issue. Consider one of the people called upon to pacify this issue:
Former first lady Barbara Bush said that New Orleans refugees being housed in the Houston Astrodome were "underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them." http://www.snopes.com/politics/quotes/barbara2.asp
Of course! The hurricane was nothing more than attempt by the denizens to improve their lot in life by living in a football stadium. Lord knows that being raped in a dark corridor of the Superdome is how I’d like to improve my existence.
The ultimate Irony? The same chanel that's showing this Kanye clip is also using US army propaganda to pay for it. After seeing this video, I get accosted with an "army of one" clip. This is an agency appealing to the individualistic bent that the average American has, while sweeping under the carpet the ability of that American to act at liberty. To put it another way, how many Americans do you think are granted conscientious objector status? It can't only be that the people in the army want this war. I think many people saw the Army as a way to avoid unemployment or working at wal-mart, rather than some Gung-Ho attitude; which I'm sure some have, but obviously not all. Anyways, you have all read my opinion on the US Armed forces and their unsavory requiting tactics. I’m outta here. There’s some fucking baseball to play. Next post will either be on Hugo Chavez or a movie review; I haven’t yet decided.