Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Fight for New York--no matter who wins, we all lose.

Xquizzyt1 posted this hilarious post on her favorite expression: THIS is why we can't rise as a people!!! She followed it up with a more serious sequel, on how we (black folks, in case you couldn't tell) manage to hold each other back. If she doesn't mind me borrowing the expression, I've got another example to add to the already towering heap of evidence that indicates we do such a goddamn good job of devaluing ourselves that we don't need racists to do it for us. Drumroll, please.... THIS is why we can't rise as a people!!! Def Jam: Fight for New York. Have you heard of it? It's Def Jam/EA Games' latest collaborative contribution to an ongoing multimedia campaing to further decrease the value of black lives. Joy. Here's the objective, from the official website:

Battle for Control of Hip Hop’s Underworld

Survive the gritty reality of the urban underworld in Def Jam® Fight For NY™, the only fighting game featuring five intense fighting styles, hardcore hip hop music, more than 40 hip hop artists and celebrities, and seedy urban venues. Develop your fighting skills, get down with a crew, and battle for control of the underworld.

Translation: Manipulate digitized young men of color (including "...Fat Joe, Flava Flav, Freeway, Ghostface, Ice T, Joe Budden...Ludacris, Method Man, Redman, Sean Paul, Slick Rick, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, and many more...") through 90 levels of beating the hell out of each other, breaking occasionally to ogle and manipulate (even more) ho'ed out versions of such paragons of feminine virtue as Lil' Kim, Carmen Electra, Kimora Lee Simmons, and fictional/digital ride-or-die bitches Shaniqua and Shawnna. To a hip hop soundtrack. Alternate (meta) translation: manipulate actual youth of (any) color into believing that watching dark men bleed over a sham form of "power"--control over "the streets"--is entertainment. To a hip hop soundtrack. Gee, sounds great! You know this shit is going to make crazy money. You know these silly-ass, modern-day minstrels think this shit is cute--that somewhere Ludacris' ass had a look at his digital counterpart and took it as further evidence he had arrived. That Kimora Simmons was in some production studio going, "no, make my breasts bigger!" and giggling over the outcome. That Flava Flav thinks he's got his career back. Did they think of anything else? Anything other than the money they would make, or how cool it would be to be video game characters? Like the fact that the goddamned characters would turn black-on-goddamned-black crime into a sport*!!! I'm tired. I'm tired of these silly bitches claiming left, right and center that they care about our people, that they are representing any sort of legitimate lifestyle, that they are keeping anything real but their real desire to make money at any cost. Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons' (raised middle-class and now living in a giant goddamned house with a gold fucking designer toilet for his lovely wife to rest her model-cum-fashion designer-cum-Dukes of Hazzard on dope-- ass upon) bitch ass*** had the nerve, after Bill Cosby's infamous NAACP comments, to question Cosby's approach to improving the state of certain black youth. A few quotes from Simmons:

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons praised Cosby as "a great American" but said that "pointing the finger may not be helpful -- we still have more struggle as a society and more work to do" to reform it. He rejected the notion that hip-hop music has had a coarsening effect, saying it "is the soundtrack that reflects the struggle" of young people today. --From the Washington Post, 7/03/04

He [Cosby] is trying his best. But I don't think it's helpful....In terms of my appreciation of the spirits of all the people who are in struggle, and wanting to help those people...I hope that I'm the kind of contributor that Bill Cosby has been his whole life. But in terms of the approach, you know, I don't carry that judgment thing with me. I believe everybody's doing the best they can." --From the Philadelphia Daily News 7/26/04

Simmons wants to "be the kind of contributor that Bill Cosby has been his whole life," and this shit is his effort? How the holy-rolling-motherfuck is this helping us?!?! How many kids could you have helped put through college with the money you spent decorating the butt-ugly, tacky-as-hell house--no, fuck it, just the living room--splashed all over MTV Cribs? Voter drive my black ass. Bill Cosby spent ten years making the image of a whole, healthy black family the top rated show on American TV, gave $20+ million to Spelman and has a whole goddamned foundation for dyslexics, bitch. You got a "voter drive" and pretended to donate some sneaker revenue to reparations, like that's our biggest problem. But Cosby's got it wrong. Okay. And the sad thing is, there will be people who will defend this game, this bullshit image, and all the hypocrites perpetrating it. It's just a game. It only reflects reality--"the soundtrack that reflects the struggle." Mmm-hmm. Clearly these jackasses spend more time on this shit than reading Baudrillard. It's the hyperreal, bitches! This shit is the billboard! How many upper and middle class youth--black or otherwise--can you list who walk around with goddamn 'do-rags on their heads, gettin' their asses kicked out of school over some bullshit chest-thumping, selling drugs, failing classes, smoking weed and generally actin' an ass because they think it's somehow key to their identity? I know several. Oooooh, arrrrrrggggghhhh, I am so pissed! Make all the arguments you like about it being "just a game," "not that deep," or an urban spin on the traditional fighting game theme. Just know that while you are doing it, there will be folks--black, white and other, rich and poor, young and kinda old--spending hours listening to, watching, directing state-of-the-art, digitally enhanced people of color brutalizing each other. To a hip hop soundtrack. Yeah, thanks Def Jam, Rush, EA. Because this is exactly what we needed. *On the other hand--can you match Lil' Kim up against Flava Flav in a bitch-fight? 'Cause that would be the shit. **I apologize for the vulgarity, but goddamn I'm so angry I want to cry. The "bitch" quotient ran high, but I kept the "fucks" to a bare minimum. And "shit" shouldn't really count. ***I rant against Simmons not only because he is the head of Def Jam, but also because he has spent the last several years trying his damndest to be taken--with an unfortunately fair degree of success--as some sort of sociopolitical power-broker speaking for the urban black community. Last year he was awarded some honor by SHiNE (Seeking Harmony in Neighborhoods Everyday), a non-profit "dedicated to ending youth violence and promoting respect for diversity," (CSR Newsire, 2/21/03, emphasis mine). Maybe he was redecorating his house the day endorsement of this game was approved. God, I hope so. Talk about tasteless. That shit looked liked Donatella exploded up in there. A little opulence to reflect your status is one thing, but gold toilets and leopard chaises fairly screams "I've had my money for five minutes" nouveau riche.


At 9/23/2004 08:41:00 AM, Blogger TheBlackNewYorker said...

BRAVO!!! I agree with you 1000 percent. I would have to add my NYC observation. Everyday at the bus stop, there's nothing but women standing there getting ready to hop the bus to go to work, where the hell are the men? Unemployment for Black males in NYC is over 50%. That means that half the Black men in NYC are unemployed. I think this is due to this rap culture where it is acceptible to dress like a little boy all day long and unacceptible to put on a suit and tie and fill-out an application without your hood-name on it.

At 9/23/2004 09:06:00 AM, Blogger deborah said...

Sid you are marvelous. Not only is this an epidemic for people of colour on America, but we deal with the same (mis)represenations of Indigenous and ethnic communities in Australia. There are two issues here, the represertentation at the hands of a marketing machine and the representation by people who SHOULD know better.

Over the last two years I have worked both with a community and explored theoretically Indigenous issues. It makes you wonder why the hell things are not any better. Sure there are many other things at play, namely governments who do nothing about the REAL issues. But part of me believes there are some within a community, be it Indigenous, or Migrant that perpetuate the cycle for their own gain, be it for money, politics, power - or all three plus more!

Great post - loved it! And make no excuse for your passion and wit... even when it comes out all "french"

At 9/23/2004 09:57:00 AM, Blogger Zantiferous3 said...

Thank you for the shout out.

I officially love you - you're the best. What kills me is that I didn't do a PREQUEL to the first post because I ranted on the SAME thing when they came out with True Crime: The Streets of LA. I couldn't believe that brothers are ACTUALLY dying at the hands of one another on a DAILY basis, and some executive at Sony said, "Hey!!! It's like Beirut in South Central - let's make a game out of it!!! That way it won't just be the children who live THERE who will be desensitized to the value of a human life, we can spread the message to the youth throughout the NATION that a young black life in particular is worth nothing. Come shoot at them for fun!!! And all to a hip-hop soundtrack."

You are so right. I couldn't agree more.

For all those people spitting, "it's just a game," ask yourself if it's REALLY just a game, then why couldn't it be "TRUE CRIME: The Streets of LA" on the cops side, where they're collecting bribes and shooting off their guns in rival gang territory to instigate gang wars, or beating their prisoners to death and putting them in choke holds until they suffocate??? Or, "Fight for NY" from the cop cops pulling a man over and give the player the option to shove a plunger up his ass, or shoot him 41 times and say you "thought his wallet was gun," if he doesn't cooperate. I mean doesn't THAT reflect the struggle???

It's only a game. No, WE'RE game.

Girl I'm sorry - I done blogged on your blog and I couldn't restrain myself. I apologize, you just hit a NERVE.

At 9/23/2004 12:57:00 PM, Blogger Sid said...

Saff: I'm so sorry this goes on around the world. Are you published? I'd like to read your research. It's sad that, with all of the contributions people of color have made to the world, these types of images are the ones that will last.

Don't apologize for blogging on my blog! In fact, let me know where to find your original post on True Crime and I'll link back to you. I'd like to read it. Between all of us, we could probably turn it into an ongoing series, and later, a book compilation--Called See: THIS is Why We Can't Rise As a People!!! The cover would, of course, be illustrated by Aaron McGruder, whom I adore...

You are too funny. Can't put their hood name on an application, LMAO!

At 9/23/2004 02:39:00 PM, Blogger MiniMee said...

I've never been by your blog before, but this is an excellent post. I couldn't agree w/ you more.

BTW: Good looking out to TBNY for linking it.

At 9/23/2004 04:18:00 PM, Blogger Baby Girl said...

What a hypocrite! I heard about this game a few months back. I think it was in Vibe (or some other magazine that writes articles for teeanage comprehension and full of typos). I own a PS2 and I would NEVER think of playing this sorry game. Isn't it bad enough that grown men are STILL trying to model their lives after music videos. Check out how hard men try to chill just when their riding around in thier hoopties. You would think there's a camera on some of them.

*I was so enthralled that I commented to the wrong post ;)

At 9/23/2004 05:02:00 PM, Blogger G. Cornelius Harris said...

I 2nd Mini...I'll keep you posted

At 9/23/2004 09:38:00 PM, Blogger deborah said...

Little ole me is not pulished... only my own writing and research for my degree. However I have written about community informatics for a few conferences - unrelated to this topic.

At 9/27/2004 12:06:00 AM, Blogger callalillies said...

I totally agree with you, Sid. I saw the fight-crap game advertised and almost fell out of my seat. I thought, "No wonder blacks can't get ahead." Not only are young (boys) willing to shell out mom's (maybe dad's) hard earned cash, but male adults are eating up this crap. I know a group of black guys who get together on a regular basis to play such games, and they play for HOURS. Pick up a damned book. Fools. Pardon me, the guys I know are educated/college grads.

I won't allow my son to fall prey to this isht. He's still young, and quite brilliant. So far he has no interests in such crap (thanks to my "educating him about the evils of the world" and his own good sense).

Good reads, Sid. Keep it up, girl!

At 9/29/2004 01:31:00 AM, Blogger Jazz said...

You are so right!!! This will piss you off even more...

Russell Simmons, founder of Rush Communications, has teamed up with the Unifund Corp. to establish the Rush Card -- a prepaid Visa debit card ( Simmons says the card is intended for individuals who don't have access to savings or checking accounts. "It protects you from the kind of problems that you [encounter] when you write a check for one dollar more than you have," says Simmons.

read this on,...

At 10/19/2004 09:12:00 AM, Blogger Shasta MacNasty said...

You need trackback for this! I posted a link to this entry on my blog. Thanks for articulating what I've always felt about this kind of it about Russell and video games, or MJ and freakin' Nike shoes.


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