Thursday, October 06, 2005
Hooked on ebonics
Drama Queen, Bad Girlz, Going Broke, You Wrong For That, Hoodlum.
While it gives the appearance of giving a voice to everyday folks in the 'hood, the themes never skew from a redundant blend of pimps, hos, crackheads, hustlers, drug dealers, aspiring rappers, baby mamas, thugs and the chickenheads who love them, it's blaxploitation blinged out for the hip-hop generation. The most successful in the genre all have a heaping dose of coarse language, fast cars, loose women and bullets spraying. And it's no longer relegated to authors on the self promoting on the underground and Black-owned bookstores, now established retail chains like Barnes & Noble and Waldenbooks have entire category subsets devoted to "street life" as an offshoot of its African-American literature sections.
Nowadays it seems that a prior conviction and a rap sheet are impressive credentials to pander to the beauty shop audience who prize scandal over symbolism. Since the advent of book clubs like Black Expressions have gone a long way in advancing the cause of dumbing down our fiction, I'll happily play the "uppity negress" card because knowing that a sizable majority of sisters consider Teri Woods, La Jill Hunt and Zane must-read essentials spurs the urge for a bonfire. The quality of many of these books don't even meet up to Francine Pascal standards. Honing one's craft, proper sentence structure, making grammatical sense and utilizing the skills of an editor (!!!) has now become a foreign concept since it's all about getting paper.
"Hip-hop fiction is doing for 15- to 25-year-old African-Americans what 'Harry Potter' did for kids," says Matt Campbell, a buyer for Waldenbooks. "Getting a new audience excited about books." - source, Newsweek.com [It's Gangsta Lit]Guilty pleasures cut across all walks of Black life and the highbrow savant with a New York Times-bestseller jones is just as apt to sneak a peek in at Omar Tyree or E. Lynn Harris like anyone else (myself included). But when there's no balance between the serious and the shallow, you have to wonder whether the constant onslaught of negative glorification doesn't cry out for an IQ detox. If we've got the income to make overnight sensations of Vickie Stringer, Shannon Holmes and glitz 'n gangsta grit queen bee Nikki Turner, it's not too much to ask that our support should extend to unmined talents like Percival Everett (his satire of this very subject in question covered in the brilliantly vicious Erasure), Delores Phillips, Z.Z. Packer and Malcolm Gladwell also. The after effects to Morgan Spurlock after scarfing down enough junk food for an African village in a month's time was well documented. Just imagine how being reliant on the inspiration for the next installment of BET Uncut can do to your brain cells.
- Butta commented at 10/11/2005 12:21:00 PM~
Trini, don't even get me started on this filth, flarn, filth that is being passed off as literature these days. I'm very dismayed by this street life trend, but I liken it to what has happened in the hip-hop world. Just as people are rapping about a whole bunch of nothing now people are transcribing that madness onto paper. Publishing is the new music industry, and having worked in both industries, that's a very sad state of affairs. But just like I don't buy music by Fiddy, Diddy, Young Jeezy, Baby, and all those other rapping clowns, you'll be hard pressed to get me to spend my hard earned on anything written by the likes of Teri Woods, Shannon Holmes, Vikki Stringer, et al. I'm a literary snob and proud of it.
- Mealone commented at 10/11/2005 03:47:00 PM~
I never even heard of these people you mentioned. Sad part is that there is no literary guild to put there stamp of approval on any of these books so I might be missing out on some really good writing.
Your right though and I was just arguing about this with my girlfriend and her ghetto ass book club. What is there to discuss?
- Michael commented at 10/12/2005 12:28:00 AM~
I hate those books with a bloody passion. It kills me how books dressed up like No Limit album covers can be so successful in our community. The second I peaked through my friend's copy of Every Thug Needs A Lady and saw how the "author" noted she was holding it down in jail, I made my friend get up and we drove to Border's to get her real literature. Complete and utter nonsense.
- ghettogeisha commented at 10/12/2005 09:47:00 AM~
Thank you for mentioning ZANE. Because I am so sick and tired of Zane's books being upheld as BLACK EROTICA, PUHLEZE!!! I met one guy on the train, who saw me reading (I forget what now) and asked me if I liked Zane, and I told him flat out "No, she's predictable and boring" He twisted up his face before he telling me that he's one of her "ghost writers" and he's working on a book of his own. Needless to say I wasn't the least bit impressed or apologetic for insulting Zane.
Want to Post a Comment?