There seems to be a troubling trend in viral videos or ‘memes’ over the past few years. These three people: Charles Ramsey, Antoine Dodson and Ms. Sweet Brown, have all had air time through various media for similar reasons; either interviews about public disturbances, an accident like a fire or even for rescuing a missing person.
These are all serious issues and some even deserve recognition for saving lives, but the publics reaction has been quite disturbing. All three have been made into unintentional viral celebrities where various catch phrases have been extracted from their interviews and enshrined in internet culture. These catch phrases are portrayed side by side with extravagant facials or gestures.
Racism and classism is a difficult issue within humour, it seems the line is often blurred as to what is acceptable. In this case personally I believe it is unjustifiably ridiculing lower class African-American people. Morally one should analyse what it is exactly they are laughing at and reflect upon whether it is ethical. If these three people had have been white, would they have become so viral?
The sexualization of the male figure receives considerably less review than that of the sexualization of the female figure (for quite obvious reasons like the substantial amount of imagery we see in the media and the power association of this imagery), however when combined with issues of racial prejudice the power issue is shifted.
The myth being utilized within this photo that I have taken of a Magazine cover is not that of a gender issue; this basketball player is most likely not being examined so explicitly because he is a male, he would be seen as being objectified due to his African-American ethnicity.
This again relates to the eroticization of the exotic and draws upon the stereotype (myth), that black men have large penises. In this picture the focus is being shifted from the player’s achievement as a basketball player, to the objectification of his body. Other’s may argue that this is ESPN’s “body issue” and that this is not objectification but rather examination and therefore validated, however if we were to replace the person on the cover for a ‘white’ or Asian, basketball player posing naked it would most likely be considered perverse or wrong. This seems to point to how entrenched the eroticized African-American has become within the media.
One specific paradigm of myths is those that relate to the perceptions we may hold about different ethnicities. A surface level interpretation, these myths may seem harmless, however if we are to dissect these generalizations they are often extremely detrimental toward those of whom they are aimed.
The picture above is a photo I took in a café recently. I was quite astounded to see a chilli sauce bottle named “Hot! Samoan Boys Chilli Sauce” and immediately began to unpack the myth that could have led to the naming of this sauce. Personally I believe this may be the eroticization of the exotic; the sexualization of the other, yet obviously in a drastically euphemized form. I am not specifically sure as to where this idea of an overtly eroticized exotic originated from, however I would guess it has roots in colonial times when the British were seeking conquest of any and all land they set foot upon. One such method in attaining power was to ‘breed out’ any ‘inferior’ indigenes.
So, why is this myth being used to sell a particular brand of chilli sauce? Again I am simply guessing as I have no background information on this sauce or who makes it; yet I assume it is attempting to cater toward a early to middle aged women, who may see this myth as an erotic fantasy.