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Wednesday, September 4th 2013

10:25 AM

Why So Serious?

"Why So Serious?"
-The Joker, "The Dark Knight"

Recently, a lady online who's observed a number of my interactions in one of the forums I'm a member of, gave her unsolicited opinion - and advice - that I should "smile" more (i.e., be more humorous); doing so, she asserted, would make my "message" go down a bit easier. 

Whether one agrees or not with that point of view, something occurred to me, actually several things:

1. That this wasn't the first time I'd heard such a thing

2. That all of the people who've said such a thing to me happened to be Women

3. That if the positions were reversed, I would probably be rightly upbraided for getting on a Woman's - in this case Sista's - case for "mean mugging". 

By now, surely you know what I'm talking about - there has been a goodly bit of pushback against the notion of Men "telling" Women to "smile" - many Women, Sistas included, rightly see this as a gendered imposition into their personal space and lives. After all, so many of them say, if the shoe were on the other foot, such a thing would *never* happen. 

Only problem is, I'm living proof, that it DOES. 

You see, I've had quite a few Women, in this case Sistas, "kindly suggest" (read: give their unsolicited opinion/advice) as to how I should "lighten up!", "interject some humor" into what I'm saying, etc - and in many ways, it is no different than the demands on the part of Brothas, for Women to "smile!" when out and about. 

In fact, I know for a fact, that the very same Women who make a stink out of the above situation, about them supposedly "mean mugging", have no qualms about turning around and demanding that I "smile!" for them and/or others, too.

There's a word for that, dontcha know. 

I won't deign to speak for the Sistahood as to how and why they think not smiling is a good thing - besides, we all know they are more than capable of speaking for themselves - instead, I'll give my take on how and why I don't see it as particularly beneficial for me to attempt to ape Kevin Hart or Eddie Murphy.

Ready?

Because, to be frank, there are far too many Brothas who attempt to be "funny" as it is - and far too few Brothas, who are serious about ANYTHING. And I like the idea of being seen and regarded, as a Serious Brotha. 

Indeed, in what can rightly be called the Black Internet, the vast majority of Black male participants, and that includes the relatively few Brotha bloggers, seem to bend over backwards, in a Will Smith during his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air days kind of way, to be "funny" and "humorous" - and for the vast majority of them, I am sorry, it just doesn't work. They make themselves look like a Fool, even moreso when considering the reason why they do so (which I've addressed recently). Women of substance can and will appreciate a Brotha who uses his head for something more than a place to hang his fedora, and won't need for him to try to crack corny jokes that aren't funny, just so he can show "another side of himself". The very thought, the idea, is as demeaning as when any Man demands that a Woman they don't even know(!) "smile!", like they're Mr. Rourke on Fantasy Island or something. 

So, no - not only don't I "smile", I actually find it insulting for Women to "suggest" it to me, for all the reasons above, but especially because they wouldn't appreciate it if a Man said the same to them while they were going about their business. Black America needs more Brothas who take life just a weebit more seriously than a standup comic. 

Oh, and one more thing, ladies: 

If a Brotha is desirous of your opinion, or "advice", he will be keen to ask you for it. 

Now adjourn your arses...

The Obsidian
17 comment(s).

Posted by B.P.:

Similar to the story of my life--and not just with sistas. I get that generally women don't know what to make of a "serious," together-looking brotha, especially one who isn't on any pious religious or ideological trip.

But sistas often seem offended or put-upon when dealing with a thoughtful, composed brotha who shows no interest in catering, pedestalizing, or even getting in their good graces. This despite all the complaining about the undersupply of suitably qualified black men.

I've learned to be indifferent to gender with women who don't first display some interest in me. This works well enough in everyday space--but not nearly as well online, especially when sistas are around. Clearly, they aren't accustomed to being "talked back" to, straight and intelligently, by black men.
Wednesday, September 4th 2013 @ 4:19 PM

Posted by Obsidian:

@BP:
You make a really good point that I've been meaning to get to for some time, and hopefully I will, very soon - stay tuned!

O.
Wednesday, September 4th 2013 @ 7:57 PM

Posted by Marc W. Polite:

Kudos on this post Obsidian. I am not a "smiler" myself either, so I understand where you are coming from with this.
Thursday, September 5th 2013 @ 9:59 AM

Posted by Obsidian:

@Marc:
Thanks, Man! I'll have more to say on this topic soon, because it *is* important to have a sense of humor, but there's a way guys like us should go about it...stay tuned...

O.
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