Category Archives: memes

How One Black Person Responds to “How Black People Use Twitter”

The ridiculous artwork that accompanied the ridiculous article

It was something in the title that first struck me, the blatant, definitive, all-inclusive sound of “black people” in the title of SLATE magazine’s “How Black People Use Twitter.” Apparently it was time, the editors decided, not only to focus SLATE’s penetrating eye on the specific ways in which African Americans—we “black people”—utilize the popular social networking site which allows individuals to communicate in 140-character chunks of verbiage, but also how we bend the site to our own (apparently) racialized ways. The first time I read the article I was a bit bemused by it; my first thought was, well, should anyone be surprised that black folks happen upon some existing entity and re-create it to fit their own style? Of course not, American history is rife with musical, sartorial, and cultural shifts caused by the mere re-arrangement of codes that black folks decided to use to make things sound, look, and just work better for themselves—and eventually anyone else who decided to come to the party (sometimes stealing it in the process, but cultural theft is a blog post for another day). To be real, the so-called melting pot that is American (popular) culture seems as if its been eternally stirred by the fierce and hard-fought attitudes and moods of black folks who like for things to be what my grandmother used to call “just-so.”

But then I read the article a second time and I felt almost as if I was reading some updated version of 19th century racial anthropology or some foray into the heart of darkness, where the cultural ways of black folks get investigated with the usual mixture of shock and surprise and awe, a reversion back to that age-old regard for black folks as merely grouped-together objects with (of?) style, instead of actual individual subjects with points of view. Based upon the oh-so-interesting premise that even though black folks on Twitter use hashtags like #wordsthatleadtotrouble in an insular and provocative—and (apparently) black—way, these Tweets trend extraordinarily high in the Twitterverse and have taken to being referred to as “blacktags.” According to the piece’s author Farhad Manjoo, “The prevalence of these tags has long puzzled nonblack observers and sparked lots of sometimes uncomfortable questions about ‘how black people use Twitter.’” “What,” he asks, “explains the rise of tags like #wordsthatleadtotrouble?” (and, later, #ghettobabynames). “What,” he asks, “is it about the way black people use Twitter that makes their conversations so popular?” “Black people—specifically, young black people,” he decides, “do seem to use Twitter differently from everyone else on the service. They form tighter clusters on the network—they follow one another more readily, they retweet each other more often, and more of their posts are @-replies—posts directed at other users. It’s this behavior, intentional or not, that gives black people—and in particular, black teenagers—the means to dominate the conversation on Twitter.” And therein lies my real problem with this article.

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Filed under Class, memes, Race, Rants, Uncategorized

Thursday: 25 Things…

Quote of the Day: “Don’t take it personal/Take the bitter with the sweet…” “Don’t Take it Personal” by Jermaine Jackson

So this week, I get an email from another blogger as well as a Facebook message from a student at Brown: I’m supposed to list 25 random things about me, facts, goals or ambitions, etc, then pass it along to 25 other people. I decided I didn’t have to the time to give to both endeavors, so I’d just blog about it. So if anyone wanted to know 25 things about me they didnt know before, here ya go!

1. I love spring and autumn.
2. I hate winter and summer.
3. Vanilla instead of chocolate, but Neopolitan trumps them both.
4. I love Burger King burgers but I prefer McDonalds fries.
5. I’m actually turning into a Size Queen even though I possess a very average endowment myself.
6. I think the movie Pulp Fiction is overrated borderline-racist claptrap.
7. I think Daniel Craig is the best. Bond. Ever.
8. I’m definitely more a breast man than an ass man.
9. Boxer shorts instead of briefs.
10. I can just barely drive a car.
11. I hate talking on cell phones.
12. I was born a poor black child but I have the soul of a 17-year-old Jewish American Princess.
13. I have an enormous crush on a friend that I can NEVER admit to.
14. Don’t Lie to me. I get angry. And you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.
15. My favorite place in the US other than NYC, Miami and Providence is Cali’s East Bay area.
16. I have bad taste in music but my eyes are lovely.
17. I once had a t-shirt that read “Cocksucker” but I lost it when I left Miami.
18. Today, my favorite movie is Tootsie.
19. I think Carol Burnett doing Scarlet O’Hara is one of the funniest things. Ever. (see video below)
20. I wanted to be Diana Ross for about 22 minutes back in 1981, around the first RCA album.
21. I’ve had my last DL love affair with a closeted rapper.
22. I plan on marrying by the time I’m 38.
23. I love the taste of bacon in the morning.
24. I don’t love anyone as much as I love my mama.
25. I think online memes like this are fun, but exhausting…

Your turn…

Carol Burnett as Starlett O’Hara

More SCOTT TOPICS (TV Cheaters!) after the jump…

Your Cheatin’ Heart: I have a question. Why does it seem like all the leading men characters on the “quality” TV shows that I love to watch, especially on cable, are all cheating on their wives? I recently spent a coupla days glued to my computer, amazed at the style and grace and novelistic tension that was the first season of AMC’s buzzy, award-winning show Mad Men. Loved everything about it: the men in their “grey flannel” suits living lives of quiet desperation to the swell of that swinging early 60s soundtrack; all the cigarette smoke and martinis and Manhattans; the knowing nods to how things have changed (pregnant women smoking and cocktailing; no child seats in the Buicks) and how they haven’t (straight white dudes still run damn near everything—well, except the country, haha!). I really loved the idea of, essentially, casting a Gregory Peck with sex appeal opposite a Grace Kelly as the rich, bored, frustrated suburban housewife Kelly might have become had she not bucked the Main Line Philly trend and went to Hollywood, then married a Monaco prince. Okay, not really Peck and Kelly, but Jon Hamm and January Jones are so on-target good as Don and Betty Draper—the repressed post-50s icons that they do play—that sometimes the show feels like a Douglas Sirk melodrama if it’d been co-written by John Cheever and Lillian Hellman.

But all that said, among his other transgressions, Draper’s cheating on his wife. Just like Tony Soprano did. Just like Vic Mackey on The Shield, and Jimmy McNulty on The Wire, and Tommy Gavin on Rescue Me and Sean McNamara on Nip/Tuck. Has infidelity become the default “fatal flaw” for all the middle-aged TV heroes these days? And if so, why? Is it because rogue dudes make for more interesting viewing (and screwing)? Are these the proto-typical guys who other most guys wanna be and every woman wants fuck? Or are all the writers and creators of these shows lost in some post-Updikean literary netherworld where they think the push-and-pull passions of cheating spouses somehow rises their characters to the level of art? Perhaps it’s some blue-stated gay Hollywood agenda to prove that heterosexual love can be as wobbly, insincere, and unstable as the Right and the religious claim the homo love to be so that it can’t get the stamp of “marriage”? I don’t know what the answer is. And I’m not trying to judge or anything but I do find it curious that almost any time I turn on the telly, I’m bombarded with the boxer-dropping shenanigans of middle-aged white dudes who positively love their wives and children to bits, but also can’t seem to get enough new pussy on the side. Maybe the answer is to give myself over to Big Love, which I haven’t seen since the first episode bored me to tears a coupla years ago. At least that character got to marry all his potential mistresses. Or watch Desperate Housewives, where the husbands are pretty boring and disposable, but at least they sleep in their own beds most of the time.

The only TV hero I watch consistently who’s not cheating on his wife is not doing it because he doesn’t actually have one (anymore), and that’s Dr. House, the irascibly sarcastic misanthrope who also manages to make a living as a world-class diagnostician, who frequents hookers and pops pills with a vengeance. Then again, I guess if he was still with his wife—who was played by the luminous Sela Ward, who I love, but is also, it sometimes seems, one of TV’s most cheated-on women—he’d have reason to cheat. It was her decision to allow the surgery that basically crippled him. Here’s to love…

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Filed under memes, TV