Monday, April 23, 2007

Tell them we reach

Column this week

I had planned on writing a different column from the one I am about to write. With V.S. Naipaul back in Trinidad it was an obvious choice to write about the irony of him, my mentor, being back home while I, in self imposed exile in his adopted homeland, cursed my ill luck. And perhaps I will still write that column next week. This week, however, another topic demands my attention.

I am of course speaking about Akon and the 14 year-old, an event that has propelled us where we most like to be - on the international stage with the hot lights shining down on us. As a tiny island we suffer with delusions of grandeur - we long to take on and wrestle to the ground any other country no matter how large, no matter how wealthy. We wish to prove that we deserve a seat with the rest of the players. When the cigars of self satisfaction get passed around, we want to be puffing too.

So we have arrived at our desired spot. We reach, as we like to say. We’re on YouTube, we’re on blogs, we’re even in newspapers albeit a mere few centimetres towards the middle of trashy rags more famous for photos of two faced cows and silicone enhanced ladies than award wining journalism. And we’ve made it mostly riding piggy backed on the fame of Akon, which really isn’t saying much. But let’s not be picky because the most important thing is that we, as a people, as a country, have managed to gain some of the world’s attention.

Now, I’m not going to take the moral high ground here. I’ve often found it to be a rather lonely place to stand and when the floods of reality come you still get washed away. That a 14 year-old had no right to be at that club goes without saying. But people will say it anyway, the same way I just did. That she should not have left her house dressed like that is a moot point. Saying that her dancing was inappropriate and embarrassing to both herself and her family, really, is not saying anything new. But how many of us are innocent of doing things we’re not supposed to? I never went to a party when I was underage but that’s because my parents never allowed me to until I was 18. Many of my classmates did and I remember being jealous. As an adult now I see many teenagers in clubs, fetes, parties with alcohol in hand and man in tow and no one questions. It’s our culture.

So too is looking sexy part of our culture. We boasts about having the best looking women in the world with the best bodies. As women we are aware of the roll of our hips as we walk, the seduction of our smiles, the intimacy of our laughs. How many of us as teenagers didn’t take pride in the beauty of our new bodies - our newly acquired breasts, our rounding bottoms? It’s part of being a teenager. It is, one again, part of our culture.

Unfortunately, so too is our holier than thou attitude. I’ve seen the video and I’m not sure what’s more disturbing - the girl being flung and dragged around the stage, legs twisted into varying positions to facilitate his act until he abandons her crumpled on the floor? Or the cheering of the crowd, the roaring approval of the crowd, the screaming, clapping, appreciative crowd. The same crowd that now stands in judgement of what happened.

There are many sad aspects of this sad event. On the various blogs on which it appears comments are being left that use the most derogatory of insults. The girl, the fourteen year old girl, the underage girl, has been universally labelled a ho. It reminds me of the age old excuses given for rape - she wanted it, she asked for it, she enjoyed it, she was dressed like a ho, hell, she is a ho. And Don Imus’s now infamous statement has tied in nicely with the fiasco. In the words that eventually lead to his suspension the girl has now been labelled a “nappy-headed ho”. And for the average reader/commenter in cyberspace, this has become one more fact about the Caribbean and about Trinidad. Lara who? Naipaul where? Steelpan, well, the Japanese are better players anyway.

And as a 14 year-old scrambles to escape the heat she has created, we Trinis do what we do best. We condemn. And we gossip. And we turn a blind eye to the fact that not only do we allow soca stars to do it to us but many times we do it to ourselves. And we ignore the fact that as we scramble our way to the dizzying heights of First World status, we still drag behind us a Third World mentality where anything done outside is better, where you point fingers of blame at anything but ourselves and where a 14 year old gets vilified for what most other teenagers get away with almost everyday. The only problem is, she actually got caught. And as anybody - from politician to policeman - will tell you, that is the greatest mistake of all.


Trouble said...

Sweet... I like you post. I feel similarly, and just left a comment about this 'subject' on Gela's blog.

I lived for girls like her when I was a teenager... :-)

Hottie Hottie said...

Thanks Trouble. I think... Like your Cocky tshirt btw. Nothing like a cock to make you feel good in the morning.

Jenniferr said...

Excellent commentary. I'm sick of folks calling this girl a ho and I'm sick of folks demanding Akon being arrested for "molestation". This reeks of misogyny sll around. Oh, look - a 14-year-old girl did what a lot of us did at 14: cted grown and got over our heads. Sometimes, I think YouTube is the bane of the devil...but then I catch old episodes of "2 Stupid Dogs" and I love it again.

Hottie Hottie said...

Wait. They have two stupid dogs!?

Jumbie said...

Exceptionally well written and clear. Most insightful look at the situation.

Hottie Hottie said...

Why Jumbie... thank you.

nandi23 said...

You know I decided to watch the video and the way how that girl get fling about it seems as if the only move she made was to get up on the stage in the first place but that odes not warrant such behavior from Akon. seriously he looked like an animal dragging a piece of meat all over the stage.

About the crowd though, I would agree that they are hypocritical , but I am not sure if they knew that the girl was 14, at which point those who cheered would say i didn't know that she was 14, but it would still be weird, but then again humans are weird, some even cheer for executions and stuff.
But anyways if anybody care for my 2 cents, cheering on behavior like that probably isn't a good thing even if the girl was 43, since he jumped on her like an animal.