Feeling Bad For Bobby, and More Thoughts About Whitney Houston’s Funeral

1. There’s absolutely no rhyme or reason to the way I react when hearing about a person dying. None whatsoever. It’s completely unpredictable, completely arbitrary, and completely dependent on… whatever the hell it’s dependent on. I have absolutely no clue, and I’ve stopped trying to figure it out. There have been times when a one paragraph long news story about some random area murder induced tears and haunted me for weeks, and other times when family members have passed and the only time I got worked up was when I forced myself to get worked up because I felt bad that I hadn’t.

This “reaction unpredictability” extends to celebrities as well. I felt nothing when Michael Jackson — a person who I was a huge fan of — died, but the deaths of Amy Winehouse — a person I was “eh” about — and Patrice O’Neal still resonate with me. I still can’t listen to “Rehab” or watch “Elephant in The Room” without getting chills.

Knowing how unpredictable I can be about this should make me immune to surprise. I mean, If I’m capable of any reaction, there shouldn’t be a reaction that surprises me. Despite this, I was (and still am) surprised at how affected I was by the news of Whitney Houston’s death (When first clicking the TMZ link to the news of her death, I literally stared at my monitor with my mouth agape for two minutes and could see my heart beating through my shirt) and how interested I was in the goings-on (and the public’s feelings about the goings-on) of her funeral.

Although I wasn’t able to catch the first hour and a half or so (I started watching when Stevie Wonder was singing), I sat there captivated like I was watching the 4th quarter of game seven of the NBA finals. And, as if this captivation wasn’t enough, I logged on to Twitter and Facebook to basically give myself a sensory overload.

I don’t know what any of this means, or why I even felt the need to share it. I don’t know. I do know that it’s been (over) a week and I’m still surprised that I still don’t feel any different.

2. There have been myriad different accounts of the events that led to Bobby Brown leaving (or getting kicked out of) Whitney’s funeral, so I won’t go into any of them. I will say, though, that I feel worse for him than for anyone else who was in Whitney’s life. Losing your ex-wife (a woman I’m sure he still loved and may have still been in love with) is bad enough, but being the popular scapegoat for the decades-long spiral leading to her early death has to be a bitch of a burden to carry. History will not look kindly on him. Regardless of what he does for the rest of his life, his primary legacy will be that he, to put it bluntly, killed Whitney Houston.

Now, whether this legacy is actually fair is another question. We assume that Bobby was the bad influence, but while Whitney was America’s Sweetheart, she wasn’t exactly an angel herself. Also, as influential as Clive Davis was reported to be in her life, who’s to say that he didn’t have a hand in her downfall?

Obviously, this is all speculation. None of us know exactly what led to Whitney’s substance abuse problems. And, since none of us know, perhaps we should place a collective moratorium on “Blame Bobby.”

3. I happened to be at my parent’s house when the funeral was being aired. When R.Kelly came to the podium, all three of us said “Wait. Is that R.Kelly???” at the exact same time. No bullsh*t.

And (in my best Forrest Gump voice), “That’s all I’m going to say about that.”

4. I know many people had an issue with some of the “So, America, make sure you’re recording so you can see how these exotic-ass Negros celebrate the dead” -ey comments from some of the non-black members of the news media covering the event. In particular, Piers Morgan sounded like he was covering at an event at Jurassic Park.

I didn’t have a problem with this, though. I mean, aside from random Nike commercials and Tyler Perry movies (which white people don’t watch anyway), this probably was the first time many of them had seen a homegoing at a black baptist church, and I think most of the non-white reporters found the proper mix of reverence, respect, and curiosity.

Also, aside from the celebrities involved, Whitney’s ceremony wasn’t all that atypical. Seriously, if you substituted “random white co-worker who seems out of place but makes up for it with a poignant speech” for “Kevin Costner,” “aunt who does her thing on the organ even though she tends to forget words to certain songs” for “Stevie Wonder,” and “neighborhood family who no one wants to fight because there’s like 25737848 of those motherf*ckers and you know if you fight one, you’ll have to fight them all” for “The Winans,” this funeral was probably exactly like any other baptist funeral any one reading this has ever been to.

5. I’m not sure if the fact that I simultaneously “experienced” the funeral with over a thousand others on Twitter — all with their own running commentary about the event — was a good or a bad thing. Actually, I’m pretty certain it’s neither. It’s not disrespectful or distant or progressive or indicative of anything, either. It just is. That’s just the way we deal with things today. While other generations had their own forms of collective consumption, we just do it in real time.

6. So, ever since a certain post I wrote a few weeks ago, I’ve been more willing to let certain people take a look at articles I write before I submit them, just in case they pick up on something that I may have missed. Don’t fret. You’re not going to get a neutered Champ or anything. This is something I’ve always done. Just do it a little more often now.

Anyway, last Friday, I let one of these friends see an article I wrote for Ebony about Chris Brown. That article contained a somewhat off-color joke about Tyler Perry. Her response:

“I dont usually discourage Tyler Perry jabs, but this m**therf**er just flew Whitney Houston’s body to her family in his private jet. HE ALWAYS DOES THIS SH*T. Like, whenever I want to take a shot at him, he adopts some orphan or saves a kitten or some sh*t and makes me feel bad afterwards. Anyway, you should probably leave that out.”

I (reluctantly) listened.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”) 

***Oh, check out the Chris Brown piece I just referenced — “The (Biggest) Problem with Chris Brown isn’t Chris Brown” — if you get a chance. (#teambreezy, beware)***

Also, don’t forget about the VSB/Urban Cusp discussion on Black Identity & Culture in Mass Media panel coming up on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 from 6-8PM at the Washington Post Buildling. It’s going to be a dope conversation, I promise. Plus you can hang with Panama Jackson and throw things at people. It’s free and food will be provided. Not like half chickens or nothing, but finger foods and whatnot. See you there. Peep the flyer below.

Love & Hip Hop and The Proposal

Beware, there are a lot of strong faces in this picture.

You know how women tend to map out their weddings? Even the most hardened, thugged out, stabbin’ ninja woman has some vision of her wedding. And the proposal? Yeah, they all have an idea of what they’d like it to look like. Sure reality and fantasy may never collide but the idea, the hope, is always there. And I’d bet double or nothing that Chrissy’s ideal proposal looked nothing like the pisspoor one that Jim Jones gave to her on the last episode of vh1′s academic and rigorously brain teasing show, Love & Hip-Hop.

If you know Black people. There’s a solid chance that 78.5% of them all watch Love & Hip-Hop every Monday night. That number includes 100% of video hoes as they all view the show as comeup central.

I’m half surprised that Jim didn’t just throw the box at her and say, “gotcha b*tch. Happy now?” I’m being hyperbolic but he didn’t even kneel down. And he tried to play this cool, detached, somewhat pissed role cum captain save-a-ho at the end with the sweet gangsta thing that went terribly wrong. And do you know why? It’s impossible to be hardcore when proposing to a woman. It’s one of the moments in a man’s life when he’s truly vulnerable. It’s like putting up a Christmas tree. It is completely ungangsta to put up a Christmas tree. You ever seen a jolly thug? Some random ninja with a Santa hat and a .45 tucked into his waistband while laying tinsel every so gently on a fir? Smiling? While sipping on some eggnog and eating oatmeal raisin cookies? Exactly. Let the thug go. Jimmy…couldn’t do it. He basically handed her a box, said “do you want to marry me?” and then feel proud of himself for giving her what she wanted. Except the whole time he didn’t even really look like he wanted to be there.

Except…she didn’t care because she’s been waiting for that ring for some seven years so she was just happy to get it. Except now what? Except, right. Which begs the question here, does the proposal matter that much?

I’m only asking because if you’ve been waiting for seven years (or three or four, or whenever she proposed to him) to the point that you keep grandstanding, talking about leaving and having your oddlyfaced friends help you pack up stuff from a house that you really don’t want to leave with a life you don’t want to give up, do you even care how he does it? Or are you just happy that he does it. And I’m inclined to believe that Jimmy wasn’t trying to give a dbag proposal. He just didn’t know how to pull off thugged out and vulnerable man at the same time. And real talk, calling it a dbag proposal might be overstating.

Which brings me to some more overstatements: Love & Hip-Hop is one ridiculous ass show. So Jim Jones proposal makes perfect sense. We have one of the most unattractive attractive women on the planet in Emily, a woman who’s been chasing Fabolous since before he could misspell it seems. And she just can’t get it right. Then there’s Olivia. Bless her heart. You may remember her…actually,  you probably don’t remember her at all. First she tried to get us to “Bizzounce” years ago and we didn’t. Then 50 Cent tried to convince us that she had star power…DURING HIS HEYDAY. Think about that. Even when 50 Cent was on TOP of the game he couldn’t convince us to care about her.

This from a man who made Tony Yayo relevant. Again, think about that. Kimbella, oh Kimbella. I’m sure she’s hot. I’m sure I don’t find her hot. Maybe its because she annoys me so much. Though not as much as Teairra Mari who for the life of me has contributed nothing to the world aside from a great rack and the song “Sponsor” featuring Gucci Mane, which, I actually loved. But on this show…pointless.

Yandy? She mildly amuses me but only because she’s just somebody else who latched on to the Jim Jones bandwagon. Nancy, love her. But I tend to like crackheads. And then there’s Chrissy.

I cannot stand her. Many women I know love her no-nonsense attitude….except when it comes to Jimmy. Honestly, if it wasn’t for all of her instigating and fighting, I’d hate her more. But alas, she keeps bringing the gun to the knifefight so she does possess value.

Look, the show blows. There’s too much boohooing over men that don’t want them and then too many talentless women attempting to be somebody in the world. There’s really no reason for this show to exist.

But at the end of the day, Love & Hip-Hop makes me realize that despite the fact that I’m not rich, apparently me and Jim Jones could live in the same neighborhood since there seem to be a plethora of tiny ass houses right next door to him. (Seriously, did homeboy have his house built in a neighborhood full of 2 bedroom homes?) The problems that these broads have are not unlike everybody else’s problems except they’re potentially more ridiculous because all of their fame is due to the men they’re associated with. I find it so interesting how many women love these shows considering how they fly in the face of nearly everything women get so pissed at men for saying.

These women are the living embodiment of a Tyler Perry movie without a script but women tune in every Monday with reckless abandon. THEN talk sh*t about the terrible Tyler Perry movies and how they do a disservice to women everywhere. Okay. Alright.

What’s the draw? I don’t know. But the next time any of y’all who love these shows tell me Tyler Perry is selling us out…I’m going to throw my show at you or one of those bottles Kimbella threw at Erica Mena. And then I’ll have Chrissy yank your lacefront.

So real talk…why the hell do people love these shows so much? Don’t tell me the drama…it can’t be that simple? And speaking of the proposal to Chrissy, does it matter or is the fact that it happens that much more significant in general?

Talk to me…what’s with the love for Love & Hip-Hop?

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka TANGLE JIG P aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

10 Not Really All That Positive Things Black America Should Still Be Thankful For

You're welcome

“Don’t worry about it. I never get sick”

I said this to a bartender at a restaurant last week. She’d forgotten to put a straw in my drink, and offered to run in the back and get me one. When I told her not to worry about it, she asked if I was sure, and reminded me that straws protect you from germs and shit. (in hindsight, she was either the most helpful bartender ever or she was definitely flirting with me and I’m just now realizing it)

I was able to say that so confidently because, well, it’s true…I never, ever, ever get sick. Sure, I might get a headache every now and then and maybe a sniffle or two, but I’d have to go back at least a decade to think of a time where I was sick enough to stay in bed all day or legitimately miss a day of work. Recently, I even got arrogant with it and began to test my limits — occasionally intentionally under-dressing for the weather and drinking heavily on nights I knew I had to work early in the morning (I don’t get hangovers either)

Anyway, this conversation occurred on a Wednesday night.

24 hours later, I was getting my ass kicked by some mutant hybrid Vietnamese e coli monkey virus that somehow made its way into my system and didn’t decide to stop kicking my stomachs ass until Tuesday morning. In that 96 hour span, I took roughly 100 shits, lost 15 to 20 pounds, and prayed in about 17 different languages to my toilet.

Thing is, despite the hell it put me through, this bug couldn’t have come at a better time. I’d begun to spread myself too thin with all of my writing/work commitments, and perhaps I just needed some time to close my laptop and refresh my brain before I did anything else. The mutant hybrid Vietnamese e coli monkey virus wasn’t the best thing in the world, but I have to say that I’m thankful that I got it when I did.

Anyway, this experience reminded me that we — humans, Christians, whatever — are supposed to be thankful for everything, not just the seemingly good things. And, as we enter Thanksgiving weekend, I thought of a few more not really all that positive things that we still should be thankful for.

1. Tyler Perry 

As I’ve stated before, Perry’s 100 mph descent into full cinematic retard territory just helps ensure that the Luke to his Anakin will eventually emerge and defeat the formidable Madea Kraken

2. Kim Kardashian

Someone has to entertain those 450 or so locked-out NBA n*ggas. Be thankful it’s not you.

3. Celebrity Twitter Idiocy and Bitchassness

Helps us sleep better when equipped with the knowledge that, regardless of how rich and famous some celebrities might be, the only way they’d beat you at Scrabble is if you replaced your brain with your sphincter.

4. Herman Cain

For showing us that, as long as he’s an unapologetically horny, nonsensical, misinformed, and irrationally elderly man, conservatives do actually care about black people

5. Reality Television Fights

Since the NFL has become increasingly non-violent and boxing has become increasingly irrelevant, Basketball Wives and Love and Hip Hop have become the only times we’re able to experience the vicarious rush that comes from watching a fight involving people we actually “know”

6. The Recession

Just think of all the crack, weave, rims, and chitlins that have been shelved in the last three years because we just couldn’t afford to buy it.

7. The NBA Lockout

No NBA = No commercials for the WNBA during NBA games

8. Unironic ratchetness

Eternally entertaining, unrelentingly spell-bounding, and consistently amazing (unless, of course, you’re close enough to it to catch a bullet ricochet)

9. BET

Just be thankful that they’re continuing to try very hard.

10. Drake’s “Take Care”

For finally providing the perfect soundtrack for the Diva Dude

Anyway, people of VSB, that’s it for me today. Can you think of any other not really all that positive things that either you in particular or black America in general should still be thankful for? 

Oh, and please make sure to have a safe and happy holiday weekend and sh*t.

—The Champ

For Better or Worse: Why We Desperately Need Tyler Perry

I'm sorry Ms. Jackson

One of my favorite chapters in “The Book of Basketball” — Bill Simmons’ best-selling tome about the NBA  — devotes several pages to all the “what if’s” surrounding Len Bias. Bias, who starred at the University of Maryland, was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1986, but overdosed on cocaine and died before he ever got the chance to play in the NBA. In the chapter, Simmons goes through a bunch of hypothetical scenarios based on one question “What if Len Bias never overdosed?

(If you want to find out more about Bias’ story — and don’t mind shedding a tear — watch “Without Bias,” ESPN’s 30/30 documentary about his death)

What particularly stood out to me was his theory about how Bias’ death actually stunted Michael Jordan’s career, a theory I agree with. Despite how great MJ was, he never really had a serious rival to compete with. Yes, I still believe he’s the greatest player to ever live, but he also was able to dominate because he reached his prime at a time when all of his greatest rivals were either seriously flawed (ie: Charles Barkley, Dominique Wilkins, Clyde Drexler, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing), over-the-hill (Magic, Bird), or possessed certain physical limitations that left them unable to really be able to go toe-to-toe with him (Isiah Thomas).

(The Bulls were also somewhat lucky that they never had to face Hakeem Olajuwon in the playoffs — the one guy they had no answers for)

But, if Bias would have stayed alive, maybe MJ would have had that rival, that person he would have had to measure himself against and even occasionally lose to. And, maybe Bias’ competition would have pushed Jordan to become an even better player.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, while making my weekly blog rounds yesterday, I A) learned that Tyler Perry is now the richest man in Hollywood, and B) came across a trailer for Tyler Perry’s ‘For Better Or Worse‘ — a new TV show based on the dysfunctional marriage of one of the couples from the “Why Did I Get Married” series.

After watching the trailer, I…well…I’m going to be nice and say that I have absolutely no doubt that the show will be a HUGE success.

Now, my feelings about Perry’s work are well-documented. But, while the sight of any and all things Tyler Perry usually produces some combination of amazement, incredulousness, snark, and contempt, a different thought went through my head this time. I guess you can say that I had an epiphany.

Tyler Perry is black culture’s Len Bias

One of the reasons why Perry’s popularity is so unnerving to so many is because there’s nothing to compete against it. Right now, he is the Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omega of black film. Now, this is no fault of his. In fact, his work ethic and opportunism are easily his most endearing qualities.

And, quiet as it’s kept, while we love to complain about how Perry’s work is setting us back, we weren’t exactly setting the movie world on fire before he got hot. His first movie — “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” — was released in 2005. Quick, name another good black movie — and “black movie” is defined in this case as a movie with predominately black characters and a plot involving them — that came out that year. Or the year before. Or the year after. Without running to Google, “Akeelah and The Bee” is the only one I could think of.

Point? Black film was in a serious creative depression, and Perry stepped right in with an ingenious plan to cater towards the most loyal constituency on Earth — Christian black women — and gave them relateable characters, resonate story lines, and eye candy. (Seriously, Perry’s male characters spend more time topless than any other black men I’ve ever seen)

But, just how the country needed to have eight years of Bush before a black man with a Muslim name and cornrowed daughters had a shot at the White House, maybe Perry’s reign will inspire some young black writing savant to get on his shit and create an Oscar-winning, record-breaking, script. Maybe “For Better Or Worse” will motivate some production intern to finish that premise and storyboard she’s been working on, and maybe that’ll turn into this generation’s versions of “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World.”

Tyler Perry is playing his part to perfection. He’s to black filmmaking what Len Bias would have been to basketball. We don’t need him to get better, or stop making movies, or stop being so thin-skinned. In fact, we need him to get worse, to start making 10 movies a year, and become so thin-skinned that toilet paper makes him draw blood.

I want him to go full-cinematic retard. I want him to cast black characters in black face. When Cicely Tyson finally dies, I want him to continue to cast her in movies. I want to see a Tyler Perry film where Tasha Smith is Joan of Arc, and Michael Jai White is her too-diesel for the 15th century husband, JaMarcus of Arc. I want to see Drake cast as a kind-hearted plumber with a dreadlocks wig. I want to see Madea goes to The Moon, and Madea does Dallas.

Maybe then our missing Michael Jordan will finally emerge; a person with just as much hunger, sticktoitiveness, determination, passion, and business sense as Perry, but with, you know, talent.

But, if that day never comes…God — or whoever the hell else is powerful enough to permanently mute Madea — help us all.

—The Champ

***Check out “Making Friends & Facebook Prowling” — The Champ’s latest at Madame Noire***

Tyler Perry Continues Plans To Destroy The World

Are you read for 12-13 sequels?

Or at least I’m sure that’s how many people feel after the recent media reports that Tyler Perry and his movie distributor Lionsgate were in talks to bring Tyler Perry’s productions to a new medium, most likely by creating a new cable television network, TylerTV. I’ve seen people losing their sh*t on Twitter and I only read for like five minutes. I’m fairly certain that the majority of the Reading Black Folks Consortium of America collectively yelled “no” and prepared for more non-sense and nincompoopery hitting our airwaves on a 24/7 basis.

Except here’s the thing, what’s the big damn deal? No…really. What’s the big deal?

We’ve been through this before and I get it. Tyler Perry is the living embodiment of the word “conversate”. He’s everything that’s wrong that doesn’t know its wrong and continues on smiling and shucking and jiving anyway. I’m sure we’re going to see some television shows that we never even knew that we never wanted to see. In fact, here are a few shows that have the potential to show up on TylerTV amid the objections of, well, everybody:

- Cooking With Madea- cookin’ Kool-Aid

-Madea’s Faith Based F*ckery – where Madea reads Psalms while waving a .44 in the air like she just doesn’t care and interviewing ex-cons and actresses who only star in Tyler Perry movies and TP knockoffs like Denise Boutte and Keshia Knight-Pulliam about their plight for Jesus

Eh,  I bore with that exercise.

Anyway…

That movie studio and Mr. Perry — whose flourishing African-American fan base consistently turns his plays, television shows and films into hits — are forming a new venture called Tyler TV, according to an industry official briefed on the matter who requested anonymity because the plans are private.

The partners will initially stock the channel with reruns of Mr. Perry’s sitcoms and movies, including the popular Madea series, in which he appears in drag as the title character, a gun-toting grandmother. They also plan to buy third-party content that meshes with Mr. Perry’s Christianity-tinged brand.

I really don’t see what would make Tyler Perry’s channel any different than TVOne or BET to tell the truth…except that there’s a good chance that people might intentionally watch it. His fanbase is pretty rabid and can’t get enough of his movies. And at this point he has an abundance. Maybe I’m masochistic or turning Republican, but the idea that we’d get another station owned and run by a Black person is actually pretty dope. Granted, its Tyler Perry but I think he’s a necessary evil. And love him or hate him, the man knows how to cater to his base. Sure his movies browbeat their message into the watchers. But we know all that already.

Hm…you know what’s surprising? That Oprah’s OWN channel isn’t doing as well as they hoped. Do you know what that insinuates? People really only like their sh*t the way they like it. Folks want to see Oprah at 4pm every day on whatever network she was on. But now…folks can take or leave whatever it is she’s bringing. Folks didn’t want all that extra programming that they weren’t going to watch, they just want to see Oprah. Tyler Perry might be able to leapfrong that kind of problem since it seems that anything with his name attached does well. Tyler Perry could release phones and some church would offer to sponsor them with some of Jesus’s wine money.

I will say this, Tyler Perry has some issues. Now they seem to be ones that a lot of women respond to: this need for the male savior. I wonder if he’d pick television shows and create them in which the damsel in distress epidemic was front and center?

Who knows. All I know is that at the end of the day, Tyler Perry stays winning.

So I ask you VSBNinjas, what do you think about Tyler Perry’s potential new television network? Do you care at all? And for sh*ts and giggles…what do you think would be a new TV show that would run on TylerTV and TylerTV only?

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka TANGLE JIG P aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3