'I'm Rhoda Young, live on the scene'
December 22, 2017 11:10 PM   Subscribe

 
Wow. Rhoda Young is made of awesome & win. I would watch the hell out of any further excursions she makes into broadcast news.
posted by scalefree at 12:27 AM on December 23, 2017 [6 favorites]


Uh, she's like trying to order ambulances around and telling people to call the electric company to turn off power lines in this video? These professionals on-scene know what they are doing. Is she OK?

Like I feel very dirty and guilty for enjoying and laughing at this video with her confused grammar/vocabulary, laughing at the delusional way she carries herself. That's not OK of me and I'm uncomfortable.
posted by floam at 3:15 AM on December 23, 2017 [6 favorites]


Yeah. I agree. Part of it is good because she does point out the dude who started the fire.

The parts where she's interfering in actual emergency processes is not good at all.
posted by sio42 at 3:17 AM on December 23, 2017 [5 favorites]


Don’t assume mental illness just because someone behaves weirdly and inappropriately. A grossly, hilariously inflated sense of self-importance can exist without it. (If the opposite turns out to be the case later on, feel free to feel bad retroactively, I guess.)
posted by jklaiho at 3:41 AM on December 23, 2017 [8 favorites]


Rhoda rocks.
posted by james33 at 4:03 AM on December 23, 2017


We regret to inform you that the duck is interfering with the vital work of emergency services
posted by ominous_paws at 4:32 AM on December 23, 2017 [19 favorites]


"The fire truck's behind us..."

Pull. The. Fuck. Over!
posted by Thorzdad at 4:50 AM on December 23, 2017 [16 favorites]


What the actual fuck does she think she's doing?

Sorry, but I don't understand how this is supposed to be funny. If this is a deliberate attempt at humor, then it's (a) not actually funny, and (b) done at the expense of people who are in the middle of responding to a tragedy. If it's a person with a mental illness, then, I mean, I'm not inclined to laugh at that either.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:50 AM on December 23, 2017 [6 favorites]


Sometimes I wonder about some of you....

It's OK to laugh at someone who is being ridiculous for the sake of being ridiculous.
posted by kuanes at 5:57 AM on December 23, 2017 [6 favorites]


I don't refrain from laughing because I don't think it would be "OK" to laugh. I refrain from laughing because I have no impulse to do so in the first place. Being bizarre and obnoxious isn't funny. It's just...bizarre and obnoxious.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:04 AM on December 23, 2017 [10 favorites]


Portrait mode.

Figures.
posted by flabdablet at 6:10 AM on December 23, 2017 [8 favorites]


Sensational reporting is nothing new.
Is it wrong because she speaks AAVE?

She did her job quite well - finding the story and sharing it with the audience. Only telling the facts, making up nothing. Making a somewhat commonplace situation captivating. What more do you want from a reporter?
I look at how she handled this and I think “great work finding the story, maybe she just needs training on how to deal with first responders.”
posted by oceanjesse at 6:25 AM on December 23, 2017 [10 favorites]


I don't understand how this is supposed to be funny.

it's supposed to be funny because it's an invitation to laugh at someone who's black and acting unconventionally.

I have a racist relative who posts stuff like this regularly (well, until I unfollowed her). It's part of a currency people trade around to show how crazy and out-of-control (in their opinion) black people are.

I don't think it's cool and wish this stuff didn't have to put up here as a "look at these assholes" moment.
posted by Miko at 6:33 AM on December 23, 2017 [43 favorites]


Huh. I first saw this video a couple of weeks ago when a post about it went up at The Root, where they loved it and thought Rhoda was awesome. Thank god the folks of Metafilter were here to inform me that it's racist!
posted by palomar at 6:39 AM on December 23, 2017 [20 favorites]


She did her job quite well - finding the story and sharing it with the audience. Only telling the facts, making up nothing. Making a somewhat commonplace situation captivating. What more do you want from a reporter?

This isn't her job, and she isn't a reporter. She's a bystander with a cell phone.

My objection is the way she makes the entire thing about her. The repeated assurances that she's "on the scene" and "reporting live"; the constant announcements of her name (as if people should know who she is). The asinine commands to emergency personnel (telling firefighters to "spray it down with some water"; ordering the EMTs to leave so she can "get this street blocked off"). The way she's generally marching around the scene and making herself impossible to ignore.

But, whatever. It's just some Internet video. I'm gonna go outside.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:58 AM on December 23, 2017 [6 favorites]


"this house is fully engorged..." - Rhoda
posted by Increase at 7:15 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


> Thank god the folks of Metafilter were here to inform me that it's racist!

I can absolutely confirm that stuff like this gets passed around the Internet by racist assholes who think it's funny because they believe that Black people are ridiculous and unintelligent and in their eyes this video confirms that.

The fact that this video went up at the Root and was well-received doesn't change that at all. It's entirely possible for the readers of the Root and my racist uncle to both like this video for totally different reasons.

Metafilter is not the Root, the readership of Metafilter skews much whiter than the Root, and I think there's both room and necessity for us to have a conversation over whether content like this is appropriate for this particular site.
posted by a mirror and an encyclopedia at 7:28 AM on December 23, 2017 [43 favorites]


I look at it from the perspective of an emergency responder having to deal with this person when doing their job trying to, you know, save lives and property.
posted by parki at 7:35 AM on December 23, 2017 [5 favorites]


This previous FPP summarizes my uneasiness with videos like this. Rhoda is the one making this video, so this seems to be a step above the "hide your kids, hide your wife"-let's-laugh-at-and-coopt-the-way-black-people-act-and-talk ilk, though the reactions make me feel it's not that far removed. There are a few comments in this very thread saying "laugh at" rather than "laugh with"....

Or maybe I'm just overreacting due to my uneasiness with all the white people I know who use AAVE on social media.
posted by msbrauer at 8:01 AM on December 23, 2017 [8 favorites]


I will not judge her based on skin color, but I will judge her behavior in the context of an emergency. She is moronic.
posted by davebush at 8:03 AM on December 23, 2017 [5 favorites]


The home owner holds up his hand to get her out of his face.

“Don’t hit me! Don’t hit me!....no, I love you, give me some skin, give me five. High five!”

Sorry, obnoxious.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:23 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


The video ain't racist. But some of y'all's reactions . . . smh.
posted by anansi at 8:56 AM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


Desus and Meru already roasted it awhile back.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:18 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


Is there a December post contest category for "feel bad video of the year?"

I wish Rhoda Young well, and I hope she find a new, unrelated hobby very soon. Everyone laughing at her, including me, should go walk into a lake. There are plenty of other people in the world who deserve our contempt and mocking scorn. Let's not waste it here. (It's also true that the only way to feel good about this video is to feel self-righteous when pointing out how mean its distribution is despite having watched the whole thing in a few different forums. And, since I like to feel good, I'm doing it.)
posted by eotvos at 9:21 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Why doesn’t anyone want to judge the guy who allegedly set his house on fire?
posted by oceanjesse at 9:43 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


escape from the potato planet: My objection is the way she makes the entire thing about her.

She's perfect for TV news, then, where the reporter's job is to literally, physically block you from seeing the thing they're talking about.
posted by emelenjr at 9:50 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yeah, fuck this.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:58 AM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


I watched and found myself in awe of this woman. I would love just a fraction of her confidence, self-possession and quick-wittedness (although, tbh in this situation maybe a fraction would have been adequate).
Apart from, I guess, her narcing on the guy. Doesn't he have enough trouble right now? And aren't people setting their houses on fire all the time, like with unattended chip pans and the like, and not getting hauled off in handcuffs because of it?
posted by Flashman at 10:20 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I can get why people appreciate her, but as an actual first responder who has had to deal with trying to do my job while untrained bystander idiots yell at me about the (incorrect) ways they think I’m doing it wrong, my main response is “nah, fuck this”.
posted by Itaxpica at 10:35 AM on December 23, 2017 [13 favorites]


Roland Martin and his guests talked about Rhoda last week.

The Root has done a couple of articles on her. Top 10 Moments From the Arson Investigation That Became the Greatest Facebook Live Video Ever

Desus and Meru did a riiftrack (as Burhanistan noted)

BET thinks that Rhoda Needs A TV Gig!


All of these are from Black centered media. The criticism here is mostly about her getting in the way and being full of nonsense. None of these links criticize her for being too Black, or Doing Blackness Wrong, or not being a model minority, or appealing to racist white uncles. For these outlets the story wasn't that Rhoda Young is Black, it's about a woman out for her 15 minutes of fame.

Interview with Rhoda Young on the local news: “I’m very surprised and thankful that took off like it did ... I’m fun. I'm loving. I do not intend to hurt nobody. It's all about having fun and enjoying life,” said Young, “People need to laugh more, smile more and just be happy that they're still living and still here.”

Yes, racism in America is absolutely a thing and "because a Black person laughed at it" doesn't mean that there can't be anything racist or problematic. But most of the people seeing this as some racist send-up are white people thinking about what their racist white relatives will say. What are your Black friends and family and neighbors saying? I'd rather hear about that.

All laughter isn't contempt and scorn.

Metafilter is not the Root, the readership of Metafilter skews much whiter than the Root, and I think there's both room and necessity for us to have a conversation over whether content like this is appropriate for this particular site.

There have been many, many times over the years that I have felt that Metafilter is too white, but this is the first time I can remember someone coming out and explicitly saying that some posts aren't white enough for the Blue.

Also, being a loud Black women does not equal mental illness.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:44 AM on December 23, 2017 [26 favorites]


"Apart from, I guess, her narcing on the guy. Doesn't he have enough trouble right now? And aren't people setting their houses on fire all the time, like with unattended chip pans and the like, and not getting hauled off in handcuffs because of it?"

If you watch the second video in the post (the interview with Rhoda Young) she says that the guy admitted to setting the fire. This article states that the guy was charged with "the burning of an occupied dwelling".

http://wtkr.com/2017/11/27/crews-battling-large-house-fire-in-norfolk/

I have no idea if that means other people were in the house at the time, but it also states that "Firefighters were evacuated from the house at 3:30 p.m. as the roof was starting to collapse."

This article states that he was a "resident" of the house (which I assume means he's not the owner):

http://wavy.com/2017/11/27/fire-reported-in-norfolk-on-birmingham-ave/

It also states that "Five people, including two adults and three children are displaced"

So good for her for "narcing" on the guy who apparently intentionally set a house on fire, that he probably didn't own, where five people were living, that could've injured the firefighters in the house before the roof collapsed, who sat on the lawn across the street drinking beer.
posted by jonathanhughes at 10:49 AM on December 23, 2017 [7 favorites]


She's perfect for TV news, then, where the reporter's job is to literally, physically block you from seeing the thing they're talking about.

...except not even TV news crews shoot video in portrait mode that cuts off everything but the reporter's head. And I've never seen one get in the way of the fireys and ambos to anything like this extent.
posted by flabdablet at 11:26 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Despite all the ways one could mock her, the best part about it was the vindication and 180 turn at the end when arson dude is getting frog marched out of there.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:34 PM on December 23, 2017 [5 favorites]


So it's not viral marketing for PBR?
posted by peeedro at 2:11 PM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


Rhoda Young demonstrates an improvised and conscious portrayal of privilege as coherent and concise in terms of the conventions, cliches, and motivation of TV news reportage as any Andy Kaufman and Bob Zmuda engaged. Such portrayal is predictably misread by some fraction (even plurality) of viewers trapped in America's segregated solutions to privilege and racial disparity.

Young's spirit and tenacity was once relished by Civil rights activists through exercises familiar to Bob Moses and Bayard Rustin in which whites and blacks trained in non-violence, consciousness-raising pantomimes of another that were derived from theater exercise.

The arrest of emergent liberty in America, typically by violence, and through an evolved and systemic, extractive economy, has parallel in the rights of any minority. Such as Women's rights. An observation I made by referencing Rhoda Morgenstern and Mary Tyler Moore's television shows that moderators did not possess the familiarity to recognize in terms of intersection. I'm currently waiting for this issue to be resolved through MetaTalk.

What privilege cannot comprehend is how slow moving a target it is. This is why any discussion about Russian social hacking is poorly discussed without North American westerners having more knowledge of how Russians might critically view the developed nation primacy America maintains in terms of social media, advertising, perceived status, etc., through document such as Generation P(2011)
posted by lazycomputerkids at 2:38 PM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


Whether something is racist depends on the audience, that's why Black people can say the n-word and non-Black people can't. The Root and similar media are by, for, and about Black people and they're going to place this video in a different cultural context than a white audience. It's not just Racist Uncle Joe that's the issue - all white people are steeped in white supremacy from birth and they* are not going to look at this video through the same lens as Black people.

* This includes me; I didn't want to use the word "we" because not everyone in this thread is white.
posted by AFABulous at 3:50 PM on December 23, 2017 [5 favorites]


There are a lot of possible frames, as I see now, thanks to the additional context provided by many of you. Thanks. I came to the discussion with only one, a negative one at that, but can appreciate that my perspective has been very skewed by that personal context and my own blinders and expectations. I'll be interested in following the continuing discussion.
posted by Miko at 5:08 PM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


Whether something is racist depends on the audience, that's why Black people can say the n-word and non-Black people can't. The Root and similar media are by, for, and about Black people and they're going to place this video in a different cultural context than a white audience. It's not just Racist Uncle Joe that's the issue - all white people are steeped in white supremacy from birth and they* are not going to look at this video through the same lens as Black people.

* This includes me; I didn't want to use the word "we" because not everyone in this thread is white.


Thank you, I do appreciate that. There has always been too much "we white people" on this site and I agree with you about intended audience. My problem is that I thought that Metafilter was supposed to be for a general audience, not for a white audience.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:56 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


I grew up in Norfolk, VA, and this reminds me of home *so much.* Rhoda Young could have been one of my teachers, one of the women I worked with at any number of jobs, except she's also obviously, entirely, herself.

As a standup it kills me to know that I'll never be this funny.

And this video is funny.

It's also a short whodunit with an unreliable narrator as its protagonist who isn't necessarily self-aware. If it were written by The Office's writing team and starring Leslie Jones it would be too much. But because it's real, it's somehow the funniest fucking thing I've seen in years and I don't want to take the shine off it by looking under the hood.

Whether or not it's actually racist depends on why any person is laughing at it. I love Bill Burr too, and a lot of people laugh at him for the wrong reasons - that doesn't make him any less funny to me.
posted by chinese_fashion at 8:14 PM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


Malapropisms are funny. Rhoda Young is funny and she obviously knows it. I don't think they would have nabbed the guy as quickly if she hadn't pointed him out. Honestly, I think she's great and just needs some practice. She embodies some of the best qualities of citizenship, even if she doesn't meet some of your stratospheric standards. I hope to see more of her. Oh, and fuck all your racist uncles. I don't see them getting interviewed on their local news channel for covering breaking stories.
posted by filthy_prescriptivist at 8:29 PM on December 23, 2017 [5 favorites]


So, her biggest sin is portrait mode on her video.

I watched the 'news' coverage after the event, and it was less enlightening, and more useless (for fucks sake, do we need someone thanking the 'angels' at every fucking crisis?). She actually got the alleged perpetrator of the act on film discussing it; like a journalist.

Narc? Not at all, she had a camera in his face, didn't make any bones about what she was doing. She's a narc as much as the local news is a narc.

"This isn't her job, and she isn't a reporter. She's a bystander with a cell phone."

What makes her not a reporter? She's reporting. Fun thing about the first amendment and its right to a free press - there isn't any credentialing mentioned in it.

Now, one could ask: is reporting on a local fire actually 'news'. That's a fair question that can (and perhaps should be) asked of the local TV news station that ran a story (using her footage of the cuffing, along with her silly graphic), but apparently it is. I encourage everyone to critically ask that question of local news coverage of events.

Should she get out of the way when emergency crews ask her? Yeah. Did she? Looks like it. Hopefully she'll get a better sense of how to interact with them (and not interfere with them) in the future. At the end of the day though, she probably saved taxpayers money in getting footage of the perp discussing the matter.

As far as 'should we discuss this or share this because racists will use it as fodder?' Oh for fucks sake, if we used that as a rule, we'd never share an Obama video - racists will use any footage of anything to further their bullshit.
posted by el io at 12:56 AM on December 24, 2017 [10 favorites]


So, her biggest sin is portrait mode on her video.

No. That would be the degree to which she's willing to turn a dangerous situation into five minutes of relentless self-promotion. Portrait mode is just a symptom.

Any reporter whose attitude and actions reflect an apparent belief that it is their presence at an event that's the news, rather than the event itself, fully deserves all they eyerolls they receive.

I'm completely failing to see how this clip is in any way funny. Maybe that's just me being jaded from having had some minimal degree of fire crew experience, but I honestly can't see what any of the rest of you are finding to laugh at.

After five minutes of blundering around getting in people's way, the demand to be thanked for allegedly "solving the crime" before anybody else is just shit icing on a shit cake.

"Everybody is really mad at me. I don't know why."

That would be because you have chosen to make yourself an unnecessary impediment and distraction to people attempting to get a difficult and dangerous job done safely.

This is not mockery. Mockery is an attempt to portray its target as ridiculous. I don't think Rhoda Young is ridiculous. I think she's insufferable.

For what it's worth, this is same kind of visceral reaction I experience to the talking heads on Fucks News when they do the same things. So perhaps she does have a future in TV "journalism".
posted by flabdablet at 4:19 AM on December 24, 2017 [5 favorites]


Are we not saying "vertical video" anymore?
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:12 AM on December 24, 2017


> but this is the first time I can remember someone coming out and explicitly saying that some posts aren't white enough for the Blue.

I'm not saying that this post is "not white enough for Metafilter". I'm just wondering whether Metafilter is too white for this post.
posted by a mirror and an encyclopedia at 6:32 AM on December 24, 2017 [4 favorites]


Let me phrase it another way:

Are we laughing with Rhoda, or at her? If a bunch of white people were hanging out in this thread enjoying this video in a "point-and-laugh" way, then that would be racist. It would be racist even if none of the pointers-and-laughers intended it to be, because "eccentric Black woman" videos are a fucking currency on the Internet among racist (and misogynist) fuckheads, and any white people in that point-and-laugh thread will have become complicit in that dynamic.

(I'll leave aside the fact that I think point-and-laugh threads are distasteful regardless of the race of the people in the video.)

Is this thread mostly white people? I don't know. I'm a white person, and I have no idea about anyone else in particular. But like you said, Metafilter is too white in general, so my inclination is to think that if we had a thread that was a mocking pile-on of a video of a Black woman it would just be fucking ugly, both in appearance and reality.
posted by a mirror and an encyclopedia at 6:42 AM on December 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


In the future there'll be DysneyFacebookGoogleCorpMegaNews and RhodaLive! and that's all.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:55 AM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


Speaking of "vertical video", Amanda Hess's 28 November installment of Internetting—The White Internet's Love Affair with Digital Blackface"— goes some way to answering "Is laughing at this video racist?".

Another (video) item which might partially explain some of the negative reaction to Ms. Young's parroting and (unintentional?) parodying of broadcast yellow journalism is Dan Gilroy's 2014 Nightcralwer (with Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo). Self-aggrandizment, delusions of grandeur, journalistic ethics, investigative interference, racist intention, socioeconomic elitism—Nightcrawler explores how these domains are intertwined in the psychopathology that is Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal) and in the rise of his company, Video Production News. Some of what people find despicable in Bloom seems also to inform a few of the comments above (e.g. voyeuristic pandering in broadcast journalism) .

Whether such biases are fair, racist, elitist, or even present, I'm neither judging nor asserting. I only think the two links above (one journalism and the other a work of fiction) are worth having in mind as one considers the meaning and reception of Rhoda Young's reporting on the Norfolk house fire.
posted by mistersquid at 9:35 AM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm completely failing to see how this clip is in any way funny. Maybe that's just me being jaded from having had some minimal degree of fire crew experience, but I honestly can't see what any of the rest of you are finding to laugh at.

Honestly? Because you are failing the Marshmallow Test which I've never completely accepted as a meaningful expression of Fitzgerald, but you have likely engaged these references... And are doubling down to assert a threshold of "appropriate" behavior and it sucks. Sucks the air out of so much...

Young's means to ends one can only assert are paramount on either side of this equation of opinions of "what's funny" and why because if you want to contend humor brings but a single appropriate lived experience to bear you shouldn't...

People laugh for all sorts of reasons, but what instruction and training I received casually referenced around five that I'll poorly recall in categories of recognition, familiarity, contrast, complement, irony, paradox...

Myself and others have articulated frames about privilege and points of view, and though agreement isn't required, your opinion and visceral response, as valid as any, won't bear scrutiny for long as asserted.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 3:29 PM on December 24, 2017


assert a threshold of "appropriate" behavior

Your scare quotes suggest that any standard of appropriate behavior for bystanders at a fire scene is essentially arbitrary, from which it follows that any claim of objectivity is therefore conditioned by assorted kinds of privilege. But that's complete horseshit.

Appropriate behavior at a fire scene involves staying the fuck out of the way of the emergency response crews while they do the work their training qualifies them to do. End of.

doubling down ... and it sucks.

I'm sorry you feel punched in the face.
posted by flabdablet at 10:20 PM on December 24, 2017


Scare quotes aren't the only implication of quotes. My favorite is "air bunnies". I forget what show I first saw that on. And a point about staying clear of public servants in a hazardous zone is a valid one. It's just not the only one and what this thread quickly disintegrated into was opinion about a paramount point of view.

I must say, as well, I endorse your use of horseshit. My working definition is from a rarely seen documentary in which Robert Redford distinguishes bullshit from horseshit, and though his innuendo requires some interpretation on my part, I understood him to mean: The former is what others tell you, and the latter is what we tell ourselves.

I have no idea what you mean by punched in the face, but it's a fair amount of interpretation on your part to intuit my feelings from what I've written.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 11:14 PM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


I found the video funny because I like Rhoda's big personality and actually enjoyed watching her "break the case", so to see people march in here and insist that there's nothing funny about this and Rhoda's a terrible person and anyone who laughs at this is mocking Rhoda.... I don't know, y'all, but that's some mighty fierce projecting going on.
posted by palomar at 7:50 AM on December 25, 2017 [4 favorites]


"I don't know, y'all, but that's some mighty fierce projecting going on."

I think that's uncharitable and unwarranted.

There are good reasons to be suspicious of how this is received by white people and, furthermore, what's most salient is how something functions in a racist society, not what's intended.

Here's an anecdote that's come to mind as I've followed this thread. Years back, someone posted to MeFi a link to a video of a public access cable TV show hosted by a slightly eccentric woman with some odd, slightly paranoid views. Many people thought the video was funny. I did. And it's possible, obviously, to find an eccentric person amusing and charming, which is to say the humor found isn't at all mockery or alienating. And that may been so in that case.

However, in the thread a transcription effort was organized, and within a day, the transcript was complete and people were quoting from it.

What was revealing and disappointing, though, was that the transcript was careful to include, via eye-dialect, her African American Vernacular English. While her speech was very much in AAVE, it's completely standard within her community.

A few of us pointed out the problem with this: the AAVE represented as eye-dialect is itself problematic but, more to the point, it made it very clear that her AAVE was, to this audience, a crucial component of the video and why people here (and elsewhere) found it amusing: the humor found by this audience relied, in part but indispensably, on her "exoticism" as ... a black woman speaking her native dialect.

It didn't really matter if this audience intended or perceived any racist response in themselves -- they were, naturally, angrily defensive about it. What mattered most is that it was clear that this audience reaction was functionally racist -- it strongly implicated a mockery borne from a very othering condescension, and (in the transcript and discussion) reproduced and reinforced this.

There are hints that some people are responding to Rhoda Young similarly. For example, a focus on her occasional malapropisms.

For many in a black audience, and, no doubt, for some individual white people, Rhoda Young's video is delightful for the reasons mentioned in this thread and the pieces written about it on The Root. It is not inherent and necessary that finding the video humorous is problematic regarding race. To the audience of The Root, it's certainly not.

But to a white audience it may well be and, in my opinion, most likely is. For a white person in a white supremacist culture, a bit of humor or art or entertainment that leverages endemic racism for its appeal is, of course, commonplace. That any of us may have this response is not so much an indictment of our character as it is a fact and consequence of a racist culture.

More important, though, is that we try to set aside any personal accusations and defensiveness and just consider whether -- and, if so, how much -- the promulgation of this video within a white supremacist culture to majority-white audiences functions as racism, intentions aside.

There are any number of other concerns more pressing and, again, of course there are a number of completely unobjectionable reasons to enjoy or even celebrate Young's video. But the response here and elsewhere merits some critical examination and, for those of us who are white, it's a good habit to nurture such thinking ... especially with regard to ourselves.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:53 AM on December 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


It's unwarranted to suggest that the people posting comments insisting that people who found this funny are mocking Rhoda might be wrong? It's uncharitable to say that this insistence is incorrect and seems to say more about the people posting such sentiments than the people they're accusing of being terrible? Interesting. Thanks for letting me know that you think it's okay to imply that people who found humor in this are trash, but that trying to correct that assumption is an activity deserving of scorn and shame.

This place is astounding sometimes.
posted by palomar at 10:58 AM on December 25, 2017


I specifically and carefully was responding to your psychological diagnosis of "projection" and how you applied that categically.

If you have a grievance with someone in this thread who has used strong language and personal criticism -- thus warranting such a response from you -- please take it up with them and don't put words in my mouth and charge me with accusations I have not made.

I was at pains in my comment to argue that what may be problematic about this depends upon the social context, why the context here is among those where it arguably is problematic, that there is some evidence for this conclusion and what that evidence is, how this compares to a prior post and thread, how there are some white people here and elsewhere about whom this individually doesn't apply, how that doesn't much matter anyway because this is about social function and not individual character, that what's most important for those of us who are white is that we be receptive to such arguments and not reflexively defensive ... and that, yes, there are more important things to worry about.

That you took from that things like "terrible", "trash", "scorn", and "shame" is unfortunate. It seems a reckless exaggeration on your part; but if my writing really is to blame, I apologize.

I'm surprised to see you flirting with "PCism run amok" along with generalizations about "this place". That doesn't seem like you.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:10 PM on December 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


Among other things, Rhoda Young has given us a really excellent and deeply original example of the art of narration -- and I don't see how it can help being influential at many levels.

Racists will undoubtedly promulgate it from racist motivations, but they shouldn't be too surprised, viewing their kid's Jr. High video arts final project, when they realize it's a direct steal from and tribute to Rhoda Young.
posted by jamjam at 12:58 PM on December 25, 2017


Ivan, I think it would be really great if you could stop trying to put words in my mouth.
posted by palomar at 1:20 PM on December 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


And you, likewise.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:01 PM on December 25, 2017


She said, "The house is fully engorged." It still makes me crack up. There is nothing particularly AAVE about that. If she'd been a middle-aged white woman, it would STILL be funny as hell. To me, mostly because there but for the grace of God go I.

I wish some of you more joy and more humor in your lives. And more Rhoda.
posted by filthy_prescriptivist at 6:25 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


If she'd been a middle-aged white woman, it would STILL be funny as hell.

Why would that be funny?
posted by Miko at 7:37 AM on December 27, 2017


Because it's a silly dumb thing to say and the race of the utterer does not matter, Miko? I'm confused.
posted by floam at 1:11 AM on December 29, 2017


It’s “silly” and “dumb” because you know a more apt word? Because you have the education and enculturation to know a better word? It’s okay to laugh at someone for a mistake, a gap in education, a cognitive disorder, a lack of language facility, or low intellect? Because those are the main reasons I can think of for a misused word. It’s contempt, is all. Not sure that it’s superior racism as a reason to mock someone.
posted by Miko at 4:15 AM on December 29, 2017


I do not have specific information about her education level. It's not that I know a more apt word for this given situation, but that I suspect I know the word she was going for. She used a completely different, inappropriate, and hilarious word for some reason. "Engorged" makes me think of things like erect penises. It's funny to hear someone say a house on fire is "fully engorged". I imagine she knows what the word "involved" means, but at least in that moment she seemed a little silly and a little dumb and I thought it was funny when she said that.
posted by floam at 5:49 AM on December 29, 2017


(Yeah, I think it's OK to laugh at funny mistakes. It's OK to laugh at mine, I sure do dumb things.)
posted by floam at 5:58 AM on December 29, 2017


Just know that laughing at “funny mistakes” can be problematic when viewed in relationship to privilege and white supremacy.
posted by Miko at 10:50 AM on December 29, 2017


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