Bill Maher, Bill Cosby, Quaaludes and Other Not-so-Nice Things

This is strictly off-the-cuff, a few ramblings on topics that are raging on social media while in the meantime, the Congo is a dysfunctional ruin, India is turning Nazi, Yemenis starve and Syrians get blown to bits, Gaza is still a nasty ruin, slum dwellers in Rio still get their heads caved in by Brazilian killer cops (especially if they are pretos), Russian fascists are infesting the globe and even reaching their hoary tentacles down in Cancun, hipster fascists, redneck scum and negro/cholo thugs rampage throughout America unchecked (and fools like Jim Goad are still publishing books. Worse, many people still believe that Jim Goad is still relevant.)

Number one: I didn’t think much of the Bill Maher “house nigga” flap because I didn’t even watch it when it happened. And when I did see it, I simply shrugged. To me it was just some typically tasteless, cute, white-boy shit. Having grown up around white boys, I am not going to be surprised by the things they say when they think they are being witty, nor am I going to excuse whatever it is they say. I don’t hate them, but I know them; where I grew up in America, I had to know them and their intentions. It did not surprise me that Mr. Maher put his foot in his mouth (and possibly on purpose) one more time. So, what?*

People have forgotten the seventies or, God forbid, the eighties. The levels of racism on TV during that time were nothing short of toxic. They have forgotten scumbags like the late Morton Downey, Jr., among others. Channel Five and Channel Twenty were still broadcasting those disgusting racist cartoons from the 30s/50s (among other things) yet unlike today, nobody said a fucking word about it in any newspaper or magazine column. Not one fucking word. There was a particularly revolting cartoon (I think it was the Isle of Pingo Pongo) which showed a stereotyped “coon” with a Victrola in his enormous white lips, and I remember actually throwing shit at the TV screen in disgust. But other than my family, nobody cared–which is why I find the hysterical reaction to Bill Maher’s cutesy-poo wise crack so disingenuous.

I have yet to watch a complete episode of “Politically Incorrect” by Bill Maher because frankly, I don’t really like Bill Maher. He comes off as smug and self-satisfied, perpetually smirking, smart-alecky and bumptious–a typical New York dick, as Ken Shakin  (also from New York) would put it. I remember one episode in which Mos Def appeared on the show, alongside Salman Rushdie and the late Christopher Hitchens. Mos Def basically had his own ass handed to him by the other three panelists, but then again, Mos Def had it coming: he is not the brightest bulb on the intellectual tree. My gut feeling was that Bill Maher allowed Mos Def on the panel discussion as a form of progressive comedy relief–a way of putting on a coon show while maintaining an illusion of “progressive inclusiveness,” or whatever the fuck you want to call that. In the end, the show–in my view, anyway–wound up putting niggers in their intellectual place again. Too bad I, or some other far more sharp-witted black intellectual (such as Playthell Benjamin or even Ta-Nehisi Coates) hadn’t been brought on the panel.

Coincidentally, Ta-Nehisi Coates did cross swords with Bill Maher a few years later when Maher brought up an old trope about blacks and Cadillacs. Unfortunately Coates appears to be too young to remember the stereotype; it must have went out with the seventies. And Maher must have forgotten an even older trope concerning Jews and Cadillacs, which probably bears some relation to the anti-Semitic notion that Jews are a bunch of “negrified Orientals” (the type of shit that Henry Ford, Celine and Gobineau were pushing nearly a century ago).**

To my mind, Maher simply isn’t a very funny man. He seems to rely on an old Jewish comedy shtick–the kind of thing Lenny Bruce, Groucho Marx, Mel Brooks (to cite a lesser example) did far better, which is take down everyone and everything around them with a sort of cruel, Swiftian irreverence. Maher tries too hard. His “house nigga” shtick would have come off better if he had known how to deflate that tension he had built up after he’d dropped The Word. Lenny Bruce could do this, but then again Bruce was a comedic genius. Bill Maher is not. He could, possibly, pull his head out of the dirt by appearing on his next show as an actual house nigger, swallow-tail coat, Yiddish accent and all, obsequiously serving ice tea to a frock-coated Ice Cube while muttering, “yassuh, boss.” Possibly.¹

*

Bill Cosby, meanwhile, is stewing in a boiling cauldron of legal issues that may or may not be of his own doing. Again–much like Bill Maher–I’m not a huge Cosby fan, though as kids we used to watch Fat Albert religiously (and even cruelly mocked it on private home-made comedy tapes, which were so offensive and obscene that Maher’s shtick would seem less than nothing). I didn’t like the Cosby Show of the Eighties, which to me epitomized that new buppie shit that I was inundated with by the end of that benighted decade. I view the Cosby debacle several ways: one, as an hysterically prudish reaction against the licentiousness of the 70s and 80s (when everybody who was sexually hip–or thought themselves to be–dropped Quaaludes, and said fuck all about it); two, as yet another media takedown of a black American icon, this one far more powerful and influential than O.J. Simpson could ever hope to be–he’d even considered buying NBC at one point (which is probably the real reason why the feds decided to jug him). After watching the Cosby case on TV or social media, one can never look back on his legacy with the same eyes: Fat Albert, his stand-up routines of the sixties, his show in the eighties and above all those books he authored on Parenthood and all that now appear shoddy and fraudulent. Again, this could be the whole rationale behind the Cosby case, in spite of the existence of Cosby’s court deposition.

The third way? I personally see Cosby’s downfall as an ironic comeuppance after his notorious “pound cake” speech. The absurdity of a man of Cosby’s stature resorting to drugging extremely ugly white women in order to bang them doesn’t quite add up, and the deposition appears to speak for itself. I would not be surprised if the deposition was faked, but I would be equally unsurprised if the deposition simply is what it is. The reason why I call all of this “comeuppance” is simple. Here you have a proud member of the black elite chiding the black lumpen-proletariat for not pulling up its pants or, to use Cosby’s words, “not holding up their own end of the deal”–when he himself has had quite a bit of trouble keeping his own pants on.

When I first heard the Pound Cake speech, I smirked. Oh, really? I thought, knowing full well that Cosby was an outrageous snob. Well, I then thought, upon further consideration, perhaps Cosby was right, when you look at how insufferably decadent African American cultural life had become by 2003-2004. Those were the “saggy pants” years, for those of you who have already forgotten; the years of Chingy, Plies, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, and a virtual avalanche of coonish, gold-toothed rappers that virtually no one in that fucked-up decade even thought to challenge. 50 Cent was not a “coon” then like he is now. 50 Cent, for better or worse, represented Black America throughout the world in the 2000s mass media. That was the rationale behind Cosby’s 2004 speech.

But I took issue with it because Cosby and his ilk (Michael Jordan, Kanye West, Jay-Z, etc.) are collectively worth hundreds of billions of dollars, and not a dime of their money has gone into creating the Black Economy that some of them love to talk about. They will weep crocodile tears over the 1921 tragedy in Tulsa while barely putting a penny towards the creation of another Black Wall Street, something which–even given today’s economic crisis–is entirely feasible. Whole skyscrapers lay vacant in downtown Detroit, and not one of these black elites–Cosby included–has ever considered buying even one of them, let alone five or six of them. Certainly 550 million dollars could cover the cost of purchasing and refurbishing downtown Detroit, if not that then maybe a billion–and what is a billion compared to the 1.1 trillion purchasing power of Black America?

Yet the thought has never crossed the minds of our black elite. I doubt if it had crossed Cosby’s mind. He had wished to buy NBC while completely ignoring the possibility of constructing his own alternative to NBC. Over one hundred years ago, when Jewish immigrants were run out of New York by Edison’s anti-Semitic goon squad–Edison’s henchmen targeted the nickelodeon trade of the early 1900s, which was primarily run by Jews–they moved as far away from the East Coast as they possibly could, finding cheap real estate in a little village called Hollywood-land. It was there that these immigrants created (to quote Neal Gabler) “an empire of their own,” one which, ironically, did precious little to either promote or enliven American Jewish or any Jewish culture anywhere in the world.

Instead, Jewish Hollywood promoted white, Anglo-Saxon (honky) culture and white, honky, Anglo-Saxon values. There is nothing even remotely Jewish about “Gone With the Wind” or “Meet Me in St. Louis” or any of the classic Hollywood films, and “The Jazz Singer” is too laughably corny for a racially sensitive soul such as myself to get angry about. (Seriously.) Actually, there’s nothing all that “Jewish” about Politically Incorrect (assuming that one can assign certain characteristics to “Jewishness”) but that’s beside the point. Once again, the American cultural elite has shown itself to be just that collection of cheap, shoddy, decadent bastards that they generally always were, with surprisingly few exceptions (and I won’t mention their private lives). Even if Bill Cosby didn’t drop Quaaludes in unsuspecting women’s drinks, the fact that he belonged to an elite that had done nothing to pull the black underclass out of its misery should give one pause. The fact that this decadent, do-nothing black elite has presided over a virtual cultural genocide for the past four decades in America–while fattening itself off the proceeds of that genocide, and making derisive and condescending speeches about the attendant social catastrophes of those years–should (ideally) piss somebody off.

This elite had a chance to build a new Black Wall Street far beyond anything their counterparts in the 1910s had ever dreamed of, and with far more resources at their disposal. Instead, they were too busy having fun at our expense–buying Bentleys, sniffing coke, jetting off to Rio and dropping roofies in whore’s drinks. And yet these pigs dare scoff at us rank-and-file black men and condescendingly tell us, with a goddamned jock’s sneer, to “man up” and “get a job”!!

*

*Another Bill, Bill O’Reilly, is just a joke, a fucking embarrassment to the neocon/neoliberal establishment, with his idiotic and antiquated Irish ethnic ressentiment towards “fags,” “coloreds” and “commie scum.” O’Reilly makes the white establishment look bad. He is the type of nitwit who appeals to New Jersey cops, Boston barflies, Trumpistani hardhats, and all those dolts in Arkansas who still think the Civil War was fought over “States Rights”–a dinosaur, a throwback to the days of Joe McCarthy and the fucking Honeymooners, so sidelining him is really no skin off Uncle Sam’s backside.  

**Cadillacs were once known disparagingly as “Jew canoes.”

¹Update, June 12, 2017: I actually listened to the show this time, and Ice Cube gave Bill Maher a well-deserved shove in the ribs. And Bill is still not Lenny, so if you haven’t seen the show don’t expect much. Dr. Dyson comes off as rather verbose and disturbingly obsequious.

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