READ A BOOK COMMENTARY
JANICE L. MATHIS
RAINBOW PUSH COALITION
If Benjamin E. Mayes challenged us to reach for the stars, the Not A Rapper video “Read a Book” on You Tube takes us into the abyss. Billed as a satirical look at popular culture, a viewer is left with the distinct impression that nothing matters, that life is futile, knowledge fruitless, manners meaningless.
A common definition of satire is witty language used to convey insults or scorn. The video is plenteously scornful and insulting, but not of crassness. The video insults reading, personal hygiene, family values and frugality. Read a Book heaps scorn on positive values and (un)intentionally celebrates ignorance. The narrator is obviously illiterate, unkempt and disrespectful. So who takes his advice seriously?
The best Hip-hop is clever, with allusions to politics, history, great music and literature. Part of the fun is finding the hidden meaning. I was prepared to forgive the crude language and lack of creativity if there was as message encouraging viewers to read and otherwise conduct themselves responsibly. I was disappointed. The simplistic repetitive rhyme and tune made it clear that the creator had not taken his own advice, i.e. to Read a Book.