Thug Notes: Racist Reinforcement of Stereotypes, or Ironic Subversion of Expectations?


As for this corny “thug notes” shtick (which just as corny as the wisecracking Eye-talian “goodfella” or the Heeb who keeps talking UP and throwing his hands around, or the A-rab who fucking screams and shouts all the time), I don’t like it. It’s just Zip Coon all over again, but tailor-made to an allegedly “liberal,” open-minded white middle-class audience. I’m sure plenty of conservative assholes like this kind of crap, too, but that’s not the point. The point is that this is just another popular show that presents black Americans as irrelevant, vulgar and foolish clowns, however articulate and nuanced they may be in their thinking. Moreover, why the “thug” stereotype, anyway? Is this supposed to be “funny?”

The above analysis of Thug Notes, as an “ironic subversion” of racist expectations from non-blacks concerning our intelligence, is belied by the fact that Sparky Sweets (aka Greg Edwards) doesn’t write this stuff: Jared Bauer, the show creator and Joseph Salvaggio, the researcher, write everything. Jacob Salomon is the producer and designer. Two Jews and an Italian producing neo-minstrel rap crap for some poor misguided colored cat. What else is new?

The Humble Blatherskite

Ever since I first watched the Thug Notes analysis of “Othello,” I’ve been feeling a bit uneasy. Even while laughing at the thoughtful and Ebonics-laden catechizing, I kept wondering, “Is this racist?”

The series features a cliché black man, Sparky Sweets, Ph.D., simultaneously speaking the dialect associated stereotypically with African Americans, (“Gangsta”-type talk) while performing keen and penetrating literary analysis. The character is brilliantly played by comedian George Edwards. It’s both very funny and very shrewd, so what’s not to love? Why does laughing at it make me feel mildly ill?

Well, firstly, “thug” is a rather charged word, and it’s gained more voltage in the past couple of months as unarmed black men are gunned down and posthumously labeled as “thugs.” Now, the Thug Notes branch of the Wise Crack YouTube channel was started in June, 2013; Trayvon Martin was killed the 26th of February, 2012. I’m not…

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Racist Cartoonist A Wyatt Mann

Jim Goad, resident intellectual hitman for Taki the Greek’s lousy excuse for a web-zine (find it yourself if you want a good puke), has a new book out entitled “The New Church Ladies.” Essentially the book is an updated version of Celine’s BAGATELLES POUR UN MASSACRE and Robert Shufeldt’s “THE NEGRO, A MENACE TO AMERICAN CIVILIZATION.” I am currently preparing a review of Goad’s silly collection of rants and raves, but for the time being, try not to puke (or punch your screen) when viewing these vile artworks–made by the same cunt who designed the cover for Goad’s book. His name is NICK BOUGAS, aka A. Wyatt Mann.

Ralph Dumain: “The Autodidact Project”: Anthony Braxton: The 3rd Millennial Interview

Ralph Dumain raises some points in his Autodidact Project that I have been discussing with friends and family in real life for years, and only now have begun elaborating on in writing. The same issues–concerning the containment of Afro-American creativity within so-called “acceptable” social spheres (namely, the played-out “exotica zone” of the Cotton Club or the Hip-Hop club or the fucking “jazz club”)–are salient in regards to how Afro-American literature is still treated to this day, even with the successes of Colson Whitehead, Teju Cole and Paul Beatty.


Anthony Braxton: The Third Millennial Interview with Mike Heffley
Copyright Š 2001 Anthony Braxton & Mike Heffley. All rights reserved.

Extracts, with Commentary by Ralph Dumain

The plain text in each numbered selection is commentary by Anthony Braxton extracted from the interview and published by The Autodidact Project with permission of Mike Heffley. Italicized paragraphs are commentary by Ralph Dumain (© 2003 Ralph Dumain).

session 1


I’m no fan of Spike Lee’s, but the fact that he would have a project dabbling in minstrelsy, on whatever level, is just further proof that the components of the third millennium will be very different from what we came up with in the ’60s. For instance, much of the hip-hop music that we’re experiencing right now has a minstrel component. More and more, it’s the tough guy celebrating vulgarity—which isn’t to say this is the only component of hip-hop. I have a…

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Brief Reflections on American Prudery (1)

“Still, when I’m not engaged in sexual activity, it makes me sad to think that my arousal is based in crude animality. On the most basic level, there is little difference between my fantasy life and a lion’s mating rituals: male finds desirable female; subdues; ejaculates. Yet I want sex to be a shared delight so strong it releases me from the strictures of everyday living. So the urge to dramatize poses of degradation is what Miller calls “a sultry, passionate rebellion” against the fact that one’s needs do not result in what one wants. I will always want sex to be more than the physical act of intercourse it will always insist on being.”

Hannah Tennant-Moore, A Rosier Crucifixion: the erotic world of Henry Miller

Americans, on the left as well as the right, seem to be using all kinds of rhetorical alibis to justify their fear of human contact; the right uses the old saw of “moral values,” “Christianity” and “immorality” and the left (like good Stalinists) loves to hide behind a solipsistic smokescreen, denouncing heterosexual desire as inherently “phallocentric,” “patriarchal” and “misogynist.” This is not quite true. It is just as idiotic as assuming that all white men are inherently Nazis with a genetic disposition to kill anything that does not look like them. Scratch the surface of either one of these posters and you will find just another uptight middle-class blue-stocking who simply believes that old white, patriarchal notion that sex is essentially “filthy.”

I know what I am talking about. I grew up in Reagan-Era America and attended a Parochial Catholic school which was rife with puritanical views about sex, heterosexual or homosexual, but largely heterosexual. It was an all-male high school. Every other day it was drummed into our heads that sex outside of marriage was “sinful” or that reading Playboy was “immoral” and “disrespectful towards women” and all sorts of other prissy bullshit. And yet the school teachers and administrators turned a blind eye to young male bullies molesting and even raping more vulnerable young boys in study hall, in the bathroom and in the gym shower. In fact homosexual harassment and bullying was so widespread it was considered a joke. I know because such bullying happened to me, and more than once. Yet on the other hand, gays were openly sneered at by the student body, porn (hetero) was passed around under the table and more kinky sex was being had by many of these students than in a public high school. The hypocrisy that these people had concerning sexual matters was so glaring that to this day, I refuse to believe a damned thing that Americans have to say on the subject of sex. The bottom line is that we still think sex is dirty, yet we have found far more creative and convincing ways of justifying our essential hatred of the physical.

The thing that browns me off about all of this is the way that many of these supposedly “liberated” and “self-actualized” women have internalized white, Victorian male paternalism towards their own gender–the main difference being that these women have reshaped these anti-sexual Victorian values to justify their own basic revulsion towards physical contact. It is nothing new, really. Anthony Comstock has made a comeback, albeit shaved, trimmed, toned, wearing hipster clothes and shrieking “misogyny” when he really means “too little morn and too much maid!”

It never ceases to amaze me, even now, how something as beautiful as a woman being confident in herself, in her body, in the power of her sex could be twisted into something dark, something shameful, something dirty. For a long time, I was blinded to its beauty because of that. I felt like I had to answer to society before I answered to myself and allowed parts of me to be hidden because I was afraid of what would happen if I let that truth out.

Sheriden Channel, “Confession: I Have an Insatiable Appetite for Sex”

We “Americans” love to prate on and on about “values.” We throw the word around without even thinking to analyze precisely what we mean when we bring it up.  Values to whom? Values for whom? And what on earth do you “value” so? And what is this thing do you call morality? I already know, the answer’s right there. “Morality” and “values” in that fucking country is simply a choice between putting a dick in your mouth and not putting it in your mouth—that’s all. Keep the dick out of your mouth and you’ll be fine, you won’t go to hell, and Jesus won’t shit all over your ass. You can bomb all the ragheads you please, but please don’t lick your girl’s cunt outside the confines of holy matrimony, because THAT is a sin. If it all sounds idiotic and primitive, that’s because it is.

This is a white, Christian hangup. It is no accident that among people who are not WASP or WASP-oriented (as are Saudis, many South Asians, evangelical Africans, etc.) these hangups are rarely, if ever present. Progressives in Brazil, in Italy, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Ghana, etc. thankfully deal with the issue of male privilege, patriarchy and domination in their own fashion and according to their own respective needs and generally avoid middle-class American solipsism about sexuality. It is very sad to see even progressives in that lousy country (USA) demanding more and more chains under the guise of “security.” If this insanity continues, one day the USA will be the least free nation on earth, and we will have nobody to blame but ourselves and our fear of our own minds and bodies, and our basic stupidity and spinelessness.