“If You Don't Know, You Better Ask Somebody...”
Wikipedia: “Cringe Comedy is a comedy genre that uses offensive or vulgar material or (as has been popularized recently) awkward and embarrassing situations to cause audiences to be repulsed or feel uneasy.”
Two of my favorite examples of “Cringe Comedy” are the skit segments on “Late Night With Conan O'Brien” and perhaps best of all, the original BBC version of “The Office” starring Ricky Gervais.
It's a difficult genre to master. But one of the key tenets of it working well is for the protagonist to have pretty much no shame whatsoever.
And folks...when the phrase “no shame” comes to mind, the pen and ink sketch next to it in the dictionary looks a lot like one Willard “Mitt” Romney.
With that, witness the entry of a NEW deity into the “Cringe Comedy” pantheon of greats. (via Pam's House Blend and The NYT)
Mr. Romney, the Republican candidate from Massachusetts by way of Michigan and Utah who enjoys a milkshake at the end of a long day, stopped by a staging area for a Martin Luther King Birthday parade here. In his dress shirt and tie, and with his unwavering smile, he walked over and posed for photographs with a group of black youngsters. Putting his arm around a teenage girl, he waved to the cameras and offered, “Who let the dogs out?” He added a tepid “woof woof.”
Somewhere, the Baha Men, the Bahamian group whose 2000 song the candidate was referencing, must have been shuddering.
“Who Let The Dogs Out?”
They stopped playing that song in minor-league ball parks in 2002, lest fans damage the P.A. system speakers with tossed beer cups and stale pretzels.
What madness overcame this transistorized, lacquer-headed disingenu-ite? Was he so uncomfortable around young Black folk that he felt he just had to break the unbearable tension with a crunk, gully reference?
I mean..,shit, “crunk” and “gully” ain't been “in” since '04, and this sad, starch-blooded clown trots out a Baha Men tune from 2000—that Black folks played for about a month before declaring it “done, son”. Could someone please send Hugh Hewitt a copy of “Now That's What I Call Music” dated later than 2001 so he can hip his boy, jest a touch?
The nervous laughter from the assembled young people in the clip is priceless, too. It was definitely of the “Henh-henh. I won't clown you now because that would be embarrassing. Really embarrassing, but wait till I get home, go online and rag your vacuum-formed ass out on Bossip. I have heard Romney described as a panderer before...and it's one thing to read a compare and contrast piece that highlights his shameless, windblown conviction-choosing. But to see it happen right there before your “WTF”-ing eyes, so nakedly, and oh-so-Goddamned badly just hammers that truth home with piledriver force.
Here's the hint Mitt—if you are around a bunch of folks of a different background than yours, and you are clearly uncomfortable, it is better to shut your $40,000 veneered mouth and smile than it is to dig into that Bryllcreem-leeched mind of yours for a “when in Rome” cultural reference that lets everyone know “you're hip...not!” You could have just gotten the photo-op, said “Thank you” and hopped your ass onto the campaign bus and power-washed the Black off your hands like you wanted to.
But you wanted to “be down”...and you all of a sudden thought you were the cool White guy on the train whose iPod headphones bleed out enough that you can hear Ghostface Killah or Jadakiss spittin' rhymes over the subway din.
You were not him. You are Willard “Mitt” Romney—who already fucked up on “Thangs Dr. King” when you lied about marching with him in the sixties. Now, you've compounded your “ghetto fabulism” with a lame attempt at cool that went over just a little bit better than if you'd deigned to sing “De Camptown Ladeez”, or “Ol' Man River” to the assembled.
I want to say, “Just...shut your fucking mouth, Mitt”, but your every gaffe is comedy and campaign-killing gold, so I won't.
Just make sure to say, in your best Jimmie “J.J. Walker voice “Ah-Dy-No-MITE!” when you want to punctuate a point during speeches on these visits to Blackfolkland.
And playing the super-funkee “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang and asking us to “Git dowwwwwwwwnnnnnnn!” during your entrances won't hurt either. Word.
Lastly, is it just me or is there a strange irony in hearing the man who tied his carrier-penned dog to the top of the family wagon and drove hundreds of roof-shit inducing miles now stiffly squawking about “Who Let The Dogs Out”?
God, I wish I'd been there. Just to yell “Not you, motherfucker!”