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Comedian, D.L. Hughley is being severely criticized in the Black community over his new CNN show, D.L. Hughley Breaking the News. I first heard the opening salvo in an email sent to me from Dr. Boyce Watkins. Dr. Watkins was, and is, highly agitated over the tone of the show. He indicated that "Nearly every joke on Hughley's show came back to some generalized stereotype, reminding us that African Americans are seen as relatively trifling 'social critters' and not much of anything else."
Dr. Watkins admitted, however, that he had lost respect for Hughley two years earlier during the Don Imus episode when Hughley allegedly told Jay Leno, "Yes, those women really WERE a pack of nappy headed hoes!" I hadn't heard about that, but if true, and I've never known Dr. Watkins to lie about such things, such a remark would have been highly objectionable to me as well--in fact so much so, that it might have tainted my opinion of his current project. So I decided I'd better take a look at Hughley's CNN show for myself before making a comment.
So I went to YouTube and pulled up a segment of the show. In the segment that I selected, the Freddie Mac corporation was being portrayed as a pimp-no problem, so far. Actually, I was beginning to think it WAs kind of funny until the pimp got to a part where he called Barack Obama a fellow pimp. Then when he went on to say that Barack was pimping the people out of their money, I began to see why Dr. Watkins was so upset. That was a seriously irresponsible thing to say--especially considering the fact that it was just days before the most important election in the history of this nation.
For the very first time in our history, we've finally stimulated the interest of a significant number of Black, and young people in the political process. Now to have a Black comedian appearing on CNN-a network known for reporting straight news-saying that Sen. Obama was a pimp, and indicating that the money the people are donating as "campaign contributions" is actually a pimp's game designed to rip them off for their money, is not only deeply troubling and over the top, but constitutes a direct threat to the integrity of the political process.
On Hughley's behalf, however, the concept of having Freddie Mac played as a pimp was brilliant. It's a device that can be used to educate the public about what this bailout was actually all about. And education is the key--it is a must that Hughley use his new platform to educate. Anything short of that will result in a disaster for both Hughley, and CNN.
Being Black, and the only comedian on CNN requires walking a very fine line. If Hughley uses that platform just to tell Black jokes and indulge in buffoonery, he's going to embarrass himself, embarrass the Black community, and destroy his career, because he'll be perceived as helping CNN to send the message that the only news they have to disseminate about Black people is that they're a joke. But on the other hand, if he uses this opportunity in a dignified and intelligent way, and use comedy to enlighten and inform, he could become one of the biggest, and most beloved stars in the country.
He needs to forget about all of the "Pimps up, hoes down" nonsense, and all the racial stereotyping, and begin to focus on political hypocrisy. He could use his show to take up where journalism leaves off--and that should be the easiest job in the world, since he has an entire nation filled with politicians who are living out his material for him. Politicians are known for being sneaky, disingenuous, and deceitful. The journalists at CNN are well aware of this, but they don't have the evidence to prove it. That's where Hughley would come in-as a comedian he doesn't need proof, all he needs is his intuition, and a funny scenario to point out the hypocrisy. It would also give him the power to focus the direction of the news.
I can think of several issues that could be addressed right of the top of my head. Sarah Palin is accusing Obama of "Palling around with terrorists," for example. But everyone seems to be conveniently silent over the fact that her own husband is a member of a political group that wants to secede from the union. In addition, Sarah herself addressed the group's convention before being picked to run for vice president. In her remarks she said, "We have a great promise to be a self-sufficient state, made up of the hardest-working, most grateful Americans in our nation" (She must have gotten that "hardest-working, most grateful Americans" line from Hillary Clinton). I wonder how many Black people they're going to let in their newly ripped off state, once they take their oil and secede from the union?
And consider this-Sarah's association with this group makes her intimately connected to a group that's a threat to our national security. So if she's elected vice president, how is she going to get a security clearance? What are they going to do, have her leave the room every time the grown ups have to talk? In addition, at her rallies she's always talking about who is and who's not "one of us." When she says, "one of us", who is she talking about--one of us, as Americans, or "one of them", who wants to tear the country apart? She moves quite easily among both groups.
Then there's the fact that even while both Sarah and McCain (notice that she has top billing now, and known by first name only) are calling Obama an elitist and embracing "Joe the Plumber", the "hockey mom" is walking around in a dress that cost $23,500 more than Joe's house-and the $23,800 that they paid to have her hair done for two weeks would probably pay off Joe's mortgage. That's a joke in itself.
And finally, here's the biggest joke of all. It seems that Todd Palin's "buddies" are an exceptionally talented bunch. They not only helped Todd build Sarah's brand new home, from the ground up, but also pitched in to build Wasilla's new $12 million sports complex less a mile away. And these are obviously a great bunch of fellas, because they also renovated Sen. Steven's house. You remember Sen. Stevens of Alaska, right? He's the one they just convicted for failing to report all that this great bunch of guys did for him--and why.
Eric L. Wattree