Monday, March 28, 2011

Why “Black people” and “satire” don’t go together

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor

A couple of weeks ago I had the revelation that Black people don’t do satire. I kind of instinctively knew this for whenever I’ve either read an article or watched a Black web series even remotely satirical, there would be at least one overly serious comment from a Black person not laughing.

The case was no different when I first watched, “The Real Housewives of the Civil Rights?” on I thought the video was conceptually hilarious but wasn’t surprised to see in the comments section that more than one viewer was less than amused and in fact out right offended. The consensus was that you don’t touch the women of the Civil Rights especially Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks.

It got me thinking…why not? Does it some how take away their power? Will it make their extraordinary contribution less significant or worse…reversible? After watching the video I thought if anyone is setting the race back it’s Bravo and their ridiculous Real Housewives franchise (that I love to hate) but not this web video.

The irony of satire is that more often than not the real issue gets overlooked. I realized that “Satire,” is the crazy cousin of “comedy” and for Black folks that crazy cousin is usually…well…embarrassing. Satire exposes flaws and opens the door for criticism by white people. Yes the race that enslaved us, told us we weren’t good enough and would never be good enough. As a result, Black culture has been built on having to constantly prove self worth regardless of how far we’ve come. But is this a habit that it’s time to break away from like poor diets that cause high blood sugar?

Satire is a form of human expression that if one is open to can be very insightful and unconventional medical practitioners would even confirm as healing.

Unfortunately I don’t see enough outlets for laughter in the Black community and this is painful. In fact, I recently attended a film festival and noticed that nine of the ten films produced by Black filmmakers were dramatic and either about Jesus, rape or substance abuse. How can a community possibly evolve unless you address all the layers of our human experiences which definitely includes laughter?

I once read a person’s comment responding to what they took as an author’s inappropriate satirical tone on a “serious” issue suggesting that comedy and drama be kept separate. What they overlooked is that both ideas live in the same core of our existence. The question is how can we begin to learn from both.

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  1. This is one of the funniest clip I have seen in a while. People need to just get over themselves. Thanks for the link

  2. I don't think that black people in general don't get satire, but I do think we tend to pay too much attention to those who don't. In order to pull of satire, you have to be okay with some people not getting it. I often find black people who do get satire wringing their hands over the black people who don't. There are plenty of people who take offense at the Daily Show. They get thousands of letters and comment expressing offense at their material every year. The difference between them and us is that they don't care. They don't give people who don't get satire oxygen and it's almost to the point where you'd think they don't get any hate mail at all. I say black satirists and black folks who appreciate satire should take a note. If someone gets upset about a satiric skit, ignore them. I really don't see why we award so much attention to those without a sense of humor.