Elevator Fights and the Elevator to Success: What We Can Learn From The Knowles and Carter Clan

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I rightfully admit I was in a funky mood yesterday morning.  It wasn’t anything particularly wrong, just one of those moods most folks in their late twenties go through.  You know, feeling like your life is uneventful, like you’re a step behind on everything.  The usual bullshit.  I was sitting around busily bored at work when I decided to take a trip to Facebook to see if anyone was as over “it” (whatever “it” is) as I was.  I did the usual thing, scrolling up and down the timeline looking at leftover pictures from Mother’s Day, silently chuckling at sub-statuses, and liking all post lamenting about Monday.  I saw this one post on my newsfeed emboldened with the words “SOLANGE VICIOUSLY ATTACKS JAY-Z ON ELEVATOR.”  Now my first thought in all this was, Shit’s gotta be a Facebook virus so I ignored it.  The more I scrolled the more posts I saw with a similar title.  Damn, this virus is spreading faster than smallpox.  When I finally saw TheGrio posting the link and a story, I knew it was real.  I hit up a friend of mines page and clicked the link to see what all the fuss was about.

I’m ashamed yet truthfully admit, that small snippet of the Lifestyles of the Rich and Ratchet lifted my spirits.  Not that I overtly rejoice in the misguiding moments of others, but I won’t lie and say that a little part of me feels good when others are acting bad.  At least when I’m in a crappy mood.  After watching the video for at least three or four times, I made my way to the comments where friends and strangers were trying to make sense of this masterpiece of menagerie.  What I found most interesting in most of the commentary I read was two things: 1) Why did Beyonce step to the left and not get involved,  and 2) The praising of Jay-Z for not giving Solange the Ike Turner turn-up in the elevator.  I rightfully do not have the answer to question one and depending on the ENTIRE story of why Solange (who deep down actually is my favorite Knowles sister) made the Met Gala meet Worldstar that evening, I can’t say I’m totally into comment two as well.  But, I do have my ideas on what we’ve just witnessed.  And of course if you know me, you know my ideas always go back to a theory of some sort (this situation, I see two and a possible).  But no worries, due to the hoodratchetness of the hoopla, I won’t go toooooooo deep as to why I think Jay stepped back and Bey stepped aside in that elevator. 

In 1762, Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote a book called Du contrat social ou Principes du droit politique (Of The Social Contract or Principals of Political Right).  The main argument of the text was an explanation of how the monarchs (the rich folks) are empowered to legislate and rule over the serfs (poor folks).  Putting it in perspective, Rousseau was giving a breakdown of our societal system between the have and the have-nots (no Tyler Perry).  In 1988, Carole Pateman used the same format as Rosseau and wrote a book called The Sexual Contract where she discussed the discrepancies between men and women.  In 1997, Charles Mills used the same format as Pateman and Rousseau but discussed the discrepancies of race in The Racial Contract.  In all three texts, it was pretty much covered that there is levels to this society shit, as Meek Mills would say.  With all that out there, I begin to answer the question that I think is pretty much on your mind at the moment, “What the entire fledgling fuck does this have to do with Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Solange serving that ass whooping in an elevator?”

Understanding the theories of these contracts, specifically racial and social, it has everything to do with it.  It has everything to do with how and why Jay and Bey may have reacted to Solange’s actions.

As Mills (Charles, not Meek), contends, “The Racial Contract is political, moral, and epistemological, the Racial Contract is real, and economically, in determining who gets what…” (9).  There are several components to the functions of the racial contract in terms of signatories, beneficiaries, and sub-beneficiaries.  Signatories and beneficiaries are what Mills (again, Charles and not Meek) considers the White people who benefit from the way the societal system is designed.  Sub-beneficiaries is a group I categorize as the non-Whites who benefit from the spoils of the Racial Contract under strict conditions.  By being a commodity under the guise of camaraderie, sub-beneficiaries of the Racial Contract can enjoy the spoils of White success and acceptance…that is until they are in breach of contract and act up (Chris Brown, O.J. Simpson, need I go on).  If you haven’t noticed, Jay and Bey have been making TONS of White money for the past few years.  Endorsements out the ass.  Partnerships galore.  Ventures everywhere.  They are truly enjoying their lives as sub-beneficiaries of their racial and social contracts.  Why would they want to give all that up in an elevator?

Seriously, let’s look at our contenders here.  You have Solange and then you have Jay.  If Jay put his hands on Solange, it would be bye bye for the Samsung partnerships.  So long for the showings of Made in America and Picasso Baby on Showtime and HBO.  And as for that tour?  Aside from the demands of our schillings being refunded from the stadiums, the real money that would be lost would be ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL the major endorsements for said tour, especially those that may have a morality clause (look it up, that’s a sinker for most celebs).  Pepsi would peace out.  Chase would be chased away.  All of that.  Gone.  It may not seem like a lot to lose for some people, but as someone who watches major endorsement deals go down on a regular basis professionally, that is a HUGE deal.  It also wouldn’t be a good look for those associated with Jigga if he behaved like a nigga.  Bey was already catching the feminist fire from Jay’s Ike Turner line; had he actually put action to those words………wooooooooo fucking wee.  And Obama has enough issues to address with Nigeria kidnapping schoolgirls (#bringbackourgirls), the Ukraine and Russia acting up, our debt crisis, and everything else that’s turning his hair white.  Why would he want to waste the precious time of his speechwriters to come up with something to say about his homie acting an ass in the elevator?  And then we have Solange.  Again, while she is my favorite Knowles sister, the truth is the truth.  Compared to Jay and Bey, she’s not really losing much.  Yes, she has her own endorsements with Puma, but it’s not the same kind of bread in the bakeries of Jay and Bey.  She’s rich, but has no contract. 

Let’s get back to Bey.  As stated before, like Jay, she is a beneficiary of a social and racial contract.  As part of her contractual agreement, she has to look and act a certain way in certain situations.  The fight and the aftermath in the pictures are proof of that.  I feel like she knew cameras were rolling in the elevator.  As many events as she’s attended in her life, she has to.  With that being *possibly* understood, if she were to go out and join Solange in this Love and Ratchpop response to whatever Jay may or may not have done, that’s a breach of her contract.  That’s a bye bye to her endorsements as well.  Lo’Real won’t love you cooning out, girl.

While I’m definitely not saying all this tells the entire story of what happened, it is still an interesting little lesson to consider and learn.  With that I leave you with these immortal words when talking about folks making Jay-Z and Beyonce money:

Man, we already did that

Now I’m into big things

No time to get sidetracked

Now I’m into big things

Get money now, besides that

Some more big things

I’m into big things

The big things

The big things

(Nas, 1999)

 

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Leslie, Lupita, and the Ongoing Banter About Black Beauty

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*checks watch to see she’s at 14:55*  Yeah, I have enough time to chime in on this.  Sooooooo about this whole SNL “slave joke gone wrong” debacle.  I will admit, it took me longer than it probably should have to formulate in my mind about how I really feel about the now-infamous joke made by newly hired Black female SNL writer, Leslie Jones.  But the reason is pretty solid (in my opinion).  For one, I actually didn’t watch the show.  The only reason that I even knew about this mess was because of the fuss my Facebook newsfeed and Instagram timeline was making about a “highly disrespectful” joke that was made on SNL.  Of course that sparked my interest and I clicked on the link to see what was all the noise about.  For starters, I was surprised to see the person that was making the joke was a familiar face.  I knew of Leslie Jones back in the days of sneaking late on a school night to watch Comicview as a kid (Still remember how she said a White girl knew how to suck the paint off of a Cadillac.  Had no idea what she was talking about as a middle schooler, but hell it was funny to me).  So in already being familiar with Ms. Jones and her kind of comedy, I really wasn’t all that shocked.

I think what got people more was the venue in which she said it.  Instead of saying it on the Chapelle Show, In Living Color, or on Comicview back in the 90s within the comfort of an audience of Black people, she said this on Saturday Night Live in front of White people.  And said White people laughed about it.  The reaction kind of reminded me of a joke that another one of my favorite female comics, Wanda Sykes, said on her HBO Special Imma Be Me.  In one segment, she talked about how her mother would scold her if she did or said something “Black” in front of White people.  Be it singing in public or getting watermelon for a snack, she remembered when her mother would hit her and say, “Stop, White people are looking at you.”  The Black outrage and backlash against Jones could be perceived in the same way.  The joke itself may have not been the issue, but the fact that it was another opportunity for White people to laugh at the expense of Black people was the problem.  And let’s not abandoned the fact that Lorne and the folks at 30 Rock (mostly White people) gave the okay for this.  Nobody said, “Hey, Les.  I know your brand of comedy is a little out there and edgy hence why we brought you here.  But er um, nobody has really made any slave jokes since this movie.  Be that as it may, we may not want to rock with this at 30 Rock.”    Yeah, it seems like this joke was out of place and didn’t have any business being told on SNL.  Or did it?

Let’s look at the anatomy of this “joke” and decipher the messages it was conveying that evening.  To me, it was a raw, hard-hitting, “Don’t Get This Fucked Up (DGTFU)” moment.  Leslie’s commentary begins with the praises of the sudden mainstream embracing of Lupita N’Yongo (Sidebar:  Please note that the following analysis show no shade towards our new, fearless, Blerd girl leader, Miss Lupita.  It’s shade against the structure and standard which her beauty is being recognized).  That was the peak of her position.  And then it took a dive into DGTFU.  When Jones jokes how back in slavery she would be the prime choice for forced breeding and her offspring would have been the likes of LeBron and Blake, she essentially was reminding America, specifically Black America, how we shouldn’t be too jaded by the mainstream attention being given to Miss N’Yongo right now.  An outpouring of love for Lupita does not constitute as an outpouring of love for all Black women.  Aside from the continuing of the bad habit of the Academy only seeming to recognize Black Americans in stereotypical roles, we must also consider the look of Lupita seeming “safe” to mainstream as well.  As seen in pictures, Lupita’s shape and frame falls in line towards the White, Eurocentric standard of beauty (being tall and slim).  While this is cool for her (I, too, share in the skinny Black girl struggle), I’m willing to bet that had she been any taller, any wider, and/or any thicker, mainstream society would not be checking for her.  We sure as hell didn’t do it for Gabourey Sidibe when the Academy nominated her for Precious.  Hence why Leslie had to remind us, DGTFU.  Basing our Black beauty standard according to the mainstream standard of beauty still doesn’t work.  And when it does, we fall into the issue of being a commodity of the standard instead of comparable within it.  Long story short, they ain’t totally checking for sistas.

While I cringe at how this conversation happened, I can’t totally argue that it needed to happen.  It was a much needed reality check that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  So the real joke was that none of this was a joke at all, I guess.  Ain’t that funny?

Why Cassandra Joi Doesn’t See It For Mary Jane

I’ll speak my truth.  When I first saw the promotional advertisements for a new show called Being Mary Jane, I was excited.  My soul rejoiced like the ratchets when Booise came home with a “Yaaaaassssss, here is a show where a Black woman has a career AND a nice house.  She a bad broad.”  *insert a twerk to I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T*

I counted down the days when the show that I knew I was going to LOVE was going to appear.  While I didn’t catch the premiere, I still caught the show through the blessings of DVR.  The first few minutes of the show were pretty good.  I appreciated the disclaimer in the beginning stating that this was only one story of one Black woman; not the entire story of all black women.  When we got to the big reveal of the main chick being the side chick, that’s kind of when I emotionally and mentally checked out of the story.  By the time we got to the end with her plan of creating a child with freezer burned sperm, I was pretty much done.  I didn’t give up too much on hope, though.  I rationalized with fanciful fallacies that maybe the first showing had to be intense.  The series would be better, I explained to myself.  So there I was, watching the second, third, and fourth shows.  What I learned from the experience, lying is wrong.  Lying to yourself is wronger (yes, well aware that’s not a word but I’m telling the story here).  What bothered me the most was the constant storyline of dick chasing Mary Jane was doing.  Your know how they say first impressions are lasting impressions?  That quote can apply to television as well.  When we first met Mary Jane, in the very first scene we saw her in, there was dick involved.  We didn’t know she was a successful television journalist.  We didn’t know she was the glue trying to hold her trifling family together.  But we knew she had an affinity for fuckboys.  One being married and the other into the committed non-commitment relationship.  Two of the worst kind.  So with that being my first impression, it’s no wonder why my hope for Mary Jane wasn’t lasting.

I know that those who know me (be it on social media or in actual living and breathing life), may be thinking, “But, you love Scandal, though.  It has the same premise.  What’s the difference?”  I get it, there is a similar mistress storyline for both shows that I love to loathe.  But there is a fundamental difference in the sidechick sagas between Mary Jane and Olivia.

We didn’t know about Olivia’s dick chasing until towards the end of the premiere episode.  When we first met Liv, we knew she was a fixer.  It was her job to make the imperfect appear as perfect.  But in order to keep Olivia palatable to audiences, I guess, there had to be a downside to her.  In literature, it’s called a heroic flaw. But again, not being introduced to that off the break makes all the difference in how you receive and perceive her character.  Furthermore, in Olivia’s case, she knows she’s wrong for doing what she’s doing with Fitz.  She’s tried to make it right, she’s tried to make him right.  Not saying that what she’s doing is excusable.  I just have a thing for people who can admit that they’re wrong, stand in their wrongness, and will at least try to attempt to make it right.  I appreciate that so I thusly appreciate Olivia.  Additionally, Olivia does what few mistresses (real or fiction) do when it comes to recognizing who shares in their trash: She puts the blame on the mister.  She’s not offering up any Clean-Up Woman clichés of “Well if you was doing what you were supposed to I wouldn’t be doing your man” or any of that shit.  She doesn’t justify her wrongness.  She’s trash and she owns her trashiness.

And now, for Mary Jane.

In fairness of this critique, I will make these points early.  Yes, Olivia did knowingly getting with a married man as opposed to Mary Jane unknowingly getting with a married man.  Yes, Mary Jane did have a hint of remorse in the beginning as seen in her first encounter with Avery.  But that’s where it stops for me.  The grill upon which I lay my beef with MJ is in Episode 4 titled Mixed Messages was her speech about being “No. 2.”  If you haven’t seen it, check it out here.  *DEEEEEPPPP EFFFINNGGGG SIIIIIGHHHHH*  What gets my soul sizzling about this mess is that she’s giving this fluke ass number 2 speech in front of a bunch of impressionable little girls.  We already have a huge issue with girls struggling to reach their full potential, battling the red tape of sexism (throw in racism, too, if you’re Black) on a daily basis.  Don’t justify your skanky shenanigans in a disguise of motivational speaking.  Don’t make that okay for them with that Mokenstef Mentality.

I guess what pisses me off the most about Mary Jane more than Olivia is that her story is sooooo close to sooooo many other stories I’ve heard/seen before.  Want to know why?  Because this is nothing but art imitating life.  And in said life, shit like this keeps happening because nobody ever places the blame where it really needs to be: WITH THE DUDE.  We’ve been through this wayyyyyy too long, ladies.  There is no sense in getting mad at the other woman (depending on your situation, but even then).  She didn’t choose to cheat on you.  That fuckboy of husband/fiance/boyfriend did.  But I guess until we as women get that clear, we’re just going to keep giving these writers more materials for these shows to give me more reasons to be pissed.

 

And that is why I don’t see it for Mary Jane.