Monday, May 19, 2008

Dysfunctional Ping Pong


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
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.


Anonymous said...

You know I have to say how interesting this was to read and will definitely make me think twice about his movies...

And I have to say that I've noticed the "interesting" placement of hiphop music in his movies. I think I usually just ignored it to get back to the plot...and humor.

I'll revisit those movies to see this again...

But its somewhat disguisting to read his views on the vileness of hiphop.

Model Minority said...

Yeah....The Black music has always been the vehicle for that which is dark, ignorant and unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

i just want to point out for the record that i BEEN not liking him. (click one of her 'HERE's and see the comments)


nice post.


M.Dot. said...



You crazy.

Click one of the heres, hell naw...

i owe you a phone call hunh!?!?!?

brandon said...

I appreciate you taking my post seriously, but in addition to labeling me "misogynist" you've severely misread certain aspects of the post.

Undoubtedly, real-world "vileness" does not start in hip-hop, I never said it did, Apatow's movie on the other-hand, sort of presents it that way.

It's not hip-hop vs. country, although I've written on that topic. It's not a "vs." thing, if anything, I'm drawing the connection between two disrespected genres which may not APPEAR to have much in common but indeed do. he movie is also called 'Walk Hard'.

I can see how my purposefully offensive language is well offensive, but I'm adopting the parlance of Apatow's movies to prove my point and DISPROVE his many, very problematic implicit points.

If your point was- to quote the late, great Audre Lorde- "the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house" then I can see what you mean, but you've grossly misreading my ironic use of these words.

I won't label myself "feminist" but indeed, that's what I'm doing in this post. I use "bar-slut" as a way to present HOW APATOW wants use to see Leslie Mann's character, not as I see her or would label her.

I, then, contrast that harsh label with an equally harsh label aimed at the main character and "hero" of 'Virgin' by mocking him with the same harshness Apatow can only muster for females.

I'm confused how I'm being called-out for ironically using the language Apatow uses seriously-- or semi-seriously.

M.Dot. said...

Hi, Brandon, thank you for commenting and sharing.

I didn't label you a misogynist, I said that some parts of your piece were misogynistic. Two different things.

Full disclosure, you are talking to a person who recently wrote about how listening to Mobb Deep, the Orange and Blue Mobb Deep, feeds my inner patriarchy. I use both mirrors and magnifying glasses.

Yesterday, Rafi made the same point over and over again about how you were "just using" the "terms" of the piece. But you know what it is blood, as a reader, there was NO WAY for me to determine what were YOUR terms and what was Apatows terms.

Italics, bolding, a different colored font or quotations all could have accomplished this. By not distinguishing your voice from Apatow's, I attributed the words to you. As any reasonable reader would.

It's apparent that the issue is your words, but perhaps the lack of a distinction between where Apatow's end and yours begin.

I hope this is responsive & helpful.

brandon said...

Hey, yeah, I see what you mean about my language but I really think most of my readers are aware of my voice versus the voice being adopted. No offense to your posting, but italics, bolding, etc gets incredibly didactic and I think that would only further alienate people from the piece. Plus, my rhetorical strategy is more complicated than something that could have some quotes around it, since, as I said, I'm using Apatow's language and thoughts against him in the sense of mocking his movie's hero.

Thanks for reading and thinking about my post, but it's the symptom of reactionary feminism to essentially scan through any and all writing and blow-up when you see some guy saying "slut" and ending your frustration there.

M.Dot. said...

Ahhhh and so it begins.

If you decide to put your interest in your "rhetorical strategy" above the interest of indicating to the reader whose language you are using, yours/Apatow's, and the consequence is that as a reader takes Apataow's words as yours, than that is on you. Not the reader.

I did not "blow up". I merely stated that the language struck me as misogynistic.

Writing on the internet is tricky. I received my first hate mail recently from a reader.
I fucked up on my Mobb Deep piece when failed to lay out the scope of it and say that that I was deliberately NOT talking about mainstream culture and that I intended to focus on analyzing hip hop & violence by a hip hop head, for hip hop heads. A reader called me "another whiny writer who wanted to blame hip hop for the worlds woes". Its was MY FAULT that I didn't articulate the scope and I admitted it. I thanked the reader for pointing it out and kept it moving.

Which brings me to your claim that my response is reactionary feminism.

What element of my response is indicative of reactionary feminism?

What evidence do you have of me "scanning"?

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