I was on the way to work when I heard Steve Harvey and his guests talking about T-Pain's new cartoon Freaknik the Musical. Steve was "none-to-happy" about the show. He, and many others that I've talked to, feel that the show is filled with too many negative stereotypes of African-Americans. The characters on the cartoon refer to woman as bitches and ho's. The n-word is used pervasively and there is excessive alcohol drinking and the use of marijuana all through out the episode. They make fun of several famous African-American leaders including but not limited to Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton. All of what I heard them say on the radio this morning made me want to see for myself how incredibly bad and offensive this cartoon MUST be. I just finished watching it and I do see exactly what they were talking about. I, however, do not hold the exact same sentiments I heard expressed on the Steve Harvey show this morning. I actually really liked the show and was entertained.
Amongst the minutia, I found an underling POSITIVE message being made in the show through satire and humor. There was the lesson of working hard towards a goal, not getting distracted by friends and other people, and how to receive help from those you may have nothing in common with. The cartoon also showed how the power of love can conquer many a foe. It was refreshing to see some intelligence being displayed under the veil of a vulgar and offensive cartoon as opposed to meaningless messages being distributed under the veil of REAL people shaking their asses, drinking from real pimp cups and making it rain in music videos. I'm not a fan of T-Pain on a regular day. I do think this cartoon is consistent with what T-Pain frequently portrays and is meant to entertain a certain demographic...in other words this cartoon is NOT for everybody.
Black people sometimes become embarrassed and or ashamed by what others will think of them when they are portrayed in a negative light. Some of us feel that as long as white folks don't see it, we can laugh and be entertained by a satirical situational comedy sketch, cartoon and/or movie. I know it's a thin line between being laughed with and being laughed at as Dave Chappelle reminded us when he ended his Chappelle Show. I believe that as a people, we are intelligent enough to know how to laugh at offensively funny things as long as when we're NOT laughing we're doing the work that needs to be done help our people become all we can be.
If you are not familiar with what Freaknik really was and how it actually ended, you could be left with certain misconceptions the cartoon didn't address at all. I was recently reminded (thanks Shay) that there was an increase in the reports of rapes and sexual assaults to women during the festival. The police and city officials could not ensure the safety of visitors to Freaknik.
I'm Thed Weller and I approve this message.