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Craig Ferguson and Cornel West
February 4, 2011 10:02 AM   Subscribe

For Black History Month, Craig Ferguson (previously) devotes almost an entire show to discussing black history and the meaning of humanity with Dr. Cornel West: (Intro) Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 (George Clinton performance, Outro with George Clinton and Cornel West).

NPR blog about the episode.

Previously: Cornel West with Craig from last November.

Previouslier: The Peabody-winning episode devoted to talking with Desmond Tutu: (Intro, Brief Background on South Africa and Bishop Tutu, Final bit of intro including a great story about Glasgow's stand against apartheid) Discussion Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 (Outro).
posted by kmz (40 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite

 
Craig Ferguson is a(n inter)national treasure. I look forward to watching this.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:10 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is great. Edgy, but without the usually accompanying laziness.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:13 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, I like Craig Ferguson. There's something so original about his show. Whether he's doing an interview like this, talking about his fight with alcoholism, or doing the silly puppet thing, you can actually see an intellect at work, coming up with ideas, trying things, growing. It doesn't seem produced-by-committee the way nearly all network TV - even good network TV - does.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:20 AM on February 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ferguson is a treasure of gay and penis jokes. Still, I like to watch him when the subject matter precludes that crap.
posted by found missing at 10:21 AM on February 4, 2011


Dr. West should be getting royalties on all of those Most Interesting Man In The World commercials. He's on my short list.
posted by penduluum at 10:25 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]



He's done at least another one of these, the first one was with Stephen Fry. Here is an article about it from last year, but it only has a couple of youtube links. Rest is probably on youtube, maybe on the (not so awesome) official site.

Ferguson's the only late-night guy that's remotely interesting, though he keeps running gags way too long (see: robot, Secretariat). Interviews are generally pretty fun, at least.
posted by curious nu at 10:28 AM on February 4, 2011


I love the fact that this was the last show he did before becoming a dad again. His wife gave birth, I think on Wednesday, to their first and his second child. Ferguson was not on the air the next night. His twitter stream included the announcement in typical form:
Thanks for all your kind tweets. I am currently rocking a poopy little dude on my lap. Then I'll go home & see the baby. #newkidoldjokes
Ferguson has several times, since I started watching, declared a suspension of "cheeky-monkey" TV and gone more or less serious for a night at a time. He did so to interview Desmond Tutu and Stephen Fry and his Cornel West/Funkadelic evening this week was another such event. It is outstanding television.
posted by mmahaffie at 10:28 AM on February 4, 2011


Meh. Without Geoffrey and Secretariat - or at least the POSSIBILITY of Geoffrey and Secretariat appearing - it's a no go. Once Craig said that they would not be appearing at all during that show, I was outta there.

Although I faintly recall echoes of "One Nation Under A Groove" as I was drifting off to sleep a bit later.
posted by davidmsc at 10:28 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's done at least another one of these, the first one was with Stephen Fry. Here is an article about it from last year, but it only has a couple of youtube links. Rest is probably on youtube, maybe on the (not so awesome) official site.

There was a Metafilter thread about that. The links there aren't working anymore though. These should work: (Intro) Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and End.
posted by kmz at 10:35 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


If there ever was a walking, talking definition of "Keepin' the faith, baby." it's Cornell West. I love listening to the man talk.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:37 AM on February 4, 2011


I love Ferguson, but also West: the man has a brain that runs rings around 99.99% of the population, but takes such joy in it that he makes thinking big thoughts, and talking about big issues, seem engaging and fun.

The Ultimate Matrix Box Set, as much as the films are severely flawed, is almost worth the price of admission just to hear Cornel West and Ken Wilber talk utter bullshit over all three films. I think there're almost entirely wrong about everything re. those movies, and that they've convinced themselves that dross is gold and are bending over backwards to find meaning in a flaming hot mess of film, but both of them are so bloody bright, and have so much fun bandying around these super-smart, entirely dippy theories, that it's a blast to listen to.
posted by Shepherd at 10:45 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks so much for posting this, kmz - it'll probably be my Saturday morning viewing. Both parties involved are national treasures.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:46 AM on February 4, 2011


A word we used to use for a man like West was "righteous" - I miss that word and I'm reminded of the sort of sloppy earnestness where, yea, we're talking over each other, not every thread is addressed or resolved but we soooooo talking about the right thing and you are so damn smart that I feel smarter and better just being in your presence.

I don't know that there's anything to actually learn from a show like this but it just feels good and sometimes that's all you need.
posted by victors at 10:59 AM on February 4, 2011


Wow, I love Cornel West's turn of phrase on the removing of the n-word from Huck Fun. He sys it's "an attempt to deodorize the funk of the text." I love that man. And I love Craig. And this I love post, thanks!
posted by lesli212 at 11:10 AM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


er, Huck Finn... Huck Fun?
posted by lesli212 at 11:10 AM on February 4, 2011


Funk Hin!


Earlier this week in an article previewing Ferguson doing this episode, he said that doing it was "my attempt to know my country better."

[Please insert something about new Americans being better at it than those who've been doing it our whole lives here - everything I try to write either sounds more patriotic/jingoistic than I am or more snarky than I mean]
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:12 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm only here for the PFunk.
posted by hwestiii at 11:17 AM on February 4, 2011


Meh. Without Geoffrey and Secretariat - or at least the POSSIBILITY of Geoffrey and Secretariat appearing - it's a no go.

In your pants!
posted by Ber at 11:19 AM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


haha, it's also an issue of Black Americans not knowing Black American history as well as new [Black] Americans. Reminds me of the Chris Rock joke: "All I learned in school about being black was Martin Luther King. Martin Luther King, he was the answer to everything. What's the capital of Zaire? Martin Luther King."
posted by lesli212 at 11:20 AM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ber: In YOUR Pants! Semi O/T - I wish that Craig and Geoff would swap duties just for one show. Geoff does the open, the interviews, etc, and Craig sits at the podium and occasionally makes a pronouncement.

And after seeing this thread, I looked for the video of Clinton & crew performing - and after finding it, my Friday is so much happier.
posted by davidmsc at 11:28 AM on February 4, 2011



I get bored with vids but I didnt want this one to stop. I've been fascinated with Cornel West since I saw him on Colbert. Amazing.
posted by I love you more when I eat paint chips at 12:25 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wish that Craig and Geoff would swap duties just for one show.

It would be pretty cool also if Cornell and Craig swapped duties for a night. Cornell does the opening monologue and then interviews Craig. Just more crossover events in general please, God.
posted by Jagz-Mario at 12:33 PM on February 4, 2011


i love west for much the same reason i love gaga--they proudly display their respective talents and have the confidence and grace to not have to disparage even their most obvious and vocal detractors.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 12:36 PM on February 4, 2011


The Lady Gaga of public intellectualism.
posted by found missing at 12:43 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I still find the idea of "____(race) history month" to be the most troublingly racist things I've ever heard of. Wrong crowd for that kind of perspective, I know.
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:55 PM on February 4, 2011


Ferguson takes this conversation just the right way - asking West to speak to the tenor of black history, black history's contribution to a deepening of the American moral imagination. It probably goes without saying that West is great at that very spiritual idea. But, as a white kid raised on a lot of black history as trivia, it's refreshing to hear a conversation about black history which is challenging instead of about how tired Rosa Parks was or how Martin Luther King just wanted everybody to have a dream. The great figures are important, certainly, but the deeper challenging ideas are what we need to keep ourselves evolving as moral beings.

So, Ferguson is great at this because he's inquisitive, and genuinely doesn't read an opinion into the conversation, and West is great because he understands the moral evolution of humanity from Plato forward.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:56 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just more crossover events in general please, God.

Well, now that you mention it... Sometimes Craig goofs around with his more favorite guests (Kristen Bell, Donald Glover, Michael Clarke Duncan, etc) and swaps chairs with them for a bit, but when Larry King was on, they actually switched for almost a whole segment. (I'm not really a big Larry King fan in general but he seemed to have lots of fun on the Late Late Show.)
posted by kmz at 1:00 PM on February 4, 2011


I like Ferguson a lot, but find it really hard to sit through the extended monologue and comedy bits. They're just too long for my taste.

The Stephen Fry show was a revelation and I'm interested to see this conversation with West. I would DVR Ferguson nightly if there was more long-form discussion with interesting people.
posted by BillBishop at 1:03 PM on February 4, 2011


What I wouldn't give to be as articulate and as interesting as West.
posted by madred at 1:21 PM on February 4, 2011


I still find the idea of "____(race) history month" to be the most troublingly racist things I've ever heard of.

really, the most? it's nothing more than an awareness campaign, and I imagine that if you paid it any attention, you would find things far more troubling.

also, you forgot the inevitable, when are we going to have a white history month? that i recall from georgia februaries.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 1:30 PM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


...and the whole Wrong crowd for that kind of perspective, I know doesn't work for you here. mefi can have (and likely has had) a reasonable discussion on the pros and cons of ______ history month, without relegating the idea to something beyond genocide or slavery.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 1:38 PM on February 4, 2011


I still find the idea of "____(race) history month" to be the most troublingly racist things I've ever heard of.

If that is the most troublingly racist thing you've ever heard, I cannot convey how deeply envious I am of you to be so blissfully unaware of how life can suck so much more for many other people.
posted by shen1138 at 1:42 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can someone point me to list of things that are untroubling racist?
posted by found missing at 1:43 PM on February 4, 2011


If you watch the whole thing, Ferguson asks West this exact question: Is it a good idea to have Black History Month?

If you think about how hard it is for a white talk show host to ask Cornel West whether there should really be a Black History Month without coming off like a gigantic jerk, you will start to understand what made this discussion so interesting and unusual.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 2:00 PM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I understand how people might find black history month racist, but it's a naive perspective.

In the interview, West points out that Carter G Woodson, the father of Black History, and founder of Black History month, was similarly troubled by the question of segregating and having a separate month for Black history. Ultimately, he decided that in order to have a voice in the larger context of American society, Black people's contributions would need a platform for being highlighted. Would anyone but historians even remember Crispus Attucks or Henry Box Brown or Harriet Ann Jacobs or Charles Drew if they weren't mentioned as part of Black History month assignments? To say nothing of those black Americans whose contributions remain unknown because their achievements were ignored or stolen.

Furthermore, as West also discusses, the history of Black America is the history of America, and the history of the world. To explore the great triumphs of our people despite great oppression is a gift to humanity.

And I would add that it will likely fall away on its own, once more than MLK Jr (and now, I guess, Obama) are the few Black American mentioned in the list of Americans of notable achievement.
posted by lesli212 at 2:14 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cornel West has become my touchstone for a way of being Christian that is intellectual, vital, positive, embracing and truly of service to the world. I wish we saw more of him on popular television. I see the fundies and the haters and the greedy televangelists and the rabidly anti-science creationists and get deeply, deeply tired of having an ancient and diverse religion represented by idiots. I have a library full of worth scholars to read, but the best cure for my bone-weariness is to Google Cornel West, then read a little more or catch another lecture. I'm not sure we line up on all points, but I'd like to dance to his beat.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:58 PM on February 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


Black history month isn't racist but it's an indication that we're not as progressive as we'd like to think.
Before Freedom Summer, the national news media had paid little attention to the persecution of black voters in the Deep South and the dangers endured by black civil rights workers, but when the lives of affluent northern white students were threatened the full attention of the media spotlight was turned on the state. This evident disparity between the value that the media placed on the lives of whites and blacks embittered many black activists.
What does it mean when white people have to be killed before the nation would pay attention to the disenfranchisement of black folk?
DuBois said that Washington’s accommodationist program asked blacks to give up political power, insistence on civil rights, and higher education for Negro youth. He believed that Washington’s policies had directly or indirectly resulted in three trends: the disfranchisement of the Negro, the legal creation of a distinct status of civil inferiority for the Negro, and steady withdrawal of aid from institutions for the higher training of the Negro. DuBois charged that Washington’s program tacitly accepted the alleged inferiority of the Negro. Expressing the sentiment of the radical civil rights advocates, DuBois demanded for all black citizens 1) the right to vote, 2) civic equality, and 3) the education of Negro youth according to ability. Generally, DuBois opposed Washington’s program because it was narrow in its scope and objectives, devalued the study of the liberal arts, and ignored civil, political, and social injustices and the economic exploitation of the black masses.
What does it mean when the state doesn't teach black students, so private philanthropists have to step in?

It's a recurring question that takes many forms (DuBois's gradualism versus Washington's practicalism, SNCC versus Black Power, etc.).
posted by yaymukund at 3:06 PM on February 4, 2011


Two of some of my favorite people in media talking. (Quite literally) Brilliant. Thought the Tavis Smiley/Cornel West stint on Talk of the Nation for the Black State of the Union a few months back was also some awesome listening.
posted by smirkette at 5:04 PM on February 4, 2011


> I still find the idea of "____(race) history month" to be the most troublingly racist things I've ever heard of. Wrong crowd for that kind of perspective, I know.

I agree with you. In fact, I don't think that racism will really be gone until you can have Hollywood make a movie about Eleanor Roosevelt starring Angela Bassett in the title role.

There's a word for us: Idealists.
posted by spock at 5:46 PM on February 4, 2011


Craig Ferguson is a great American.
posted by whuppy at 5:57 PM on February 4, 2011


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