Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Me Night Nurse Never Want to Plant De Corn

So Andy Samberg of Saturday Night Live recently made a music video parodying young white college boys who appropriate Rastafari culture. It's absolutely hilarious, but even more, if you go to this blog to see it you can read the lyrics, and even more importantly, read the comments from the readers who helped the blogger figure out what exactly Andy Samberg was making fun of.

I'm taking a Caribbean poetry class this Fall and for our unit on dub poetry I've done a bit of research on Rastafari. What is most interesting to me is the grammar, using "I" as a plural pronoun. Check out this wikipedia page.

What I think is so amazing about this video is the number of allusions in it that only a person very familiar with Rastafari and reggae culture would get. However, it makes people want to figure them out (look at all the different comments on the guy's blog), thus it becomes a kind of educational tool. So even though it is making fun of innocent/ignorant white folks, it is simultaneously educating them/us. It makes us question the validity of appropriating other cultures' customs without true knowledge of them, but, instead of demonizing the people who do this, it just makes them just look ignorant and therefore laughable. This is really powerful. When you realize that this video is primarily intended to make people laugh, it makes you think about what tools are really effective for social change. Satire works.

Besides, there's no way I would have even know that the word "bumbleclot" is an insult in Rastafari culture that means dirty menstrual cloth if it weren't for this video. (Thanks to my brother's blog to telling me about this video.)