Monday, 10 December 2007

The Magical Negro theory of American Politics

[In which PiaToR talks completely out of his ass. Again.]

So I'm finally watching _The Wire_, Season One. Slow of me, I know, but I'll get round to the rest of them on DVD when I get the time. And at a certain point early in the series, I saw a certain character get up and calmly do something pretty damned clever. And I thought to myself "Oh shit, another magic negro."

Not quite that simple, of course, but the trope was definitely tweaked there.

It turns out, on reading some of the stories on Obama, that I didn't quite have the same grasp as Americans on this (comes from growing up outside the culture, I guess). I'd always associated the idea with an archetype of a calm father-figure type who knew instinctively what to do, rather than a way of dealing with white liberal guilt over race relations. In NZ we don't do stereotypes of Maoris in popular culture as a way of dealing with white liberal guilt - we do arguments over land with real Maori as a way of dealing with white liberal guilt.

But, hell, I figure my version of the "Magic Negro" is probably just what the American populace really want right now, after the trauma of the last eight years (and teh impeachment beforehand). They don't want a policy wonk (Gore). They don't want a ladykiller (Clinton). And they sure as hell don't want a smarmy proud-to-be-dumb fratboy anymore (figure it out). They want someone who they believe will know what the hell he is doing, without being arrogant, and without the likelihood of scandal. Obama doesn't really cut it.

Which leads me to my Magic Negro Theory of American Politics: "The chances of a black man being elected President are directly correlated with that black man's resemblence to Morgan Freeman".

And the First Corollary To The PiaTor Magic Negro Theory: "Nominating Morgan Freeman is a no-brainer, for either political party".

The problem of getting a black woman elected President is, surprisngly enough, much much simpler. One word, starts with "O". The real problem would be getting her to accept the drop in status being elected President would entail.

3 comments:

grendelkhan said...

Blah. The whole point of the Magic Negro trope is that the subject's only purpose in life is to help main, white, characters. The Magic Negro doesn't get his or her own story. The Magic Negro certainly doesn't get to be President.

The whole "Obama is a Magic Negro" trope doesn't pass even the most cursory examination--and it gives Rush Limbaugh an excuse to put up a ghastly song going "Barack, the Magic Negro..." while claiming that he doesn't have a racist bone in his body. David Ehrenstein should be ashamed of himself.

Phoenician in a Time of Romans said...

Blah. The whole point of the Magic Negro trope is that the subject's only purpose in life is to help main, white, characters. The Magic Negro doesn't get his or her own story. The Magic Negro certainly doesn't get to be President.

Mmm - that's the point. I didn't get that, because I wasn't immersed in the culture (NZ has its own tensions regarding race, but they're very different".

However - "Deep Impact".

Dana said...

Barack Hussein Obama is where he is due to one thing, and one thing only: he delivered a magnificent speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

Other than that, no one would consider a man who hadn't spent even one term in the Senate as presidentibili.

The truth is that there are no really inspiring candidates, in either party. Mr Obama gave one great speech -- which is one more than any of the others have.