“T-Pain, You’re the Game” by Ordale J. Allen
When I was about ten my father observed me as I “watched” my little sister. She was about two at the time. She was standing in her crib playing with a doll and kept dropping it on the floor. I’d picked it up, but it seemed like a minute later she’d drop it again. After watching this go on for about five minutes my father cynically remarked, “The funny thing about this is that you’re the game and you just don’t know it.” While watching the first fifteen minutes of “Freaknik: The Musical” took me back to that moment.
At first glance the show just seems like BET: The Animated Movie. Then I realized that somewhere in there T-Pain was trying to paint a satirical picture of Black people and Freaknik. AOL Keyword: “trying.” There was a scene about twelve minutes into it where the title character sings a song saying that women don’t have to watch their kids, instead they can go to Freaknik and it will solve all of their problems. There were various scenes of women getting their nails done and immediately transforming from a stripper into a lawyer.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a sense of humor. I know how to check my uppity ways at the door and just have a laugh. The problem is that while it may seem like he’s making fun of stereotypes, he’s only reinforcing them, hence the allusion to my babysitting days of yesteryear: T-Pain, you may think that you’re breaking down stereotypes in a clever way but guess what…you’re the game. You’re only reinforcing these stereotypes. After all, Black people aren’t a large enough demographic for Adult Swim to spend money on this show. Big brother is watching and all you’re doing is proving him right, especially considering what your day job is.
Someone who sings into a synthesizer over tracks generally promoting misogyny and being nigger-rich can hardly be viewed as an instrument of change and inspiration. So your message is lost on two levels. First, White people think that it’s real and younger (either in age or mentality) Blacks will relate to it because it’s in your videos.
Now perhaps the show will take a turn. Maybe some of you watched the whole thing and will say that I didn’t give it a chance. My only retort is this: I probably watched about as much of it (if not more) as a White person who happened to flip through the channels and landed on this tripe and who knew nothing about T-Pain, Big Boi or any of the other voice actors.
In this case, the show did for Blacks what those reports on the Prius malfunctions have done for Toyota. We’ve placed a magnifying glass over a few negative outliers and by doing so have painted an inaccurate portrayal of the whole. So the next time you wonder why racism still runs rampant despite having a Black president, you can add Freaknik: The Musical to your list of contributing factors. As for me, if there is such a thing as reincarnation, I’ve got dibs on Caucasian.
– Ordale J. Allen