Whenever I see something ignorant – be it on television or in real life – my first instinct is to yell out “WorldStarHipHop” – all one word – even if I don’t have a camera.
Seriously, that site is where the pinnacle of debauchery and other questionable human behavior. Yet it is so hard to look away. Yeah I know, I am part of the problem; however according to the 500 million impressions the site owner reportedly says he gets a day, I know for a statistical fact, that I am not the only one. We try to honor our morals and convictions and boycott the site. However all it takes is for someone to post via social networking a WorldStar link with a catchy title like Stripper Eats It Hard When Pole Splits Into Two and you’re like, Oh Hell, ain’t nothing going on at my work desk right now, let me just turn down the volume and see this real quick...One hour and fifteen minutes later, you have just witnessed and perused through hours of videos of a man a chicken; a butt unclothed man tearing up a gas station while another man, recording him, sings very humorously Black Man Don’t Care; and an instructional video on how to have sex on an giant exercise ball.
The videotaped beatings are the most interesting; particularly the sheer audacity and ignorance of some in these videos, who are willing to not only capture these beatings on tape but upload them for the whole world to witness as they, more often than not, commit a crime. Talk about dry-snitching. And what exactly do you get from all this attention besides a nice photo for police and the prosecutors and the fleeting moment of being a world star? I guess it is worth it for some.
For instance, Jaden Ethridge, a high school student, who submitted a video to WSHH of him, “smacking a heaux” after an intense lunchroom argument spills into the school’s hallway. In the video we see Ethridge anxiously arguing with an anonymous young woman, whose face has been blurred. While we don’t know what sparked this argument, what we can gather is that Ethridge is annoyed with his female opponents threats, including daring the young man to hit her, and warns her that, “if I gets mad, you’re going to get smacked.” After a few more nonsensical exchanges, the video fades to black screen and the audio cues to the intro of “Smack Dat Heaux,” in which Soulja Boy, a child himself advises other young men around the world to “pimp smack that heaux…get your respect, you feel me?” The visual portion of the video returns and Ethridge is now knuckling up with who I believe is the same blurry face girl from the cafeteria. In one of his flurry of wild punches, he manages to catch the anonymous girl across the head, which is then rewound and mixed to a chorus of “pimp smack that heaux.”
You would expect Ethridge and his female opponent to receive condemnation for acting a fool in school when they were supposed to be studying. At least that was the normal response from adults growing up when they learned that I was involved in similar schoolyard fight situations. However even with the cautionary title It’s Not Okay to Hit A Girl: This Boy was Fed Up During Argument, most of the comments, which are now disabled, appear to make a joke out of the beatdown. Likewise Ethridge, unperturbed that he has actually done something shameful, revels in all of the attention, even tweeting and re-tweeting messages of congratulations for making it to the site and for throwing a mean right, including this satirical (I hope) message, “Do you have a heaux that needs sum pimp slapping done? Call Jalen at 1-800-SlapAHo.”
Men hitting women, or in this instance, boys hitting girls, is not a new phenomenon. However, men and boys hitting women and girls on camera and then taking bows over the act seems like a relatively newish thing. I don’t know if WSHH is totally to blame for that as some could argue that certain rappers like Too Short have been promoting the “smack a heaux” culture for some time now. However the site does appear to be a clearinghouse for this sort of anti-social and non progressive attitudes around violence towards women.
Perhaps it is the aid of technology like WSHH, which has made us more susceptible to seeing some violent acts against women as a cause and effect problem instead of a blanket condemnation. After all, it was her smart-mouth and needling of him, which caused Ethridge to throw up his fist and basically knock her down, right? Except Ethridge didn’t have to be in that situation. He could have decided to not argue with the young woman. He could have also walked away. And even if he was left with little choice but to defend himself, where is the regret in having to do so? The idea of hitting a woman used to be thought of as an act of last resort (and the work of abusers), certainly nothing to celebrate. Instead little Spike Lee here goes home with his video trophy of his victory, pulled out his windows movie maker, does some editing, lays down a soundtrack and then uploaded to a site, which receives over 500 million impressions a day. I’m pretty certain this was not about defending himself, or even misguided attempt at gender equality. This was about notoriety and fame. This was about going viral on the internet. And more importantly, this was about doing something so daring, which could propel a person to the title of World Star.
Long before WSHH, there was television, movies, video games, the world news and even what they saw outside (and inside in more tragic circumstances) their homes, which provided people many avenues to become desensitized to gratuitous violence of any form. However sites like WSHH offer a home for this kind of violence to not only exist but also feel welcomed. But as easy as it would be to condemn WSHH and Ethridge for that matter, there is a bigger message about how none of this culture of violence, particularly violence against women, will ever change as long as we continue to view these acts as entertainment. I mean, 500 million impressions a day?