I Need to Get Out in Front of this PR Nightmare…

I do not want to post this. But in the spirit of good PR, I have to get out in front of it. :-)

This was a home video taken on July 29, 1988 – twenty years ago almost to the day.

The story was… it was in Africa, where I lived for a bit from age 8-12. My parents were missionaries in the Democratic Republic of Congo (was known as Zaire then). There was little to do as 1) a kid and 2) in Africa.

One of the things that we would do is use a makeshift slip and slide created from plastic sheets. Put a hose on the top and a full water mattress at the bottom and you had hours of fun for kids.

This was, if I recall, a picnic where a number of missionary families were getting together. Note the one guy who was always bound to be “somewhat inappropriate” with his dead and stinking monkey on a stick. Yes, it’s a real monkey. It was already dead. :-)

Ugh. Wow. Just wow. I’m going to kill someone now. :)

Loren Feldman Demonstrates Artistic Handiwork But is Not Racist

Alot has been said recently of the cyclone that has begun to swirl around Loren Feldman. Loren is, and continues to be, my friend first and foremost. Though I know this will be completely offensive to some in the blogosphere, many of whom I respect and see as colleagues, it has to be said.

madame_x.jpgArtwork is artwork and Loren is an artist. The best art is offensive to somebody. That’s the truth. Take this painting known as Madame X.

According to the story, this piece caused such a stir in 19th century France due to the sexual posturing of the Madame in the photo. The sexuality conveyed with the skin and pink ears was absolutely obscene in French society of 1884. (Source) Today, we would think nothing of this piece of art but in that day, there was a clear message sent about the nature of the society at the time and the truth was offensive.

In the late 80s, the National Endowment for the Arts funded the exhibition of a photograph called Piss Christ which set evangelical Christians on edge. The photograph portrays a crucifix set in a jar of the author’s urine. Some saw the piece as blasphemy while others saw it as an observation of what society has done to Jesus.

The point being that artwork can sometimes be damning. Art, like music, is one of those rare things that provides such an avenue into a person’s soul that sometimes what is seen within is frightening and, like the French of 1884, they don’t confront the issue but shove it back into a dark corner.

Do I believe racism still exists in America? Absolutely. It is one of the worst calamities ever wrought on this nation, and many others. Do I believe Loren Feldman, in his weeklong parody/social experiment, toed the line? Yeah, I do. Did he cross it? Eh… who am I to judge? Is he racist? Heck no.

Many of the people who have defended Loren have done so from the position of first hand experience. I, like many of them, know Loren personally. I’ve spent days with the guy. I’ve slept on his sofa when I was stranded in New York. I laughed with him in San Francisco and Toronto at two different events.

Is he controversial? You betcha. Is he racist? Not a chance.

Loren Feldman Debacle Demonstrates Ignorance Lives

By now, many of you have heard about the failed attempt at humor by video blogger Loren Feldman. In the past, I’ve been pleased to call Loren my friend. He is funny, and very New York – two combos that I like. People like Loren often make me miss NYC, where people are real.

However, Loren took things a bit too far with his videos from a year ago. He stepped over serious racial lines, offending many people. It started with a video where he asks, “Where are all the black tech bloggers?” It ends with a series of other racist videos that resulted in the termination of his contract with PodTech.

Now, I believe that everyone makes mistakes and that mistakes are forgiveable. Hell, I’ve made mistakes – some of the racial type – that have been forgiven.

But Loren has intentionally gone too far and shows no signs of coming back. Last month, Loren had two deals secured to create and distribute video content. One was with CNet (owned by CBS) and the other with Verizon Wireless who planned to syndicated his content to their V-Cast service.

Both companies canned him after recognizing that this was not the kind of image they wanted their brands to convey.

Corvida, over at SheGeeks, was instrumental in having the Verizon Wireless deal deep-sixed. She states in her post:

The video was degrading. He was degrading an entire community and it should not be supported by Verizon nor its customers. It hit close to home and not necessarily because it was true on some levels, but because it was negative on every level. It was an ignorant video and one that mocked a small percentage of the African-American community. Yet, that particular part of the community is the most profile and we can all guess why. Everyone loves drama.

Corvida is dead right. Apparently, many other people agree with her.

Loren stepped over a serious line. I’ve attempted, thus far, to stay out of this. Race is a serious issue in this country and though some would like to believe it is a thing of the past, it is not. Anyone who bandys around racial slurs so recklessly deserves never to have business again.