When Cooning Is Proper: Why Is The Gas Station Couple Different Than Charles Ramsey?

May 14, 2013  |  

Here’s an interesting side note to that viral video of the black couple hamming it up on Jay Leno, which might have you looking at how we define “cooning” differently.

According to The Smoking Gun, Will and Monifa Sims, who appeared on Jay Leno’s Pumpcast News segment and sang and dance to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” and the Eurythmics’s “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” at a Costco gas station, are actually trained actors, who once had a theater company in their native Chicago before moving out to Hollywood. While The Smoking Gun article doesn’t explicitly state that the segment, which catapulted the Sims to Internet sensations, was staged, the article points out that Monifa has appeared on the same Pumpcast News segment, in the same car and seemingly at the same gas station pump more than two years ago. Writes The Smoking Gun:

In the original segment, Sims is seen at the same Burbank gas station where she was filmed singing with her husband. In fact, Monifa conversed with Stack both times while parked at pump number 16, the area used for the “Pumpcast News” bits. On both occasions, Monifa was in the same Chrysler Pacifica (she drove during the first taping, while her husband was at the wheel during the recent shoot). Additionally, she is seen wearing identical workout pants in each segment.”

Videos of Monifa’s previous appearance on Pumpcast news is embedded in the article as well as an update, which includes comments from Monifa explaining that her twice-appearance for the same supposedly candid-camera segment was just “a fluke” and that she never saw the first appearance because she is not, “glued to [her] TV at night.” However, The Smoking Gun has a cache of Monifa’s Facebook post from the time when the first segment aired, which shows that not only was Monifa promoting the heck out of her first appearance but she also gave a shout out to the “hilarious” Jay Leno too.

So I know what you are thinking: so what? Can’t we just have a good natured laugh without worrying about the authenticity of what we find entertaining? I agree 100 percent however that hadn’t stopped a bunch of folks last week from being all butt-hurt over Charles Ramsey, whom folks were accusing of cooning it up for the cameras.

All last week, the blogosphere was buzzing, pondering the question if Ramsey – the man who helped rescue three women from a kidnapper’s home – was glorifying certain negative stereotypes of black men. Those objections to him being in front of the camera revolved mostly around his use of colloquialisms and cadence found among those who are predominately black and poor and his overall appearance, which included missing teeth and an unkempt Afro. Some folks have even hinted that Ramsey intentional “cooned” out in front of cameras in hopes of following a long tradition of enterprising black Internet sensations, including Antoine Dodson and Sweet Brown, who have cashed in on their 15 minutes of fame. Yet by Friday, the same ferocity to either condemn or disassociate from Ramsey had been begun to be overshadowed by the virtual smiling and praising for a young black couple, who it now appears might have been doing the very thing that some folks accused Ramsey of – and that is shucking and jiving for the entertainment of white folks.

Okay, they weren’t actually shucking and jiving but they were singing, dancing and smiling for the cameras of a television show, which I have never known black folks to be fond of (This may be a personal observation but no black person I know or have met has every said, “yo man, did you catch Jay Leno last night?” Because the obvious answer to that is: “What? No!”). But it’s okay though because they got all their teeth; she got a perm and he speaks English properly. In the words of Ramsey himself, I do believe that this is a Dead Giveaway! Or as Yvette Carnell, writer with Your Black World pointed out:

The message here is clear: Poor Blacks embarrass bourgeoisie Blacks. The evocation here is…Please, per Vice President Biden, only put the clean and perfectly coiffed Blacks on TV. If the man who rescued these women had resembled Denzel Washington or Will Smith, all of Ramsey’s critics would be bursting with race pride. But bourgeois black folk don’t abide the unwashed horde of poor black folk, and that’s actually nothing new.”

Tough words there by Carnell but you can’t deny the air of cultural elitism seeping from the lips of some folks, who have clutched pearls and wondered aloud about why the “wrong” type of black person always seem to get chosen to represent the race in front of the television news cameras. Personally, I actually have no issues with the couples portrayal on Leno – real or staged; they were actually very entertaining. However if we are going to scrutinize the most marginalized among us for not representing us “right” then we need to hold that same mirror up to those among us with more education, more acceptable physical appearances and more so-called social class, and point out ways in which their behavior on television might too assume negative stereotypes as well as a need to see black folks perform for the entertainment of white people.

Or we can just stop throwing around the term “cooning” so gingerly. Not saying that cooning doesn’t exist. However unless you are standing on the corners, in your red, black and green, banging all day on the same system, which oppress black folks globally, there is a strong possibility that you can be accused of cooning too (and even in that network of system bangers are folks, who could be accused of cooning too). Matter of fact, some of you sitting at your desk, talking about “Yessir I’ll get that report to you right away sir. Do you want extra staples…” are cooning right now. And as long as we black folks live in America (and most places with intense hatred of black skin) there are going to be plenty of times in life where how we dress, act and speak will draw the mockery of those other folks (also known as racist, white folks), who find us inferior. And despite the odds of that happening, it doesn’t necessarily make you a fool; it just makes those who mock what they can’t have or understand, assholes.

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  • Shana

    The fact of the matter is that we are not all the same. Every person is not educated, every person may not speak with the diction or dialect that is acceptable to all, we are not all poor or rich. The black people that felt embarrassed should do something to help those that they see in need and not solely hang their heads in shame. Get over it.

  • yadayada

    Carnell is so right.. If a little black child is a genuis and her hair is nappy the first thing black women are going to say is someone needs to do somrthing with her hair. While their child’s running the streets at 2:0a.m. with a nice fresh do.

  • scandalous7

    this long winded article was so unnecessary

  • FromUR2UB

    The black people who are so concerned with toeing the, ‘what will white people think?‘ line, disgust me. They’re the ones who’ve decided that all Tyler Perry movies are meritless, despite probably having seen only one of them. They were the ones who went into a tizzy when Mary J Blige appeared in a commercial promoting chicken wraps, because THAT is the most shameful thing a person can ever do. I’ll bet those folks sneak chicken, and eat it incognito. They’ve probably given their family instructions that if ever they die while eating chicken, to pry it from their cold hand and pump their stomach before the coroner arrives. If ever they were caught dead with a watermelon, they’d come back to life and then die again of embarrassment. Here’s another thing for you to NOT enjoy: don’t be seen eating any bananas or else someone might call ya a monkey!

    This is what my dad used to call, “false pride”, because it’s all about looking good over something inconsequential…putting up a façade, with no substance behind it, like a building on a Hollywood movie lot. Charles Ramsey deserves to be cut a whole lotta slack! He did a righteous thing, and the act should supersede the fact that he didn’t come in hero-packaging. His past should have been irrelevant because in the span of ten years, those women have probably been ignored by numerous people with more stellar records than his. The issue was not that he was going to become the godfather to anybody’s children, or begin managing someone’s personal finances. He is just a man who responded to a call for help. Some of the people accusing him of cooning probably would’ve continued eating their McDonald’s CHICKEN sandwich! That someone thought they should dig around in his past and “expose” him after what he did, was despicable and just plain mean-spirited.

    Its understandable, though, why people feel good about the Karaoke Gas Station couple. They’re young people who look like they enjoy each other’s company and know how to have fun wherever they are. Good voices, too! And then, along comes someone wanting to rain on their parade…make a big deal out of nothing. Real camera hogs, that couple! Goin’ to the same gas station…in the same car…using the same pump. Who does that?? This shall now be known as the ‘Been gassing at the Same Karaoke Pump Scandal’.

  • Tehani

    Y’all reaching.

  • Wow I was just happy and relieved that Mr. Ramsey help saved the young women. I didn’t see either cooning!!!!!

    • I didn’t see either as cooning, but what I do see is..this author making a ridiculous statement about either one of them cooning and theN comparing the two. BLACK ON BLACK SHAME ON YOU FOR THIS ONE..MADAME NOIRE. Can’t they both be appreciated for bring some smiles on people faces with out..looking for some foolery???

  • Folks should really be ashamed of themselves for going off on Mr Ramsey. He RESCUED PEOPLE! Okay, so he had a colourful style. But there’s an old saying: Don’t confuse style with intent. Clearly the man has a great heart (foregoing reward monies, etc) which shows his intent, but people let his style obfuscate the point. Boo on them. I was very pleased and happy for Mr Ramsey – and the women he saved.

  • hollyw

    I kind of see what the author is trying to say, that the Black community might’ve liked the karaoke couple, albeit it was staged, over Ramsey’s exposure. However, I actually didn’t hear a lot of people complaining over Ramsey himself, but more so the media’s portrayal of him.

    I think media is just more comfortable glorifying Blacks singing and dancing than being heroes. Case-in-point, the couple got invited on the show, performed w/ the band. Ramsey got an interview on CNN, they brought up his criminal record. It’s not Blacks that are sowning one and holding up the other. It’s White America.

    • vwells1

      Thank you for reading the article! (x10) I do agree the demonization of Ramsey came largely from the media, especially the releasing of his criminal record. But on the other hand I remember seeing memes on Instagram and listening to or seeing several black people on social media etc saying that Charles Ramsey was “cooning” or embarrassing black folk in some way– for the reasons Charing mentioned in the post.

  • sybil

    christ. i give up. NOTHING any of us ever do is just ok. ever.

    • Prissy

      Nope. Until you guys end your partnership with Bossip nothing you guys say will make sense.

  • Chey

    Charles Ramsey was cooning. Purposefully? Probably not. He gave the cameras exactly what they wanted to see. That is why people are making a joke out of it.

  • ted mikeal

    To lovely black couple singing karaoke is bad how ? Are black folk not allowed to be silly here and there !

  • Kenedy

    I agree with the other comments, I don’t see how the black couple singing was “Cooning”, they were just singing & having fun, it could have been a couple of any other race, & it still would have been funny to me….now if they had decided to sing Pretty ricky’s tipsy instead of Bon Jovi, maybe I would have had a problem

    • but that’s not what she said. why does it seem like no one read past the title of this of article?

  • YaY!

    The article author or any other people criticizing the married couple or Ramsey are the real coons – Bug-eyes, wide mouthed and all talking about these poor folks. Did the author even see the Leno clip of the couple? Leno was so charmed with the couple’s playful banter and quality singing (everyone in the audience was) he decided to allow them to sing with this band. Never done before! Ramsey was an everyday guy clearly shaken by the events taking place next door to his home. Why are they called coons for being natural in their situations? Dare I say had this been whites, it wouldn’t cross black minds to call them coons. The author and like critiques are coons for considering there hatin-az diatribe journalism. Can We Live?

    • At what point did folks stop reading because that is exactly the point I made in the piece?

      • feather

        Your subject matter of comparison is just stretching it.

        You thoughts come across as very juvenile (or the comparison). It seem as if you are really reaching for a story.

        Wants again…Can We Live?

        • hollyw

          I think you missed the comparison, hun. the author didn’t judge either portrayal as “coonish”, she was pointing out how some of Black society overlooked Ramsey’s good act b/c of his ‘colorful’ speech, but were ok with the couple’s behavior, even though it actually perpetuated the stereotype of Blacks ‘shuckin & jiving’…

        • chanela

          Did you just say…. Wa-…I’m done,guys,

      • YaY!

        I suffered through your article few times before posting in hopes of getting some clear and concise points about your misleading article title. I say you are a hater because you spent more time researching and quoting naysayers than supporters. In your fifth paragraph you seem to be suggesting the couple is cooning because they might have stage their appearance. You then went off track to describe that blacks don’t watch Leno. Lol. Your ramblings in the last two paragraphs are useless and go back to my larger point. If these folks did nothing wrong why even feature them in the discussion of cooning? If we are making the same point, take note on how to simplify your thoughts. I am clearly not the only one confused by your article.

        • So basically the fifth paragraph and then you picked up reading again at the last. Gotcha. Thanks for reading.

      • MWill

        Exactly the point! Commenters are so quick to go on a rampage when they clearly did not read with UNDERSTANDING. Interesting point though, Charing. Thank you for sharing.

  • Guest

    How is a black couple singing karaoke and having fun together cooning? I go to karaoke and act a fool with my friends all the time. I shouldn’t feel worried about doing a service to uppidy folks.

    • Shay n Scrappy 4 ever! Lmao

      I was thinking the same thing??? Seriously?

    • yadayada

      theyre singing for free gas! while ramsey d abuse girls and wouldnt take the reward money. the only reason that couple isnt getting talked bad about is because theyre easy on the eye

      • yadayada

        *rescued abused girls