Archive for entertainment

Offensive Halloween Costume Ideas: Why Should White People Have All the Fun?

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by brucepoinsette

Racist costumes have become a hallmark of Halloween, especially on college campuses. Not long ago, I even remember running across an “Crips and Bloods Party” in my Facebook news feed. Students at Ohio University have chosen to start a campaign with posters saying, “This is not who I am and it is not okay.” However, a friend of mine suggested it might be more educational if we invited real Crips and Bloods to one of these events.

In the spirit of peace and snark, I came up with another solution, white stereotype costumes. If some white people are having so much fun with stereotypes then why should people of color not get to have a little fun too?

All it takes is a little creativity and you can have your very own offensive white costume. Just get some whiteface makeup and let your imagination and/or historical references flow.

Here are some ideas:

Police officer: Slutty cops and the dude from Reno 911 are pretty cliche at this point. Why not make it a little more realistic. You can use the same cop outfit you would find at any Target or Value Village. Just grab a plastic bag of sugar and make a “How to Fry a Nigger Manual” book cover to carry around with you.

Missionary: Surprisingly, the missionary doesn’t get that much play during Halloween. It’s easy to do too. The clothes can be wide ranging. What’s really important is that you have a Bible and dirty blanket.

Catholic Priest: Keeping with religion, the priest is more common, although quite tame on Halloween. To liven things up, just get a baby doll, preferably male, and make it into a hand puppet.

Overseer: The classic plantation overseer is another relatively simple costume idea. Find a derby, a button down shirt, some slacks and get a whip. If you want to make it more realistic, get a black female blow-up doll and decorate it with black eyes and red paint on the panties.

“I’m not racist but” kid: Getting back to current times, you could dress up as that person everyone knows, who will preface every offensive statement with, “I’m not racist but *insert the most racist thing you’ve ever heard here*”. Simply get a white t-shirt and write “I’m not racist but” with an arrow pointing to the back under it. Then on the back, feel free to write the most foul thing you can think of.

Hipster: Some people might wonder how a hipster could be offensive. If you live around the Portland area, you’ve probably noticed them quietly flooding formerly black neighborhoods like it’s nothing. To portray this image simply get some skinny jeans and whatever other tacky clothes you can find. To accentuate your costume, get some fried chicken and Alberta Street (or whatever historically black neighborhood is near you) mortgage papers.

“That” white girl at the club: If you’ve been out to the bar, club, or wherever to get your night life on then you’ve seen this person. Just get some regular hoe attire, a bottle of any hard liquor and a summer sausage in a glass jar.

Skinhead: If you want to add an addition to “that white girl”, try being her angry white supremacist boyfriend. Just get an orange jumpsuit, paint your hair to match the whiteface makeup and draw some Nazi tattoos on your neck. Perhaps even add some self inflicted bullet wounds.

Klansman: No negative white stereotype costume list would be complete without a Klansman. Just get a bed sheet, a rope to tie into a noose, a toy pony and a Bible. If you want to go all out, you could have your own version of those “Crips and Bloods Parties”. Simply invite every white person you know, burn some crosses and string up a black doll with one of the nooses. I think there use to be a word for these parties but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Oh yeah, a lynching.

Bonus

For extra points, you could go beyond stereotypes and impersonate some historical characters:

Thomas Jefferson: All you need is a powder wig, some Revolutionary War reenactment attire and the aforementioned black blow up doll with black eyes and bloody panties.

J. Edgar Hoover: Just get a suit and a Martin Luther King mask. Instead of putting the mask on yourself, put it on a mannequin head to carry around with you. This will require some extensive forehead makeup.

Oliver North: This costume might be a little difficult because it will require some type of military outfit. Preferably one that resembles a high ranking officer. After you acquire that, get the same bag of sugar from the aforementioned police costume and you’ll be set.

Rick Perry: Lastly, you could imitate current events. Simply find a hunting outfit and tape the words “Property of Niggerhead Ranch” on the back of your vest.

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Ten Things VH1’s “Most Shocking Hip Hop Moments” Missed

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2011 by brucepoinsette

VH1 reminds me of Barack Obama. I’ll lose hope for months on end but then it will deliver a special (or two) that reminds me why I messed with it in the first place. Such was Sunday night’s premieres of “40 Most Shocking Moments in Hip-Hop” and “Planet Rock: The Story of Hip Hop and the Crack Generation” (How long before they make the same movie about ecstasy?).

As entertaining as the “most shocking” moments were, I had a hard time believing there weren’t moments more shocking than Sir Mix A Lot making a raunchy video or Gucci Mane getting a tattoo. In honor of the special, here’s ten things VH1 might’ve missed (in no particular order):

  1. Gucci Mane kills someone. Sure VH1 thought it was shocking for Gucci to get an ice cream cone tattoo on his face but did you know he killed a man? After Young Jeezy allegedly put a price on Gucci’s chain, some people took it seriously. A woman lured Gucci to her place and armed men attempted to rob him and his associates. Instead of the almost cliche “I got shot” story, he was able to free himself and his crew shot their way out of the house. Dear VH1, how does this not win?
  2. Big Lurch eats woman’s lungs. Even though this didn’t make the list either, it probably answers the previous question. Big Lurch was high on PCP one night. He decided his female roommate was possessed by demons and chose the only logical option, stab her in the chest and rip out her lungs. When the police found him, he was running through the street, naked and covered in blood. The girl was found with tooth marks on her lungs and face. A medical examination found traces of flesh that weren’t Lurch’s in his stomach.
  3. 50 Cent gets shot nine times. Apparently VH1 is the only entity that forgot 50 Cent was shot nine times. They remembered him losing 50 pounds, but I digress. Not long after 50 released “How to Rob” and offended just about every emcee in the industry, he was ambushed and took nine bullets, including one in the face. He lost a wisdom tooth and the shooting put a slur in his speech. It also helped propel his image and furthered the trend that being shot is a good career move.
  4. Slick Rick almost deported. Slick Rick was huge during the “Golden Age” of hip hop but at the height of his fame, he was convicted for shooting his cousin (who later admitted to having Rick shot) and a bystander. He served time in prison and was targeted for deportation up until 2008, when he got a pardon from NY Governor David Patterson.
  5. C-Murder commits, wait for it, murder. In perhaps hip hop’s sadly least ironic moment, C-Murder was convicted and sentenced to life for second degree murder. Allegedly he killed a 16-year-old fan in a club. The case was retried and in the meantime, C-Murder pleaded no contest to attempted murder charges from a shooting in another club. In 2009, he was found guilty and sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment.
  6. Ghostface Killah’s gangsta > your favorite rapper. Most people don’t remember that Ghostface had to wear a mask in early Wu-Tang Clan videos because the police were looking for him. That didn’t stop certain artists from dissing him. Ghostface broke Mase’s jaw at the height of the shiny suit era. In what might be an even more infamous incident, Ghostface or a member from his entourage allegedly pushed 50 Cent down a flight of stairs after “How to Rob” came out.
  7. Mystikal goes to jail. Do you remember how big Mystikal was back in 2000 and 2001? He was the southern anger management problem counterpart to Ja Rule’s over sensitive Tupac wannabe run of hits. In 2003, Mystikal was convicted of sexual battery and extortion. Allegedly, he and his two bodyguards forced a woman to give head and then accused her of stealing $80,000 in checks. There was even a tape of the sexual assault. Mystikal was sentenced to six years in prison. To add insult to injury, he was convicted of misdemeanor tax offenses in 2006. Mystikal was released in 2010 and had to register as a sex offender.
  8. Eminem’s racist tape. In the early 2000s, Eminem got in a feud with The Source and its owner Benzino for giving The Marshall Mathers LP a 2/5 mics rating. Lyrically, the battle was a landslide, with Eminem ripping Benzino apart in every way you could think of. However, Benzino had one good punch in him. The Source released an Eminem tape from the late 80s called “Foolish Pride”. It was recorded after he broke up with a black girlfriend and Eminem even called the girl a nigger on it. While it’s hard to see him as a racist based on the company he keeps now, the tape managed to hurt Eminem’s image and score a few points for Benzino. However, the release of the old tape and the obvious bias in ratings ultimately hurt The Source’s credibility more than anything else.
  9. Hip hop vs the police. Hip hop is the music of the youth and chances are, if you’re young, not white and just got your driver’s license, you’re not a big fan of the bacon patrol. NWA famously received a letter from the FBI, who took offense to their classic anthem “Fuck the Police”. Time Warner pulled Ice-T’s record “Cop Killer” off his group Body Count’s album after immense political pressure. Mac Dre went to prison for five years for refusing to snitch on his friends for armed robbery, even though he wasn’t personally involved. However, the undisputed winner is Tupac Shakur, who shot off duty police officers and had charges dropped because one of the officers lied about firing at his vehicle. Another reason why he was one of the realest personalities in the game.
  10. RIP Nate Dogg, Mac Dre, ODB, Proof, Guru, Pimp C, Big Pun, Big L, DJ Screw, Scott La Rock, Cowboy and other fallen soldiers. VH1 obviously didn’t have time to include every dead rapper on the list but these losses were shocking blows to the hip hop community. They will all be sorely missed.

Progressive Black-White Friendships and White Swipe

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2011 by brucepoinsette

My white stand-up comic friend and I have a genuine, progressive black-white friendship. Not the “colorblind” joke you see on TV, but a brutally historical and color conscious one.

This was on full display when he offered to steal a joke from me (For the sake of being a hater and not giving him any extra shine, as opposed to confidentiality, I left his name out of this piece). What could’ve been a bitter fight over white swipe turned into a history lesson and joke session.

It started when we were hanging out and he insisted I kill a bee flying by my feet. After stepping on it twice for good measure I sneered, “Dick Cheney,” like a ball player calling, “Kobe,” after canning a jumper.

That lead to:

“Dick Cheney is the 50 Cent of politics. He’s survived multiple heart attacks, which is like getting shot nine times. At least it’s the US political equivalent compared to how rappers get killed (What does getting shot in the head driving through Dallas or shot while watching a play have on getting shot in the neck and being thrown from a moving van?).

He’s shot people.

He’s been in the drug business and gotten into wars. And when his new book comes out he’s starting beefs.”

I didn’t think much of the comment but my friend suggested I write it down so he could steal it. It was hard to resist the implications of him trying to do me like Chuck Berry.

Although it was a passing thought, I would be damned if he made any scrap of money off my ideas without compensation or credit (I’m already an unpaid blogger and freelance writer in an economy where newspapers can’t afford them).

My friend was so insistent he lent me one of his laptops. Apparently, his dad wasn’t supposed to know about it because he just helped him buy another one, thinking my friend broke it.

To convince his dad the computer was mine, he told me to change the background. Perhaps reflexively, I chose a picture from the Haitian Revolution.

My friend wanted help expanding the Dick Cheney-50 Cent bit, but being a suburban white rock fan, he didn’t follow 50’s career. He asked me to feed him ideas as well as school him on 50 (I couldn’t make this scenario up if I wanted to).

To spur the creativity he turned on some classical music (“Beethoven, Mozart, or something,” according to him). We couldn’t help but laugh as we looked at his computer’s new background and realized the Haitians were probably bumping something similar at the time.

After giving him a brief synopsis of 50’s career, mainly the startling number of feuds and scandals that could be juxtaposed with some of Dick Cheney’s most infamous moments, we decided to part ways.

Without missing a step, my friend jokingly said, “You can go to your home now.” Then he put a bow on it with, “Of course I’ll probably call your descendants lazy when I don’t pay them the money I owe you.”

If I were at work or in a class and someone I didn’t know said that, I might’ve reacted more hostile, but I just told him to look up “Suge Knight and Vanilla Ice” (Go to the 7:28 mark).

He laughed and I headed home.

I share this story for a couple of reasons. First, it’s important to recognize that history repeats itself and the dynamics of black and white relations haven’t changed as much as we think they have. We have just gotten better at laughing about it over the years (Some of us anyway).

More importantly, anyone who reads this is a witness to the money I’m owed in the very improbable chance my idea is transformed into a lucrative bit. If I turn on a TV and see Carlos Mencia biting anything that has slipped out of my mouth in front of my friend then I’m going to collect my money.

Call me naive, but I’m chasing the historically elusive black dream of proper compensation, even if I have to hang my friend over a balcony to do it.

Call of Duty: Stono Rebellion?

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2011 by brucepoinsette

I’m not a programmer so my vision of a Black Power video game where you can free Mumia or save Fred Hampton won’t be happening soon. Neither will my Wii accessible “Martin Luther King’s Marcher”.

My best hope for a black video game that doesn’t primarily involve sports or music will most likely come whenever The Boondocks hits platforms.

Bringing black history and culture into the realm of video games may seem trivial, but it is one of the last spaces where people of all ages can get graphic, unadulterated characterizations of things otherwise ignored/kept secret.

Where else besides the video game world can you assassinate John F. Kennedy or go on a car jacking rampage with no consequences? The only place where you can get a more graphic depiction of US military covert operations is by actually being in the field.

Undoubtedly, overindulgence in video games desensitizes gamers of all ages to the violent realities they are simulating. However, engaging with this information in any way is better than completely ignoring it (Perhaps instead of banning sales of games, we should add historical and analytical context to what kids are playing).

Why not use video games to make black history more engaging? Is it too much of a stretch to assume that the same people that enjoy playing as military murderers, terrorists, mobsters and car thieves could get a kick out of leading virtual slave revolts or blasting their way out of illegal police raids?

Instead of painting one picture of black characters (think CJ From Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas) in these kind of games, there is plenty of room for historical heroes like Toussaint L’Overture, Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman and George Jackson. Even a video game version of “Monster” Kody Scott would be better than the static characters that dominate games today.

Part of the problem is that less than two percent of video game developers are black. This lack of representation translates into others imposing their ideals of black people into their games.

The solution is to take control of the means of production, especially considering that blacks are heavy video game consumers. Groups like the Urban Video Game Academy are working to empower under served populations in the programming industry and there needs to be similar efforts around the country.

Besides being a means to break into a fertile, multi-billion dollar industry, video game programming education presents a way to make math and writing more engaging to black students.

It may be instinctual to see video games as trivial or destructive but there are too many opportunities in the industry to educate the youth in technical skills and history. Instead of scorning how our youth use their free time, let’s use it as a venue for revolutionary change.

My Mother and My Grandmother Were “The Help”

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2011 by brucepoinsette

“Not bad for a white woman, trying to capture a black story.”

That was my mother’s reaction after seeing “The Help“. She was a “mother’s helper”, another word for maid, in high school in the 60s. She got the job after her mother, who worked as a domestic worker in South Carolina, moved up to New Jersey to be a sleep-in maid.

Back then, blacks couldn’t get many other jobs and white families in the north were hiring help from the south to fill their needs.

My mother worked for the people that didn’t have the money to afford the full-time help her mother provided. She would clean and take care of the children while her mother would do everything and get one day off a week.

Although my mother enjoyed “The Help”, she couldn’t help but notice it was “a little Hollywood.”

She didn’t think the movie captured just how evil some of the white families could be.

This sentiment has been expressed throughout the blogosphere, especially by the Association of Black Women Historians. They specifically note that the movie pays little attention to the sexual harassment black domestic workers faced and the strength of blacks in civil rights activism. In an open letter, the group says the movie reprises the Mammy character, a minstrel characterization of black women that makes them asexual and hopelessly loyal to their white owners.

Many have pointed out that the movie comes from the perspective of the white protagonist, Ms. Skeeter. This plays out in the dialect and limitations in what we know about the black characters.

According to my mother, this movie also missed more mundane, yet crippling details. She says the minimum wage in the film was higher than reality. In fact, her mother didn’t even get paid by the hour.

Also, she says the film didn’t contain scenes showing things like cleaning silver or bathrooms. When my mother was “the help”, she was subject to cruel treatment like white glove tests, where the owner would go over nooks and crannies with a white glove and if he/she found any dust, the domestic worker could be fired on the spot.

What made the experience of going to see “The Help” even less authentic was that we saw it at Regal Cinemas Bridgeport, probably the most yuppy theater in Oregon. My family made up the only black people in a packed theater.

Considering my mother’s family history, the dynamic was particularly interesting.

“They were laughing at all the wrong times,” she says.

When I came to “The Help” I was expecting a “feel good” story about something that really shouldn’t make you feel good. All the comic relief did seem like just that, relief, tailor made for a mainstream audience.

However, my mother put things in perspective. If it were a Spike Lee movie about domestic workers in the mid 20th century, this story would get no attention (*cough* Miracle at St. Anna *cough*). Just as someone like Tim Wise can bring more attention to racial activism by virtue of being a white voice, sometimes these stories are most effectively introduced to the mainstream through a vehicle they are most comfortable with.

Focusing on some of the historical shortcomings is important but there were certain aspects that were effectively conveyed, such as the relationship between maids and the children they raised. While my mother notes that she didn’t see an allegiance like Ms. Skeeter showed to the maid that raised her, it was common for the children to be close to their domestic workers.

My mother says she was too young to talk extensively with my grandmother about her days at work but she does remember one particular day when she came up from South Carolina to see her in New Jersey. The police took my grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s, into custody for having a pistol in her bag and she went off on them and everyone else around, telling them she was the one that cleaned their houses and changed their stinky diapers.

Despite memory loss, those experiences were permanently branded in her mind. Although “The Help” can be seen as a “feel good”, uplifting story, as viewers we need to respect the reality of the experiences domestic workers faced (and still do, even if the color has changed) and understand that real life doesn’t have Hollywood endings.

“You… Are the Slave Master”

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2011 by brucepoinsette

I wish they would do reparations on Maury Povich. Think about it. “You… are the slave master.”

If there’s anything I’ve learned from “The Help”, it’s that white people aren’t necessarily afraid of touchy subjects, they just need them packaged in an entertaining way (They’re talking about it for the Oscars while Spike Lee and 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks haven’t gotten their due yet. Can you say irony?).

People say it would be impossible to pay slavery reparations because it was so long ago and not every black person is a descendant of slaves. However, we have genealogy tests. Not to mention, the descendants of slave masters, traders and wealthy benefactors are still living off that wealth.

Think about a place like Colonial Williamsburg. It’s a slave plantation turned private historic foundation with the motto, “The future may learn from the past.” Meanwhile it’s owned by the Rockefellers, which literally means wealthy white people got our money both going and coming.

It took the Native Americans decades of litigation to get proper compensation for a fraction of the land they legally owned. Can you imagine what it would take for descendants of slavery to get compensated monetarily or with the property they were exploited on? Remember 40 acres and a mule?

Obama has apologized to Guatemalans for giving them syphilis in the 40s but the US has yet to apologize for slavery. That’s like a kid shooting up his high school but  only apologizing for giving the clap to a junior high cheerleader.

Malcolm X tried to bring the US up on charges of crimes against humanity in front of the United Nations and we all know how that ended.

In the face of these odds, there’s really only one reliable court left. Daytime trash TV. Black, white, red, brown or yellow, there are few things that bring people together like a Maury paternity test. Everything from the announcement of “You… are not the father,” to the victory dances to Maury laying game on the most emotionally vulnerable girls is a ratings dream.

The format would barely have to change for reparations tests. Just replace the paternity test with a genealogy test and IRS records. You might have to get more chairs but the Maury “family reunions” would be worth it.

Also, it wouldn’t be nearly as confrontational to white people as blanket reparations payments because they might actually win sometimes.

Either way, the victory dances would be exponentially more epic. If you thought Maury was pimping off consoling girls before, imagine what he could do with entire extended families.

Literally, everyone wins. Well, except for some benefactors that had their time coming anyway (I’m looking at you Poinsettes who are living off of Joel’s Poinsettia money).

Who says history and justice can’t be fun?

Follow me on Twitter: @shaft19

Pam Grier Will Always be the Baddest

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2011 by brucepoinsette

A friend and I recently renewed the debate of Pam Grier vs. Halle Berry. My parents hadn’t even met when Foxy Brown came out but I’ve always had a thing for Grier because of what her image represents. Not just was she sexy but she had an aura that was unmistakably black.

Grier rocked an Afro and conveyed a Black Power image that now seems long lost in popular culture.

Natural hair on black women has been under attack forever and it’s almost crazy to think that someone like Grier was killing the game when we currently see sex symbols like Beyonce spend more on weaves than many have in their checking accounts.

While Foxy Brown was far from a perfect movie, its imagery was inherently rebellious towards the “traditional” standards of beauty and power in America.

Grier could be going undercover in a whore house but she was stunting on every girl in there and even had the most powerful males hypnotized with her curves. Her boyfriend, who worked as an informant, got murdered but when she worked with a group of black men called the Neighborhood Association, she was able to take out drug kingpins and powerful judges.

Even when Grier was trapped in a house with two hillbillies who drugged and raped her, she was able to flip the situation by lighting the men on fire and burning the house down. This image is especially symbolic because black women were raped like this during slavery and they didn’t get the opportunity to regain their womanhood, much less their freedom. The escape also made a dent in the kingpin’s drug business, which metaphorically burned down the 40 acres our ancestors never received.

Grier’s image in Foxy Brown was juxtaposed with the revolutionary George Jackson (his posters were displayed throughout the Neighborhood Association’s meeting house). Jackson was a Black Panther who became a revolutionary in prison after being sentenced to one year to life for an alleged $70 robbery. He was killed by a sniper in the prison yard and many believe it was because of his influential presence and ability to organize.

Jackson’s ironically patriotic “Give me liberty or give me death” attitude was infused in Grier’s character. She killed who she had to kill and permanently maimed others with the hopes that they would spend the rest of their life suffering. By the end of the film, she stood gun in hand with the drug kingpin begging for Grier to take her life and end her pain. Grier tells the woman that it would be too easy and she wants her to suffer so she can feel how she feels.

While Grier doesn’t have the accolades of a Halle Berry or the wealth of a Beyonce, she represents something far more powerful by making the revolution sexy. She is beautiful without having to conform to European standards of beauty and even when she does, she puts all her white contemporaries to shame. Long after the awards and the music videos have faded from memory, the image of an Afro clad black woman standing with power emanating from a smoking gun will remain.

Grier was bad and no one’s done it like her since.