Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Similarities With Distinctions: Why Paula Deen Is Different Than The 2 Live Crew

Paula Deen VS. 2 Live Crew

Imagine, it's 1987 and you've got tickets to see the 2 Live Crew. The amphitheater is packed. The opening act is a D.J. who is seamlessly blending records into a musical narrative about the plight of living in the hood. After his set there's a pause; the stage goes dark, and the 2 Live Crew comes out dressed in three piece suits. The crowd looks on trying to figure out what's happening. Luther Campbell approaches the microphone and starts reading bible scriptures. 

That hypothetical situation is as far from a 2 Live Crew concert as you can get. This is where Paula Deen comes in. The backlash she's faced over her use of racial slurs is deserved, but for a different reason: she didn't market herself as a gangsta rapper or a bigot. She gave us something we didn't come for.

I was going to leave this alone, but the illogical and immature Facebook posts and comments of her supporters has prompted me to point out the obvious: the companies who cut ties with her did so because it was better for business. When a company does a deal with Lil Wayne, they know he's going to use racial slurs, misogynistic language, and glamourize street life. In essences they're getting what they paid for. There isn't one company who did business with Paula Deen who expected her to start dropping N-bombs (even if said N-bomb was 30 years ago)

As a black man, I'm not upset Paula Deen uses that word. I'm offended by institutional racism. There isn't a double standard about race. If you're a serious person and you use a racial slur it will hurt you. The idea that we would hold a comedian or a rapper to the same standard that we would hold Paula Deen too is ridiculous. So, by that logic, pointing out the fact that some of the companies who dropped her also sell Rap music is faulty. 

Companies get into bed with the Rap music industry because there's a segment of middle class suburbia that can't get enough of that stuff. That's called free market capitalism. The irony is that the same people who profess to support capitalism reject its principles once they are faced with them. Paula is on ice, (for now) but she'll be back. The market has spoken.