LEAN MEAN FIGHTING MACHINE: "Dem Phones"
I laughed, I cried, I hated, I liked, then I wonder why'ed.
Here's the thing about this spot as it relates to being African American today. It can be seemingly a very confusing melange of sensibilities, feelings and understandings. In most ways we've moved past being offended by this kind of thing. We have bigger concerns. On the other hand the original context of which this song "Dem Bones" was recorded and made popular is where the offense lay. Back at the time of this song's "popularity," to sound like "slaves" was catchy and favored amongst white audiences, thus, it would earn you valuable TV and radio air time. "Oh look at them cute negras sangin'... they just love sangin'!" It was and in some ways still is degrading. There's no difference between this and most of the popular "rap" language of today. It's what is acceptable by main stream media and satisfies a thirst for images of people of color in disparaging roles.
Initially I laughed. I thought it was a very clever use of wordplay. Dem Bones - to - Dem Phones. Technically it was sound. The execution was spot on. But then, so was O.J.'s (alleged) murders. Just because something can be done flawlessly, does not mean it should be done.
Hattie McDaniel was famous for her "Mammy" roles. Her eloquence and poise rarely made it to the screen. This acceptance speech shows the stark contrast of what was expected and what really was.
Stepin Fetchit made over a million dollars by entertaining white folks with is brand of "coonery".
The agency that did this viral advertisement won Cannes interactive agency of the year. (just above Crispin, Porter, Bogusky)
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