Daily Archives: February 17, 2010
You know, I really wasn’t going to mention anything about John Mayer and his controversial words in the Playboy interview he gave, but I think I really should. Not just because he came to my attention, thanks to David singing his praises (and, in essence, overestimating John Mayer’s gifts in comparison to his own since I wasn’t really feeling this artist the way my beloved clearly did), but also because of how his black female fans and other fans of color might be reeling from his words of rejection.
Apart from using the n-word and making derogatory comments against gays, John Mayer described himself as having a “white supremacist dick,” or to put it rather bluntly (pardon my French, but I’m going to just lay it all out), he said he had a “Benetton heart and a David Duke cock” to explain why he has never dated black women. While various folk have argued about whether or not this is racist (Ya’ think?!?!) and whether it’s okay to only date within your race, I think it’s incredibly ironic that John Mayer’s pathetic attempt to “be clever” (as he confesses) in response to the interviewer’s question about whether or not he has “black women throwing themselves” at him (a sarcastic question if ever I heard one since the implication was that, since John Mayer claimed to have a “hood pass” from black rappers he’s been seen with, surely he must have tons of black gals interested in him the way they are clearly interested in the rappers he hangs out with), is to first resurrect images of the Ku Klux Klan and then list a number of black girls he’d like to screw while linguistically placing some guy’s penis into the mouth of actress Kerry Washington! So many levels, so many levels.
I of course subsequently dismissed John Mayer as having any musical relevance in my life after this, but it wasn’t until I read a provocative commentary from Asian American comedienne, Margaret Cho, that I had to pause and think through the damage that John Mayer may have done to certain fans he has alienated. As she wrote in the following:
What I know is it’s a slap in the face to all beautiful women of color. And I must say, it’s hard enough to be a woman of color in this world and feel beautiful. It’s hard enough to live in this skin and feel good without having rock stars saying that you are not worthy. We feel unworthy enough. Society tells us enough we are not worth it, by not including us in anything. By not showing us in our glory. We are not presented in the movies or TV as much as beautiful desirable creatures. We are barely shown at all. And then you – John Mayer – rock ‘god’ tell us that we are not fuckable? I don’t care if you don’t want to fuck me. But keep this to yourself. Keep the idea that you don’t like to fuck women of color to yourself. Keep it from our ears because we don’t need to hear that the man who would say “your body is a wonderland” really only means it if our bodies are white, if our hair is blonde…I try to think about Duran Duran, and how I loved them and how they always had women of color as objects of desire in their videos. In “Hungry like the Wolf,” Simon was chasing down a beautiful black/asian mixed girl. In “Rio,” she was latino with curvy hips and black hair and a bright bright smile. If they’d said something back then like what you said John Mayer, I would have killed myself. I would have died. If they said only white girls got them hard, it would have been the end of me.
See, there’s a reason why I love David. Not just for his Voice and his looks but also for his sweet disposition, his generosity of spirit, and his big ol’ heart that seems open and willing to embrace anyone. As I once posted about David’s Sistah Love, I find a certain validation in David’s praise for black female vocalists who have influenced his own singing style and his easy interactions with the likes of Jordin Sparks, Shontelle, and Alexandrea Lushington because, as a black female fan, such actions not only convince me that he’s “down,” but that he is worthy of my love and devotion. And no, that doesn’t mean I need him to date somebody who looks like me. Heck, I don’t even need him to be straight (unlike some of his homophobic fans), and I say this without making any judgments on his sexual orientation whatsoever. I’m being hypothetical for the moment. At the end of the day, this issue is bigger than an artist and the personal choices he makes for himself and more about how the artist connects with his audience, his public, so as to always be mindful of how he is perceived and how he can make that personal connection.
I’m not a fan of John Mayer, but if I were a teenager who was really digging his music, and I read what he had to say about women who looked like me, I would feel like the biggest idiot to have let myself admire such a loser. If I had his poster hanging in my bedroom, I would want to tear it off my wall and hide in shame and embarrassment that I could have admired somebody who thinks it’s perfectly natural to compare his libido to that of a Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. I would be wondering what kind of self-loathing moron I was to have not been able to detect that he’s got some deep-seated issues about women, about people of color, about sexual minorities, about people who are positioned with less power than him in our society.
But, I’m not that young black female teenager. I’m a thirtysomething one who has publicly declared my deep love and admiration for a talented, beautiful, big-hearted guy who has been able to show far more maturity than we give him credit for. Whose instincts have led him to avoid saying anything offensive in an interview and who has a keen sense of his fanbase and a deep commitment to pleasing us and giving us what we want, provided it’s within the boundaries of what is acceptable and comfortable for him. And we in turn show David the same love and respect.
I don’t worry about David making an ass of himself on a John Mayer level. The closest he ever came to being controversial was his confession of “lacking black skills,” which was so hilarious (and quite cute, actually, since Alexandrea tried to “help him out”) it was rendered harmless (and, unlike John Mayer, David was not seeking any “hood pass,” which IMO the soul in his Voice more than qualifies him for one, but he’s too genuine and humble to think he should even be granted one just to seem “cool”).
So because I don’t worry about David, I feel pretty confident that he would never make me ever question my devotion and admiration. I believe he’s showing us enough of who he is so as to not make any of us feel our love, respect, and admiration are misplaced. I only wish other public figures would realize that this tricky business of living life out in the public is “not about them personally.” It’s about creating and developing public trust that, once shattered, can never be replaced.