I got a bit of a fright today when I realised that I might actually be racist.
I was sitting on the stationary bike (un-moving as opposed to made of office supplies) at the gym, a little TV screen 12 inches from my face, broadcasting music video after music video. About 95% of them featured R&B and soul artists. And they were all shite.
Jennifer Hudson, Usher, some guy with a silly golden thing hanging from his neck. All utter shite. Even the Sugababes are producing bland disco-funk music now.
Of course it just so happens that the vast majority of this music is written and performed by “non-caucasians” and because I think it’s about as palatable as swallowing detergent, that puts me in a difficult position.
But then I thought, well, would I be really upset if there were no black entertainers? Would it bother me at all? It doesn’t bother them if I don’t watch their movies or buy their albums – millions upon millions do, so they don’t care.
Look at my favourite sitcoms – many widely regarded as the best of all time: “Seinfeld”, “Only Fools and Horses”, “Cheers”, “Black Books”, “The Office”, “Monty Python”, “Fawlty Towers”, “Father Ted” – all have a predominantly white cast. “The Cosby Show” had its moments and “Diff’rent Strokes” (why was there an apostrophe in the title?) would not have been very good at all without Arnold and Willis – well it would have been called “Similar Strokes” for a start – (or “Sim’lar Strokes”). But other than that black sitcoms were written for a black audience: do you think that the same people who hate Chris, love Raymond?
The world of music
Musically it’s the same deal. Whitney Houston did a lot more me when I was a teenager (and her music was solid), Lenny Kravitz wrote some good tunes and I enjoyed Tone-Loc for a few months. But other than Lenny I don’t think I own music by any black artist. Where were they during the grunge period, where are they on the metal scene? Run DMC didn’t write “Walk This Way” and Faith no More were shite until Mike Patton replaced Chuck Moseley.
It’s ironic that black artists haven’t played more of a role on that scene considering that rock and metal were born out of Robert Johnson’s Delta blues music of the 1930s. Johnson, interestingly, died at the age of 27 – as did people he directly and indirectly influenced such as Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain.
The acting scene
Black actors have a strong presence of course: Samuel L Jackson’s thunderous performance in “Pulp Fiction”, Halle Berry in the startling “Monster’s Ball”, Richard Pryor, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington in too many movies to mention. There are plenty of movies from these and other black actors in my DVD collection.
Let’s look at the ladies and make some choices.
How about those wonderful tennis sisters against the might of the Minogue siblings?
Alright, not that much competition there. It must be Kylie and Danni’s openness to touching each other that’s working for me.
How about those twins from “Sister Sister” against the not-at-all-cosmetically-altered Olsen Twins?
Wow! I think I’m fixed! I’m actually not racist.
I guess, in conclusion, it’s just that R&B, soul and music of that ilk are a load of gash. Can we buy a guitar solo here please?