Why Should You Care About the “Booty Kings”?: Liner Notes

So, a new column up today at The Federalist, titled “SNL’s ‘Booty Kings’ Video Mocks Sexist Rappers—And Their Woke Critics.” The lede gives you the hook:

Pete Davidson’s apology to Congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw for mocking his war wound provided last weekend’s “Saturday Night Live” its viral moment (and rightly so). However, this overshadowed one of the sharpest segments SNL has produced since the 2016 presidential campaign.

The segment is a mock rap video entitled ‘Permission’ ” about the “Booty Kings” — a pair of rappers who are trying to get woke.

As the title of the column suggests, sexist rappers are the primary — and rich — target of the satire here.  Yet I suspect that the laughs also come from the fact that rappers trying to be woke strikes people as just plain silly, which says something additional about the culture, not only the audience for this type of rap, but those on a crusade to stamp it out.

What got left out for space? Tons. The woke ideal presented is consent, and obviously one could write many columns about consent being a necessary but insufficient basis for how society thinks about sex.  A longer column would delve further into the (barely) subtexts here about subjects like tolerating intolerance and the right to be wrong,the ways in which we struggle against or live in an uneasy relationship with the vices we recognize we have.  Or there could have been more on the relative merits of society evolving in a more gradual, Burkean fashion versus a more revolutionary imposition of cultural norms.  Or perhaps I could have written more about art versus propaganda, in the sense that the response to this video is both complex and visceral in ways that are not easily communicated in print, let alone evoked in a mass audience.  Or I could have focused more on how this mock video, like the “Black Jeopardy” sketch referenced in the column, not only speaks to populism and class, but to the instability of the major party coalitions in this more populist moment.

Of course, there’s also the old saying that a joke is like a frog: you can dissect it, but it tends to die on the table when you do.  In this case, however, I think there are enough layers to the comedy that it survives (and even resists) that dissection.

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