THIS time six years ago, Flavor Flav, the flamboyant clock-wearing member of the groundbreaking rap group Public Enemy, was living in a low-rent apartment near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. He was scalping baseball tickets for extra cash, battling a long addiction to drugs and racking up arrests for driving without a license. These days life is looking a lot brighter. His reality series, “Flavor of Love,” a ghetto-fabulous spoof of the dating series “The Bachelor,” has been a colossal hit for VH1. The show’s first-season finale in March drew nearly six million viewers, making it the highest-rated show in the cable channel’s history. More than three million people tuned in to watch the second-season premiere early August.You’re not going to see this kind of reaction on any other conservative site.
Some people are accusing Flavor Flav of being a Stepin’ Fetchit, or of perpetrating racial stereotypes. Then there is the other issue of risqué TV in general. You’ve got the whole Madonna on a crucifix issue, the old Christ in urine controversy, MTV as a medium for children, and recently the Paris Hilton video where she is seducing a young boy in one of her songs.
As far as Flavor Flav perpetuating racial stereotypes, who cares? There are enough positive African-American icons now in American pop culture that this noble race can withstand a bit of foolery. If Whites can endure its Archie Bunkers and Lucky Louie’s, then Blacks can live with personas like Amos and Andy, Stepin’ Fetchit, and Flavor Flav. They’re just personas. Adaptive characters that got or get people what they want or need. Humor. Satire. Exaggerations. They aren’t role models, just fun.
Nor am I offended by the Las Vegas, wild Roman, orgiastic, Playboy, Penthouse, risqué, Flavor Flav or Madonna sexy side of our culture. I love HBO and cable TV, including all the “adult” shows like Sex in the City, steamy MTV videos, and on up to Passion Cove and beyond.
I don’t want these things invading my family space, however. So I don’t like the sexualizing of little girls, which I see not only on MTV but also in our schools—with little girls baring their midriffs, in low-cut blouses and miniskirts, smearing “whore” or “thug” makeup on their innocent faces. So, though I can understand the appeal of the Paris Hilton video, I believe we need to be careful when we go in this direction. I do think it’s dumb to criminalize every young boy’s fantasy of making it with the hot young math teacher. On the other hand, it is true that young boys’ egos and personalities are not formed yet, and they are in a one-down power relationship in any affair with an older person. It can be dangerous for the young man, or young woman. They can lose themselves, be manipulated, and descend into criminal activity or drugs because of it. Witness Pamela Smart and other such cases.
So, some kind of a line needs to be drawn. I agree with the hubbub over the Janet Jackson breast-baring incident at the Superbowl. Families were watching and she shouldn’t have done it. MTV too needs to be careful. They should not sexualize young people, nor entice them into a too-early sexual existence.
Flavor Flav, however, is okay with me. I wish the purists would get off his back and let him do his thing. It’s not my cup of tea, but so what?
I’m an artist and writer. I am a firmly committed conservative, but this implies getting the government out of our lives. I want the government out of television, except to protect young people and families. Stop the breast baring during family hour, yes. Watch out for sexualizing youngsters. Don’t encourage child molestation. After all this, stop. Lay off HBO.
Overall, I want freedom. I want the public and critics to allow a wide range of entertainment to delight and inform us—from the risqué Rome to the controversial Crucifix in urine. No subject, from pimps to the Pope, should be off limit to artistic expression, satire, or ridicule. Flavor Flav is fine, as is bashing the Pope to bashing Mohammed to bashing Bush. That’s what art does. (This is one reason fundamentalist Islam hates the West.)
Which is why I continue to bash liberals. Plus, they deserve it.
(*Wikipedia is always my source unless indicated.)
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