Jerome LOL is a young artist who found his niche in reappropriating GIFs and images from the early days of the internet—a time he calls web 1.0. His work hits a certain nostalgic nerve, and if you remember Rihanna’sSNL performance with the dolphins in the background, then you’re already familiar with what Jerome is all about.
A High School Reenacted Chris Brown’s Beating of Rihanna (with Blackface)
Last Friday, Waverly High School in New York state hosted a pep rally for their sports teams—fanfare, mascots, jocks, cheerleaders—all good, clean, American fun. Then, because it makes total sense to do this in this context of an official high school jamboree, three white kids in blackface took center stage and performed a skit depicting that time Chris Brown savagely beat Rihanna to within an inch of her life and tried to throw her out of a moving car. Good, clean, American fun.
Obviously people on the internet are pissed off about it, so I tracked down a guy who goes to the school, is friends with the people in the skit, and just wants all this nasty stuff about his racist pals to go away. Here’s what he said.
VICE: So, what went down at this pep rally, exactly? Student: A kid dressed as Chris Brown acted like he hit a girl with an umbrella, but he didn’t actually hit her. Then someone dressed as a cop tackled him, handcuffed him, and it was over.
Were you involved? All I’m really going to say is that I know the people who did the skit. They’re my best friends and they are in no way racist. The thing everyone’s calling blackface was horrible back in the day when racism was huge, but there are so many actors and actresses dressing up as every ethnicity nowadays. It’s not the 1920s anymore, it’s 2012.
Right, it’s not. But surely it’s still offensive? The people who did the skit were just playing a character—it’s the same thing as what the actors did inWhite Chicks. It wasn’t a big deal and I know a lot of other people feel the same way as I do about how it wasn’t racist. We aren’t taught that blackface is wrong at school because it’s a different age now. It’s not showing disrespect to anyone, it’s just playing a character.
OK, so I’m kinda late to the game on this one. It came out about two weeks ago, which is practically a year’s worth of public dissemination in internet time, but SORRY if I have more important things to do than watch the new Rihanna video. Like reading books about world issues and critical thinking about stuff.
I’m not sure why the alternative blogosphere still loves American flags, what with all the global economic crises causing ‘n warfare waging ‘n stuff that’s been going on recently. But they sure do! There’s a reblog for everyone in this video, with red, white, and blue splashed over everything from hot pants to Rihanna’s bikini party look for her very own faux-illegal 90s field rave hosted by rope-in DJ mug Calvin Harris.
The internet loves drugs. But how is it possible to shoehorn in Tumblr-friendly illegal substances without enraging IRL Daily Mail readers? Just don’t use any! Ri Ri and video-boyfriend cleverly evade this potential conundrum by employing all the mastery of my GCSE “addiction” project, dropping Lemsip Max and blowback’ing a ten-pack of Mayfairs in a perfectly “edgy,” yet family friendly, balance.
Granted, the top one is a goth-pop Tory boys Misfits logo. That’s pretty much the three-chord equivalent of a Britney Spears t-shirt, not the apex of advanced capitalism absorbing “punk rebellion” into “the system.” But what about the Suicidal Tendencies patch? They’re no stranger to making facile statements about “sticking it to the man”! How do they feel about being played by Def Jam’s corporate machine?
And how would our 90s ravers-cum-80s punks-cum-00s McGinley libertines hold any contemporary relevance if they weren’t at one point seen street dancing in a skatepark? It is, after all, what our generation will be best remembered for.
Lest we forget that our multiple-decade spanning, subculture composite romance is also dosed with a bit of gloomy, Belfast skinhead drudgery! Dr. Martens, braces, and a gritty voiceover by the delightfully working class Agyness Deyn are all used to appeal to the fythisisengland.tumblr.com hangover.
Wait, you guys are anarchists, too?! Rihanna’s also a bike-riding anarchist, everyone! Guess they weren’t listening to our previous memo on this one.
And if you think they’re bothered about maiming their skin with horrible, misogynistic, violently-enforced homemade tattoos, then you’ve got another thing coming, bud.
The rest of the video runs amok with petty theft, heavy petting, and general delinquency, but I think I’ve moaned about a large enough swathe of “dad’s eye” youth culture for one day. Please view this video as the all-singing, all-dancing cadaver of every fuckyeah tumblr trope you ever thought about photographing in the name of cool, then think about Rihanna, and then stop it. Please.
Did you guys see Rihanna’s new video and think: “Hmm, this looks familiar”? No? Well that means one of two things. Either A) you don’t live with as many gay guys as I do, and haven’t been subjected to the video 300 times a day for the last week, or B) you’ve never ever seen a Ryan McGinley photo ever. Lets compare.