YouTube Wire: Free hugs, Harajuku and The Pimp Chronicles

by guest contributor Luke Lee, Racialicious’s senior YouTube correspondent

If there’s one fad that doesn’t seem to die down in online popularity it’s blackface. Despite all those millions of Weird Al “White and Nerdy” views and iTunes purchases (seriously, it’s been on the iTunes top 10 for a while. People aren’t just listening to it once and laughing, they’re buying the song.) people still feel the need to perform BWTAB particularly when sandwiched with a popular hip-hop song or a stereotypical rap beat. The so-called “Kings of MySpace” come in with their video which, simply, it sucks.

And speaking of music and music videos throwing around weird racial representations, we have of course good old Gwen Stefani who comes in with her “Wind It Up” music video which features those creepy Harajuku Girls (but in blonde hair this time). People, we’ve got to free the Harajuku/Gwenihana four!

Now with this video the title says it all: “Asian girls scared by the movie The RING.” First of all it’s not even remotely funny because there’s no sort of comedic build-up or play-by-play. It’s just screaming, screaming and more screaming. But nevertheless, YouTube maniacs eat this sort of stuff up because YouTube on any given moment is always uploaded with various unusual/pornographic/sexually-suggestive videos of “Asian” (most times Japansese) women (or “girls” as this video says). The comments left by some of the viewers are disturbing but not really surprising: “funny..hott girls those japs!” Sigh.

Someone who glorifies the word/idea of “pimp” and “pimpin” probably more than anyone is 50 Cent who comes out with a popular new song with Eminem and some other Aftermath/G-Unit/D12 folks. In “You Don’t Know,” 50 and co rap from various stages of incarceration because, you know, it’s cool to be in federal lock-up. Hannibal Lecter? What a positive role model. Talking to people behind a chainlink fence? Good times. This has got to be one of the more disturbing media representations especially considering that in the video these are all Black men (minus Eminem) celebrating crime and jail-sentences.

But not to leave on a complete and utterly depressing note, this is at least something positive that resulted from homemade videos and YouTube. I don’t know where the idea of “Free Hugs” started but this one about Free Hugs in Korea became pretty popular without (and this is rare) a horde of racist/sexist comments left by viewers. You’re either going to think this is beautiful and heartwarming or really, really cheesy.