[Marxism] Re: Ali G

David Quarter davidquarter at sympatico.ca
Fri Jul 23 15:59:18 MDT 2004

Quoting:	Ben C <minnows at connexus.net.au>

> Einde wrote:
>  > No it's not pathetic for a white guy to act black - but some of these
>  > white guys from the suburbs are quite pathetic - mainly because they
>  > miss the point and pick up a stereotype.
> David Quarter wrote "I agree" in relation to that, just after he wrote
>  > Whether it was his intention to be or not (though I imagine not),
>  > coming up with character called Ali G. is an unavoidably political
>  > act and, I dare say, racist.
> So now the problem is racism against Arabs, not African Americans.
> Having agreed with the initial quote by Einde above, what is wrong with 
> satirising these young white guys who copy the twisted stereotype of 
> black rapper culture?>>>>

   I was criticizing his (S. Cohen's) choice of name for the 
character. In my other postings, I discussed the differences with 
commercialized rap and old school hip hip. While I see problems 
with the characters,  I was never debating whether the Ali G Show 
per se  is wrong and wasteful. I DID SAY/IMPLY that the Ali G 
character is one of long lists of examples of individuals playing off 
commercialized stereotypes of hip hoppers, which because of 
black people's association with this genre of music has the effect 
of perpetuating a negative image of black people as a whole. And  I 
said that for someone who is non-Arab (indeed, Jewish) to come 
with a character called Ali. G seems inappropriate, and indeed 
racist.  I also suggested-- as I'm quoted above by you -- that 
Cohen's intentions behind the character may be noble. Having said 
that,  his intention (as Lou Paulsen points out) is besides the point. 
The more pertinent question is  what *effect* the character is 
having on his audience ( most of whom I imagine are middle class 
Finally, I questioned the assumption implicit in some of the 
postings in (the Ali G) thread that 'white' people should behave in a 
certain way and 'black' people another. 

 What I have stated throughout this debate might appear 
contradictory, but actually it isn't. 

 Just to summarize my position: 

1)  Hip hop culture had been transformed long ago from a form of  
urban poetry/musical expression catering primarily to young blacks 
and latinos to popular music catering *primarily*  to surbanban 
white teems and controlled by corporate America.

2) The ALi G show plays off the commercialized stereotype of  
rappers: as shallow, stupid, illiterate, disrespecful to women, and 
hoods and gangbangers. 

3) The Ali G. character is one of long list examples of the above 
(i.e., of point #2). 

4) It seems wrong, and indeed could be construed as racist, for 
someone who is non-Arab to come up with a character like Ali G. 

5) Whether the Ali G. character as a whole is wrong/wasteful is 


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