Antoine Dodson: Building Your Brand at All Cost

An interesting read originally posted by NV Magazine.

“Hide ya’ kids, hide ya’ wife, hide ya’ husbands, cause they’re rapin’ everybody out here!”—We’ve heard this line replayed a thousands times from Antoine Dodson’s famous interview with NBC affiliate WAFF-48 News over this past summer.

Though the newscast was based on grave circumstances—the attempted rape of Dodson’s sister in his housing-project apartment in Alabama–Dodson’s colorful word choice and over-the-top personality became the focal point of the story.

In a short time, the video went viral and is now become one of the most widely watched videos on Youtube to date.

Dodson’s fame was further heightened when the musical group The Gregory Brothers transformed his sound bites into a catchy, R&B auto-tuned song.

Soon Dodson began raking in major bucks off the sale of his song on iTunes and as a ringtone and exposure from numerous TV appearances along with his short performance on BET’s 2010 Hip Hop Awards.

But it doesn’t stop there—he also made profits from selling imitation Halloween costumes of himself and T-shirts with his signature lines from the interview.

With the proceeds, Dodson and his family were able to move out of their housing projects and will supposedly set up a foundation for juvenile diabetes, a disease both his mother and sister suffer from.

So is this just another rags to riches story that helped a young man climb the ranks of social mobility?

I think not.

In the mist of all the hype, I can only wonder where the boundaries lie, if any exist at all, on what is appropriate branding and what is not.

Behind the knee-slapping laughs we belted out as we watched this Black man living in the ghetto express genuine rage at the perp that tried to rape his sister, lies serious issues that most ignore.

Instead of looking at the violence that exists in working class communities and usually goes unreported by the media, we merrily sing along with Dodson about the horrific event.

In retrospect, we are congratulating Dodson for formulating a business model based on the mockery of real life African-Americans and those who live in lower-class neighborhoods continually portrayed in media.

It’s undeniable that Dodson’s brand is in striking resemblance to the Black-faced minstrel shows in which African-Americans were paid to be laughed at and humiliated.

It’s unfortunate that in the year 2010, we still have not had enough of the stereotypical images in media that paints people of color to be buffoons and coons.

This is also evident by the popularity of film director Tyler Perry‘s Madea movies which, to quote rival Black movie director Spike Lee in an interview, “harkens back to ‘Amos n’ Andy.’”

In media, Blacks are tirelessly depicted as a Black mammy character or a dancing buffoon, so there’s no surprise that the news media found no shame in portraying another Black man as classless and outlandish for shock value and ratings.

Though I do not blame Dodson for seizing the first opportunity he had to move his family into a safer neighborhood, it’s discouraging to know that there will always be someone willing to buy into the exploitation and [misfortune] of others as well as , portrayals of racism and classism.

Unless, of course, we as urban consumers demand more from the entertainment industry to which we give our money.

But until then, I only sigh as another viewer Googles Dodson after reading this blog for a good laugh.

See the clip that made Antoine Dodson famous: