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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Omarion (or Omari) And The Blogosphere





I saw this post article on an odd blog James Lamb Jr. via The Assault on Black Folk's Sanity. I can clearly see both sides, tho the first one (from Racialicious) is a lot funnier, I must admit:

james lamb:
After reading a recent post on Racialicious.com by founder Carmen Van Kerckhove on September 21, 2007, I Can't Wait to 'Feel the Noise', I wrote the following response. The comment didn't appear on the Racialicious site (probably a technical error because of its length) so I have reproduced the comment here.

[from racialicious]
Yesssssssssssssss!I can't wait to Netflix this. Long-time Racialicious readers will know how much I love movies with multiple dance-offs. But this movie looks extra-special because it stars that tiny little magical dancing machine, Omarion!

(My dream dance-off would be Omarion vs. Chris Brown. Omarion would crrrrrrush him.)

It must be so effortless to make these movies, since they all follow the exact same script.

A young man gets into trouble at home, so his parents send him away for a change of scenery. He sees a hot girl and is immediately infatuated. But even though she clearly wants him, she doesn't want to leave her evil boyfriend because he's powerful and handsome.

The troubled young man gets involved in the subculture (stepping, marching bands, breaking) of this new environment but fumbles, humiliating himself. He finds out about A Big Event (competition, tournament, talent show) that will allow him to redeem his honor.

After a montage of him training, interspersed with him flirting with the girl, the movie culminates with The Big Event. Just when you think he's about to lose, he delivers a crushing blow to the Evil Handsome Guy, winning his dignity and the girl! Woohoo!!


[comment from James Lamb, Jr.]
Tiny little magical dancing machine? ....

I know what's worse. The undeniable fact that Black male entertainers like Omarion routinely appear in moralistic minstrel shows greenlit by Hollywood to consume African American entertainment dollars by devolving Black masculinity to complicated precision dancing and/or baby-oil drenched Mandingo warrior swagger clearly presents a more disgusting problem than an uncritical throwaway reference that dehumanizes a Black man by calling him a 'tiny little magical dancing machine'.

I can't say that I care very much right now, though. I read Racialicious.com because it focuses on racist symbolism in popular culture, the very phenomenon with which so many supposedly liberal, supposedly anti-oppression people have trouble.

In their defense of the mainstream, these faux liberals offer the point that obvious fiction can't possibly tell us much about ourselves, so if John Q. American sometimes enjoys watching hip hop movies with hypersexualized thugs who sport shiny nickel-plated Glocks and scantily clad women of color bouncing their rounder portions, then maybe market forces dictate the only useful morality.

Racialicious.com opposes such cynical logic, and I've always respected that. So, after reading this post, I felt confused. Carmen, you rightly discuss the obvious formula in these Stomp the Last Dance or Die Tryin' flicks, but your attempt to characterize Omarion as a skilled dancer immediately conjured images of immense physical skill masked in blackface, and cast Omarion as a copasetic Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson, skilled and subservient, whose fantastic entertainment forces forgetfulness of his personal political plight.

Omarion is not a machine. When we see acrobatic dancing from Black men, its all too easy to dissect the skill from the humanity, and focus on the skill alone. I find that dangerous, and believe that it only increases the gulf of racial difference that posits African Americans as the Other.

Maybe the real problem here remains the fact that entertainers like Omarion, Chris Brown, and Usher appear so happy to dance for mainstream audiences that cooning becomes an inevitable result for the American viewer. Every time people catch Chris Brown's genial smile during a performance - no small feat considering the rambunctious bouncing and epileptic jerking - I wonder if they mentally shade burnt cork and firetruck red Max Factor on Brown's broad smile. Perhaps people view Black male physical skill as something otherworldly and superhuman, so that Black male physical skill in general becomes something designed to entertain only, like a plastic toy from Mattel.

I don't think it matters though. It doesn't take much to remember the humanity of the Negro entertainer, and frankly, we have to. To lose that focus devolves athletic Black entertainers from shining examples of human focus and training to mechanical animals bred for mainstream merriment, and that's just a little too Dixie for my tastes.


From IW: Omarion is trying to pull a Larry/Laurence Fishburne on us and is letting us know lately that he might revert back to his gov'ment name, Omari (jeesh, what's the difference?). For those who didn't see my post on this gem of a movie--here is the formulaic trailer....if you've seen the trailer, basically you've seen the movie.

10 comments:

IVENTBYBLOGGING said...

Hey Invisible! Happy gobble, gobble!
I'm with you, I see both sides of their comments as well. I would like to see our men play something other than gangsters, dancers, or men in drag! I had to LOL when at Lamb's reference to Chris Brown...that boy knows he keeps a plastered "Joker" (of batman fame) smile on his face.

YESSSSSS SIRRRR MR. CHARLIE!!

Have an awesome holiday and i'll be passing thru again rightly, soon!

Ivent :)
bria :)

Glendell-The Art Master said...

Well, they're both MICHEAL JACKSON wannabes - but they don't have the talent, their dancing is copycat. They will never be what me and Micheal are: TRUE dancers. Omarion, Chris Brown, face it - you'll never be able to make a "Billy Jean" video.
Invisible, you don't ask for much do you? I'm COMING!


P.S. To all concerned, I meant no disrespect. Soon you all will be judging my work too.

Glendell-The Art Master said...

Invisible, I just reread the post and found out that I accused you instead of Carmen Van Kerckhove. Please forgive me. Happy Thanksgiving

Madlab Post said...

Just too funny.

Julia_Claudine_Deveraux said...

I am hopelessly obsessed with Omarion, I 've tried to make sense of it all but I just said "fuck it" and now I just enjoy him. Yeah I know I almost old enough to be his mum but so what haha. I never gave a hoot about him before seeing the "Touch" video and he basically can keep all the rest of the videos he's made since, I enjoy looking at him lol. I think he's the cutest lil thing ever.

Chris Brown is another one I enjoy to watch, that chile has so much energy and he seems to be having fun, I can dig it. My 17 yr old and I both love them but my daughter is a bit more obsessed with Chris Brown,she thinks he's the bee's knees haha.

Invisible Woman said...

I have to admit, I love, love, love watching Omarion (Omari) and Chris Brown dance....I think they have amazing ability and charisma...it is really hard to stand out these days with so many dancers around...you do have to be special.

@jcd: The bees knees? I KNOW you're not that old--lol. Good to see you Glendell :-)

Luscious Librarian said...

I see where you're both going with this. My biggest beef with the dancing movies is that there is some notion that you can dance your way out of the hood or that there is in fact an underground dance scene. WTF?

I have never been to nor have I ever heard of a dance competition taking place in an old warehouse, or alley or any other place that didn't have a corporate sponsor and I minored in Dance.

The stepping movies do take place at college, which is good, but that new one, "The Way She Move" stripped the tradition of everything it was built around. It's like when black folks do achieve they create a situation to seperate the achievement from the entertainment.

Invisible Woman said...

I always think the same thing LL! Where are these secret, well organized "dance offs"? People that plan events don't do that well!

Thembi said...

Yo yo yo...Im back.

Am I wrong for wanting Chris Brown and Omarion as my personal tenderoni man-slaves?

Invisible Woman said...

I guess they would be good for cooking and pedicures....welcome back btw :-)