Monday, August 19, 2013

Russell Simmons' Harriet Tubman Parody?!

When I first heard the phrase "Harriet Tubman parody",  I was puzzled to say the least. After all the name Harriet Tubman and parody don't even belong in the same sentence. What is so funny about an African-American woman who escaped slavery then returned nine times to help over 300 slaves escape through the Underground Railroad? Harriet Tubman is an American hero, not the butt of some bizzare Def Comedy Jam joke. Tubman was known for her proficiency in the use of firearms, and often carried several on her freedom missions. I wonder if she would like being parodied, or made fun of?

Harriet Tubman by Squyer, NPG, c1885.jpg

Many of us have an inappropriate sense of humor, including me at times. But there is a fine line between being inappropriate, distasteful, insulting, and hurtful. Knowing this, I personally keep a lot of my crazy thoughts and ideas to myself, and I am a firm believer that some thing's that cross our minds should be between us and God. Not us, God, You Tube, and Twitter.

Russell Simmons says he was taken aback by the controversy over the Harriet Tubman parody video recently posted on his YouTube channel, which depicted the U.S. abolitionist having sex with her white slave master with the intent of filming the act and blackmailing him.

In the interest of full disclosure, it is important that we understand the context of sexual relationships between slaves and their so called slave master. Black women who were Slaves never willingly had sex with the master. They were brutally raped, used, and abused. To apply the term, "have sex with" minimizes the the damage of this crime, and implies consent.

 Simmons told host Cynthia LuCiette in the YouTube entertainment show BRKDWN that the backlash from African-American women in particular "broke my heart."

"When I got the call and found out black women were so disgusted by it, it broke my heart," he says. "I’m sure I'm gonna piss off everybody again tomorrow. I got sh%t that's gonna piss people off. … But it's not likely it'll break my heart and make me react as quickly."

When he first saw the clip, he says, he saw a "vision of traditional comedy -- the oppressed taking advantage of the oppressor. That was what I saw, though it could have been executed better. … Although in the video, she seduces the slave master, it implies the previous rapes. So I just saw her taking advantage of the slave master, and I let it go."

Over 30 years in the content business, he says, he's never pulled a piece of content until now; he felt like this video was different because it crossed a line. He says it wasn't the outrage that led to his decision but the fact that his eyes were opened to how the video was being received.

African-American women "really educated me how hurtful it was," he adds. "Because I never considered rape. I just saw her seduce, take advantage of and turn the tables on the slave master. That's what I saw. It's really f---ing bad, and I’m really sorry I did it."

I wonder if his remorse is because of true sorrow or because he got caught.


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