Thursday, August 26, 2010

Is the Antoine Dodson success story "cultural tourism"?

For over a week now, the video of Antoine Dodson, the brother who saved his sister from being raped by an intruder, has been playing on black blogs. I didn't post it, because I didn't think it was funny and I was slightly embarrassed for Antoine and his sister that people were laughing about it. Well, today, Twan made the morning news, sans the head scarf, instead his hair was long, flowing and beautifully silked.

Personally, I still don't find this story in the least bit funny, because what resonates with me is the fact that a woman was being raped. Antoine's sister, Kelly Dodson: "When I first seen it, I was very upset about it because they were taking it as a joke and I was feeling like they were not looking at the part where I was the victim."If Antoine wouldn't came in, I probably would be dead."

What's So Funny About Antoine Dodson?
by Tamara Winfrey Harris

One night, an intruder broke into the Huntsville, Alabama, home of Kelly Dodson and attempted to rape her. Her screams alerted her brother Antoine, who came to the rescue. The intruder escaped and in local news coverage of the incident, Antoine Dodson expressed his anger and issued a warning to the community. The resulting video of a young man frustrated by the violence in his community and his sister's near assault has reportedly generated more than 2 million hits, a Facebook page and a remix by Autotune and it is available on iTunes.

I can't help thinking that Dodson's new-found popularity is not about shared frustration over crime or violence against women. On threads around the 'net, Dodson is branded "hilarious." But what is so funny about Antoine Dodson? Part of the Dodson meme is, I fear, about laughing at mannerisms that the mainstream associates with blackness, gayness and poverty. There is nothing amusing about a young woman assaulted in her home. And so, I worry that people are laughing at Antoine: his flamboyance and perceived gayness; his use of black colloquialisms, like "run tell dat," his grammar and accent.

I agree with Baratunde Thurston of The Onion and Jack and Jill Politics, who is quoted in a recent NPR report: "As the remix took off, I became increasingly uncomfortable with its separation from the underlying situation. A woman was sexually assaulted and her brother was rightfully upset. People online seemed to be laughing at him and not with him (because he wasn't laughing), as Dodson fulfilled multiple stereotypes in one short news segment. Watching the wider Web jump on this meme, all but forgetting why Dodson was upset, seemed like a form of ‘class tourism.’ Folks with no exposure to the projects could dip their toes into YouTube and get a taste."

I say it is cultural tourism.[end]

Today Antoine is making lemonade out of the proverbial lemons and he is getting paid for the remix, t-shirts and other stuff. Antoine is doing so well, that I hear he and his family no longer live in the projects. At least Twan is getting paid, right? What of Kelly - how she doin?


teachingrocks said...

I hadn't heard a word about this story until it was on the Today show. I agree that there is nothing funny about it. A young woman was a near-victim of a horrific crime and people are laughing. I can't bring myself to watch any more than what I've already seen on tv this morning. Sometimes, this world we live in scares me and the scariest thing about this story is no longer the rapist.

Anonymous said...

He certainly is no asset to his race.

Emerge Peoria said...

Anonymous said:

"He certainly is no asset to his race."

Why, because of the way he talks or the head scarf?

He actually seems like a very caring brother who was looking out for his sister.

Sharon Crews said...

To me--just my opinion--I cringe when I hear "he/she is or is not a credit (asset) to his race.

0malone1 said...

He was being a wog and zip coon