Of course, not everyone shares the humor in Brown’s recollection of events. Clutch raised the interesting parallel between Brown and another YouTube viral video of the red bandana-wearing Antoine Dodson, whose catchy “Hide Yo Wife, Hide Yo Kids” message to a yet-to-be-caught rapist in his Huntsville, Alabama community catapulted him into international stardom. In that situation, it was hard to tell if folks were laughing with Dodson or at him or even if we should be laughing at all, considering the seriousness of a serial rapist on the loose in the community.
It’s true that TV producers can, on occasion, manipulate a report to try to shape a story, and the people within it, to fit their own narrative – just ask the 6-year-old witness to a crime, who was made to look like a thug due to some calculated editing. But what probably strikes a nerve among black folks, particularly those from middle class backgrounds, is that people like Sweet Brown and Antoine Dodson are embarrassing for them because they get a little too close to the clichéd and narrow picture of what black people are: loud, opinionated, eye-popping, neck-swirling, teeth sucking, gold tooth shiners and do-rag wearers.
Both Dobson and Brown’s entire natural persona sends chills down the backs of some folks, who imagine the coming of parodies of white people, wearing do-rags and mimicking how they feel these folks sound and having to defend themselves against allegations of being likeness with said character (i.e. All Black people act like this). It’s one of the burdens of a people who never really had control of their media image.
Who could forget the infamous Leprechaun in the Alabama Hood news report? Here we had to weather the perfect storm of uber-stereotypical behavior: a gold tooth smiling dude yelling into the camera, “Who else seen the leprechaun say Yeah!” and then the whole crowd behind him hoots and hollers like they are at a Jay-Z concert; The one woman, who assured the reporter that the leprechaun was actually a crackhead in the tree; the amateur sketch of the leprechaun on loose-leaf paper; and the militant black dude in army fatigues and bullet-proof jacket, going on about being part Irish and how he is going to catch the leprechaun with his special leprechaun flute. That had to be the most embarrassing display of foolishness ever put on television. But damn, if I didn’t laugh my behind off.
Why? Because it IS funny as hell. And secondly, because some people really do act like that. Some of them are in your own family. Maybe even your own mother and father. And quite frankly, there is nothing really wrong with that. And I know I’m not the only one. I’ve seen YouTube videos of news reports with crazy sounding white folks – like the guy describing how many bench press rotations he did at the gym during the Oslo Norway bombing. Or the white dude with the c**n [not racist] skin cap, who managed to evoke both the Dukes of Hazards and Dale Earhart Jr. into a description of a bank robbery getaway. What these viral videos do is to appeal to the intransient nature/habit of all of us – regardless of color – to smile or laugh at the quirkiness of life, especially during tragic events.
Never mind thanking the Heavens above that her thirst for a cold Pepsi woke her up in time to actually smell the fire, thus getting out of there before it affected her bronchitis (which was a strong possibility) and killed her. Never mind thinking about what she is going to do for the next day, two, or possibly weeks now that her living space is probably inhabitable. It’s much more important that she not embarrass us. Now does that sound right to you? I, for one, am glad that Brown had a sense of humor at the events. It means that she has a positive outlook on things and will probably bounce back better than most.
Now are there going to be people laughing at her instead of with her? Sure. Are they going to use this video to make bigoted assumptions about all black folks? Of Course. We still do live in a polarized society based upon race. But those people are racist and there is nothing you can do about it.
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