HEY YOU! NOGOODFORME.COM is now found at...NOGOODFORME.COM! You've stumbled upon our old mirror site instead. Please point your browsers to NOGOODFORME.COM instead and update your newsfeed to http://feeds.feedburner.com/nogoodforme/tYOS. Thanks and we shall see you at NOGOODFORME.COM!
Tuesday , December 14, 2010
Random Video Entry: In Which I Obsess Over That Antoine Dodson Video Everybody's Watching
So, if you've been alive and somewhat on the Internet for the past few days, you've probably noticed there's a new viral video thing going around. Antoine Dodson is a "new Internet hero"--Antoine's sister Kelly woke up in the middle of the night to find a strange man had broken into the apartment she shared with her brother in Huntsville, AL, and the man had gotten into bed and was trying to take off her clothes. She screamed and fought, and Antoine came in and scared off the attacker, who got away but left plenty of evidence. WAFF interviewed Kelly and Antoine about the attack, never realizing that their news report would become Internet viral gold, mostly because of Antoine's impassioned, unadulterated message to the would-be rapist. It's hard to describe the video, so watch for yourself to see the Internet magic that is Antoine Dodson:
This video is an amazing combination of OMG, WTF, disturbing American political frisson and kinda-awesomeness that makes it a cultural studies scholar's wet dream, and an interesting opportunity to look at the reasons we watch something again and again and again--to examine why some videos become so freaking compulsive and what it says about us in general. The most obvious talking point when it comes to this video is Antoine's basic self--maybe it's not PC to say it, but he's a riveting combination of gayness, Southernness and "blackness." To get all performance-studies on you, it's rare to see these strands of performance come together in one text; you just don't see people like Antoine Dodson anywhere in a popular culture that generally still marginalizes people of color. And poor people of color? Forget about it. You can read the extraordinary interest in the video as a kind of tokenism, and some people have criticized Antoine as reflecting poorly on the community in Huntsville. Antoine's just being himself in a particularly raw way, but that self is both fascinating and unacceptable, depending on where you stand in terms of race, class and sexuality.
Of course, there's no denying that the video makes a lot of people laugh at first. There's an OMG/WTF factor--Antoine's combination of style, emotion and authenticity is a magical elixir that entire reality television franchises are made out of. There's an authenticity to his feelings of anger and frustration, but the distance between his expression ("Hide your wife, hide your kids, hide your husband 'cause they be rapin' everybody!" is now an instant catchphrase, inspiring numerous remixes) and the very real emotion that lies underneath them is often what creates comedy. (Watch any comedy, and what's often funny is how seriously people say ridiculously-put things.) I'd also argue that the video's comedy comes from the collision of Antoine's real, genuine emotion and style and the general "reasonable, i.e. sterile" measuredness of the newscast format. If you want to argue that the newscast format is a container that wraps up disturbing news in a way that makes it palatable to watch over dinner, then Antoine busts out of that wrapping in a big way.
But the fact is, this isn't a comedy--it's ultimately a real attempted rape episode and the attacker is still out there. What's remarkable and riveting about the video is that he's genuinely ANGRY that someone almost raped his sister. This, to me, should be a natural reaction when someone is attacked like this--but it illuminates the extent to which rape as a crime is NOT treated with any seriousness overall in our culture and society. (Two words here: ROMAN POLANSKI.) It's disturbing to watch the video upon repeated viewings and notice how the family is frustrated and angry, but completely unsurprised by this crime. (It's worth watching the followup video to be even more disturbed by how the crime recedes even more from the news report.) It's also interesting to note that nowhere in the footage do you see any uniformed police, just one little crime investigator at work, which is an interesting visual message about how seriously crimes against women of color and poor communities are taken. In a way, what other recourse do Antoine and his sister have but to bring awareness to what must have been a frightening ordeal for them via direct address through the media? Antoine's straight-up charisma and bad-assness was able to penetrate the general indifference that rape as a crime is given in our culture, and on some level it's just fucking refreshing that someone gets angry and personal about an attack like this. Thanks to the video, they have "awareness" up the wazoo at this point, but what steps have been taken to catch the attacker? I hope they catch them, and I would love to see a video of Antoine dressing down the perpetrator in that uniquely bad-ass, righteous style without some smirky-ass news reporter tools getting in the way.
Share | | | |