I like Judd Apatow. In fact, I think it was a year ago that I wrote
about how he convinced me that I should do stand up.
I have written about him here, here and here. I thought about this
while reading Brandon Soderberg's post on how Judd doesn't
like Hip Hop.
On one level, I enjoyed the fact that Soderberg's post was analyzing how hip
hop was being used as a vehicle to allow Apatow's largely white characters
express their vileness at the expense of hip hop.
On another level the post was incredibly misogynistic. I will deal
with the two issues separately.
Soderberg's general thesis is the Apatow uses hip hop as a vehicle
to allow the characters to express the most vile things about
society which implies that this is what hip hop represents in our
culture. He cites a Apatow's use of hip hop in "Walk the Line" and "Knocked
Up" and "40 Year Old Virgin" as evidence. Full disclosure, I haven't
seen "Walk the Line". He writes,
Recall the intro to 'Knocked-Up' which uses Ol' Dirty Bastard's classic 'Shimmy Shimmy Ya' (Armond White: "white boys clowning to Old Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”) with emphasis on Dirty's "Ooh baby I like it raw" hook to make it really obvious and funny what this movie's already going to be about. Think of the constant hip-hop slang used by everyone but Steve Carrell's character in 'The 40 Year-Old Virgin' and how it's essentially used to represent just how vulgar and crass everyone's become and how stupid white people are for adopting any part of this culture.He also goes on to write that,
In the Apatow and company universe, which is one that despite all the blowjob and weed jokes is incredibly conservative- dumb critics say this is why his movies "have heart"- rap music and culture are one of the biggest signifiers of how low things have sunk and how distant people are from their "real" emotions: Rap as ruiner of everything.I think that the situation is a bit more complicated than that.
I would argue that the vileness ( hyper violent masculinity, hypersexuality)
in hip hop started off in mainstream society, was adopted by minorities
and is reflected in hip hop. Furthermore, it is being used by Apatow via the
characters in his movies to express dysfunction, albeit flippantly.
There is a tendency to seperate the pathology of the mainstream from
the pathology from the hood, however, at the end of the day they will
always be connect.
It is one big dysfunctional ping pong game.
Now for the misogyny. The misogyny is there period point blank
and it sat there glaring at me. In the following excerpt, Soderberg
intended on describing how hip hop is used as story support for
a scene, and that unlike country music, it isn't presented with
empathy. He writes,
Leslie Mann's bar-slut in 'Virgin' is speeding home, too drunk to drive, blaring and singing along to Missy Elliot's 'Get Ur Freak On', which is sort of real- drunk white sluts love Missy Elliott- but it's sort of the icing on the cake for why this girl's so terrible. It's not presented with any of the sympathy given to a whiny loser who collects action figures, rides a bike, and hasn't ever dropped his dick in a pussy.While his intentions were to point out the discrepancy between
Apatow's treatment of hip hop versus country I couldn't help
but notice that the term slut was used not just once but twice
in the same sentence. Was that necessary? Was he trying to be
The second thing that stood out to me in that paragraph was
the phrase "and hasn't ever dropped a dick in a pussy".
What? P*ssy's arn't sitting around like ashtrays waiting to receive
a deposit. A p*ssy isn't a garbage can, basketball hoop or an ATM
machine waiting for a deposit. P*ssy's are attached to people.
These people are women.