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February 15, 2012

XXL still a magazine, still censoring people

via colorlines.com

Hundreds of people have signed a petition for Harris Publications to fire XXL magazine editor in chief Vanessa Satten because Too Short said middle school-age boys should try to fingerbang girls (which they should). Wait, what?

This was in a video Too Short did for the XXL website to promote whatever he's trying to promote at this point - probably yet another album of non musical funk rap songs about how much of a player he is, even now that he's 56. Like a lot of these things that eventually become a media outrage, it had probably been online for some time before anyone was allegedly offended by it, and it's likely that very few of the people who are supposedly so upset with it would have seen it if someone hadn't decided to make a stink about it.

People who would be offended by the kind of shit Too Short says don't listen to Too Short anyway. Or read the XXL website, for that matter. (No one reads the XXL website.) And actual middle school-age kids don't know from Too Short. They've never even heard of Paul McCartney. The only musician kids these days know is Skrillex, whoever that is.

Full Disclosure: I used to work for XXL, and I'm just pissed off that they fired me. Nothing I'm going to say here contains objectivity, which really does exist. I wouldn't even read the rest of this post if I were you.

This video was apparently part of a series in which Too Short gives fatherly advice to children, based on the oddly pink tinted screencap above, which may or may not have come from a teh ghey website. Nhjic. It's long since been removed from the Internets, because the people who run XXL don't understand that when you post something on the Internets that people find offensive, and your response is to just delete it like it was never there in the first place, it actually makes you look worse than if you hadn't responded at all, if you just left it out there to offend people for posterity. Standard industry practice is to use those strikethrough html tags, like the ones I used earlier today for that joke about how Big Sur is not really Queen Latifah's nickname (but it totally should be), and maybe add some sort of correction or explanation. Just deleting shit like that is probably considered horrible, horrible journalism, but so is having your editor in chief pose for a Rocawear ad.

Some young guy from The Grio, Donovan X. Ramsey, host of the late night public access TV series Perspectives, watched the video enough times to memorize its content before it disappeared down the memory hole. Here's how he describes it.

XXL magazine teamed up with rapper Too Short recently to give "fatherly advice" that involved teaching middle-school-aged boys how to "turn girls out." Calling it a process of "mind manipulation," the aging rapper advised boys to digitally stimulate girls to get "whatever [they] want." While the video has been removed from the XXL site, the fact that it was published at all is still drawing outrage.

"When you get to late middle school, early high school and you start feeling a certain way about the girls... I'm gonna tell you a couple tricks," Too Short said in the video. "A lot of the boys are going to be running around trying to get kisses from the girls... We're going way past that. I'm taking you to the hole."

I think I speak for most guys when I say that I wish I had someone giving me advice like this in late middle school and early high school. The hole was where I wanted to be. I just wasn't sure how to get there.

Continue, Too Short (via Lionel Osborne).

Then, the 45-year-old rapper, whose real name is Todd Anthony Shaw, asks women off camera to "cover their ears" to avoid being offended. Short then describes a scenario in graphic detail. "You push her up against the wall," he continued. "You take your finger and put a little spit on it and you stick your finger in her underwear and you rub it on there and watch what happens."

Whie Shaw is giving his graphic "advice," upbeat, child-themed music plays in the background.

Roffle.

You can see why people are so upset. Some 13 year-old boy who's actually heard of Too Short might have seen that video and thought he really meant that you should get a girl up against a wall, spit on your finger, shove your hands down her pants and tickle her clit. Which would be tragic, because touching a girl's vagine at such a young age could ruin a man's life, before he's even had a chance to try drugs, or shout "World Star!" in the video of a melee at a Waffle House. No but really, I'm at a loss for how late middle school and early high school-age kids fingerbanging could possibly be a bad thing, unless it's non-consensual. Like if the guy tried to shove his hand down the girl's pants, but she didn't want him to, because she wanted her vagine to go untouched for the rest of her life, so she could end up like one of these salty, unmarried 54 year-old black women out here starting online petitions (as if), trying to throw shackles on a man's freedom of speech, but the guy went elbow deep in the girl's vagine anyway, as a vulgar display of power (not for any actual sexual reasons). But that's not what Too Short was saying you should do. The whole point of the video was to show kids how to get girls to let you put your hand down their pants consensually. Any ol' dumbass could shove his hand down a woman's pants non-consensually - unless the woman was an expert in self-defense, or she had one of those tiny cans of mace on her keychain (via "wishful thinking"), or she had a rape whistle, and there was a lot of people around.

A case could be made that this was actually good advice, for at least two reasons: (1) this shows kids how to have a sexual experience with a woman consensually, for free, instead of either taking the pussy, or paying for it, or just not having any sexual experience with a woman at all, which you would just end up taking out via the Internets, in your career as a person who just sits around and says inappropriate things in the Internets all day; and (2) fingerbanging is a good alternative to full-on peen in the vagine sex for today's youth, since so many kids these days are catching VD, especially here in St. Louis (in fact, the Surgeon General once suggested that kids should play with each other's "privacies," but then she ended up getting tossed out on her ass, because there's probably some Illuminati plot to get black people to continue having kids we can't afford to raise well, emphasis on "well"), and because it would cut down on teen pregnancy. But so would teaching kids to pull out at the last minute and cum on the girl's tits, or on her face, if you can talk her into it, i.e. if she really loves you, which is way more effective a form of birth control than high school sex ed classes would have you believe. In fact, it's what human beings have used since the beginning of time, 6,000 years ago. And if you notice, the world's population only started to mushroom the way it has around the time they started teaching sex ed in high school. Coincidence?

Lionel Osborne from The Grio spoke with a couple of salty, older black women about how XXL is purposely trying to see to it that black women are rape-raped, and how a white woman shouldn't be allowed to be editor in chief of a (white-owned) rap magazine.

The legendary (cat woman) Gina McCauley spoke of how once, back in 2007, some despicable person writing for XXL used the term "some hooker down in Florida" in discussion of an alleged gang rape-rape, which prompted her readers to launch a phone harassment campaign/attack against Google AdSense, a computer program, not an actual "sponsor" of the site.

And I quote:

Gina McCauley, founder of the black women's advocacy blog What About Our Daughters, believes that the publishing of this video on XXL.com is part of a misogynistic agenda of the media entity. McCauley told theGrio that, "In 2007, my readers had to call on advertisers to pull ads from XXL.com when they referred to a black mother who'd been the victim of a brutal gang rape in West Palm Beach Florida as 'some hooker down in Florida.'" She also noted that demeaning attitudes and sexual violence directed at black women and girls is seen as acceptable by too many blacks.

It's nice to know that the things I wrote are still causing problems for XXL, and I've been gone for just about a year now. The post she's referring to was written five years ago. #math

She then went on to reference that thing down in Texas where an 11 year-old girl was allegedly gang rape-raped, and the New York Times sent someone down there to do a story on it, and people complained, because some of the people interviewed tried to blame it on the girl, and I guess people felt that the Times should have altered those people's quotes, or that people with politically incorrect views shouldn't be quoted in the New York Times, facts be damned, because the New York Times isn't a news organization per se, it's basically just lifestyle rag for upper middle class white people with delicate sensibilities. She tried to make it seem as if the victim in that case was black, and that it had anything at all to do with rap magazines.

"People will want to point to XXL as an aberration, but misogyny and sexual violence committed against young black girls is normalized in far too many black communities," McCauley continued in an email. She recalled a prominent case that was recently in the news in which an 11-year-old girl in Cleveland, Texas was gang raped -- then accused by her community of somehow provoking their attackers.

"The black community has a problem with how it treats its girls and boys as it relates to violence," McCauley concluded, and she called on black men to take Too Short to task for his comments and re-educate him about respecting black women.

Some girl from The Root finds this particularly disturbing because XXL is run by a white woman, and she doesn't find white women, in toto, capable of sound judgment when it comes to parenting issues and deciding when it's necessary to censor rappers.

Charing Ball, cultural critic and writer for The Root, questions why Too Short was given a platform for "giving fatherly advice" in the first place -- particularly by a white female editor. "That is like Essence magazine hiring Don Imus to give black women hair care advice, or Rick Santorum being invited to an LGBT rights organization luncheon to speak about marriage equality," she told theGrio.

I remember back when I was at XXL people would email me all kinds of wild shit about Vanessa Satten, and about black dudes who work there who don't really #fuxwit black women, even though the models featured in XXL and whatever that other magazine they put out that's just booty pictures all look like the Hottentot Venus. Hypocrisy! People have been gunning for Vanessa for years, even before she ascended to her current position via attrition, in part because she's rumored to have a stank attitude, which wasn't my experience the one or two times I dealt with her (but sometimes white people treat me differently than they treat other black people, because they can tell I've been somewhere), and for the simple fact that there's only about five full-time positions left at rap magazines at this point, and only about one and a half of them are filled by black people. And the dearth of employed black people is made all the more glaring by the fact that the HNIC is not an N at all, it's a god damn white woman. At a rap magazine. You wouldn't see a black guy in charge at Cosmo, now would you? If Harris Publications didn't employ any more black people, they should probably put a black guy in top spot at XXL just to keep up appearances. In fact, I think that was their strategy all along. It's just that they ran out of qualified black people, and it got to the point where if they didn't promote Vanessa, who's been there pretty much from jump, they'd be opening themselves up to an EEOC complaint.

This Too Short thing could be a good excuse to finally get rid of her, if that's what they had in mind. That's what the petition is calling for.

In the name of all that is good and holy!

We are appalled by the promotion and acceptance of sexual violence in this video. We are appalled that this video was disseminated, further contributing to a culture of sexual violence. Too Short should and must be held accountable for his deplorable rhetorical violence. Ultimately, however, the decision to post this video sits with the magazine’s EIC, Vanessa Satten. We, therefore call upon, Ms. Satten to be removed from her post. In the name of justice, in the name of decency, and in the name of our children, we call for her immediate removal and an accounting for the ways in which XXL treats women.

This apology she's issued sounds like the kind of thing you'd write if you thought there was at least a slight possibility that this could cost you your job, and you want to have it stated for the record that you are in fact against both rape and rape-rape, and that you didn't watch the Too Short video until after several people had already been offended, and that footage from a closed circuit security camera will prove that you were in the restroom at the time it was posted. And also that you're sorry in the most vehement way possible. (If only people could see your face.) As Mitt Romney would say, you're severely sorry.

I agree with [angry readers'] perspective. I do not see all content before it goes live. When I saw this video, I was truly offended and thought it crossed the line. I had it taken down immediately. I am disappointed that an employee decided to post it and I am putting internal procedures in place to make sure content like this does not go on the site. The video goes against my value system and represents poor judgment on behalf of the individual who posted it.

Too Short probably won't get let go from Jive Records for suggesting that guys touch girls' pussies. His sales might even go up. But he went ahead and apologized anyway. He can't have people out here thinking he advocates the sexual assault of children, just because he said he does in a video.

I want to apologize to anyone I may have offended with the XXL video interview I recently did. When I got on camera I was in Too $hort mode and had a lapse of judgement.I would never advise a child or young man to do these things, it's not how I get down. Although I have made my career on dirty raps, I have worked over the years to somewhat balance the content of my music with giving back to the community. Just coming from a man who wants to see young people get ahead in life, I'm gonna do my best to to help and not hurt. If you're a young man or a kid who looks up to me, don't get caught up in the pimp, player, gangster hip-hop personas. Just be yourself.

A few years ago he was involved in a thing where he had to put a shoe on someone at a venue because they wouldn't let him bring a couple of underage girls backstage, as if there's some sort of rule that says you have to be a certain age in order to go backstage at a concert. You don't see underage girls barred from going backstage at a Drake concert, now do you? They may have felt that because it was Too Short, and every fiber of his being reverberates with sexual assault, there was the possibility he might try something with them, but I think technically that would constitute an attack on his freedom of speech, as guaranteed to him by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, which is punishable (in Oakland) by a foot up your ass. In a case like that, as was the case with the Pentagon Papers, you'd have to wait until he tried to pull the patented Too Short Stinkfinger on one of them and then toss his ass in jail. Prior restraint has been roundly rejected!

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Byron Crawford a/k/a Bol is the celebrated author of several books, most recently NaS Lost: A Tribute to the Little Homey.

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Posted by Bol at 10:46 AM | Permalink

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