Monday, January 14, 2008

Angry Black? Mystical Black?

When can a black man get angry? What will it cost him when he does? While I was reading this post on Andrew Sullivan's blog, these questions immediately came to my mind. I wonder what would have happened if Clinton's tearful moment had come after a particularly angry swipe from Obama. How would the media have reacted? It is an interesting question, especially since the media have been working hard (and he has not really been challenging them on it) to fashion Obama into a version of Hollywood's infamous "Mystical Black Person." You know that old character who is there to help white people through their trials and tribulations. The filmography is legend: "Gone With the Wind," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Green Mile," "Ghost," "The Legend of Bagger Vance."

Obama has been hyped in a similar fashion. And if it gets him into the White House, I am alright with that. But, I go back to my original questions (modified). When can Obama get angry? What will it cost Obama when he does?

It is conventional wisdom (if one really can call it wisdom) that the majority of Americans like nothing less than an inappropriately angry black man (remember we still don't have a clear defintion on the appropriate). Obama will have to fight back the all out assault that is being waged by the Clinton campaign, and its supporters. And he might even be a little angry when he does. I just want to see if Obama (by way of the media) transmogrifies from the "Mystical Obama" into the "Angry Obama," and monitor the impact of the change.

6 comments:

Brian said...

You know we highly evolved nee-grows can't get mad in publik, especially not at folks who's been as good to us as the Clintons? But seriously, it does Obama no good to be indignant at this point. He will have the opportunity, because someone else will come for him -- it's politics -- and then he shouldn't pull a John Kerry and try to take the high road. But it has to be worth the momentary backlash to do it, like getting rid of one of your rivals.

CSoulScribe said...

Have you seen Spike's "Bamboozled"? Angry Black and Mystical Black must be lost members of the Mau Maus. Anyway, I'm w/ Brian in that he'll have to be strategic about going into Angry Black Man mode...even I have to be strategic about going into Angry Black Woman mode in my professional and personal lives.

The Linden Row said...

"Angry" is generally not an advisable tact for any politician (white or black) to take. In the 2000 election the moniker was wielded effectively against John McCain.
In 2004 it was used (along with the New Hampshire yell) to sink John Dean's presidential hopes.
Even righteous anger-à la John Edwards' indignation about the exploitation of the poor and middle classes-doesn't play well. Wisely Edwards is currently attempting re-brand what was perceived by the public and pundits as anger by characterizing it as passion about a deep and lifelong held belief.
Given all this, it would probably serve Obama well to continue taking the high road, responding forcefully and evenly when necessary, while letting the national disgust about sharp-elbow politics being employed against the politics of hope build.

The Linden Row said...

Freester, looks to me like this campaign is destined to vampirically suck all hope from the Corpus Democratus...Edwards now appears to represent the adult wing of the party.

hscfree said...

I disagree. I think that Obama has managed to weather this storm rather well. I think that the Clintons have shown what they are willing to do to get back into 1600 Pennsylvania. Edwards is holding his own, and I like him, but he is not going to be the nominee.

TLR said...

I sincerely hope that the Obama inertia created by his S.C.win, Caroline Kennedy's endorsement it the NYT, and Ted Kennedy's strong show of solidarity today continues. You are right about Edwards' chances. It appears his best hope of affecting the kinds of change he advocates is to capture enough delegates to be in a king making position should the final count be sufficiently close.