[Marxism] Re: Ali G

Jeff Kinkle JeffKinkle at home.se
Sat Jul 24 12:02:59 MDT 2004

Good points Louis P, I especially liked the Trotsky and Celine example.  Journey to the End of the Night is one of my favorite novels and I don't think it makes me a fascist, anti-semite but apparently that's up for debate.

(Also, from the start by distancing myself from Mine's last few posts.  I also am defending Ali G but hopefully in a bit more thoughtful manner.)

Just out of curiosity, I'm wondering why no one has claimed the Bruno character is homophobic...

Overall, I've always gotten the impression that part of what is funny with Ali G is not that hip hop or black culture is so idiotic but that a person could try so hard to become idiotic.  Ali G isn't pretending to be a black man.  He's pretending to be the white suburban idiot's worst stereotype of a black man.  This stereotype is that black men are shallow, stupid, illiterate, disrespectful to women, hoods, and gangbangers and incredibly offensive but it hasn't stopped millions of record buyers thoughout the world from being seduced by it.  By performing this stereotype as literally as possible I think he shows how ridiculous it is rather than enforcing it.  Also, besides revealing the racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. of 'the establishment', I think it's interesting how many people are willing to continue an interview with someone that is obviously sexist, homophobe.  It almost borders on the reverse racism that characterizes many liberals of not calling a minority out on their problems because they assume them not to know any better or for fear of being racist.  

Lou, It seems obvious to me that it makes a difference whether or not Ali G is supposed to 'be' a black man or a white man pretending to be a black man.  One ridicules black people while the other ridicules white people mystified by the commodification and general degradation of what once was a progressive form of black culture.  

Dave, as to your positions:
'1) Hip hop culture had been transformed long ago from a form of 
 urban poetry/musical expression catering primarily to young blacks 
and latinos to popular music catering *primarily* to surbanban 
white teems and controlled by corporate America.'

'2) The ALi G show plays off the commercialized stereotype of 
 rappers: as shallow, stupid, illiterate, disrespecful to women, and 
hoods and gangbangers.' 

Obviously this is true but I don't think this makes point number 3 correct in any sense.  

'3) The Ali G. character is one of long list examples of the above 
(i.e., of point #2).'

Following your point 1 and hip-hops gradual hegemonization of the music wing of the culture industry, the majority of rappers that *most* people have heard are shallow, disrespectful to women and at least pose as hoods and gangbangers.  Most people don't associate hip-hop with PE, Dead Prez, Paris or Roots Manuva and Black Twang in the UK but Master P, P.Diddy, Snoop or So Solid Crew.  As such I wouldn't say the target of our wrath should be Ali G but rather a show like that horrible Snoop Dizzle my Izzle show or whatever it's called that features Snoop Dogg on MTV or even the rap artists themselves that propagate this image.  Of course this has to be done with the utmost sensativety to your point 1 and it should be reiterated over and over again that the gansta-ization of rap was/is concurrent with its commercialization, that it has little to do with 'authentic' hip-hop, and that there are legions of rappers out there worth listening to.  

'4) It seems wrong, and indeed could be construed as racist, for 
someone who is non-Arab to come up with a character like Ali G.'

This is a very minor point.  I don't know why he choose the name Ali but I think you're assuming the worst to construe it as being racist.   

'5) Whether the Ali G. character as a whole is wrong/wasteful is 

All of this being said, while I do find Ali G somewhat funny (I find Borat and Bruno 10x funnier actually), I would never claim him as an 'ally' or turn him into a poster boy for the anti-racist struggle.  I think Louis P's comments on this were 100% correct.  Howard Stern is a horrible person but I'm still happy he's doing some damage to Bush.  That doesn't mean he's the saviour of the left or someone exemplary of what we should aspire to.  

DoC writes,
'Ali G is a scum-bag English anti-Republican, anti-socialist, anti-women
bigot... see below.'

I saw below and didn't get that impression at all.  The exchange with Tony Benn was great I thought.  And how does laughing at Ali G equate with 'supporting his anti-women statements'?  Does laughing at Dr. Strangelove (the character) make one a closet Nazi?  Ridiculous.

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