Let me start off by saying that I’m not the biggest John Mayer fan ever. As it stands, I’m not really aware of the guy’s existence on the day-to-day.
Apparently, John Mayer did a Playboy interview recently in which he said the n-word unabashedly and compared his penis to David Duke. I’m going to let that sink in for a second, but maybe I don’t have to. You probably already heard about this.
Anyway, stupid thing to do, Mayer. Saying the n-word? Not cool. We would have thought you’d have heard about that. Nevertheless, I’m going to personally give you the benefit of the doubt. This is not only because I don’t give a crap about you, but also because I am of the opinion that people should analyze what celebrities say less and what politicians say more.
Predictably, other people do not share my sentiments on the matter. Case and point, this Newsweek article by Allison Samuels, which I actually encountered before I read Mayer’s interview. Allison Samuels is srsly pissed at John Mayer, folks, and apparently so is Oprah. The funny thing about it though, if there is one, is that she makes only a passing mention of Mayer’s use of the n-word and instead chooses to assail his preference when it comes to women. Not only that, but she also draws this broad conclusion about how everyone in the media must hate black women, and Mayer’s interview is symptomatic of that. Come again?
Here’s a quote from Samuels’ article:
Imagine if you will: America’s sweetheart Beyoncé doing a major interview where she explained that her interest in men leaned more toward the Malcolm X way of thinking and that Brad Pitt or George Clooney couldn’t make the cut if they tried.
Okay, I’m imagining. In my imagination, nobody gives a crap about that, least of all me. If Beyoncé mentioned Malcolm X in an interview in the way that Mayer mentioned David Duke, nobody would bat an eye, because the label “racist” is, for all intents and purposes, for white people only. I’m cool with that, so cut me some slack and don’t insinuate that I’m ignorant enough to bristle with rage at the mention of Malcolm X.
Also, later in the article, Samuels says that misogynistic hip-hop lyrics are okay, because those guys all marry black girls, probably. Here’s that quote:
Yes, there will be those who will rightly point to rap music and its demeaning lyrics and videos depicting black women—all made primarily by black men. Without doubt this has been a heated topic discussed for years by black women’s groups and leaders with little resolve. But one fact remains: most black men end up loving and marrying black women, so the words, while hurtful and offensive, don’t ultimately match their actions.
I see your point, but I’m having a hard time discerning why that makes it okay to, for instance, popularize the use of the word “bitch” as a normal way to refer to any woman, even if you love and marry that very special “bitch” of your own. Now, let’s look at some quotes that, to me, are fairly representative of what Mayer said in the interview:
On his aspirations:
When I watch porn, if it’s not hot enough, I’ll make up backstories in my mind. My biggest dream is to write pornography.
On why masturbation is better than sex:
During sex, I’m just going to run a filmstrip. I’m still masturbating. That’s what you do when you’re 30, 31, 32. This is my problem now: Rather than meet somebody new, I would rather go home and replay the amazing experiences I’ve already had.
My dad is 82. I love him so much, but the way I communicate with him is by fixing his printer or the closed-captioning on his TV. These are the bonding moments we have.
A little closer to the kicker:
What is being black? It’s making the most of your life, not taking a single moment for granted. Taking something that’s seen as a struggle and making it work for you, or you’ll die inside. Not to say that my struggle is like the collective struggle of black America. But maybe my struggle is similar to one black dude’s.
And here it is:
Someone asked me the other day, “What does it feel like now to have a hood pass?” And by the way, it’s sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a hood pass, you could call it a n*gger pass. Why are you pulling a punch and calling it a hood pass if you really have a hood pass? But I said, “I can’t really have a hood pass. I’ve never walked into a restaurant, asked for a table and been told, ‘We’re full.’”
He says, basically, that if he really had a “hood pass” then he’d be able to say the n-word without getting in trouble for it. His supposed awareness would seem to indicate that he knows saying the n-word is wrong. Then he goes one step further and proves himself right on both counts. I’m certainly not saying it was okay to say it, and I’m also not claiming to understand what it is to not be white, but I think you have to acknowledge, if you take a step back, that the guy is at least trying to comprehend this incalculably complex set of ideas, even if he’s doing so misguidedly. In my opinion, the fact that he’s making that effort makes him better with regards to race relations than your average white suburban kid who’s saying the n-word while walking around the cul-de-sac emulating Mystikal, and nobody’s jumping down that kid’s throat, least of all his parents.
And if you don’t know that those people exist, well, you probably drink applejack and use a victrola. Welcome to the internet, the one-stop freaky-deeky porn shop of the future. Make yourself at home.
Sure, this possibly indicates some kind of latent racism on John Mayer’s part. But as much as you attack the guy’s personal way of thinking – and, by all means, be my guest – shouldn’t his dick be off-limits? Why do you care who he likes to sleep with? Isn’t that sort of personal? Let me pose a rhetorical question: what if the most flamingly gay, offensive, white celebrity there is – Andy Dick, or maybe Adam Lambert – said that he wasn’t into black guys? What would people say? I’ll tell you: they’d make black-guy-big-dick jokes, and nobody would be particularly pissed about it, black guys probably least of all. If you want to point out a double standard, then you can go ahead and acknowledge all of them.
In the same interview, Mayer said he once gave Perez Hilton a minute-long, sloppy tongue kiss. That’s pretty yucky, guys – not because it was two men kissing, but because one of them was Perez Hilton. No comments there? No? Maybe it was the David Duke white-supremacist joke. Mentioning that douchebag always seems to get a rise out of everyone. I think both David Duke and Perez Hilton should be sent to Elba. That would make a funny reality show.
I also want to say, for the record, that I am a white, American male who grew up in the middle class. The reason why I’m mentioning that is to give you grounds to not care about what I am saying. To be perfectly honest, I probably shouldn’t even be writing about race on a blog with “Southie” in the title, despite the fact that my confusion comes from Samuels’ choice to address Mayer’s preference in women and not his gratuitous use of the n-word. It’s true that I happen to come from a neighborhood where there was some racial strife over a decade before I was born, and unfortunately there are people who, for simplicity’s sake, would like to assume that I am full of hate.
Okay, I am. But it’s all directed at the New York Yankees. And not just the Mexican ones.