The Artificial White Man

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He questions the wisdom of African-American children banking on sports or pop music careers when, "One in a million kids will make it to the NBA; far fewer will become rap stars." Crouch calls following such a course, "an enormous, tragic fantasy," for it is typically undertaken "with nothing to fall back on, no preparation for gainful employment, no intellectual engagement."

       No stranger to controversy, Stanley Crouch remains one of the most thought-provoking social commentators around, if only because he's willing to tackle any subject with a brutal honesty rarely shared in polite company.
 Stanley is also a novelist and syndicated columnist, and his latest opus is The Artificial White Man: Essays on Authenticity.
       The author is a frequent commentator on pop culture. He has been a familiar face on TV as of late, where he can be found delivering caustic diatribes bemoaning the moral depravity of the Hip-Hop Generation. He seems to take as much flak from the left as from the right, almost welcoming the criticism by refusing to adopt politically-correct positions for the sake of audience sympathy. 
       His new book is comprised of 9 argumentative essays examining the issue of authenticity in America, primarily in terms of race, the arts and the media.  In the process, the author scrutinizes cultural icons like Michael Jackson, Quentin Tarantino, Ernest Hemingway, pro athletes and, of course, his pet peeve, gangsta rappers ("spiritual maggots climbing from the project garbage cans of the nation").
        He questions the wisdom of African-American children banking on sports or pop music careers when, "One in a million kids will make it to the NBA; far fewer will become rap stars."  Crouch calls following such a course, "an enormous, tragic fantasy," for it is typically undertaken "with nothing to fall back on, no preparation for gainful employment, no intellectual
engagement."
        Most compelling is his almost sympathetic dissection of Michael Jackson, whose bizarre behavior and transformation he labels as "no less absurd" than light-skinned West Indians presuming to speak about what it is like to be African-American. Minimizing the Prince of Pop's purported pedophilia, he concludes that the reason why Michael finds himself under fire is racism in the recording industry.
        Though it's often impossible to sense whether the author means what he says, or if he's merely trying to get a rise out of the reader, The Artificial White Man grades out highly, if only for offering endlessly refreshing takes on some age-old stand-offs.
 
The Artificial White Man
Essays on Authenticity
By Stanley Crouch
244 pp.                                                                     
Hardcover, $24.
ISBN: 0-465-01515-8

Excerpts From a chapter entitled Blues at the Top:

"I find it odd that so much is made of the many Jews at high levels of the music or movie business. Jewish executives, like black basketball players, represent far, far less than 1 per cent of their people.
        Jews seem to run most of the entertainment business- but you're talking no more than 50 to 100 people in top executive positions, almost all of whom would no doubt cut the throats of the rest. After all, they are in business.
        When [Michael] Jackson used the lyrics, 'Jew me, sue me' and  'Kick me, kike me,' the Anti-Defamation League protested. He apologized and was ordered to do another version."
        The [incident] left some black people seething. 'These Jews don't care about all the product calling people niggers and bitches and hos.' While that may be true, one should not naively assume that black record producers such as Russell Simmons or Suge Knight are concerned about it.
        The denigration of black people is far from over."

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