Friday, November 12, 2010

Who has the power?

Yesterday, I (Robyn) was slapped awake by Matt Lauer on the Today show. He was interviewing Kanye West. It was a true example of who holds the power in "today's" society. Check it out here

While I don't agree the delivery of West's original comment (he said President Bush didn't like Black people after Huricanne Katrina), he made some good points in the interview with Lauer. However, Lauer did not address the issues and put words in West's mouth, saying "so, you are sorry?" West was very careful never to say he was sorry and I'm not sure that he was is, which is his prerogative. The interview ends with West saying that what he said may not have been delivered the message in the best way, but it came from a good place within him. I understood that he was not trying to be malicious, but there might be some merit to what he said. 

Matt Lauer made some overly simplified "wrap up comment" that essentially was "we are all human and make mistakes." That summary is so far off from what I though Mr. West was trying to convey it might as well be in Timbuktu. Lauer never addresses the race issue which West brought up multiple can you be interviewing someone about a race comment and the word race doesn't end up in your summary comment? Rant over. 

So that is my first problem...Matt Lauer is telling Kanye West what to say and feel. 

West made an excellent point that the conversation around Katrina and many things that happen in this country are related to race. He said that is a "way bigger" conversation involving how this country was built, the struggles "we" (Black people) have faced, gentrification, etc. 
Lauer's response: guilt him into an apology by showing him how emotional the ex President was. SERIOUSLY?! Lauer treated him like a child who needed to be showed how much he hurt someone in order to illicit an apology. West is a grown man! He can apologize or not. And I don't see Lauer asking the ex President to apologize for his delayed reaction to Katrina, which hurt thousands of people or asking the ex President to apologize for the thousands of innocent lives that have been lost on a wild goose chase in Iraq. 

So that is my second problem....Matt Lauer treats Kanye West like he is a child

To top it all off, Lauer felt the need to reveal footage that was not a part of the final cut of the interview. The only reason you would do that? In order to cover your own ass and to make Kanye West look bad. 

There could be many reasons why Mr. West did not want the tape of him interrupting Swift at the MTV awards. A couple, off the top of my head are, he was embarrassed, he already apologized, so it should be OVER, or he was already emotional and didn't want to get more riled up. Another explanation could have been that he saw it as disrespectful. He had come to do an interview and you cut away from him. I know you do it every day, but I didn't see you do it the President. And yet another explanation might be that he has a different way of processing information and having two things happening at once is hard for him. Geeze, cut the guy some slack! Just because he did not behave like the white people you have on the show, doesn't mean you need to roll your eyes, shake your head at him, and comment that there was nothing inappropriate. Who are you to decide that Matt Lauer? God? Because I disagree with you and I think your whole interview was a bit rude and degrading. 

Third problem...trying to make an intellegent Black Man, who is well informed on current race relations and has considerable clout in the public eye, look bad to shut him up. 

The last thing that West said in regards to the Swift incident was to comment on him being called a racist. He was about to explain and then he got distracted by the clip and his explanation was never shown. THAT was what I want to see, especially since he began with "what i was expressing was my frustration from years and years of seeing.............." Was he going to point out that white people win a lot more? Was he going to say that he has seen talented artist loose, just because they are Black? A possible comment that would pull the veil back further to reveal the current race trends in our society, lost. One step forward for Matt Lauer career, two steps back for people of color. 

What kind of perception of Black people is NBC perpetuating in the minds of the viewers, most of whom are probably white? What message are they trying to send to the nation with this story? Are we as viewers taking into consideration the subversive message that we are unknowingly consuming about other races? 

I respect NBC's freedom of the press. They can show whatever they want. I just felt the another opinion, another voice, should be heard. 

Shame on you Matt Lauer. Shame on you Today show. And Shame on you NBC. 
Too bad the jokes on 30-Rock are all too real...