Archive - 2008

December 30th

Saltz In The Wounds

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Memo to Chip Saltsman: TIME FOR YOUR DAY IN COURT.

Hear ye, hear ye, after a lengthy hiatus due to a lack of public funds to pay Comedy Jurors' comedy per diems, Comedy Court is back in session, adjudicating comedy-based disputes that arise in an otherwise comedy-free jurisdiction.

THE DEFENDANT: Chip Saltsman, the unbelievably-named Republican party chair from Tennessee. In the running to become the next chair of the Republican National Committee, he unloaded his own giant pile of toxic sludge by sending out a CD full of "Republican" "musical" "comedy" "hits" to fellow party members. Included on that disc, "Barack The Magic Negro", a novelty ditty that burned its way like a cross up the right-wing charts when Rush Limbaugh aired it on his program over the summer.

THE CRIME: Being a racist pigfucker, painting the Republican party as the party of racist pigfuckers.

THE DEFENSE: Two-pronged. One, it's just a joke: "I think that RNC members have the good humor and good sense to recognize that his songs for the Rush Limbaugh show are light-hearted political parodies." And two, it's all liberals' fault: "Liberal Democrats and their allies in the media didn't utter a word about David Ehrenstein's irresponsible column in the Los Angeles Times last March. But now, of course, they're shocked and appalled by its parody on 'The Rush Limbaugh Show'."

THE VERDICT: Guilty.

Responding first to the second defense. Having read Ehrenstein's article both when it originally appeared, and having reviewed it in considering this case, this court finds that the article is not in fact irresponsible, makes perfect sense, and uses the phrase "Magic Negro" correctly, something that cannot be said of the alleged parody song.

As to the song itself. After careful review, we find that the song is in fact political, and is in fact a parody, but is not in fact a political parody. It is a parody of "Puff The Magic Dragon", but is not a parody of the L.A. Times article because it completely misrepresents and misses the point of the L.A. Times Article. And just being a parody of a song is not grounds for absolution. I could, right now, whip up a parody of Britney Spears' "Womanizer" about Chip Saltsman, entitled "Puppyraper", and Chip would have every right to be upset with me for exposing his puppy-raping ways to a broader audience.

But is "Barack The Magic Negro" light-hearted? Is it funny? Let's take a quick skim of the lyrics. According to the lyrics, the song is supposed to be sung as an Al Sharpton impersonation. This court finds that the actual voice used is not so much an Al Sharpton impersonation as it is a racist white asshole pretending to be "ghetto". Which is never, ever funny.

The song opens thusly: "Barack the Magic Negro / Lives in D.C. / The L.A. Times, they called him that / ‘Cause he’s not authentic like me." Of course, he doesn't live in D.C., he works there. He lives in Chicago for another couple of weeks. Oh, and the article didn't call him that because he wasn't "authentic". The word "authenticity" only appears once in the article, with sarcastic quotes around it. Also, the fourth line takes the Puff scansion and does horrible things to it in an alley behind the bar.

There's actually almost nothing to the song, content-wise. The punchline is "Sharpton" breaking into a rant about how nobody's going to give him any money any more because they all love Obama so much. The song fails in every possible way as comedy, which is why it's only chance for success was to enroll in conservative comedy affirmative action programs, in which comedians who have been oppressed for decades by dint of not being funny get paid to put their crap on talk radio.

And does the song reflect badly on Republican racial attitudes? This court is tempted to argue that it reflects -correctly- on Republican racial attitudes, and turns to black Republican Michael Steele (also running for RNC chair) for his accidental support of this idea. Steele, asked about Saltsman's CD, managed to say the following without the slightest hint of irony: ACTUAL EXHIBIT A TIME!

"Our actions and our words are oftentimes used to define who we are as Republicans."

If the Court may be permitted to descend into necessary vulgarity, no shit, Sherlock. What else should be used to define who you are as Republicans? Your suits? Your lawn signs? It is your actions and words that define you as politicians, and thinking "Barack The Magic Negro" is clever defines you as both guilty and dumb.