Sunday, February 17, 2019
Kansas City Morning Anchor Mark Alford 'Dancing Monkey' Quip Sparks Debate
An off-handed cooking segment comment on the morning news this week has sparked social media scorn and culture war discussion on the subject of painful and/or harmless analogies.
A local TV viewer shared this complaint that garnered a surprising amount of traction, probably because it's too cold to go outside and most people have been sitting around gawking at their mobile phones for the past 72 hours.
Here's the statement:
Text capture quote for a social media debate that's newsworthy given hundreds of reactions and shares:
"While we sitting here doing nothing I think I’d let y’all know your boy Mark Alford of FOX4 News Kansas City was asked to do the Carlton dance. He responded by saying “no I’m not a monkey”. Unsure about y’all but I’m questioning why a monkey was used in reference to this dance.
"Sadly this guy has been allowed do to and say anything he wants with no consequences. Time to plan a protest at the station."
For those who don't know, the "Carton Dance" referred to by this quote is a series of moves popularized by Alfonso Ribeiro on the popular 90s TV show "The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air" -- The dance has garnered pop culture resurgence thanks to the Battle Royale Video Game Fortnite and the ensuing & failed legal effort to copyright the steps.
Given that the reference to a monkey is the main point of contention -- It's worth attempting to explain and recognize the justified reaction to any hint of "simianization" in pop culture given the painful past of mass media and Western Culture in general.
A more thoughtful explanation:
For centuries the West has found it useful to compare black people to monkeys
However, if we're to place the comment in the appropriate historical context it's also worthwhile to mention a classic bit of Americana that doesn't necessarily have have any obvious racial component BUT does offer a frame of reference for Mr. Alford's remark . . .
Organ grinders and their monkeys, who often seemed to dance, are a part of American culture and the immigrant story of big cities during the wave of immigration around the time of WWI.
Whilst animal rights activists might object, there is also a long history of circus animals who were trained to mimic dance moves during their performances.
A reasonable person might say that all of this historical context is far too much pressure to place on casual conversation and a cooking segment intended to entertain old ladies during the morning. Meanwhile, others cite the need to inform MSM presenters as to history and context.
As weekend outrage over an alleged racist, pro-Trump beat down hoax powers MSM media rhetorical hyperbole . . . Locally, it's worth discussing this lower stakes debate over language and analogies rather than dismissing either side.
Was the comment insensitive or innocent???
Brief TKC aside that will go ignored . . .
LOOK CLOSELY AT THE DISCUSSION AND AMONG PREDOMINATELY AFRICAN-AMERICAN SOCIAL MEDIA DENIZENS, THE REACTION IS DIVERSE AND THERE IS NO MONOLITHIC REBUKE!!!
It's important to note this is one person bringing his concerns to light without universal agreement . . . So often pundits want to paint every issue as black vs. white because the multiplicity of viewpoints and arguments complicate any narrative . . . However, those of us who truly believe in Liberty might argue that understanding the importance of the individual above demographics, partisan politics or even social media mobs offers the only hope of salvation.
But I digress . . .
The only thing we know for sure is that even the subject of dancing threatens to evoke backlash and sparks Internets criticism as the American culture war worsens.
You decide . . .