College Humor put out a new video today that is just terrible. It’s a “gangsta” version of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, because, you know, FINALLY!

The video has ushered in a race-based Tumblr critique. MadeUpMemories writes:

I feel like this comes from a really bad place, and I don’t respect it. [I'm not calling anyone at CHTV a racist; what I'm saying is that they know not what they mock, and are doing it in poor form.] Gangsta rap is so easy to make fun of – just look at how funny they are with their guns and rolled-up pant-legs, their ridiculous ‘bling’ and anti-white talk! – and yet, the gang at CollegeHumor manages to screw it up so badly…and with so little charm. It is a caricature of a caricature of black culture from 1991.

This is no Lazy Sunday, which worked so well because Magnolia cupcakes and nerd-movies would’ve been so foreign to someone like Eazy-E and, yet, Parnell and Samberg rapped it with the same conviction as the LAX-con. This, however, is a two-minute refresher course in blackface, with stereotypes presented as jokes. There’s no nuance here. No thought, either. It is, in essence, a LOOKIT THE BLACK MAN DANCE FOR US video.

To which MoneyCashHos responds/adds:

I agree with what Jeff says, and while it’s easy to dismiss this sort of race-based criticism as people being oversensitive or taking a joke too sensitively, that also seems like a really easy cop out that’s meant to justify some shortsighted thinking.

I don’t think anyone’s accusing CHTV of bringing back Black face or whatever, but moreso that there was probably a way to execute something like this without having to make a play on these stereotypes that people have of Black culture that, although there might be some truth to, aren’t ones that need to be mocked in this way. Especially considering that for a lot of the CH audience, unlike the people who create the content, a lot of the kind of “Black people are so ___, and that’s why this is funny” opinions are probably more sincere and mean spirited, and this only provides confirmation to them that the way they think is ok.

I agree with both of these bloggers! But what’s striking to me about this discussion is the NERVOUSNESS that they share about calling something racist. There seems to be a lot of anxiety on the internet these days about being accused of over-sensitivity, or extreme political correctness. The idea is that if you find something unfunny and (more importantly) in poor taste, the problem is not the insidiousness of racism or the tendency of bigotry to work its way into lazy comedy, but rather the critic’s inability to take a joke.

A: False.

There’s a particular brand of apology that springs up around racist humor that I actually find more insulting and dangerous than the comedy itself. Sloppy, ill-conceived, RACIST humor can be criticized and moved past, but the cultural tendency to try and dismiss said ill-conceived, racist humor as “just a joke” suggests a societal disinterest in even dealing with the problem, as if we’re somehow passed it, when we are clearly not.

Obviously, the situation is complicated. And both MadeUpMemories and MoneyCashHos correctly acknowledge that the debate over modern American race relations does not begin, much less end, with this mostly-just-unfunny-more-than-it-is-damaging web video. We’re not dealing with the root of the story here. But it actually isn’t trivial to be talking about this stuff. Especially considering that a certain segment of the population (12-year-old girls, mostly) spends the majority of their day sitting in cubicles searching for the next distraction where they’re being bombarded on a nearly constant basis with messages both overt and implied via the internet. So why wouldn’t we talk about them? Why would they somehow be beneath or outside of critique?

I’m sure that I’ve kept this all in proportion.

Comments (80)
  1. Yeah  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 +2

    This place is turning into Rascismgum.

  2. I just thought it was offensively unfunny.

  3. RobinRubbermaid  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 +7

    What’s interesting (and disturbing) to me is how much more willing I am to forgive a racist (or arguably racist) joke if it makes me laugh. Have you seen some of the shit 30 Rock gets away with? I love the show, but seriously?

    And now someone’s going to accuse me of being racist, or pro-censorship, or both. And THAT’S why we don’t talk about it.

    • I don’t have a problem with people thinking racist humor is funny, especially when it is. I find lots of arguably very racist humor very funny. But we shouldn’t get confused into thinking that our approval of said humor somehow makes it no longer racist. I think that worrying about what you laugh at is ultimately a losing battle, just like Christianity’s war on impure thoughts is a losing battle. But the proper and honest identification of things is not a losing battle. Even if we are laughing, we should still be able to recognize when things are or are not racist, and we can figure out what to do about it from there.

      Not that anyone is laughing at this video. This is just miserable.

      • RobinRubbermaid  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 +10

        But if we laugh at Racist Joke A and don’t laugh at Racist Joke B, why do we get so much angrier about the racism of Racist Joke B? Just because it has no ‘redeeming’ humor? I just find that weird. I do it too. But it’s weird.

  4. Hmm, I didn’t find it racist or offensive. I thought it was a interesting commentary on the differences between rap in the 1980s and “gangsta” rap in the present. However, it’s definitely not the kind of thing I’d pass on to my friends or post on my Facebook page with an editorial “LOL – check this out!” Perhaps that tells me something.

  5. What annoys me is that anti-political correctness has become irritating than political correctness itself. I’m so tired of hearing, “Lighten up, brah, it’s just a video,” or “It’s freedom of expression blah blah blah.” How about instead of completely dismissing something that goes into a complex and nuanced issue, let’s actually take a second to consider the ramifications of things like this.

    Now, if this video were actually funny, would it still be in poor taste? Yes. Does laughing at it make you a terrible person who needs to go to jail? No, but then we can’t just completely avoid discussing the issues at hand simply because of that.

    Screw political correctness and anti-political correctness. Let’s just be adults and not avoid difficult topics for convenience sake.

  6. It’s pretty cool if you pretend this video came out first and then Will Smith made the Fresh Prince video later as a parody of THIS one. It’s like you said, it’s just not funny, and can be added to your theory about the delicate art that is the rap parody.

  7. this isn’t the publicity they need on the heels of launching a tv show, but it’s their fault for this abortion of a video.

  8. didn’t we all watch “Make ‘em Laugh” on PBS last Wednesday? We’re allowed to make fun of anything ever, and its even better when people get mad. As long as they are jokes and not attacks, and as long as we know what we’re talking about and as long as we make fun of everything (not one thing)… Lenny Bruce died for this (not really, but sure why not he did)

  9. J  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 +7

    I just think you’re WAY too manichean with all this racist/not-racist stuff. The reason why the “proper and honest identification of things” is almost always a losing battle is that something is rarely one thing or the other all the time. The word “racist” is too often used in a reductive way to characterize a joke that has to do with race. And as a result, we’re only left with some vague notion that the joke is: offensive, wrong, hate-filled, etc. How about we just start talking about race and humor in more specific and nuanced terms instead of trying to designate everything as either this or that?

    • Hmmm. That sounds good, but it doesn’t seem right. The proper and honest identification of things is only a losing battle if you make it into an argument of diametric opposition. Because then you’re right. If calling something racist means that it can’t be anything other than racist, then sure, now you’re in the misleading and ultimately incurious territory of removing the nuance from the conversation. But that’s obviously not the case. Just because something is racist doesn’t mean that it ends discussion (OBVIOUSLY) or that it somehow dismisses arguments about other qualities of the work. You make a good point about “racist” being over-used for lack of finer terminology to characterize jokes (and lots of other stuff, I would suggest) that has to do with race. But that’s really not as big of a problem as you make it out to be. I do not think that our country or culture suffers from too much calling things that are racist racist instead of calling them something that would take a paragraph to explore. I’m not suggesting that the paragraph of explanation isn’t important, but surely the argument that we need to stop calling things racist because somehow THAT’S the problem is missing the point entirely. The frustration with political correctness, which I share, is a reaction to the linguistic attempt to soften or obscure the harsh realities behind the conversation, so that “poor” people become “economically disadvantaged,” as if that somehow makes them any less poor, etc. But that’s not what this is. “Racism” is not a euphemistic term. And frankly, I’m not convinced that using the word “racism” as a vague signifier that a joke about race is “offensive, wrong, hate-filled, etc” is particularly lacking. We can always go into further detail, but that seems like a pretty solid start.

      I also take issue with your suggestion that anyone is “trying to designate everything as either this or that.” According to that logic, every post on Videogum is either tagged racist or non-racist, which is not the case. Just because there are a lot of racist things in the world, and that people bother to take the time to point them out, does not by any means suggest that they’re scouring the internet looking for the next thing they can criticize in this manner. In fact, it is the sheer abundance and plenty of these things that makes you feel that way. Because they’re fucking everywhere. It’s like shooting racist fish in an intellectually lazy barrel.

      • J  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 +3

        What I rarely hear: “This is a racist movie but that’s overshadowed by the film’s brilliance.”

        What I hear all the time: “This is a brilliant movie but that’s overshadowed by the film’s racism.”

        I feel like the subject of race in America is such a charged and predominant topic that it DOES in fact obscure, deflect, and distract from a film/joke/whatever’s other qualities whatever they may be. So as I see it there is a sort of imposed diametric opposition here — in the popular, non-academic usage of the word ‘racist.’ And as you point out, there’s an accompanying dismissiveness in that context. It’s tied to the word’s vague, umbrella-morphic (worst superpower ever) quality: we use it at as a “signifier that something is wrong” without ever articulating what’s wrong about it. To tell you the truth, if you told me something was racist and left it at that — I’d have no idea what you were talking about. I mean is it racist like Dave Chappelle or like Goebells or like NWA or like Joseph Conrad or like The Simpsons or like Fox News or like an interracial porno? (And I don’t think it would take even a paragraph to make a distinction between the above perpetrators.) The vagueness + dismissiveness results in confusion, self-imposed hypersensitivity and silence. I think the 30Rock joke: “She’s a Puerto Rican…that sounds so awful when I say it” stems from this kind of sentiment. It’s the fear and apprehension of not using those PC euphanisms, of not knowing what’s proper and what’s offensive. And I think that can all be traced to an avoidance of substantial topics through the use of labels/vague-language that demonstrate something is “bad” or “inappropriate” or likely to offend others because their own notions of what’s “bad” or “inappropriate” are equally confused. Did I just argue myself back onto your side? Really, I’m all about sounding good and seeming wrong.

        By the way, I love your site. When’s the book deal coming?

  10. Erik  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 -2

    It’s fine if one doesn’t find this funny, but to be all “There’s no nuance here. No thought, either” is total bullcrap. It’s taking the squeaky-clean FPoB-A and turning it on it’s ear, nearly line by line. Yeah, the whole premise is kind of hackneyed, but there’s fricking nuance and thought involved.

    • Erik, you’re really going for the low-hanging fruit there. The phrase “no thought at all,” when it’s applied to human endeavor, is commonly understood as an exaggeration. My sexual fantasies contain lots of nuance and thought, and their premises are TOTALLY hackneyed, but I don’t make videos about them and broadcast them to you and everyone’s mom. (I am going for the low-hanging fruit here.)

  11. goofus  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 -4

    Well, the thing is, this sucks, and could be accused of racism, and I’m okay with that. Usually I am against whatever post Gabe makes decrying racism in some overtly-PC screed about how something is racist in an attempt to overcompensate for his overwhelming whiteness, but here he actually has a point. As usual, though, no one asks a black guy. But props on getting an Asian who is into things typically associated with black culture!

  12. I haven’t watched this video (because it’s guaranteed to make me rage, LOL) but let the record show that they have had about 17 years to make a “gangsta rap” parody of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, so this is longer in coming than Chinese Democracy.

    And didn’t “Gangsta rap” precede this TV show by like four years at least? Why didn’t they go ahead and parody the Monkees as if they reflected the Hard Day’s Night era Beatles instead of the Help-era Beatles? WHOAAAAA! That would be craaaazy.

  13. Parody is just the form here, the content is: this black guy is ridiculous because of characteristics that are pretty much only associated with urban African Americans. Racism like this is so common because racism has become synonymous with mean, bad, evil, etc, which are things that no-one thinks of themself as being, no matter what they do or say, even if it’s totally racist. Also laughing at racist jokes rewards people’s narcissistic sense of themself as some kind of iconoclast (when it’s actually not iconoclastic at all, it’s very conservative and banal ).
    Jokes are supposed to be funny, so if a joke is funny (which this one isn’t) that’s just because it’s in some way well crafted. But plenty of things are well crafted and still bad. Too much Hollandaise sauce will kill you, as will products manufactured by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, especially when those eggy-buttery sauces/missile guidance systems are well made. There’s plenty of funny stuff in the world that isn’t super mean and dumb.

  14. Fuck racism, this shit just ain’t funny.

  15. Katharine  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 +4

    Wow, this discussion is awesome. This is what college was supposed to be like. Yay for learning!

  16. someone’s been digging through dave chapelle’s trash.

  17. Why does everyone insist on taking this essentialist stance on black culture. Gangsta rap and all that thug life bs is a subset of a greater culture. Why is it that if someone laughs at a group of ridiculous misogynistic garbage clowns it’s taken as an insult to the entire culture?

    I’m really sick of white righteous indignation at the scent of anything possibly racist. It seems most are more offended that someone would think they’re racist than they are at the actual offense. “How dare you! I have black friends! I’m not racist! Really!”

    That doesn’t change the fact that this video wasn’t very funny, and I don’t understand why anyone would walk that thin line so they could present this sad attempt at a laugh. Would anyone film something like Goodbye Uncle Tom with the sensibility of Paul Blart Mall Cop?

    That would truly be the WMoAT.

    • Apes I think yours is the best dissent so far. It’s too bad that our clownish white brothers typically ape “gangsta rappers” when they wanna be hard and ignant. If it were the other way around, maybe this pose wouldn’t be such a cultural minefield, and we wouldn’t be having this discussion. TA-NEHISI COATES IS THIS RACIST?

    • mmmm, mostly no.

    • “Why is it that if someone laughs at a group of ridiculous misogynistic garbage clowns it’s taken as an insult to the entire culture?” is really smart and correct. Well played.

      “I’m really sick of white righteous indignation at the scent of anything possibly racist. It seems most are more offended that someone would think they’re racist than they are at the actual offense.” is also pretty good, and I definitely think that abstract discussions of race end up being more about what certain political positions suggest about the person saying them rather than at getting to any kind of “truth.” But it seems unproductive to categorically dismiss a non-black (or non-minority) viewpoint as being self-congratulatory “righteous indignation.” We all have to do the work of thinking about the world we live in. Naturally, that gets in to how important it actually is for a silly website about YouTube and Gossip Girl to bother adding its two cultural critique cents on issues that have actual impact in the world, but I like to think that there’s a time and place (for example the time being earlier today and the place being this post) where it is worthwhile to talk about, and that in the end there’s nothing inherently righteous or indignant in pointing out things that you think are wrong.

  18. goofus  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 0

    apesofmath nails it so hard.

  19. “Why does everyone insist on taking this essentialist stance” LOL!

  20. Reminds me of ‘U Mean I’m Not’ by Black Sheep. It’s all been done before. Lamer than Brody Jenner.

  21. ugh  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 +8

    The most offensive thing is that this is being talked about as though college humor has ever done anything that was funny (they haven’t). It’s obvious what they were trying to do, but the joke falls flat because they’re just not funny, which leaves you with a bunch of stereotypes of “gang” culture that “gangster music” videos sell to kids of all races. It’s supposed to be tounge in cheek parody but without a joke it just seems like mockery.

  22. The video was painfully unfunny and yes, racist, but I can’t say that I wouldn’t totally watch that if it were a real show. C’mon, it’s Fresh Prince meets Prisonbreak!

  23. Adlib  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 +7

    Apes I agree that taking a parody of one subset of a group to be an insult to the entire group is ridiculous but all to common.

    While this video wasn’t particularly funny, i don’t see what is offensive about it. It’s just as unfunny as most fake-rap, because it’s the same punchline over and over again about this group of people doing this thing that those other people usually do, but instead of being about two sides divided by race (90% of fake-rap seems to be produced based on the premise that white people other than Eminem trying to do it is hilarious) or sometimes age (Ed McMahon? Rap? That’s as unlikely as a unicorn on a rainbow!), this one was about an oft-noted divide in the “hip-hop” community, i.e. pop-rap vs. gangsta rap. Sure, there may be the danger that white college dudes take the joke as an affirmation of the belief that one version of “being black” is “more real” than another, but that’s kind of on them, not the video. It’s widely known that Will Smith has taken pot-shots from “harder” rappers about his squeaky-clean image throughout his career, so I don’t see why “oh, it’s a race thing” is the first conclusion someone would jump to. I don’t know if this even qualifies as fake-rap, to be honest, as there’s plenty of “real” rappers who have used this form of “humor” to structure songs on their records. I mean, is this really that different from half the sht on the Jim Jones’ and Co. Tribute to Bad Santa Album, like “not just a christmas, a GHETTO christmas!”

    What’s really baffling about it being made in 2009, more so than just the fact that it’s two decades later or whatever, is that the era of the Fresh Prince was a time when there really was a noticable divide between pop rap and gangsta rap, a time when it was a shock to everyone that a “party rapper” like Coolio would do a song like “Gangsta’s Paradise,” and you would never hear Will Smith do a song with Public Enemy, whether as now, ‘kids in the ghetto’ and 13 year old white girls all listen to 50 Cent or T.I. or whatever, and every rapper gets to use T-Pain at least once. Actually, it was as recently as 1999 that Will Smith could say “I don’t have to cuss to sell records” and Eminem could make fun of him for it and yet both approaches made them viable pop stars. It’s less than ten years later and that seems unimaginable now. Fifty can’t even start an attention-worthy beef with Kanye over this anymore, no matter how hard he tries.

    • I wholly concur with Adlib’s comment. This video doesn’t even touch on being offensive. I also tend to agree with most of ApesofMath. And, taking shayne’s above comment about Dave Chappelle a little further, if this was edited for Comedy Central’s decency standard, so that the lyrics were full of holes replacing the profanity and drug references it would have breezed right over the airwaves without nary a complaint.

      I presume the posters who take offense to this video are operating under either inside information or some presumption that its creators are white, and thus unqualified to make a gangsta rap song or video… I wonder if any of the people who’ve reprimanded College Humor are black, or were white but actually insulted, or if every post is the voice of the Understanding, Charitable White Saint.

      I think I’m mostly echoing other posts, so I’ll just wrap it up by saying that I’ve heard some pretty heinous and vulgar rap (among other genres of music) and this reasonably simple song doesn’t even come close to being grotesque to the genre. Then, by drawing allusions to the the most box-office friendly black entertainer in the country during the last 12 years or so, the video intends to piss people off, which it seems to have accomplished.

      • I think that one aspect of this argument that becomes overly distracting is the idea of “offense.” Obviously, when you begin dealing with people being “offended” by racism then you get into all kinds of ideological murkiness. Are white people allowed to be offended on behalf of other races? What happens if white people are offended on behalf of other races but those other races aren’t offended themselves? What is the appropriate outlet for white “offense” over racism?

        I think that those are really difficult questions to answer. Sure, white people can probably be offended by something on behalf of other races, but to return to Apes’s point, what’s the motivation behind their concern? And then, is something NOT racist just because a black person says that they aren’t offended by it? I’m not so sure that’s true. Racism is systemic and widespread and is wholly independent of personal opinion. It doesn’t really matter whether or not everyone agrees on it. But issues of authority are obviously important and can’t be ignored. A black person will always have more authority on the issue of black-white racism in America, even if a white person (not me) has an equally solid intellectual grasp on the issues.

        But obviously white “offense” has very different meanings and ramifications than a minority’s “offense. And more importantly, I don’t think that the identification of something as racism fundamentally implies being offended by it. No one in this post, neither the two Tumblr bloggers, nor myself, seems to have been particularly “offended” by this video. It’s mostly just stupid. You will not find much outrage over an ill-conceived Fresh Prince of Bel-Air parody. This is the same problem I had with Apes’s suggestion that the discussion of racism by white people stems from some misplaced self-righteous white indignation. Sometimes, but not always, and not here. Who is indignant? (And incidentally, this video is racist whether I am indignant or not because of how, as previously mentioned, racism is not dependent on my personal emotional reaction to it. But also I am not indignant.)

        • That’s all fair. I won’t roll back to read the previous entries again before replying, to keep my initial perspective slightly intact, especially if incorrect. I thought I kept reading that people thought it was offensive. For you to point out to me that no one actually said that suggests that maybe I was reading something into the replies.

          I agree that people of all genders, races, and ethnicities can make categorical evaluations of the intent or effect of a work of art, even if that effect is/ought to be felt most deeply by someone of a different gender, race, or ethnicity. However, it requires that you know who created the work of art, doesn’t it? I mean, if that was the actual intro to FPoBA, as created by Will Smith in the then present, would it have been racist? I guess so?

          This dialogue is starting to remind me of the time I watched Bamboozled, a Spike Lee joint. For those of you who haven’t seen that, I recommend it. It was about a black TV producer who creates a black minstrel show in the mid-90s, with black face and singing and tap-dancing. Lee seems to believe the answer to my lame hypothetical question is “Yes, absolutely.” I will now go back to look for any reference to posters having been offended…

          • Well, I think that intent is entirely meaningless. I could have intended for this post to be the funniest thing you ever read, but if you find it overly self-indulgent and unbearably unfunny, then what does it matter? I think the same goes for knowing who the author is. Work tends to take on a life of its own since the author is rarely there to defend it or explain it.

            That being said, if it’s useful to you: the three founding members of College Humor are white. The two people who wrote and directed this video are white. Jordan Carlos, who performs in this video, is not white, and you can read what he thinks about racism and comedy here:

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/05/AR2007010501613.html

            Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, of course, was created by Andy Borowitz, who obviously had nothing to do with this parody, but he, too, is white (and is the worst).

          • I noticed that the second reply in your poster replies found the video offensively unfunny… I suppose that could simply mean they were offended by the failed effort at comedy and not the way in which they failed.

            I think my original reference to pissing people off by choosing FPoBA and Will Smith was aimed at how white-friendly the FPoBA was as a series. In a way, Will Smith, the Fresh Prince, was every young white person’s black friend. See, I see the video as an attack on white people who think they love black people because they loved FPoBA.

            As to “racism,” I’ve found it defined this way:
            racism |?r??siz?m|
            noun
            the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

            With that in mind, I don’t think it is racist per se to make a satire that draws its reference from gangsta hip-hop culture and I don’t think it’s racist per se to suggest that a poverty level black kid living in the dangerous part of Philadelphia was involved in violence and drug dealing. I think that knowing the author and intent can reveal whether the piece is based on some unreasonable belief or intended to make people uncomfortable. I think that people can acknowledge the stereotyping that grows out of the race/culture/class war without producing a racist work of art. To a lesser extent I believe that blaxploitation movie you previewed on this site a few days ago will accomplish the same end. The stereotypes are obviously caricatures that have no ground in reality and take their inspiration from a racist source material, but the final product won’t necessarily be racist.

            Was Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal genuinely hostile to the poor irish? It certainly plays on stereotypes, but it doesn’t succumb to them. It uses them.
            From Wikipedia,
            Charles K. Smith argues that Swift?s rhetorical style persuades the reader to detest the speaker and pity the Irish. Swift?s specific strategy is twofold, using a “trap”[7] to create sympathy for the Irish and a dislike of the narrator who, in the span of one sentence, “details vividly and with rhetorical emphasis the grinding poverty” but feels emotion solely for members of his own class.

            Perhaps Jordan Carlos is playing the same game! I took a nap before and now I can’t sleep… :’(

  24. K  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 +3

    The hard thing is, we can’t really know what the intent of this was (other than to make people laugh, and on that point I agree with previous commenters). Was the pitch, “wouldn’t if be really funny if the Fresh Prince had been more hardcore?” or something more like, “wouldn’t it be funny if the Fresh Prince was more like what I would assume a black, inner-city Philadelphia youth to be like?” Or something else, even? Ignoring that none of these ideas are funny or interesting without some other dimension or twist added to them, it seems like these premises are the problem. Also, the whole point about how Will Smith was viewed by his “peers” is interesting and sort of paints the video in a new light; however, I’m not so sure the people who made this were aware of that whole issue. I don’t think the video would be “less racist” if, say, that was a more clear element of the video, but people might feel differently about it. I tend to think someone’s intent with something like this matters; was the idea inherently racist, or is it something in the execution of that idea? This comment thinks it is college, but this is the most interesting thing I’ve seen all day.

    • Al  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 +3

      I think maybe their pitch was “wouldn’t it be funny if we redid the song using the real reason someone might have to leave (present-day) Philly?” As in, the actual below-the-poverty-line areas of Philly. Answer: not funny.

  25. Aaron  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 0

    I thought it was kind of funny. It makes fun of the “gangsta” rap cliche, not black people in general. Maybe the producers of this video wanted to point out the ridiculousness of that cliche, though I really don’t know anything about this CHTV.

    Isn’t it more racist to assume this video applies to an entire race? If you’re offended by this video, that’s cool, it isn’t the funniest thing ever. But if you don’t understand that EVERY race has a broad spectrum of personality types, then you’re the one who’s being racist.
    I guess I’m just surprised that it’s become such a lengthy convo. And here I am making it longer. (That’s what she said?)

  26. I was amused by this

  27. Aaron  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 +1

    Well, I took a minute to check out the CHTV website. There are sections for Girls, Boozebowl, and Hottest Girls. It’s difficult to imagine that the producers of CHTV were trying to enlighten anyone with the video, making it, yeah, a bit of a cheap shot.

  28. Mr. Smith  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 +2

    The difference between this and 30 Rock (well one of the differences…) is that 30 Rock mocks ignorance and racism. This video (in addition to being painfully unfunny) mocks people.

  29. This is pretty bad, but really no worse or hyperbolically (that’s a word now) offensive than what actual rappers say. I quote: “I pulled out my dick, she called me rude/But then she ate it like food”- Too $hort; “I fuck bitches til they assholes bleed”- Biggie; as such, I don’t even think tops the medium it tries to parody. It’s like parodying Gallagher by smashing smaller melons than he does (apesofmath’s icon must’ve put him in my head).
    What makes me a little sad, now that I think about it, is that the original show was pretty touching and progressive in its portrayal of (some) black issues. Who doesn’t tear up thinking about the episode with Will’s dad abandoning him again? Is nothing sacred?
    Fun fact: Gallagher graduated from the school I got my BA from.

    • It’s true. I think what is off-putting about this is the fact that the original show (though very obviously a sitcom and not meant to be taken too seriously) had a bigger message to it, that someone could leave an otherwise bad situation and ultimately make something of themselves. This video perverts that by showing someone that doesn’t care about anything and won’t do anything better in his life.

      It also doesn’t help that there are white people in this video (in the original everyone was black). It only drives the uncomfortable latent racism of it all home.

  30. it wasn’t funny enough to warrant the attention it’s now getting

  31. By the logic that states: it’s not racist because it’s only making fun of a certain type of black person, almost nothing can be called racist (and it means you think some black people are really like that, which is insane). Is that character in Breakfast At Tiffany’s only offensive to asians who are Holly Golightly’s neighbor? The fact that the joke hinges on stereotypes (not personality types) about SOME black people is exactly the thing that makes it racist. To say that the “personality” of the character in that video is part of “a broad spectrum of personality types” belonging to a certain race of people concedes that races of people are limited to certain personality types. Even within a broad spectrum that’s at best a very limited view human beings.

    • mike  |   Posted on Jan 29th, 2009 -1

      so one can’t make fun of any type of person because its assumed its an attack on that person’s entire race? that makes sense. in insanityworld

  32. I think that all races are different from other races. Some of those differences are funny, some (obviously) aren’t, but in the end we should just appreciate those differences instead of being fucking terrified of even acknowledging them.

  33. I’m just glad MacGyver isn’t here. He’d be so maaaaaaaad.

  34. jaimie foxxx  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 -5

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  35. Carrie  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 +4

    Realizing that everything to say about this video has already been said by Gabe and others, I would just like to point out that someone named “MoneyCashHos” has officially contributed to “the debate over modern American race relations.”

    • I love your post. I too found it pretty interesting that someone would take the time to discuss the “play of stereotypes in Black culture” and then use “moneycashhoes” as their name. Sounds credible and not at all hypocritical…

  36. Carrie  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 +4

    Also, and not to be excruciatingly irrelevant, I found this legitimately funny: “To cap it off I shot him in another place! (HIS NUTS)”

    Eh? Anyone?

  37. To digress back to the beginning of the discussion: I don’t require my humor to be clean and politically correct. In fact, I prefer it not be. I actually prefer my jokes racist/sexist/homophobic, they tend to appeal more to my dark sense of humor (I also like jokes about necrophilia and dead babies). Does it mean I’m any of those things? Absolutely not. A very large number of things I find funny, I’d never forward to most of my friends, for fear of offending them.

    But! (and this is the realization I had in the last 5 minutes because I’d never really thought about it before) I judge the intent by the outcome. If the joke is actually funny while being non-pc, I interpret it as being a mockery of the bias that it exploits (the “Every child deserves a slave” comment in the recent United States of Tara post made me laugh really hard). On the other hand, if I think the joke is NOT funny, I just view it as ignorant and offensive (such as the “gay” mock up of the SongSmith ad). Which, you know, I’d never really considered.

    I could probably try to make some kind of ‘melting-pot/can’t we all just get along/it’s only a joke’ grand statement here about the sanctity of comedy and it’s ability to mine anything, and ramble about how it’s up to the individual to interpret, how we all have a specific line between ‘edgy’ and offensive humor.’ But I won’t. Because really, I’m suddenly wondering if I’m more racist/sexist/homophobic than I ever considered.

    Thanks, Gabe. Now I’ll be up all night, wondering why I DON’T have black friends.

  38. Theo Roosevelt  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 -2

    Wow, this blog has really jumped the shark.

  39. I WANT A COOKIE

  40. You insult someone’s post/blog while slinging possibly the most out of date expression possible?

  41. First, show teeth. growl. find satan. Cookie’s are earned around here! Second, this was the most intellectual leaning post/comment thread I’ve seen on vgum… you put the mind in my mindless distraction, gabe.

  42. yrboyfriend  |   Posted on Jan 28th, 2009 +2

    “A black person will always have more authority on the issue of black-white racism in America, even if a white person (not me) has an equally solid intellectual grasp on the issues.”

    Whoa, what the hell is that? What’s the justification in completely invalidating someone’s experience or thoughts on racism based solely on their race? I’m not using or implying it’s that bullshit “reverse racism,” but Gabe that is one heaping pile of bullshit.

    Race and racism is experienced so differently by so many different individuals. A white person growing up in East LA has just as much as a voice about race in America as a black person growing up in Detroit. If we’re ever going to “move forward” on/from racism, then everyone’s voice gets to count, whether or not we like or agree with what they have to say.

    While you did qualify racism in that sentence as “black-white racism,” a lot of your posts addressing or deal with racism focus solely on that – “black-white racism.” Don’t be racist to racism. If you’re going to include one racism, include them all, aside from any Gran Tarino references.

    • A white person growing up anywhere has just as much of a voice about race in America, but not as much authority on the experience of racism. Even a white person who finds themselves to be the minority in a particular neighborhood is still not subject to the systematic disenfranchisement of a political and economic system that has been established over two centuries to keep them impoverished and alienated. So, you know, no. It’s not a heaping pile of bullshit. The fact of the matter is that someone who confronts institutional racism as a matter of course on a daily basis has earned, for better or for worse but mostly for worse, the right to speak on his/her experience with more authority than someone who does their best to recognize it but ultimately lives a life of (within the grand scheme of things) social and economic privilege. I’m sure you could find exceptions to this rule, but that doesn’t make it not a rule.

  43. dogammit  |   Posted on Jan 28th, 2009 +2

    Black people don’t need College Humor to make a grotesque parody of their culture. They have BET. Most of the hit videos on there differ very little from this display, and in fact, are a lot of times much worse. (Nelly’s Tip Drill, anyone?). But it’s a lot safer to pile on some random unfunny and unimaginative Fresh Prince Parody than it is for a white person to make even the most tepid critique of any black institution. The rampant misogyny, materialism, homophobia and anti-semitism (e.g. Farrakhan) of one group is never questioned, but when a white comedy group makes a pretty standard rap video, all hell breaks loose. Getting Offended on Your Behalf has been the great white educated liberal project for some time now, but it seems to me to be patronizing and unproductive. It conflates academic jargon with honest discussion and hyper-sensitivity with actual empathy. One reason people appreciate stuff like the Chappelle Show is because it cuts through both the racist and the PC bullshit. But white people could never make truly great art like that about race b/c we’re stuck in a permanent posture of genuflection and remorse, a pose as pathetic looking as it is phony.

    • hmm  |   Posted on Jan 31st, 2009 0

      Actually, I’m pretty sure Gabe has criticized BET several times before for its racism.
      And I’m a little confused about what you mean when you say a white person couldn’t make a show like Chapelle’s. It’s hard to explain racism in comedy. Something can be racist AND funny, and most people will forgive the racist part if it’s more like mocking racism than fueling racism. What’s obvious about the comments on this video is that there are a lot of different opinions. Some people say this is totally racist but not offensive, or unfunny but not racist, or funny and not racist at all. The whole thing really makes me at least think about how I react to things that deal with race, or gender, or sexual orientation. I don’t think it’s fair of you to say that all white people who put out their opinions on race are coming from some insincere, liberal guilt place. If someone who is white feels like something is going on that would hurt or put down someone else as another human being, should they say something? It’s a pretty heavy debate and I don’t think it will ever be black and white, no pun intended. It’s all a big gray area.
      But recently there have been white comedians who make jokes dealing with race, like 30 Rock mocking white people who are overly-sensitive to race with the whole Puerto Rican thing. The Office has done it many times, with Oscar being Mexican and the episode with the black guy who had been in prison. Daniel Tosh made a joke about what certain ethnicities tasted like but then intentionally left out white people at first to make all the white people who laughed at the others feel guilty and uncomfortable. These all have to do with white people making fun of how “white people” act in regards to race, though. Can a white person honestly make a joke about how “a black person” acts? In our society, I don’t think they can. So could a white person make a show like the Chapelle Show, assuming that it would contain all the same jokes Chapelle made? Probably not, and probably not just because of their own “white liberal guilt.”
      Another thing this whole discussion brings up is racism against white people. Anytime someone brings up racism towards whites, everyone. including myself, has at least a part of them say, “Well, it’s white people so it doesn’t matter. They had slaves and a lot of them are racist. They kinda deserve a taste of their own medicine, a very small taste compared to what some of them have done.” But is this way of thinking racist? I’m asking a lot of questions because I am not enitirely sure what constitutes racism. I am angry at the fact that I am young and have spent my entire life in a small town that is almost 100% white. Many people here are incredibly provincial in their thinking. Especially with the recent election of Barack Obama. I sometimes hear other people say things that are racist, and some people are openly so. And I get offended. I find my reaction to be natural though. I think all people should take offense to something racist regardless of their race. So on things like the guy who made those Drunken Negro Faces, which I was offended by because the guy was clearly a racist asshole, why did people criticize the white people who reported that guy? Because they are white, their opinions are not valid? It was interesting though that the news station did not ask many black people what they thought. So basically, don’t criticize the white people who were asked what they thought, criticize the news station for not considering how black people felt.
      And that gets down to what I think is the real problem. I read the guy in this video’s article that Gabe mentioned. It’s really tough to read something like that, that he is only ever hired as “the black guy.” I wonder how he felt about doing the Fresh Prince parody. Did he continue to work for College Humor in other roles, or did they just hire him as “the black guy”? The casting in television always is over-sensitive to the point of being racist, if that makes any sense. If there is a show about criminals, and one of the criminals is black, there has to be a black cop or else the show is racist. That’s not right.
      Anyway, I feel strange writing this incredibly long post on videogum about racism, but it seems like the only way one can effectively discuss this issue is by explaining everything to death. I wasn’t at first going to comment at all, or even read any comments, but my love for these kind of discussions got the best of me. I hope that eventually we can get past racism, but in all honesty, some people will just always cling to it. I think everyone has a small bit of racism in them, towards another race AND towards their own race. People who aren’t racist are just people who know that this racism is wrong. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this without people hating me, but I have had racist thoughts before. I think it’s important for people to admit their faults when discussing racism, but that’s pretty hard to do with a bunch of strangers on the internet. I think it’s impossible not to have racist thoughts in the world that we have been brought up in, especially with television. And it’s not just with race, it’s human nature to judge someone by how they look, whether it’s how they dress or their gender, age, race, or how attractive you find them. The whole thiing makes us humans look pretty bad.
      I’m not sure how to end this, so I’ll just say thanks to everyone who commented on here. Congratulations, you guys, we did it! We ended racism!

      • hmm  |   Posted on Jan 31st, 2009 0

        Just a side note, when I said that it’s human nature to judge on appearances, I didn’t mean that as an excuse for racism, just as a simple fact. And I’d like to add that it’s EVOLVED human nature to NOT judge someone by how they look.

      • I know that I, as a white German American, is SICK about the way America treats white male Germans. We just can’t get a break.

        • hmm  |   Posted on Feb 1st, 2009 0

          Please, I’m in no way suggesting that white people are a group of people that “can’t get a break” in America. I was merely commenting on all of the attitudes that different people have. Someone can’t condemn one person for being racist while holding on to somewhat racist beliefs themselves. Why would someone get angry at a white person for saying something is racist towards another race? It doesn’t really make sense, and I was using that to say that a lot of perceptions of race don’t.

          • Oh I’m totally not sick about the anti-german sentiment. I would bet everyone here wishes they had a Volkswagen and Birkenstocks. America LOVES the fatherland.

        • Oh darn I wrote that I… is sick. :p

  44. realpaid  |   Posted on Jan 28th, 2009 0

    Sorry, this is a parody of gangster rap culture, not black culture. To equate the two is racism.

  45. dogammit  |   Posted on Jan 29th, 2009 0

    Apologies. One aspect of part of one segment of the rich tapestry that is black culture.

  46. Johnson12  |   Posted on Jan 29th, 2009 0

    The topic of race and racism can be funny when in the hands of a skilled comedian. The problem is, the people at CHTV are HACK. They always have been. There comedy is NEVER funny, so for someone to look at this and be surprised by how UNFUNNY it is, surprises me. I think it is UNFUNNY if any one was surprised by how UNFUNNY CHTV’s UNFUNNY stuff is and always has been. Watch the rest of their stuff. It is always lowest common denominator comedy. Garbage.

  47. Brian  |   Posted on Jan 29th, 2009 -1

    it wasn’t racist. have you ever seen a gangsta rap vid? its a parody, genius, and a good one.

    and yes, you are being oversensitive and politically correct. PC is a cancer on society that nees to be eliminated.

    good job CH

  48. Mike  |   Posted on Jan 29th, 2009 0

    equating gangsta rap culture with black culture (as if such a thing exists) is racist, or at least moronic. This was a parody of many gangsta rap songs, nothing more.

    I would have never assumed this vid to be racist, i don’t know why the reviewers did. If you ask me they are the ignorant ones here. There is a double standard in this country, and its time we started admitting it and dealing with it. IT HURTS ALL RACES.

    there is nothing wrong with this video. Dave Chappel had skits 100 times edgier than this.

  49. the racist content of a joke is inversely proportional to how funny it is

  50. stevedaverogers1134  |   Posted on Jan 30th, 2009 -5

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  51. RML  |   Posted on Jan 31st, 2009 +2

    (Obligatory “I’m black preface” goes here.)

    I didn’t see ANY racism in the video. None. By putting a gangsta spin to FPoBA, it made fun of the absurdity of gangsta rap, AND FPoBA. Because if you think about it, a kid out of West Philly SHOULD have been straight-up ghetto in that show.

    This video got me thinking how subversive FPoBA was. It’s a commentary to the degree to which blacks had to go to assimilate (i.e., prove themselves to be “non-threatening” — something like Obama’s campaign). But as the counterpart, as the “ghetto” guy, they got Straight Out o’ The Middle Class, woulda-gone-to-MIT Will Smith. Think if they’d cast Jay-Z or 50-Cent instead. That would have been more true to life, it would not have been a comedy, and it would have never made it to the air.

    I’m kinda digressing. The “racism”, in my view, is viewing gangsta as a racial phenomenon. it’s SO not. And as for blackface, blackface is white guys putting on black makeup and caricaturing blacks. Now, if you want to get into whites exploiting blacks, you would start with the NBA, the NFL, and up until this last election cycle, the Democratic Party.

    Oh, and it was funny as sh!t. I laughed the whole time. Very well written, in how they were able to turn the “music” back to the memes in the real FPoBA theme (I particularly liked the “smell ya later” part).

    • This guy(gender bias! :O) seems to agree with me…

    • Dude, I love you. I read most of this whole discussion and everything these uptight pricks say about wanting to sound like they are sensitive to racism by completely overreacting to a casual reference to anything involving a black person made me physically disgusted. My first reaction to watching the video… “This really isn’t racist at all.” And its fucking funny! Guys they weren’t trying to make a point! They were just spoofing a TV show from twenty years ago! And if this is racist, then every video about uptight white nerds is racist too. Just get over it. Like AlfredAwesome and RML say, I always thought that FPoBA was basically racist. Will was a nice enough kid but he didn’t grow up in a rich neighborhood and he had to relearn how to walk and dress, and he finds redemption in getting accustomed to having a butler? Really? But I’m getting away from my original point that this video was not racist. It just took a very G rated rap song from 17 years ago or whenever and turned it into a rather explicit one. If they made a video parodying the Odd Couple by making it look like an Ari Gold-style business guy living with a total beach bum xbox playing stoner would it be racist against white people?

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