Other than waking up to a fever and runny nose, hearing the new that NBC executives have censored Roots drummer Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson over his Michele Bachmann prank was enough to get my blood running this morning.
Anyone who follows the “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” television show knows that The Roots have been his lifeboat since it debuted and have parlayed ?uestlove’s musical knowledge into a subculture of good/ bad/ amazing walk-on songs that are selected for each guest as they are welcomed onto the show. My faves: Whoopi Goldberg (“The Sound Of the Police” – KRS-One), Mike Tyson (“In The Air Tonight” – The Police), Tiger Woods (“Creepin'” – Stevie Wonder), Tyler Perry (“Dude Looks Like A Lady” – Aerosmith) and more. So when Republican front-woman Michele Bachman appeared on Fallon’s show, The Roots chose a riff from Fishbone’s “Lyin Ass Bitch” as her walk on music of choice. Funny? Yes! Hurtful? Not really. Controversial? Very. Of course Bachmann didn’t even realize it until afterwards and demanded an apology from the network. NBC was mute on the issue at first, but Jimmy Fallon, ?uestlove and The Roots offered their own public apology and then we all had Thanksgiving and forgot about it — until yesterday. According to reports late last night, ?uestlove will now have to run his walk on selections by three NBC executives before taping.
So what was it? The “lyin ass” or “bitch” part? While “bitch” could be seen as sexist or even subjective given that it is now used so freely in pop-culture, there are multiple reports to prove that Michele certainly doesn’t speak the truth under the guise of wanting a “better” America. Or was it the fact that Michele represents a significant (white) part of America with perceived influence. I doubt that NBC would bat an eyelash at Tiger Woods or Tyler Perry had they complained, even with their influence. However bad it seems, a censor on musical selections opens up a deep pandora’s box on what can be played, said and expressed in the public.
In the grand scheme of things, the only thing that surprises me is that NBC honored Michele’s demand for an apology, but she then decided she isn’t happy with it, and so they then opt to make an example of the band. Funny how Ahmir can play a (really bad) joke on what arguably is the biggest prank ever played on America, the candidacy of Michelle Bachmann, but Alec Baldwin can behave like an elitist jerk, threaten the staff of and get booted from an American Airlines flight, potentially threatening the network’s sponsor/partnerships (that’s called $$$$$) by the airline and get a pass?
I would love for an NBC executive to offer an explanation on their decision, but that’s probably not going to happen. So I will say good morning and welcome to America, where us uppity negroes still can’t win.
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