Thursday, April 3, 2008

Kings of Kwamedy

Trashing politicians, religious leaders, and assorted "moral" arbiters is a noble, necessary practice -- the bloodier, the better. It's tough to go overboard, as most of these frauds usually deserve worse than derision. But even in this ripe environment, one must wield weapons appropriate to the target. The better character assassins know that sometimes, piano wire is more effective than a flamethrower. Balance is key to the sniping arts.

Recently, Detroit's Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has come under heavy fire from various sources. To be expected when a big city official is charged with obstruction of justice, misconduct in office, and perjury. Kilpatrick's affair with former chief of staff Christine Beatty, revealed via old text messages, is the hub of the scandal, to be expected as Americans love clandestine sex as part of any political corruption story. That Mayor K has run a rather dodgy administration is no surprise, given his upbringing in a powerful political family, the lessons of which he's applied to his rule in Detroit. There are allegations that Kilpatrick stole the 2005 election from challenger Freman Hendrix which, if true, is no shocker. As every beaming schoolchild knows, stolen elections are as American as crony capitalism and relentless PR. Those who seek to enrich themselves at public expense don't have time for "democratic" charades.

So, there's no getting past Kwame Kilpatrick's shady dealings. But how to deal with him? Personally, I prefer the image of a native son picking clean the bones of a decaying city, loudly proclaiming his good intentions while gorging on what remains of Detroit, turning selected areas into corporate-friendly tourist zones as "proof" of ongoing "progress." Plenty of material here. In fact, I don't know how any Mayor of Detroit could avoid corruption and clandestine operations. The city in its present state is wide open for political and financial abuse. Apart from its inhabitants, who really gives a fuck about Motown? It remains one of the most derided and despised cities in the country; and that the majority of citizens are African-American makes Detroit-hate all that much easier, especially if you're white. This is clearly, if not openly, agreed-upon and understood.

Leading the critical charge against Kilpatrick is WDFN, Detroit's sports radio station. You'd think that a D-town sports channel might reflect the demographics of the city itself. I did when I first moved to Michigan. But no -- "The Fan" is 99.9% white in make-up, and appeals to the suburbs to which Detroit's white population fled long ago. For WDFN's hosts and loyal listeners, Kwame Kilpatrick is a godsend. Here is an African-American figure on whom local whites can vent their barely-suppressed racist venom. You won't hear much about administrative skullduggery or the corporate-takeover of choice real estate while the much of the city rots. Too boring. Too political. But you will hear what a clown Kilpatrick is, how he dresses too flamboyantly and talks too loud -- y'know, another big-talkin', struttin' nigger who can't keep his black dick in his pants. Now, WDFN's hosts and idiot callers lack the courage to say this explicitly, but you don't need a degree in latent psychological neuroses to hear between the lines.

WDFN parades its anti-Kwame "humor" as cutting-edge, which it probably is to those who phone-in with their own tortured routines. After an hour or two of Sean Baligian or Stoney and Wojo, it's hard not to conclude that southeastern Michigan is populated with abject dolts who haven't the slightest idea what the fuck's going on. As for the station's comedy, its recent billboard campaign tells the tale:

Get it? See, Kwame's black, O.J. Simpson's black, so what they were charged with is more or less synonymous! Of course, if Detroit's mayor was white and involved in exactly the same scandal, WDFN would compare him to Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer, right? Ha ha ha! Need one ask?

Just in case its listeners haven't fully absorbed the gag, WDFN photo-shopped Kwame in various embarrassing positions, the most pointed being this:

No question what the satirical angle is here. Clearly, this is an attack on insider political trade-offs for personal financial gain. I believe Swift himself would applaud this effort, with Twain nodding sagely in the background.

Hopefully, Detroit's next mayor will be Asian, or better yet, Latino. Imagine what the wits at WDFN would conceive -- Charlie Chan ah-so-ing to the sound of gongs, or the Frito Bandito hiding his stolen loot inside fried tortillas. That'll slay 'em in Livonia!