Bill Maher’s Crash and Burn “House Nigga” Stunt


If a stuntman jumps the Grand Canyon on a bike, misses and breaks his body into a million pieces, it’s not anyones job to justify in retrospect why that jump was necessary or excuse the stunt mans culpability in his own death…

 

Louis C.K.’s “That nigger made the shit of this coffee” joke, is the best use of the word nigga by a white comedian in a joke I’ve heard. At no point can you consider it racist, unless you are truly one of the daft people who think a word has meaning outside it’s context. The joke is actually a humorous analysis of language, especially how black people use extreme negatives to express a positive (i.e. “that muthafucka Durant is unstoppable”). It’s amazing, because comedians are all itching to use the word. Every comedian is foaming at the mouth to use every word and concept that is taboo in America. It’s what makes innovative and interesting writing, finding ways to use words in a way that people never thought (especially if they think they are supposed to be offended by the word).

 

When my sister messaged me and asked me how I felt about Bill Maher calling himself a “house nigga“, I had to go look it up (since I’m not one of Pavlov’s dogs). In my head I was thinking/hoping he said something clever about working for the system to oppress his own, in a way that references Malcolm’s most famous use of that phrase. Instead, his quip immediately linked agricultural work to slavery. Instead of being insightful and clever, it denigrated everyone who has ever grown food, and made no reference to my hero (or his cause) who first made that term famous. He missed. Most importantly, he exposed his itchy “nigga” trigger finger. He’s been waiting for years for the moment to use that word and be able to yell afterwards “there’s no logical reason to be upset at that”, and he missed badly. There’s no reason to defend him, same reason there is no reason to feel bad for the stuntman who fails to jump his motorcycle across the Grand Canyon. He was well aware of the risk involved. He decided to ad-lib America’s most risky linguistic stunt (unlike Louis CK who must have worked on that bit for a while to perfect it).

 

I’ll admit I’m a fan of Bill Maher’s show. Not a fan of everything he says. On top of normal political disagreements with him, he talks way to much shit about Islam to never have a dissenting Islamic voice on his show, and he loves telling black people how much freedom we can reasonably expect. I am a fan of his undying commitment to making sure everyone says what they are thinking and we hash it out in public. There are millions who hate what Maher says (some of it rightly so), without recognizing that this is the theme and goal of his show.  I hope his show survives. It’s partly selfish. I want to get famous enough to get on it, and be the first black person to properly explain to Bill why asking blacks to support Hillary Clinton was stupid. That might not happen if he doesn’t recover from intentionally crashing his image of the end of a cliff.

 

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