by Dan Moore
Here's the great and terrible thing about YouTube: If you have an intensely specific desire to see something, like, say, animals riding very slow turtles with an overdubbed hip hop soundtrack, YouTube's seedy underbelly has probably already turned it into a genre of videos with its own playlist.
Here's the terrible thing about YouTube: Now I have to figure out whether I'm a racist. Again! And I just finished watching that Alonzo "Hamburger" Jones supercut!
You'll have to do your own moral calculus, but here's how I have myself landing narrowly on the side of Not Racist:
Racist: This video is much funnier because it's titled "frog and turtle doing crimes," and not, say, "frog and turtle rhyming words very quickly" or "frog and turtle with a great beat you can kind of listen to and go, 'yeah, that's a great beat.'"
Not Racist: I think this is being self-aware about those stereotypes, and the worst the creator can be accused of is one of those recursive "Stuff White People Life" loops about over-cleverness, and intentionally weird grammar and syntax--the use of "doing crimes"; the top comment (213 likes) is "welcoeme to obamas america.."--and short videos of animals doing cute things, and pretending we're racist because really, guys, we're totally not racist, and you and I both know it, on account of all the jokes you and I make about it, totally fine, the both of us, right? right?
Racist: This video is probably reducing Tupac's very real life experiences, which I know about because one of my college roommates bought one of those Tupac posters from the start-of-semester sale at the student union and got high while staring at it very meaningfully, to a turtle moving very slowly with a frog sitting motionless on its back.
Not Racist: If YouTube videos weren't allowed to reduce very real life experiences to fifteen-second-long videos peopled by animals and seventeen-year-old Second City applicants I'm not sure what I would do with my time, anyway, let alone my own real life experiences. Isn't it racist not to allow Tupac full participation in this deeply reductive modern art-form? Mustn't we strive for a post-racial YouTube?
Racist: I've been a little nervous about who I send it to, lest I be seen as racist by my more enlightened and graduate-school-ready friends and rap lovers.
Not Racist: No clearly racist extended family members have e-mailed it to me with the subject line, "FWD: FWD: Welcome To OBAMA'S America!!!"
Racist: I tried it with the chorus of Hinder's "Get Stoned," a similarly overwrought song about yelling things and moving slowly (here's a YouTube video with the lyrics in Papyrus font), and it wasn't quite as funny.
Not Racist: But it was pretty funny.
Equivocating: Wouldn't it be more racist if I found Hinder's "Get Stoned" as anything as a Tupac song?
Next week: Is laughing at a video with the lyrics to "Get Stoned" written meticulously in Papyrus on Windows Movie Maker racist? Are fourteen-year-old girls who deeply empathize with lyrics like "the sex is so much better when you're mad at me" a unique class? (Can I be arrested for watching that video?)