Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Smartest or loudest? Thoughts on the rampant rhetoric of now.

I've noticed an irritating communication trend lately. It's happening across mainstream media, the blogosphere, social media and all out in public. And I must say, I don't care for it at all. Time was when you wanted to hear an opinion; you asked it of the smartest person in the room. Now everybody has a freaking microphone and he (or she) who screams loudest gets heard. It seems that the majority of the American public is accepting volume over value. And sometimes it's hard to hear yourself think with all the noise. I also find I have to unplug from Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere a lot more often.

All of a sudden, everybody is a political theorist, a sociologist, judge, jury and executioner. Sometimes, I just want to talk about how cute my boots are and what kind of wine helped to smooth out my mood. And yet, I find myself assailed and assaulted by all these loud (often angry, often ignorant) voices. In fact I would argue that nowadays the louder the voice, the less intelligent the speaker. What's stunning to me is that more these people scream, the more people stop and look and the greater their false sense of self grows. It's a vicious circle. Folks, I don't rubberneck at car wrecks on the side of the road, I keep driving. Focused on arriving at my destination sanely and safely.

I'm choosing to take the time to look beyond the screaming and get to what makes sense for me. Here are some examples:

Music – there's a whole lot of crap out there. I mean a lot. Not sure what flavor of deep-fried idiot is sitting up in Manhattan and LA offices dictating the music that blares from radio and television. I really don't need to hear whoever the latest no-talent-pop-princess is (who the heck is Ke$ha? I mean, seriously?!). I would be tempted to give up on new music altogether if wasn't for hidden gems like this giving me life from Eric Roberson and Lalah Hathaway:

Television – surely you have heard me rant about reality television enough that I don't need to go in any further. What's worse is that the "original programming" sucks for air as well. Network television (with the exception of one or two shows) has gone to hell in a handbasket. Seriously, are we back to the 50s? In the 90s we had a slew of programming featuring African American casts and telling stories of life outside the mainstream (read Caucasian) experience. Now, I have to be happy if there is one face of color in a cast. But there are some wins on cable, specifically Southland on TNT:

News and Politics – I quite frankly don't want to hear one more word about what a crappy job people think Obama is doing or how let down they feel. That's their opinion and they are welcome to it. But what is their bitching doing to help? Yes, Martha Coakley lost the Kennedy seat in Massachusetts and guess what… the world continues to spin on its axis (though I'm positive Teddy is spinning in his grave right about now). It's a blow but not a harbinger of an eminent apocalyptic disaster in America. Get some perspective people, folks are dying in Haiti. Hell, they're dying here!

And speaking of Haiti, boo and hiss to the folks talking about all the so-called "wild looters" running wild in the streets of Port-au-Prince. According to actual feet on the street, there a few folks out there cutting up out of sheer desperation but most of the Haitian citizens are well-behaved and thankful for any aid that can come their way. And don't get me started on the deliberate smear campaign directed at Wyclef and his Yele organization. Turns out the loudest people are the meanest ones too. To counterbalance, let me share this great story of Jeanette: A Haitian woman rescued after six days because neither she nor her husband would give up:

Public – So I'm at the gas station the other day minding my own damn business when the pump starts acting all crazy. I mean it won't let me pump more than a few drops at a time without cutting out. So I go inside and ask Habib to come check out it. Hold up… I'm not being racist, his name tag actually said, "Habib." Habib comes out, cheesing and striking up a conversation about Kanye West (since I'm black I gotta talk about Ye, right? Le sigh!) and whether I think his music has gotten too electronic when JimBob pulls up in a big old Ford pickup. Okay, now I'm being a little racist, I don't know if the boy's name was JimBob – he looked like a JimBob to me. (I'll go back to diversity sensitivity training this summer). Anyway, JimBob had drama with his pump as well and turned around in a circle before loudly declaring, "She broke the pump system and now we all have to wait."

No one said anything to him and Habib fiddled with the pump while still getting his chat on. So then JimBob said, "If she would stop flirting with Akmed, maybe we could get outta here." Brother across the way said, "Dude, chill out! She wasn't doing anything." JimBob whirled on him and said, "Who the f*** are you telling to chill out?" Sensing some bullshiggitty about to pop off, two of Habib's more beefy coworkers came out and asked, "Is there a problem out here?" JimBob started going in on them, not noticing that the pumps were fixed and the rest of us were filling up and moving on. That's a whole lotta drama for a Shell station on a Wednesday night. And his loud ass held all of us temporarily hostage while we figured out whether he was about to go all disenfranchised psycho-killer. I ask you, is it really that crucial?

So go ahead angry, loud people… get your best scream going. I'll have my music on, my head down and my keys at the ready. I will unplug, change a channel or disconnect before I allow crappy music, half-done TV or fruitless commentary to take over. Carry on. Thoughts, comments, music or TV you are proud to share with the group?

28 comments:

citizen ojo said...

What is up with White Men in Dallas? The last story you told some white guy was acting up as well. I was thinking about one day going to see Dallas play but if I come I'll bring my @ss Kicking boots with me. As far as the music - Rap messed up when they let white A&R's from the suburbs tell them how to be black. And Ke$ha didn't do anything but take a black girls name and now she has the number one single in the universe. But the song is garbage and she is garbage. I rarely disagree with you on anything but I do when it comes to Obama and letting some people down but that's another convo for another time.

P.S. I don't wish ill on the brotha but damn..can I see him pimp slap Lieberman??? I really need him to get his Rudy Ray Moore on before he closes shop....

Ola said...

I have to agree with you. I thought it was just me that found life better by only listening to the music already on my iPod and only watching TV from my DVR. I feel like I'm stuck in time, but the time I'm stuck in is so much better than what's available now. I try to keep an open mind about the entertainment that's put out, but it's difficult when the only way you're gonna see us is on a reality show with over-the-top and unecessary drama. I don't live like that. Nor am I interested.

My response to those who complain about Obama or how Wyclef manages his organization - DO IT BETTER!! Can't? Oh! Then STFU!!

ASmith said...

Um. SEOD to that man at the gas station. It is NOT that serious; not EVER.

Anyway, you're right. The problem is, we've always been led by the loudest ones in the room. When we were little, it was the loud kid, not the truly funny kid, who got all the attention. When we got to college it was the loud kid, not the one who actually had ideas who people listened to and followed. In adulthood, it's the loud guy, not the one with the appropriate skills, who seems to get the job. Americans like people who talk a good game. We do, we always have. The problem now is that we're playing with peoples LIVES. Thanks Reid and Pelosi. Yes I am blaming them. YES. I. AM.

I'm also secretly side-eyeing the White House in the wake of this unfortunate election result... but since I'm trying to keep my criticisms of my President to a minimum right this minute, cause Lord knows he's working with ridiculousity through and through, I'ma leave it at that.

glamah@cococooks said...

I wish you had your own show. And yes what was done to Wyclef was pure smear.

Diana said...

I tend to stay in my little insulated bubble because of all the loud-mouthed screamers out there. As far as music and books and movies go, I tend to find like-minded people (like yourself) and check out their recommendations. Like restaurants, I need a referral these days.

HIdi said...

This post is right on time for me; I am sick and tired of everything i.e. politics, television, music, people, etc. I rarely watch t.v. and I disconnect from the internet when I feel overwhelm. I need a HUGE break. These loud angry people are just that LOUD and ANGRY.

Good post :)

AppleBerryMIA said...

OneChele - this article rocks. You spoke so many truths I had to close my door and get the full Amen! chorus on. I had never heard of Eric Roberson so multiple thank yous for that.
I feel bad for Obama (not mad at, bad for) because he said (over and over again) that he wasn't a magical fix-it and it would take a while uphill to get where he wanted to go. But I guess no one heard that in what you aptly called the rampant rhetoric of now. This is a very instant gratification society.

ecthompson said...

there is a perception in the United States that people are getting ripped off. Everybody's working hard but only a few lesser getting ahead. This knucklehead at the gas station is an excellent example. Everybody wants to blame somebody. So, we're looking around and indiscriminately blaming somebody. We all need to slow down and take a deep breath. We need to figure out what's going on.

We have plenty of issues in this country. We're not to fix any of them by flying off the handle. We may fix some of them if we slow down and think before we act.

I Am Me said...

Well not to get on your bad side but I could go on an Obama rant right now. I'll refrain because I agree - a lot of the people bitching have no basis for their arguments.

Southland is some great TV. Overall - TNT is winning the "watchable TV" award.

Sarah said...

Yep, yep, and yep. Couldn't agree more. I figured today was one of those days when I would be better off not going to the news web pages 'cause they would filled with people either gloating over the Republican win or wringing their hands at the 'failed' Presidency. And what is with that guy at the gas station. Shoot. If I heard somebody talking like that whatever their ethnicity, I would be outta there quickly. Plenty of other gas stations around and who knows who has a gun in their glove compartment. I've lived in too many places with out of control people of all sorts to take a chance on somebody who is showing definite anger issues.

Joy Andrews said...

Love this. So very, very true. The Jeanette story had me all choked up. Great to hear good news every now and again.

OneChele said...

In defense of DFW white men, I've only been calling out the ignant ones. Generally the Caucasian gents in Dallas know how to act.

Would we really be okay with Barack going Mike Tyson on somebody? I wonder... LOL

SBChitownChick said...

What is irking me is people telling me that I have "blind allegiance" to Obama just because I choose to continue to support him. What is NOT supporting him getting us? These are some of the same folks who stayed in Bill Clinton's corner after he left thousands and thousands of brown people to die in Rwanda. Okay, hopping off the soapbox.

Thanks for the music video, that's going on the iPod. Southland is a little gritty but I see it's appeal. It's got a "Homicide: Life on the streets" feel to it... but I'm aging myself.

Enjoyed this one, Chele - keep it coming.

OneChele said...

Join me in a chorus of "You are not alone" ;-)

derek love said...

It IS a loud angry world and the angry people are winning! I wonder if we are all as dissatisfied as it seems or whether that's the story that sells better?

Jara said...

I cannot count all of the different ways that I love this post. Top 5 favorite blog posts of ALL TIME *in my Kanye voice*.

BB Waite said...

Now this right here is truth. No way America is this mad and fed up but those are the stories that seems to make the cut. Why do you think we're all hanging out here in BougieLand? We want to feel good! (no Halle Berry Monster's Ball inference)

OneChele said...

Oh man, I would be a hot mess on my own show. Just eye-rolling and calling bullshiggity all day ;-)

Just Passing by said...

Cosign! Truth in simplicity.

Violet Rose said...

Agreeing with @glamah - you should have your own show. And (ahem) that includes radio show. Your positivity, sanity and class are lost to those two you sharing the mic with... hope you don't mind my honesty. I listened in this past weekend. Wow. Please let me know when you launch the Black 'n Bougie Radio Show... I'm all ears.
And I love this post.

Jara said...

Word, Amen, Preach, Speak Truth to Power!

Nikki said...

Very True... Loved it!

Kiki said...

Oh, ya'll trying to start something! (she's right though) *running away*

Jason P said...

Well done, Chele. This is a spotlight on a bigger issue in America of balancing freedom of speech and creativity with presenting a quality product.

Jara said...

Yes, I find it funny that we're being called "kool-aid drinkers" for choosing our battles with the president. Who are these people who expect to agree with everything that anyone (much less a politician) does? I don't even agree with my younger self a quarter of the time.

Also agreed on Southland. Too gritty for me. But I'm not mad that it's on TV.

I like White Collar - a crime show that relies on smart capers, witty dialogue and lead actor hotness to keep my attention.

http://randomrhymereason.blogspot.com/2009/12/white-collar-portrait-of-smooth.html

Lisalis said...

I completely agree with you on most points...especially about the political discourse (loud and scary).

However, I have always appreciated a good screamer in the music biz -- who didn't love Chaka, Neicey Williams, The Police/Sting, etc. back in the day and I can't help but like Kelly Clarkson 'cause she's hollering in almost every single.

Living loud in Bmore :)

SpkTruth2Pwr said...

You know what? I have to admit I am still a chronic offender of digesting this musical garbage out now, because sometimes - its just mad entertaining. But I do still have hope for music when people such as Sade come back on the scene. And I think Wale has done a good job repping for hip-hop in 2009.

OneChele said...

A musical scream is acceptable (most of the time) ;-)

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