Monday, May 10, 2010

Ashy Or Classy?!? - Swagger Wagon.

Like most other cultural art forms that have been co-opted and made mainstream, hip hop's ascendancy into everyday American life sometimes produces some cringe-worthy results. From Tony Randall rappin' about Ritz crackers, to complete and utter obliteration of the term "bling bling", sometimes its hard to tell is people are paying homage or picking fun.

Watching the latest in Toyota's line of "Sienna Family" commercials, I'm still not so sure how to feel.

I have to give credit where it's due. This commercial is sorta edgy, yet still so whimsical that it's clear the directors didn't want it taken that seriously. The mock music video imagery, the mean muggin' Dad, Mom makin' it rain and brushin' her shoulders off, and the Young Money-style sonic backdrop make this pretty eye and ear-catching.

Still, it's hard not to look at this and cringe a bit. I mean, come on, isn't the whole "suburban white folks rappin' like Lil' Wayne" thing a bit tired by now? Didn't "Lazy Sunday" more or less signal the climax of this weird genre of parody? When I saw Natalie Portman rappin' and cussin' like a sailor on yet another SNL Digital short, I figured the shark had been jumped.

Enough already, we get it. Middle-aged suburban white folks channelling their inner Nicki Minaj[1] is (posed' to be) funny. Ha ha. Enough already!

Much like those tired "white folks do this, black folks do this" jokes that Negro comedians still traffic in, I can't help but feel like this kind of satire is rooted in some very outdated notions about race in America. When 75% or rap albums are still being purchased by suburban teens, the notion that these same kids rapping would be a laugh-inducing novelty a decade later just seems silly.

Enough already.

And while we're at it, for the 4,080th time: the word "swag" is played.[2]

Question: Is there a thin line between parody and outright making fun of something? Is the Swagger Wagon commercial marginalizing hip hop culture in an attempt to be edgy? Are other musical folks like country and rock and roll similarly parodied and made fun of? Can Mama flow, or is it just me?

[1] Oddly, I thought the Mom in this commercial had a decent flow.

[2] The word "played" is played too. I know.

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