No More Idols: Don't Be A Follower

Updated: Jan 28

There’s not a person, entity or group that I trust beyond scrutiny. Not anything at all. Not a family member, not a partner, friend, not a company, not a CEO, not a person rooting for me, not even a Care Bear. And it scares me when I see other people do it so regularly.

Back in the MySpace days, my boy Dex started up a page for us regarding how rap albums weren’t being created at the same level of quality as the prior eras (little did we know what was to come.) The page was going to be the jumping-off point of something bigger but the start was a celebration of the music and culture we admired as well as a commentary on the current landscape in hip-hop. He named it No More Classics and....we did absolutely nothing with it. I’m not sure if we created more than the first post explaining what the meaning of the name was and why Nas’ Illmatic cover was our avatar. Regardless, the name stuck with me.

Fast forward to late 2017 with the world still reeling from all of the Cosby-mania and in comes that piece in The New Yorker from Ronan Farrow that eventually brought Harvey Weinstein down. Harvey’s claim to fame was the movie studios he created with his brother, the most notable being Miramax, the original home to the first films from Quentin Tarantino. Up until that time, Quentin had been my favorite movie director and Pulp Fiction my favorite movie of all time. I can’t count how many times I had seen it up until that point but I did have the deluxe DVD and a framed poster hanging in my room from it. I also had the Kill Bill Blu-Ray, copies of the Grindhouse movies, made beats and other content around dialogue from his movies, the list goes on. But then came this article and its aftermath, now he’ll just be a footnote in my film knowledge.

Quentin had concerned me with his behavior in the past, most notably the overabundance of the n-word in pretty much all of his movies, especially spoken by him. I would cringe at those parts, especially in Django Unchained and Pulp Fiction, but I just chalked it up to artistic license and ran with it. However, all of the problems I had with him came to a head when he was questioned about what he knew about Harvey’s predatory behavior and Quentin said, “I Knew Enough to Do More Than I Did.” What he did was pretty much nothing while his business partner sexually assaulted dozens of women in Hollywood. But then came the kicker; a profile in The New York Times detailing Uma Thurman’s issues with both Harvey AND Quentin. In it, she discusses how Quentin pretty much tried to kill her on the set of Kill Bill by putting her in a dangerous car, insisting to use his own hands to choke her for a shot, and also personally spitting on her on top of other grievances. It was more than obvious that Quentin was a piece of shit that I wouldn’t be supporting any longer and so I took down my movie poster and never supported his work again. I haven’t watched The Hateful Eight or Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and I no longer discuss Pulp Fiction. It was that easy. Not only was he a rapists’ enabler, but he engaged in his own terrible behavior as well for a long time and got away with it. Throw the whole man away, he’s trash.

It wasn’t long after that I came up with No More Heroes which turned into No More Idols. Some people are legitimate heroes but no one should be a worshipped idol. The problem with having these idols is it stops us from being able to think critically when the time comes to evaluate their behavior when they do something heinous or against your own personal moral code. Quentin had been building a terrible human resume with me for a bit but surrounded by good movies. Eventually, that became too much for me and his refusal to stop Harvey compounded with his own actions led me to drop him. Unfortunately due to talent and overall message, many people are willing to let things slide for that alone. After Chris Brown beat up Rihanna, many people came to his defense claiming that they believed she instigated the fight even in light of the pictures of her condition. I had never been a fan of his music before that point but I made it a point not to listen after then. To say that he was a kid who made a mistake is infantilizing a grown man who willingly made the decision to beat and maim a woman he claimed to love. But what solidified my negative opinion of him was his ongoing behavior in the public eye in the time that followed. Chris showed time and time again that he wanted to be the bad guy, played up this thug image, acted out in interviews, kept himself in trouble currently one of the biggest artists in the world?

Donald Trump is the easy target in all of this but his followers continued psychosis to excuse his behavior is what’s so baffling to me and I want to chalk it up to this American concept of ‘needing to win’ so bad that you drop all common sense. His supporters are so unable to admit his wrongdoing that they’ll gaslight themselves in order to convince others that he’s perfect instead of holding him accountable and demanding changes. It’s so interesting to see the same people yelling ‘pro-life’ and ‘All Lives Matter’ applaud kids in cages and wishing disease on those not born lucky enough to be born in America. I feel like it’s beyond cognitive dissonance as that requires them to ignore new information. Instead, they’re taking the new information and twisting it to form an imaginary position they’ll tell you they’ve had for years. In all honesty, it’s just selfishness and enabling white supremacy. But again, that’s the easy target.

Joe Biden is absolutely just as awful as Donald Trump. He’s been shown to be a well-known sexual predator and even supports a lot of the same shitty policies as Trump. He’s a fan of big corporations, he’s a fan of saying a lot of things in order to garner support without backing them up, he’ll lie about things he’s said on tape, and…..he’s the front-runner for the Democratic nomination because Blue No Matter Who. He's also the first white person to be seen as more worthy of a position due to his proximity to a Black man. Trump has been so much of a garbage human that there’s a set of people who are more than willing to accept him into their ranks, so long as he’s not Trump...but he IS Trump. He’s just blue instead of red and that’s enough for some. We saw this with people supporting Bloomberg, who was more of a direct parallel to Trump. We then started hearing about the ‘electability’ of Biden over Trump when that’s just a cop-out for saying those people just don’t want to vote for someone who’s not a rapist. ‘Voters’ isn’t some magical term that means people beyond control. You can’t say ‘voters’ won’t elect someone better because YOU are a voter. Pick someone better! But I’ve gotten into this before. Point is, people’s need to “win” and have their views validated results in less winning, less accountability, and less change. But let me not beat this horse into the ground again.

I’ve made it a point to check myself in my writing and things around me as I think we should be able to show growth to be better, less violent and more tolerant over time, not the reverse. So in my older years, I’ve found myself on the internet looking for like-minded people in various groups. I was never into chat rooms but being able to find other people online who can relate now is so much easier, especially for a niche crowd. I’ve found groups FULL of Black geeks and nerds, people who love old school rap/hip-hop culture, Pro-Black groups, feminist groups, political and leftist groups...I could go on. The point is, I’ve found more people online that share my interests and with that, felt more at ease about my place in the world because, with them, it proves I’m not alone….except when the cracks start to show. There’s always the high of coming in and wanting to mingle because you’ve found your people. Posts go up and you agree with so many things that it seems like maybe you’re running this place yourself. You may see some dissenting opinions and that’s fine. But the overwhelming majority are pro-your views. That’s a win.

Eventually, though, you learn that’s not nearly the case. At some point, a voice will come up and seem antithetical to what you believe people in that group would stand for. You would almost be dismissive except for the fact that so many other people in this same group are now agreeing with it. You wait for someone to stand up against it but it keeps growing. Eventually, you or someone else instead expresses their frustration and are argued down for wanting to accept a better position. You see arguments form, alliances made, but solely for the purpose of bringing someone down for their own agenda. From there, you look at other posts, other people, and realize that this isn’t some passing phase. Those people have always been around, they’re always in opposition to your views, but now you’re seeing it aimed in a direction you didn’t think people like you would go. I’ve had this happen to me in groups and following people. At best, I left to never return. On a lower level, I took a step back and reevaluated what that group of people meant, not really leaving, but not pledging allegiance to it either. Just because people agree with me on some things does not mean that we’ll connect on everything and it also doesn’t mean that I’ll show blind loyalty to things that hurt myself or people like me. It’s worse when those around us who are supposed to be like us do the most to drag us down. And usually what happens is that they feel it’s necessary for the bigger part of the plan. The show must go on and you need to be a part of it to say “I told you so” in the end. But I don’t care enough.

There’s not a person, entity or group that I trust beyond scrutiny. Not anything at all. Not a family member, not a partner, friend, not a company, not a CEO, not a person rooting for me, not even a Care Bear. And it scares me when I see other people do it so regularly.

I have watched as family members have used inside information to prop themselves up and look like the better person, then when confronted, make you out to be the villain. I’ve had friends that I’ve been broke with, sell me out for a better meal. I’ve watched companies I thought that I would always support break down and show that they’re just full of ignorant people like any other place. I’ve watched celebrities make alignments with pariahs and wonder what’s wrong with other people for not accepting their rapist friends. I have also watched group after group turn themselves into a parody by following some celebrity, some politician, some news channel, some personality and excusing every terrible decision because they want to win. I don’t want to win that bad and truthfully, I’m not looking to win at all. Winning means someone has to lose and that means people are at the bottom. I would rather we all succeed together instead of beating each other up.

But people would rather hold on to their idols. I’m more than passed over it.