Home > Faggot shit > Race-baiting for pleasure and profit

Race-baiting for pleasure and profit

Names we strongly considered for this site before settling on Ich Luge Bullets: Critical Edgeplay, Cucina Povera, Ethnic Babyface. It was the later we were really close to going for in the end, before deciding it was a little too close to post-Gervaisian “racism, but with an awkward pause afterwards so it’s OK yeah?” irony.

For the uninitiated, the “ethnic babyface” was a staple of professional wrestling from its inception as a “sport” until well into the late 1980s. Depending on the demographic make-up of the city/state the wrestling company operated in, a proud hard-working honest black/Mexican/Jewish/Italian/Polish family man would go out there and wrestle with honour and dignity, usually against fat corrupt white Americans. A new fat corrupt white American would show up every few months, proclaim the superiority of whites/America, run down his opponent’s heritage, play chicken for a few weeks to make sure the crowd really wanted to see him get defeated, and then the ethnic babyface kicks the holy crap out of him for his comeuppance. Lather, rinse, repeat. For those operating in the Deep South during this time period, you usually instead had the good clean white guy and the know-it-all, ungrateful sass-talking black guy as your feud instead (indeed, some of ILB’s favourite wrestlers of all time were black guys who excelled in riling up the crowds in KKK towns).

So, as a guy brought up on professional wrestling, and to a lesser extent boxing, I can’t sit here and tell you I have a problem with racebaiting. It’s just good business sense. If you can get people through the front door by saying something controversial about the tone of someone’s skin, more power to your elbow. The only problem is that in wrestling, a prolonged period of racebaiting has to be followed by you getting beaten from pillar to post in the ring. In the world of music criticism, it just results in some low-end Twitter handwringing. Yet another reason that Tracy Smothers > Sasha Frere Jones.

Look, the world needs another thoughtpiece about “where Odd Future belong in the critical fundament” right now as much as it needs a new BBC3 sitcom, but Cord Jefferson clearly thinks differently. At first glance, there seems like he might be making a loosely coherent argument: OFWGKTA have been able to be so openly hostile to Nah Right and 2DopeBoyz because they’ve been put on more by the indie blogs than the rap ones. Tyler isn’t going to be bellowing “FUCK BROOKLYN VEGAN” at the end of a mixtape any time soon.

But this isn’t the road less travelled. From the late 90s onwards a number of rap acts twigged that if you spent more on your indie promotional budget than your traditional rap mag promo, you a) opened up access to markets that didn’t have any white people in and b) you opened up access to the highly lucrative festival circuit.

But where Jefferson falls down here is while he’s got a good heel gimmick going (“People that like x cultural product are all clearly racist”), he doesn’t have the psychology to carry it through. For instance, apparently people watched Mike Tyson for the visceral thrill of seeing a black man hit people and for no other reasons. It’s weird because I thought he was a boxer and punching people in the fucking jaw was a basic part of his job description. Alternatively, if whitey just has a big hard on for black violence and will elevate any melanin’d male to a position of fame resultantly, where was Herbie Hyde in The Hangover? Presumably he’ll be in the Norwich-based scene in the sequel.

Jefferson also gets big bonus points for his end argument that “I should be allowed to beat the shit out of women but for some reason white people don’t like this”. A stunning performance all round.

In the same day, The Guardian publishes a blog article about a black musical act co-signed by another black musical act that has until this point been working pretty solely in the “black” musical idiom, and yet again white people are at fault. This one’s not as good a piece of racebaiting because, as your boy Frere-Jones has proven time and again, white people, or culturally white people such as MacPherson, make pretty bad spokesmen for Every Black Person Ever. To continue the wrestling analogy, they’re Kimchee when what we wanna see is Kamala. I have never listened to The Weeknd and presumably never will as any time I’d type their name into Spotify I’d start listening to that Michael Gray banger of 2004 instead and get a major hankering to start doing Aftershock gas chambers.

Look, we’ve made this argument before, and we’re going to make it time and time again until everyone gets it into their thick fucking skulls: if racial bias in music criticism is that important to you, because God knows we’ve achieved racial equality in every other field of society so that’s clearly the #1 issue right now, give your job up to an actual black person. There’s quite a few of them out there. If not, get the words “I need to shut the fuck up forever” tattooed across your forehead, then show it to Jessica Hopper.

  1. March 29, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    “Jefferson also gets big bonus points for his end argument that “I should be allowed to beat the shit out of women but for some reason white people don’t like this”. A stunning performance all round.”

    F’real those closing lines really had me perplexed. I cannot believe that the author’s own mind, let alone anyone involved in an editorial process, allowed that thought to be manifested, committed to publication, then disseminated for consumption.

    As for the guardian piece, you gotta love the subtle (yet obvious if you think for more than 10 seconds about) it early 19th century safari pseudo-science evoking pornographic essentialism on display: ” but it’s the tour de force performances of Bloom and guest vocalist V Bozeman that make it so engrossing, their voices intertwining until they’re wrapped up in each other. It’s an intimacy and physicality that the Weeknd could not hope to match.”

    Either that supermoon or the Japanese radiation leak has made bloggers wild the fuck out lately.

  2. Toadfish "Toadie" Rebecchi
    March 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Isn’t it time for a takedown of “MacPherson” btw? Mostly because EVERYONE will get butthurt about it.

  1. April 2, 2011 at 1:02 pm
  2. April 4, 2011 at 10:03 am

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