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MTV's Yo Momma is no laughing matter - Part 2

Not a Secret ---> I despise MTV's Yo Momma! The fact that it has been renewed for another season is disheartening, shameful and embarrassing. We have officially given permission to insult Blacks and their mothers while Viacom gets paid. What a shame!


Yo Momma! Viacom Lowers the Bar in Blackface

by Gumby Dammitt! of

MTV is billing it as, "RAP UNPLUGGED, DEF JAM MEETS 8 MILE". The ads asks, "Can you throw the best smack in your crew? Do you want bragging rights in a battle of words? We're looking for the best hard-core street baggers out there! Are you an expert at "Yo Momma" jokes, amazing at witty comebacks, and so you "appear" to be between the ages of 18-22? Do you have creative, clean, unique and innovative material that'll blow us away?"

Aiight, so check this out. I get a call on the phone from Bruce Banter this past Saturday afternoon and he asks me if I’m hip to this new MTV show called “Yo Momma”. Bruce called cause he knows how the green one has done and still performs live standup, so bad comedy offends me. I was hip to the idea of the show and I had even just seen Wilmer “Fez” Valderrama promoting the show on Jimmy Kimmel during the week.

Now, when I first heard the idea for the show was being floated around, I was a bit alarmed. I know how the dozens go. Some jokes don’t need to be broadcast on television like it’s alright, and I knew it would only be a very brief matter of time before “Your mama is SO BLACK...” came out.

A very brief matter of time indeed.

No sooner had I hung up the phone and turned on the program when I see a corny ass white dude utter to a black competitor, “You’re SO BLACK...” Here we go. It’s okay to use the word nigg(a/er) because it ‘takes away the sting’ or it’s a ‘term of endearment between brothers’ or some other such justification nonsense.

Now it’s okay for white kids to tell “You SO BLACK...” jokes for the sake of television “competition”. Quite simply, this shit is unacceptable. Making someone’s blackness a punch line for public broadcast is nonnegotiable. It cannot happen. Forget the fact that the program is wack, with bum-budget production value. And forget that it’s so obviously cut together to make jokes heard a million times over in neighborhoods across Black America seem like they’re new and hilarious.

The question at heart here is, ‘At what point will people be offended by being made a joke?’ The question is also, ‘How much of one’s “culture” can Viacom co-opt for it’s own profit?’ Not to mention the question of profit versus respect. If you are going to co-opt my uniqueness and voice, then the least you can do is show me SOME LEVEL OF RESPECT.

From here on in, the aforementioned jokes shall be referred to as YSB (you so black) and YMSB (your mama so black). YSB jokes are bad enough when Black folks tell them in the privacy of common company. I have never liked them and I’m not one that such a joke would be aimed at. Blackness is not a punch line in my book. Such jokes come out of personal confusion and some level of self-hatred. Someone who doesn’t understand or even care about the psychological makeup of such speech truly has no business playing with it. So when you create such a program and add to the mix the little war on “political correctness” that so many seem content on waging, you have a pretty nasty mix. Next thing you know, there’s some corny White guy on MTV telling a Black person on television, “you’re SO BLACK,” pausing for effect, “you make Wesley Snipes look White.” WTF?! Yes, you read right. And if you didn’t find that offensive, then you should go and get your head shaved right now.

You see, NOBODY ELSE in this country is the butt of such jokes. Nobody starts a joke with, ”You’re so Jewish...” or “You’re so Asian...” or “You’re so White...” No one else’s skin color is made the butt of such jokes. Yet, being dark skinned is somehow something to be mocked, laughed at, belittled because of, or made ashamed of. And now you have VIACOM giving a free pass to people to share such speech in public AND amongst themselves (as if they don’t do the latter already). I mean, do White people REALLY need to feel comfortable to participate in such speech? Were White youth somehow being shortchanged by not being allowed to participate in YSB “humor”? Were their lives somehow unfulfilled or empty because? Maybe they weren’t getting equal joke opportunity? The ignorance has got to be checked and on ALL sides. On the same program, I saw a “battle” between two Black males. Their mothers where there for the showdown. Did that stop this dude from going the YMSB route? No. I won’t repeat the ignorance, but he went that route and when they cut to the other dude’s mother, she wasn’t laughing. I wasn’t laughing either. It appears that young Black males can’t discern what kind of “humor” may or may not be made available for public consumption. Surely these cats have heard enough jokes that they can tell at least twenty Mama Jokes before hitting the YMSBs. That’s bad enough. But a white dude feeling free enough to go the YSB route is even more egregious.

I could go on for days about how there’s a certain overall laziness and malaise in this country when it comes to so many things. A president AND vice-president that need impeaching chief among them. Again, I think it speaks to the defeatist mentality that has been cleverly put upon the people of this country. No one really wants to stand up for anything. No one wants to be looked at as a troublemaker or a rabble-rouser. We’ve seen firsthand how whistle blowers are treated in this society, people who raise their voice or call out wrongdoing or injustices are rarely heralded and celebrated... if EVER. So people very often see, hear and read things that are wrong to their sensibilities, yet do nothing. YSB and YMSB “humor” is wrong to my sensibilities. Viacom will never say that these participants in this program cannot use such material. They’ll say that it’s just a television show, these are only jokes and do not reflect the ideas, thoughts or beliefs of Viacom or any of it’s networks or personnel. So just out of curiosity, I wonder how white folks might feel about making their skin color a negative, derogatory punch line. What better way than to encourage everyone within the view of my text to create their very own ‘You’re SO WHITE...’ or ‘Your Mama is SO WHITE...’ humor. Here, I’ll even get the ball rolling with a couple of my own...

Your mama is SO WHITE, she gets sunburn from a 40 watt light bulb.

Your mama is SO WHITE, she makes Wonder bread look like PUMPERNICKEL.

Your skin is SO PALE, I can see your entire circulatory system.

Your mama is SO WHITE, her liver spots make her look like bleu cheese.

Your skin is SO PALE, snowflakes leave stain marks.

I wonder how people might react to such material? On television no less.

Released: April 24th, 2006

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
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