Wednesday, October 20, 2010

...Maybe We Should Just Be Nicer...

What goes 100 mph on only two legs and goes “hodeedo-hodeedo-hodeedo”?
A black man running for the elevator (get it? “hodeedo,” “ho’ de’ do’,” “hold the door”)

Now a word that I do tend to throw around a lot is “idiot.” I think because I was raised to believe that the human brain is the coolest thing ever, and you’d be a fool to not take advantage of that. Still I run into people that seem like they’re preserving their brain power for use at a later date. Group think is not a form of energy conservation and stereotyping is just laziness.

One day when I was very young, I found a one of those horrible racist joke books where the jokes are all divided into categories: black jokes, polish jokes, oriental jokes (yes, it actually said “oriental”), blonde jokes and so on. Even though I know I read it from cover to cover, for some reason I mostly only remember the black jokes. I’m sure that I didn’t understand half of them because I didn’t know all the stereotypes, but somehow they made an impression on me.
  • What do you call a white guy surrounded by 5 black guys? Coach
  • What do you call a white guy surrounded by 11 black guys? Head coach
  • What do you call a white guy surrounded by 30 black guys? A victim of gang violence
Looking back on it, I recognize that the jokes weren’t particularly funny and I almost wonder if the point was really to point out how dumb we are and unreasonably similar we can be in our judgment of others.

How often has a stranger made you mad and the first thought to pop into your head wasn’t necessarily the most politically correct one? We call senior strangers “gramps” or “grandma,” flamboyant strangers, “fags,” black strangers, “nigger” and when we can’t figure out an obvious difference, then we just go for “ugly.”

“[litany of insults] ugly [one more insult here]”

My “go to” insult is almost always some variation on “stupid.” Which leads me to the one time I called a kid a “pinhead” meaning small head, small brain, you know? The problem was he had a lot of piercings in his face. So even though that wasn’t what I was thinking of at the time that I said it, from the outside looking in it seemed like I was the idiot picking on the obvious.

I could definitely argue that that wasn’t the case. I happen to think some piercings are kind of cool, but if I’m honest I was stereotyping him- just for a different reason. Here’s this guy, fairly young, working retail and can’t answer my questions. Years ago I worked retail for a short time and found it easy and almost mind-numbingly dull, I have it in my head that it’s an easy job and only an idiot couldn’t do it. So when I’m in the store and the person seems unclear or confused, my mind races to all kinds of thoughts about the person being an imbecile.



 And, I admit that when I think someone’s stupid, I don’t treat them as nicely as I should.

I was being unfair. Or for stereotyping purposes, I was being a black b—ch.

What do you say to a black guy in a suit?
Will the defendant please rise.

So then why do we do this? My guess is because we’re just not that bright. There’s nothing especially crafty or clever about pointing out the dark skin guy and calling him “midnight” or looking up to a guy approaching the seven foot mark and asking about the weather up there. But those are all old I guess.

It seems to me that people these days put a lot of energy into coming up with some really hardcore hits. I remember when every skinny girl was called “Olive Oyl”, every bald guy was “Kojak,” every fat kid was Shamu, and wearing glasses automatically made you a nerd.

Now these kids are beating each other up just to upload the video on YouTube or using social network sites, and “modern technology” to terrorize and bully each other.

Aside from making me feel old, and it makes me feel confused. I don’t know if you’re really a genius for coming up with the stuff you do, or if you’re really a coward and a punk hiding behind your keyboard. Seems like you could be doing so much more important stuff with your time and talent. The insults aren’t any better but the delivery is vicious as hell. What’s wrong with you people?

(This one’s a hometown favorite…)
What’s fee-fi-fi-fo-fi-fe-fi
Coleman Young’s phone number (355-4535)

I remember coming across some kid on a forum called something like “negativity” or something like that. His whole concept was “I only make negative comments and if you come at me about it, I’ll hack your computer and make you look gay.”

Um.

Why?

First, why would you want to try and make a name for yourself like that? I know it seems like the only way to get ahead, or just to get attention, is to be jerk, but that’s not true. Except maybe on “reality” tv but most of that stuff is made up, so… But really, what are you so mad about?

The thing about being angry and acting on your anger is you might lash out at someone angrier. And then you become an episode of “when Keeping it real goes wrong” (I miss the Dave Chappelle Show*)

Second, why do you think you’re doing harm to someone by making them “look gay”? That’s about as dumb as when people used “homo” as slur. I thought “homo” was Latin for “man” or “human” but who the hell speaks Latin? Then I thought, maybe they’re referring to the Greek prefix meaning “same.” I guess that one makes more sense.

(edited version of a real online forum posting)
Me: “I like cupcakes.”
Idiot: “homo”
Me: “Oh, you like cupcakes too? We should swap recipes.”

I was serious, too. You know how I over think stuff. I’m all like, “Homonym? Homophone? homogenize? Did you just insult me or challenge to me to word duel?”

I swear some of the insults we use end up saying more about us than the person we’re hurling them at.

And what are these words really saying? They’re saying, “We’re stupid.” Or “We’re insecure” and in some cases, “My parents didn’t love me enough to buy me a dictionary as a kid and now I can’t come up with a better word for an insult.”

And what was really bad was how many other people in the forum were commenting like “aha, you’re so funny negativity, haha. You crazy.”

Maybe it was just me but I felt a really strong vibe that their praise had less to do with being amused and more to do with not wanting their computer hacked. So as bad as I feel for having such a high self-preservation reaction to things, I guess I can take comfort in knowing I’m not the only coward in this world.

Unfortunately that’s what these pinheads, er, peanut brain idiots count on. They strike out because they’re sure no one will strike back. But the truth is there’s more of us than there are of them. And I’ll tell you what else, we are stronger than they are. And it's easier to be nice than it is to be mean. Sadly in a world full of people that don’t know their real value, we’ve turned into bullies that take it out on others, and by-standers who watch.

And considering the alarming rise in suicide rates among young people, reportedly due to bullying and harassment, I think it’s about time for a change.

  • If you’re doing it, stop it- you’re an idiot. And when it’s over you’ll still be an idiot.
  • If you’re witnessing it, say something. Let those idiots know their behavior is not okay.
  • If you’re on the receiving end of it, don’t take it to heart. They’re insignificant idiots and not worth hurting yourself over.
And for everybody that is anybody (and this means you), just be nice for a change. Send some good vibes out....You might be pleasantly surprised what you get back in return!

So for the songs that get stuck in my head, I've come to the realization that I have to tell you very directly what song it is rather than only posting the video since they keep getting yanked under greed, I mean, "copyright" issues. That way if the video disappears, and you are so inclined, you can still look for the song and hopefully find something new to enjoy.


It's impossible to not smile when you listen to any Hall & Oats, but this one is one of my favorites because Hall got his little rap on. "Method of Modern Love"



*And for old time's sake...When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong
Chappelles Show
When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong - Brenda Johnson
www.comedycentral.com
Buy Chappelle's Show DVDsBlack ComedyTrue Hollywood Story

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