Some topical pieces for August

Hey there! My mailbox won’t open. It has all of the amazing work I wanted to share with you today. Quite ridiculous. So instead I’m going to go and do a phone interview with Neon Indian:

..and by the time I come back, hopefully it will be working again.

*some minutes later*

Ok, it’s working now, great. Before I go and do this phoner for The 405, I’d like to share some pieces which were written for another website but alas they were never published. So here you go, two topical and culture packed pieces.

Do’s and dont’s for the courtroom:

Ever been asked to give evidence in an important trial on an international stage? Do a Naomi and leave the lexicon at home. Confusion over what you’re being asked (“blood diamond? Qu’est-ce que c’est un “blood diamond”?”) as well as monosyllabic, lampen lingo (“i-was-given-dirty-looking-rocks-by-the-bad-man”) served the supermodel pretty well, as she testified at The Hague. Of course, it would be libellous to accuse Naomi of telling anything less than the-whole-truth-and-nothing-but-the-truth; however her story proves that when the entertainment and political frames collide, unintentional comedy can ensue.

Naomi's story: story rhymes with jack-a-nory

One fateful night in 1997, Campbell claims to have been asleep following an oh-so-peaceful Nelson Mandela charity function, when she heard a knock at her door. Two men gave her a pouch, reportedly saying it was “a gift for you”. Without meaning to puncture the validity of Ms Campbell’s account, when was the last time that a knock at the door roused you from your sleep? It must have been some pretty aggressive knocking, which fits slightly better with the President Charles Taylor myth (read: the black Stalin). Had I been cross-examining, I would’ve also asked La Campbell where her swarm of staff where when the drop-off occured. Do you think Naomi Campbell touched doorhandles at the height of her fame? Her legal forte is ABH, as witnessed in the magistrates courts of Great Britannia, where court artists surely enjoy themselves sketching her chignon. So, please don’t take our comedy sunshine away, foreign war trials…more importantly, she might make you look like a joke. And Liberia – as recently investigated by Vice here – is really anything but.

Making light, making money..making a mockery?:

Music has been “helping” us to deal with serious issues since the dawn of time. Self-help songs such as abstinence anthem “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off” are customary to our culture, and every boy-meets-girl pop song carries a similar brand of emotional counselling.

Even Queen tried it, albeit with tounge pressed firmly in cheek.

However, speculative songs-about-potentially-serious-subjects (SAPSS) rarely appear in the same frame as the subject matter, for fear of trivialising the latter. It’s not like the latest Ripper case is going to be accompanied by a light piano instrumental of “Roxanne”on the 6 o’clock news. Plus, it’s kind of patronising to assume that Roxanne or any other lady of the night wanted Sting’s career advice in g-minor in the first place. Ironically, the news itself sometimes like to draw attention to songs which might just make an audience think that the news is all bureaucracy and trivia. About 10 years ago, BBC news got all angry over a song called Tapa Na Cara (that’s “slap on the cheek” in Spanish).

Tapa Na Cara: 1/3 of women in America is physically abused, and bad dancing isn't usually a factor

Surely telling victims of domestic violence to get angry about a mardi gras anthem is about as relevant as telling someone whose family were murdered and arranged in a pentacle formation to get angry about Halloween at TGI Friday’s?

Plus, it’s kind of naive of the BBC not to think that Western pop hasn’t been linking sex and violence since the beginning of the world, or more aptly, “since OJ had isotoners”. Brazil were positively late on that angle. Anyhow, I digress – the strangest thing I’ve witnessed of late on the internet is an inverse of the SAPSS phenomenon. It is a SAPSS appearing in the same frame as the subject matter, and dodging the “disgustingly immoral” card by way of endorsement from the victim of said serious crime. Antoine Dodson flew into a wholly justifiable rage after an attempted rape on sister Kelly at their home in Huntsville, Alabama, and his subsequent tirade was shown on local news. As part of their well-known “Auto-Tune The News” viral series, comedy group The Gregory Brothers decided to give Antoine’s rant the T-Pain treatment and the video became an overnight meme sensation. The result had more potential and playability than Rick Astley in a gay sauna with Gap Yah rah star Orlando, getting a mutual erection over Chris Crocker circa 2007:

On one hand, it is hugely inappropriate to make a song about a sexual assault which isn’t a) a raw autobiography or b) in aid of a rape charity. It is pretty taboo full stop, actually, unless you’re in Sublime and you can practise irony as well as santeria. On the other, the song in question is almost a two-fingers up at rape (I should stress almost) and could even be viewed (I should stress could) as liberation in the face of anger, poverty and humiliation. Indeed, the makers of the video went dutch with Dodson, who filmed his last video in an apartment which certainly did not resemble the grim surroundings of the Projects where his sister was attacked. At the end of the day, it’s a bittersweet, almost Dickensian paradox, however much we sick British animals with our supposed love for a “working class hero” justify our love. It is because they are poor and black that society allows us to make them into court jesters, much like the cast of the current BBC3 series “Peckham Finishing School”, all picked for a cheap laugh. Antoine Dodson can sit pretty in an Ed Hardy t-shirt and muse about his “fanbase”, but we’re not really laughing with him. Nor are we laughing at him.

We’re laughing at rape, albeit a highly dramatised song about the possibility that someone is “raping errybody out there”. Our fauxmance with Antoine Dodson has most definitely moved from entertainment to exploitation. Sounds pretty sick, right? Some Americans might be behind the Dodson’s as they grasp at their very own American dream. But we are uncompassionate Brits, and we take Lolita and A Clockwork Orange and abuse books on holiday and read them on the beach. But perhaps if all of us rubberneckers who’ve downloaded “Bed Intruder” because of the internet hype have helped a family escape a life where rape could traverse from criminality into comedy…then maybe it would be ok to advise you to buy it.

H xxxxxxxx